The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) organized capacity building sessions for Civil Society Organizations in Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba, Gombe and Bauchi with the support from National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The capacity building sessions was targeted at improving effectiveness, transfer capacity, sharpen knowledge and competence. The sessions, which were held in Gombe and Bauchi respectively between September 10th and 12th, 2014, looked at internal processes and governance structure of organizations with a view to strengthen their institutional capacities for effective and sustainable engagement. The sessions were highly participatory and were dominated by group work. Participants expressed satisfaction at the contents of the modules and how it has promoted their knowledge and would help their organizations and local partners.
- Strategic planning processes and tools of most CSOs is weak and missing in most cases thereby creating weak vision, missions and goals.
- There is huge gender disparity in the governance structure of over 90% CSOs in the North East which has largely affected women participation in decision making, gender mainstreaming in programming and activities as well as lopsided recommendations on women and youth advocacies.
- The attraction and dynamics underpinning the legal status of any organization is the availability of internal policies, procedures and physical presence for ease of access from intending partners and confers certain privileges.
- Absence of peace and security in the North East has adversely affected the accessibility of most CSOs to funding, civic engagement and advocacy. Staff and Program management has become increasingly difficult.
- The region still remains the most challenging considering the instability thereby proving opportunities for engagement for CSOs in the reconstruction of the region looking at post insurgency and even peace building efforts.
- Weak Information Management system, inadequate capacity for youth and CSOs as well as gaps in grassroots programs are panacea for an ineffective Management Architecture since that is the functional structure of an organization.
- CSOs still depends 100% on external funding within the region without looking at Creative Avenue to source internally generated revenue for purposes of sustainability.
- The absence of strong internal structures, operational policies and documented organizational procedures constitute a challenge for groups in the region limiting the level of institutionalization necessary for effective engagement
- Participants rose from the meeting with renewed commitment to mainstream women and youth into the governance structure of organizations as an attempt to improve women participation and close the existing gaps by 50% by 2015.
- There is need for CSOs to broaden strategic planning processes and tools and make them even more effective with a SMART – G component to clearly articulate vision, mission and goals.
- Civil Society Organizations should strongly advocate for peace and security in the region and look out for opportunities and constantly mitigate risk by determining key core values and principle that which must be shared by all arms of structures within the organization.
- CSOs in the region should as a matter of urgency begin to ratify registration processes, finalize administrative, finance, gender and disability policies to place them in vantage positions for development partnership.
- CSOs should engage in constructively in the pre and post insurgency in the region as this will strengthen activity profile in readiness for the baskets of opportunities heading towards the region.
- Vertical and horizontal information system should be adopted by the decision makers within an organization to carry along all stakeholders as this will bridge all communication gaps and carry host community along.
- CSOs should embark upon the institutionalization of their organizations and so that they can engender the necessary confidence that would allow them access to resources and capacity for effective and sustainable engagement for development in the region.
Participants thanked CISLAC with the support from NED for providing the platform for taking a step further in development engagement. The process was acclaimed to be catalytic to strategizing the ground norms of organizations in the North East to keep focus on beyond insurgency. The operating environment is germane to the work of organizations in the region thereby the need to carry out internal assessment to understand the organization in terms of its resources and competencies and networks.
SWOT analysis carried out during the entire process provided participating organizations fair opportunities to measure how far they have fared and what input they needed to improve upon. The Participants were also given take away tasks which must be concluded and submitted with evidence as a condicion for subsequent engagements.
Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani)
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Abuja