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Internship Report

Aicha Araba Etrew West Africa Civil Society Institute 9/30/2011

Internship Report Submitted By Aicha Araba Etrew

“In the face of seeming insurmountable adversary, I do not shutter, I roll, tumble, and fly”.

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Internship Report 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/ reviving civil society in West Africa. I am also grateful to my line managers, Mr. Charles Vandyck and Miss Omolara Balogun, heads of the Training/Capacity Building and Policy Advocacy Units respectively. Finally my heartfelt appreciation to the Executive Director of WACSI, Nana Asantewa Afadzinu, and the entire staff of WACSI for their supervision and assistance during the second phase of my internship at the Institute, I could have accomplished my tasked successfully without your support. I am and will always be grateful, “Meda hon ase”, “Mercy beaucoup”, “Gracias”.

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Internship Report Submitted By Aicha Araba Etrew

List Acronyms CSOs NGO OSIWA WACSI Civil Society Organizations Non-Governmental Organization Open Society Initiative for West Africa West Africa Civil Society Institute

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Internship Report Submitted By Aicha Araba Etrew

Table of Contents

Page Number 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 11 12

Acknowledgement…………………………………………………………… List of acronyms and abbreviations………………………………………….. Table of contents……………………………………………………………… Executive summary………………………………………………………….. Introduction …………………………………………………………………. Reflections on experience……………………………………………………. Professional competence……………………………………………………... Recommendations……………………………………………………………. Conclusion ……………………………………………………………………

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Internship Report Submitted By Aicha Araba Etrew

Executive Summary The Next Generation Internship Programme instituted by the West Africa Civil Society Institute aims at developing the skills of young Africans to fit into the civil society setup whiles contributing to revive the sector. During the second phase of my internship training in WACSI, I rendered my services in the Training/Capacity Building and Policy Advocacy Units. That is, assisted in organizing and coordinating activities for the Institute, specifically on the following programmes- Monitoring and Evaluation Training Workshop for CSOs in Sierra Leone, Policy Engagement and Advocacy for CSOs in West Africa, Results-Based Management Training Workshop for CSOs in West Africa and African Security and Governance Forum. 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, and Organizing and Coordinating Programmes. Furthermore the internship programme has deepened my knowledge in key social, political, and economic issues peculiar to African economies; and the objectives and contributions of civil society organizations in West Africa and Africa in general. This was possible through participating in the various workshops organized by the Institute and interaction with participants at the workshop. Again this internship has initiated me into the civil society sector and made me passionate about civil society activities (serving humanity in a special way). I say this because I never imagined myself working in this sector being a trained career diplomat and researcher in Political Science and International Relations. It had been a wonderful experience at WACSI and recommends the Institute to keep up and organize more of such programmes and workshops to widen its sphere of operation. Furthermore, the Institute needs to utilise internal resources such as the expertise of Staff in facilitating training programmes and conducting research in order to cut down the cost involved in contracting external facilitators. To do this the institute can develop further the capabilities of these staff to enable them act in that capacity; In addition It is necessary for the Institute to restructure the three main units; WACSI should also conduct a research into the status of civil
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Internship Report Submitted By Aicha Araba Etrew

society in West Africa. I recommend this because there is less and/or outdated literature on the subject; Utilise the skills and expertise of interns in addition to training them to acquire practical skills needed in the civil society sector; and Assist interns to integrate into the sector after undergoing the internship programme with partner civil society organisations.

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, policy decision makers and the private sector. 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.

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Internship Report Submitted By Aicha Araba Etrew

