Civil Society Organisations told to generate their own funds
He said CSOs should encourage their members to pay their dues regularly, venture into consultancy services or could produce gift items and sell out to the public.
Dr Alidu said this when presenting a research paper on “CSO Networks and the Policy Process in Ghana” at the final workshop of the Civil Society Research Facility (CSRF) on the dynamics of civil society in Ghana organised in Accra on Thursday.
The CSRF on local civil society dynamics is a partnership between the Institute of Statistical, Social, and Economic Research, (ISSER) University of Ghana, Legon and the Centre for International Development Studies, Nijmegen, Radboud University, Nijmegen, and The Netherlands.
The research programme was targeted at supporting short-term studies by researchers in Ghana with the aim to expand knowledge on local civil society dynamics, offer junior researchers a platform to jump start their academic career, and provide information that was relevant for policy and practice of development cooperation and civil society.
Dr Alidu said over dependence on donors would influence their output in terms of national policy arena and would cripple their activities when the funds delayed or stopped coming.
He appealed to them to elect transparent and credible leaders to change both government and public perceptions about their activities and endeavour to connect with CSOs at the heart of decision making to enhance their performance.
Dr Alidu said, notwithstanding the relatively favourable environment for CSOs operation in Ghana, it was still difficult for CSOs to constructively engage government in the policy arena and influence decisions in favour of their constituents.
He said the research sought to examine CSO networks in Ghana and specifically to ascertain the reasons behind their formation, challenges they faced in their effort to influence government policies and the various ways in which the identified challenges could be overcome.
Dr Alidu said the study revealed that networks had greater benefits compared to individual organisations when it comes to influencing government decisions, however, several challenges still remained in the networks attempt to influence decision-making in Ghana.
“The study reveals that CSO networks face two categories of challenges that affect their ability to influence policy in Ghana. These are internal and external challenges. In relation to the external challenges, 23% of CSOs interviewed think government’s perception of CSOs as their enemies coupled with inadequate resources and funding were their major challenges. Nineteen per cent of respondents argued that frequent changes in donor demands and lack of access to government policy information are among some of their most challenges,” he said.
He said internally, 22% of organisations interviewed believed that competition for resources and funds among network members was a major challenge, and 13% argued that low member participation in network activities militated against achieving network objectives.
“Also, 11% of respondents identified ineffective coordination between network secretariats and their individual members as a serious challenge while eight per cent blamed lack of transparency and credible network leadership as the bane to their efforts to influence government policies,” he added.
Dr Alidu said despite those challenges the network formation had tremendously enabled CSOs in Ghana to constructively and methodologically engage government on policy issues through effort aggregation, resource and information sharing, and capacity building.
He said collaboration on those activities had greatly reduced the risk and cost of operating alone, and provided a united front on policy issues and had uplifted their image as a powerful institution worthy of government’s engagement and called for efforts towards strengthening the operational ability of CSOs networks in relation to regular and adequate financing, effective collaboration with policy formulators and instituting relevant capacity building programmes.