Story By: Ebenezer Kofi Amponsah
As part of activities marking the citizenship week by STAR-Ghana Foundation, stakeholders, partners among others have met to take stock and reflect on activities of the foundation and lessons drawn from practise.
The two days event held in Accra also provided an opportunity for stakeholders to discuss possible alternative sources of funding as the multi- donor funding package for STAR-Ghana Foundation (phase 2) draws to a close at the end of September this year.
Speaking in an interview with the media on the theme” celebrating success; Resourcing Active Citizenship for the future’ at the third annual strategic learning event, the Executive Director of STAR-Ghana foundation, Mr. Ibrahim-Tanko Amidu urged the state to explore alternative sources of funding to support active citizenship apart from the traditional donor support from phylanthropy, and social enterprise.
He however advised CSO’s to look for alternative funding in order not to be tide to any strings in the dispatch of their duties.
“Government funding may be tide to strings which may end up silencing the organisation but the state could establish a fund solely to support organisations, individuals who would provide vital information to the state. Else where in the UK, they have the Rotary fund that are used to support active citizens.
It does not have to be a fund for protest matches, but for instance with the whistle blowers act, a fund could be established to motivate whistle blowers who provide vital information. that is necessary”. he emphasised.
When asked the his expectations of CSO’s in the lead up to the Dec. 7 elections,should Mr. Tanko advised them to advocate for inclusive participation of all persons in the electoral process especially people in who live in remote communities.
“the CSO’s should ensure that all categories of persons particularly women, physically challenged among others are given opportunity to participate in all the processes before, during and after the 7th Dec. elections.
The co-founder of Aide Afrique Int. Mr. Michael Ohene- Effah for his part advocated for a redefinition of corporate social responsibility that will change the usual narrative of government resorting to foreign donors for delopment project at every point in timesupport at every point in time.
He said “why should every major development programme in this country be funded by donors and not local corporate bodies.why can’t local companies fund free and fair elections, after all we are the beneficiaries when the country is peaceful.
He also appealed to local phylanthropy not to only give towards religious causes but various sectors of the economy such as health, education, democracy open governance could all geared towards the development of the country.
Mr. Effah also advised CSO’s to rebrand themselves and ensure they are accountable to both the foreign donors and the local communities in which they operate.
This he mentioned will help secure support from the local community for project that would have been supported by foreign donors.
He stressed “Many people don’t report to their local stakeholders, many local communities don’t even know what the CSO’s are are doing. We need to start responding to the rural populace, the local constituency so that they can support their activities which ever way possible and also help them to raise funds.
He also amonished CSO’s to focus on their core activities and passion rather than embarking on numerous projects which have no bearing with their passion or calling
“focusing on one major activity will help you to achieve the vision without difficulty, your branding is confusing as far as the public is concerned,you must be known for one thing, if you are doing everything then nobody will know what you are doing. for instance, you can be doing something on election security, observation, transparency among others and not on all of that”. he observed
Touching on the importance of active citizenship and the role of CSO’s, Mr. Kofi Bentil who is the vice-president of Imani Africa said without the active involvement of CSO’s people would not do the right thing hence the need to empower them to advocate for transparency, accountability and judicious use of the country’s resources in all sectors of the economy.
He noted “You need spontaneous action of citizens and groups to spark and raise issues for other CSO’s to continue the drive. this brings about complementality of working with each other”.
Mr. Bentil also emphasised that apart from CSO’s, Institutions of state such as CHRAJ, should be resourced adequately in order to make them effective.
The STAR-Ghana foundation since it was established has supported Ghana in the areas of elections,Gender equality and social inclusion,media, Anti- corruption and local Governance with support from DFID, EU and DANIDA.