The African Development Bank’s (AfDB) series of regional consultations meeting with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) continues across the continent. The East African leg opened yesterday in Nairobi, Kenya with CSOs advocating for financial support from African source to deliver better on their development agenda and restore trust with government authorities.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Suliman Mohamed Ibrahim from the Khartoum-based Soudanese Conservation Society said: “Our work is challenging and crucial because we work with grass roots people who live in very remote rural areas. We are indispensable partners for institutions like the African Development Bank. But our work is difficult because we do not always have the necessary funds to do more. And we definitely need financial support.”
Ibrahim went on to say: “The African Development Bank shares common objectives with other international organizations, like OXFAM, European Union and United Nations Agencies. And some CSOs received financial support from these ones. It is important that we do not depend on one single source.”
A view echoed by Christelle Karekezi, Head of Fundraising at Actionaid in Rwanda. According to Karekezi, some African governments have difficult relationships with CSOs. They accused them for pursuing foreign agendas because of the funds they receive from them. If we receive funding from African institutions like the African Development Bank, this will increase the government’s trust in the CSOs’s legitimacy. CSOs will then no longer be accused for implementing foreign agendas.”
In response, Senior Advisor to AfDB President for CSOs and Community-Based Organizations, Maria Mulindi, underscored that issue would be considered by senior management. “One of the common threads of the regional meetings has been the issue of resources. And this is an important issue that could include the use of CSOs as consultants, since they have knowledge and expertise in many sectors,” she highlighted.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony, Stefan Muller, Lead Economist, representing the AfDB Director General for East Africa, commended CSOs for their contribution to the development of their countries and the communities they work in. “We need to work together to exploit the respective comparative advantages for bigger results and tangible outcomes. Hence, the objective of the Bank is to cooperate with Civil Society Organizations to a maximum possible extent, and to integrate NGO experience, knowledge, and expertise into Bank operations in order to ensure a more effective achievement of the development agenda,’’ he added.
For her part, AfDB’s Principal Civil Society Engagement Officer, Zeneb Toure outlined the objectives of the meeting that are to open a dialogue with the CSOs on the Bank’s strategic focus in three priority areas: energy-climate change, agriculture and jobs for the Youth. The consultations will define and identify for each of these areas actions where CSOs can contribute to deliver the Bank’s development agenda.
During the 3-day meeting, presentations will be made by Bank staff on environment safeguards, legal aspects of Bank interventions, Bank new business development model, procurement, framework for engagement with CSOs, as well as presentations on agriculture, jobs for youth and energy and climate change.
The Nairobi meeting is the fourth of a series of five regional consultations with African civil society organizations. The meetings aim to strengthen mechanisms and grassroots support in the implementation of the Bank’s High 5 priorities (Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa) over the next 10 years. After East Africa, the North Africa segment will be organized in Tunis, Tunisia, from December 13 to 15, 2016.