Civil society actors in member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have together resolved to deepen civil society participation in the sub-region’s medium term development plan – the ECOWAS Community Strategic Framework, 2016 to 2020.
The Community Strategic Framework (CSF) 2016 – 2020, the sub-region’s new medium term development plan, is the successor to the Regional Strategic Plan 2011 to 2015.
The CSF 2016 to 2020 has the goals of enhancing socio-economic development, economic and monetary integration, political cohesion and participation; mobilizing and sustaining societal and institutional support and expanding infrastructure.
After meeting in Accra with the ECOWAS Strategic Planning Directorate (SPD), the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF), the umbrella body of civil society organisations in the sub-region, made a declaration and recommendations for addressing gaps in the Community Strategic Framework (CSF) and improving civil society participation.
A communiqué resulting from the meeting, recommended the reorganisation of the current national structure of ECOWAS to be more responsive to CSOs. The civil society representatives called for a linkage between ECOWAS national offices and the national platforms of WACSOF for closer collaboration between ECOWAS and civil society organisations.
The communiqué asked for full information on the CSF 2016 – 2020 to civil society to enable them fulfil their roles, and a clear communication strategy to disseminate the CSF in ECOWAS member states through traditional and new media.
Participants also made recommendations for sustainable financing of the implementation of the CSF such as clear budgeting for CSOs within ECOWAS member states from their Community Levy (a portion of member states’ import revenue), and other sources such as foundations, indigenous philanthropists and so on.
To track progress, the participating civil society representatives in the sub-region asked for the set up of a technical working group with representation from key civil society organisations to meet regularly and make assessments.
The collaborative meeting between the Strategic Planning Directorate and WACSOF, was under the partnership of the two, following a directive by the ECOWAS Council of Ministers at its 75th Ordinary Session in December 2015, that the voice of civil society be mainstreamed into CSF 2016 – 2020.
The Executive Director of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), Ms Nana Asantewa Afadzinu, assured the participant civil society representatives at the end of the meeting of continued action on the resolutions.
“You have tasked WACSI, WACSOF and the SPD (ECOWAS Strategic Planning Directorate) to carry this forward and keep you informed and we assure you that it will be done,” she said.
By Emmanuel Odonkor