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SUBMITTED BY AICHA ARABA ETREW
Acknowledgement My sincere thanks go to the Almighty God for the strength and wisdom, and for seeing me through a successful internship programme. I am appreciative to WACSI for giving me the opportunity develop my skills and contribute to invigorating civil society in West Africa. I am also grateful to my line managers, Mr. Charles Vandyck and Miss Omolara Balogun, heads of the Capacity Building and Policy Advocacy Units respectively. Finally, I will like to show my appreciative to the Executive Director of WACSI, Nana Asantewa Afadzinu, and the entire staff of WACSI for their supervision and assistance during my 6 months internship at the Institute.
List Acronyms CSOs IWP-OSI NGOs OSIWA WACSI WIPSEN-Liberia Civil Society Organisations International Women’s Programme – Open Society Institute Non-Governmental Organisations Open Society Initiative for West Africa West Africa Civil Society Institute Women Peace and Security Network- Liberia
Table of Contents
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Acknowledgement…………………………………………………………… List of acronyms and abbreviations………………………………………….. Table of contents……………………………………………………………… Executive summary………………………………………………………….. Introduction …………………………………………………………………. Reflections on experience……………………………………………………. Professional competence……………………………………………………... Recommendations……………………………………………………………. Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………
Executive Summary The Next Generation Internship Programme instituted by the West Africa Civil Society Institute aims at developing the skills of young Africans to contribute to the development of the civil society sector. During my six months internship training in WACSI, I rendered my services in the Capacity Building and Policy Advocacy Units. That is, assisted in organizing and coordinating activities for the Institute, (NGO Management, Policy Engagement and Advocacy for CSOs in Ghana, Policy Engagement and Advocacy for Women’s Groups and Organizations in Liberia, Project Proposal and Grant Management for CSOs in West Africa, Policy Research Methodology for CSOs in West Africa, and Dissemination Seminar on Communal Conflict). Reflecting on my experience at WACSI, the internship programme has made immeasurable impacts in my aptitude in varied fields such as: Networking and relationship building, Report writing/Analytical writing, Professional confidence, Organizational and intercultural
competence, Organizing and Coordinating Programmes,
Furthermore the internship programme has broadened my knowledge base, which was possible through participating in the various workshops organized by the Institute and interaction with participants at the workshop. It had been a wonderful experience at WACSI and recommend the Institute organises more of such programmes and workshops to widen its sphere of operation. It will be of much benefit to the Institute if it creates similar platforms for the youth in West Africa as a way of building their capacities and bringing them to appreciate the civil society sector and share in the vision. Other recommendations include: redesign WACSI’s Programmes to inculcate foundational Courses on civil society and governance for tertiary students in West Africa; Develop tool kits and organise foundational training courses in advocacy, targeting both beginners in the civil society set up and tertiary students; WACSI should establish a corporate relationship with tertiary institutions within the sub-region.; The Institute should partner with credible Civil Society Organisations to develop a regional integration program for Tertiary Students within the sub-region.
INTRODUCTION West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) is a civil society focused research and capacity building institute in the sub-region. The institute is mandated to work towards making civil society strategic partners with government and the private sector. Thus WACSI empowers civil society actors and organizations to further this goal. The institute also creates the platform for the CSOs to engage stakeholders and policy decision makers.
To ensure continuity of CSOs activities and bring on board innovative ways and ideas of successfully accomplishing these goals, WACSI institutionalized the Next Generation Internship programme to build the capacities of the youth in West Africa within a 6-12 months period. The internship programme focuses on three key thematic areas in which the Institute works- Policy Advocacy, Training and Capacity Building and Research and Documentation. The internship programme seeks to develop the skills of interns in these areas. Interns work directly in these units under the close supervision of the unit heads.
The internship programme equips interns with the knowledge and requisite skills to withstand the challenges and act professionally in the Civil Society setup. This is possible because interns are given the opportunity to participate in training workshops and seminars.
Reflection on my Experience On the 4th of October 2011, I began an internship programme at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). I had expectations in relation to the programme. My overarching expectation was to strengthen my research skills to develop a career in research and international political economy. Other expectations include enhancing my competencies in the under listed skills: organizational and leadership skills; entrepreneurship and relationship building flexibility team work analytical self-awareness and professional confidence intercultural competence and
I worked under the supervision of the Capacity Building and Policy Advocacy Officers. My responsibilities were to assist these two unit heads in coordinating activities. During my six month internship period at WACSI the institute organized several capacity building workshops which I was directly involved in. These activities include: NGO Management Training Programme Policy Engagement and Advocacy for Civil Society Actors in Ghana Policy Engagement and Advocacy for Women’s Groups and Organizations in Liberia (Phase 1) Project Proposal and Grant Management Workshop for CSOs in West Africa Policy Research Methodology Training Workshop for Civil Society Actors in West Africa Dissemination seminar on Resolving Communal Conflicts in Ghana: The Role of NonState Actors
NGO Management Training Programme This programme aimed at strengthening the institutional foundation and the human resources of CSOs in Ghana. It attracted various CSOs across the country, who shared their experiences and ideas through the group exercises and presentations. I participated in the programme as a participant and a rapporteur. In the end 25 civil society activists had their management skills strengthened.
Policy Engagement and Advocacy Workshop for CSOs in Ghana The training workshop brought together 16 participants’ across the country majority of whom were based in the capital, Accra. The overarching objective was to enhance the advocacy skills of civil society groups and organizations in Ghana and to create a networking platform for CSOs to work together.