Reflection on my Experience On the 1st April, 2011, I commenced the second phase of the internship programme at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI). My expectation for the second phase of the internship was basically to enhance my research skills to develop a career in research and international political economy. The second phase of the internship enhanced further my organizational and personal skills such as: organizational and leadership skills; entrepreneurship and relationship building; flexibility; team work; analytical; self-awareness and professional confidence; and intercultural competence and strategic thinking. Admittedly I was unable to meet my overall objective for the second phase of the internship programmes which is engaging in rigorous research exercise. Here I was hoping to work with the research officer to produce research articles/papers on topical issues within the sub-region. Nonetheless, working as a programmes assistant with the responsibilities of assisting the Capacity Building and Policy Advocacy Officers in organizing and coordinating training programmes/seminars has improved my organizational skills tremendously. A key impact that this phase made with respect to my career development was in the area of editing. I had a weakness in this area and was not very fond of editing my work. I would rather prefer a second person reviewing and tracking changes that needs to be corrected. By working directly with Anna a volunteer at the Institute, she introduced me to a unique way of editing and that is an experience I believe money cannot buy. Every single day I spent at WACSI drew me closer to my dream, it heightened my knowledge of African economies, highlighted the critical issues in Africa that needed urgent attention and above all gave me a reason to live and utilize my talents to serve my country and Africa. Following from this I would like to touch briefly on some of the programmes I worked on at WACSI during the second phase of the internship. Below is a summary of the programmes. Policy Engagement and Advocacy Training Workshop for CSOs in West Africa This training workshop brought together 20 participants’ from West Africa. The overarching objective was to enhance the advocacy skills of civil society groups and organizations within the sub-region and to create a networking platform for CSOs to work together.

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Internship Report Submitted By Aicha Araba Etrew

This training programme also set the stage for the participants’ to engage policy decision makers and stakeholders. My responsibility here was to organize, coordinate and rapporteur at the workshop, however I started with the initial arrangements and preparations for the workshop and handed over to a colleague due to clash roles in relation with a similar training programme/seminar that I was working on. Monitoring and Evaluation Training Workshop for CSOs in Sierra Leone The Monitoring and Evaluation workshop was an in-country training programme specifically for CSOs in Sierra Leone. The objective was to help civil society actors and organizations in Sierra Leone understand the fundamentals of designing and implementing a monitoring and evaluation systems for a project or an organization; and to provide a comprehensive overview of a sample of monitoring and evaluation tools, methods and approaches, including their purpose and use; advantages and disadvantages and key references. The training workshop was organized by WACSI in collaboration with the OSIWA Sierra Leone Country Programme. My role at this workshop was to assist in the organization, coordination and ensure the success of the training programme. Results-Based Management Training Workshop for CSOs in West Africa This was a three day training workshop organized by WACSI. The overarching goal was to provide a coherent framework for strategic planning and management based on learning and accountability in the development environment. This focus aimed at improving CSO management effectiveness and accountability by defining realistic expected results, monitoring progress toward the achievement of expected results, integrating lessons learned into management decisions and reporting on performance.

I served as a rapporteur and collaborated with the facilitators and the Capacity Building officer to organize and coordinate the workshop.

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Internship Report Submitted By Aicha Araba Etrew

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 supervisor 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 learned to know when, and how to politely decline an inappropriate request from a partner or associate.

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Internship Report Submitted By Aicha Araba Etrew

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:  Utilise internal resource such as the expertise of Staff in facilitating training programmes and conducting research in order to cut down the cost involved in contracting external facilitators.  To do this the institute the can develop further the capabilities of these staff to enable them act in that capacity. In addition I suggest the Institute need to restructure the three main units. That set up a properly functioning Policy Advocacy, Capacity Building and Research Units to compose of competent staff whose daily activity will be to manage their unit and design programmes, learning tools, policy papers, follow up on events occurring within the sub-region in order to be abreast with issues and also influence the training programmes organised.  WACSI needs to conduct a research into the status of civil society in West Africa. I recommend this because in my search for the aforementioned subject. I realised that there is little or no literature available in this regard for the sub-region. The existing literatures are outdated and needs to be revised.  Utilise the skills and expertise of interns in addition to training them to acquire practical skills needed in the civil society sector. Thus the work of should go beyond organising workshops to being involved in technical duties also to reduce the work load on the respective unit heads. I suggested in my first report that WACSI engage the Youth in civil society activities and interns could be used to facilitate this process and as ambassadors for their peers.  Assist interns to integrate into the sector after undergoing the internship programme with partner civil society organisations. This would ensure effective use of the skills acquired at WACSI and make the purpose for the internship programme for West African Youths relevant and meaningful and also unique from other internships.

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Internship Report Submitted By Aicha Araba Etrew

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 improved 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 place. 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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