The past decade has seen considerable changes in civil society dynamics in Africa, with reductions in traditional forms of funding. In the middle-income countries shrinking space for civil society has been witnessed in many contexts and hence eliciting questions around the legitimacy and accountability of organizations dependent on aid investment.
These changes create multiple challenges for civil societies. For many organizations, movements and activists in Africa, the future is unclear. This uncertainty has even been worsened as the world battles with the Coronavirus pandemic posing challenges on running programmes, coordinating staff, financial systems, planning, security, and communication. Yet CSOs are critical to humanitarian assistance in these times. However, as CSOs we are challenged today, probably more than ever, to remain able to deliver across communities. Therefore, organizations are being challenged to innovate to ensure that interventions are executed effectively and timely in the face of unprecedented disruption.
At WACSI, we recognize the urgent need for civil society to review their structures, roles and responsibilities with communities, governments and international and domestic funders to ensure their long-term sustainability. This will help civil society entities especially community-based organizations, grassroots associations and less-resourced CSOs to carry out such crucial activities as supporting the poor, the disenfranchised and the marginalized, enabling collective action and holding decision-makers and the private sector to account.
The institute envisages that the potential operational challenges that CSOs will face due to the coronavirus include:
- The strain on the traditional ways of working and programme delivery;
- Disruption to resource streams, financial systems and planning;
- Health and availability of staff;
- Communication and workflow challenges between staff members who are now all working remotely;
- Challenges with implementing programmes in communities in an environment of physical distancing particularly organizations which work in health, education and social protection.
It is essential that during these times, CSOs take practical steps to operate and respond to their constituencies. These are some proposed measures that can be taken to navigate this unprecedented experience…