This training programme also set the stage for the participants’ to engage policy decision makers and stakeholders. My responsibility here was to organize and coordinate the workshop as well as serve as a rapporteur. Policy Engagement and Advocacy Training Workshop for Women’s Groups and Organization in Liberia, (Phase One) Critically observing the overall participation of women in the policy advocacy training workshops organized over the years pinpointed the fact that women participation was less than 30%. Realizing that the outcome does not correspond with the level of engagement and contributions of women in the advocacy work, WACSI took the decision to organize a special training programme for women groups and organizations within the sub-region. This was structured into a two phase training workshop. Liberia was the viable option because of the significant influence of Liberian women in the political economy of their country as well as producing the continent’s first female president. In collaboration with the International Women’s Programme of the Open Society Institute (IWPOSI) and the support of the Open Society Institute of West Africa (OSIWA), a four day training workshop geared towards skills enhancement, networking and creating a platform for engaging legislators was organized in Liberia.
I organized the workshop with the support of the Policy Advocacy Officer of WACSI and assistance from the entire staff of WACSI. I liaised with partner organizations of the Institute in Liberia- OSIWA-Liberia and WIPSEN-Liberia to successfully organize this workshop. The first phase successfully enhanced the advocacy skills of 20 women advocates in Liberia.
Project Proposal and Grants Management Workshop for CSOs in West Africa The Project Proposal and Grants Management Workshop brought together over thirty participants from the sub-region. The objective of the workshop was to augment the proposal writing skills of CSOs and build their competency level to enable them to successfully manage their grant whiles working towards development of the sub-region.
My role at this workshop was to assist in the coordination and ensure the success of the training programme.
Dissemination Seminar on Resolving Communal Conflicts in Ghana: The Role of NonState Actors The dissemination seminar on resolving communal conflicts in Ghana attracted both CSOs and the Academia across the country. This seminar was organized by WACSI in partnership with SIPRI purposely to disseminate the key findings and policy recommendations of the OSI/SIPRI/WACSI country case study “Governance and Security in Ghana: The Dagbon Chieftaincy Crisis”. It also sought to create an intellectual platform for CSOs, the Academia and Stakeholders to interrogate and proffer compelling solutions to the intermittent emergence of violent communal conflict that harmfully impact upon Ghana’s governance and security structures especially in the northern half of the country.
The overarching goal of the seminar was further strengthen the role of non-state actors in resolving communal conflicts in Ghana. I assisted in the organization and coordination of the seminar and rapporteured. I also benefited from the panel discussions and interaction with the dignitaries present. It served as a refresher as the presenters highlighted on the key approaches for managing conflicts, and deepened my knowledge on Dagbon Chieftaincy crises.
Policy Research and Methodology for CSOs in West Africa The Policy Research and Methodology workshop was a three day-training workshop organized at the WACSI secretariat. The workshop brought together experienced researchers and academics as facilitators who provided an intensive practical education to CSOs across West Africa. The objectives of the workshop were to enhance the participants’ skills in research design and report writing; and also to equip them with essential research tool to be able to produce substantive policy papers to influence governance, national and regional policies. The training workshop enhanced the research skills of participants in the following areas: research design and report writing; data collection techniques; data analysis; and communicating research outcomes.
During the three day workshop, I served as a rapporteur and collaborated with the facilitators and the Capacity Building officer to coordinate the workshop.
Acquired Skills Prior to my internship at WACSI, I had taken up a couple of internship programmes with equally reputable organizations in Ghana. The experience at WACSI is one incomparable to any other place that I worked. This is basically due to the team building spirit and the opportunity to enhance once skills whilst performing ascribed duties. The internship programme enlightened me as a person and built my capacity in the following behaviourial and professional skills: Networking and relationship building Report writing/Analytical Professional confidence Organizational intercultural competence
Professional Confidence My role at WACSI was geared towards building my professional expertise. Admittedly, I did not undertake any major research as anticipated. However, analyzing evaluation forms and writing workshop reports enhanced key technical skills (analytical and editorial) needed to make me a professional researcher.
Furthermore, writing an internship paper enabled me to overcome the challenge of producing a non-academic paper coming from an academic background. This challenge was a difficult one but with perseverance and in consultation with my superior and mentor I managed to accomplish this task.
WACSI has taught me to respond promptly to the requests and demands of partners and associates; treat them with utmost respect; not to make assumptions about needs of partners and associates but make further enquiries to clarify them; take the initiative in developing policies to meet their demands; and requests feedback from participants’ to ensure satisfaction. Lastly I
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learned to know when, and how to politely decline an inappropriate request from a partner or associate.
Recommendations The way forward to strengthen the civil society setup in West Africa and ensure continuity of its mandates, it is essential for the Institute to: Redesign Programmes to inculcate foundational Courses on civil society and governance for tertiary students in West Africa. Develop tool kits and organize foundational training courses in advocacy. This should target both beginners in the civil society set up and tertiary students. Establish corporate relationship with tertiary institutions within the sub-region. In this regard the institute could use this platform to engage the students in its programmes and other activities such as writing publications for the WAC-Series. Partner with credible Civil Society Organizations to develop a regional integration program for Tertiary Students within the sub-region. This would create the avenue for students at this level to brainstorm and a work as a unified force for change in the subregion.
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Conclusion WACSI’s internship programme has offered me a great opportunity. It has propelled me to be able to surmount challenges and excel in my career. The programme has enhanced my human relations and analytical skills as well as builds on my professional and team building competencies.
This is a great experience, one that is incomparable with other internship jobs I have taking up. It is highly impossible to see management and junior staff relate as a family. I was humbled by the excellent human relations of the Executive Director and erased the notion of female elites being a pain in the neck especially at the work places. The Executive Director has inspired me to serve rather than expect to be served by subordinates.
I am very appreciative of this opportunity. Thank you WACSI for having me as part of this unique family.
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