Civil society organizations (CSOs) in many parts of Africa and the world are at the forefront of calls for effective policies, good governance, sustainable development, peace and transparency in state affairs. The role of civil society is to bring people’s concerns and make the voices of the marginalized heard in the social and political arenas. Civil society actors contribute towards delivering public services and facilitating democracy and development at the grassroots. Public agenda is shaped by the civil society which in turn influences public policies. Civil society promotes the values of human rights, social justice, accountability that makes democracy and development meaningful. In addition, they hold governments and multi-lateral organizations to account for their policies, programmes and actions. In West Africa, civil society aids poverty reduction and promotes sustainable development, by enabling citizens to empower themselves and actively seek effective performance and accountability from the state and the private sector. At community, national and regional levels, CSOs have become a recognized force in development, governance and democratization processes. Given the importance of civil society in West Africa, WACSI was created by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) to reinforce the capacities of civil society actors and their organizations in the sub-region. This was done to minimize capacity building deficiencies inherent within CSOs. In doing so, WACSI stands as the prime catalyst in leading West African CSOs towards a better implementation of their flagship programmes. Given this responsibility, WACSI, after its creation, implemented the ‘Next Generation Internship Program’ to forge a guaranteed future for a young generation of competent personnel within civil society in West Africa. Through this program, interns are given maximum exposure to civil society concepts, platforms and opportunities to endow them with the skills required to serve as agile civil society actors in the future.

coalitions and advocacy groups. The term civil society was originally coined to describe popular movements in Latin America that sought to counterbalance the power of oppressive governments on the one hand and exploitative international financial interests on the other. the definition of civil societies has expanded and influenced developments in nations. Guinea Bissau. self help groups. developments have actually increased more than it was two decades ago and this has been through the influence of civil societies. social movements. Sierra Leone and Togo) and an area of approximately 5 million square km. the UN definition of Western Africa includes the following 16 countries (Benin. professional associations. registered charities. development nongovernmental organizations. political parties) as an alternative means of directly . community groups. Mauritania. It is the westernmost region of the African continent. women's organizations. Cote D’ivoire. trade unions. Nigeria.This report covers my activities during the internship program. INTRODUCTION West Africa is west of an imagined north-south axis lying close to 10° east longitude. I will enumerate the tasks performed. Since the end of the cold war particularly. Within the subregion. Civil societies have expanded to include a variety of non-state actors. Cape Verde. Ghana. These functions include but not limited to the following: Civil society is contrasted with the state (government and parliament) and formal political sector (e. The Gambia. Civil society organisations carry out one different function depending on their interest or area of expertise. Senegal.g. Liberia. Burkina Faso. the knowledge and skills gained and propose a way forward for the Institute to continue successfully in its enriching programmes for the benefit of West African CSOs and actors. continents and the world. faith-based organizations. Civil society is a complex word with different meanings and connotations. business associations. Guinea. Geopolitically. Niger. Mali.

It has also been discovered that this gap between civil societies and state has been due to inadequate engagement skills and poor institutional and operating capacities of this civil societies. its strengths . policy advocacy and training and capacity building which are the core areas in which WACSI operates. Through these defined areas.representing the will of ordinary citizens. WACSI has been focused to its vision and mission as a capacity builder for CSO’s. During this period. WACSI instituted the internship programme. I commenced my internship with WACSI in November. good governance. 2011 for a period of six months. WACSI was established by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) to enhance and strengthen the capacity of CSO’s in the sub region by bridging identified institutional and operational gaps. Through this programme. To achieve this. Most particularly. It was on weakness and gaps highlighted that West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) acquired its mandate to strengthen the capacities of civil societies in the sub region to foster and encourage development. young scholars and professionals are empowered with the appropriate skills to face the challenges inherent to civil society. report writing. This programme seeks to ensure the continuity of having potential ground-breakers and future prominent decision makers in the civil society sector in the future. planning and implementation. my knowledge of the civil society mode of operations. working within such an environment endows interns with a comprehensive understanding of organizational functioning. WACSI’s programmes aim at rendering CSO’s as viable partners in the pursuit of democracy. programmes conception. grooming future professionals for the civil society sector. peace and development with governments in the sub region. The next generation internship started in January 2008. The programme provides interns with opportunities in research. interns are assigned tasks which enable them to acquire and/or improve upon their skills in research.

During the internship. write reports. This report documents my experience during the six months internship and the knowledge acquired while at WACSI. In a bid to bridge these policy advocacy knowledge gaps and capacity within civil society in the sub region and their relation with government. 2012. I was attached to the programmes section of the organisation where I had the opportunity to conduct trainings for civil society actors and participate in in-house trainings for staffs. techniques and tactics in planning an advocacy intervention with the goal of promoting an open society. various desktop research assignments/projects. WACSI . participatory and responsive governance. introduction and effective engagement strategies. The fun and challenges attached with the training and relating with people from different cultures and background have nourished my professional capacity. definition of advocacy related terms. OVERVIEW OF INTERNSHIP PERIOD My internship lasted from November. 2011 to May. develop the institutional indigenous expert’s database and assist in the production of manuals for civil society institutions and actors. MAJOR PROJECTS: Specialised Policy Engagement and Advocacy training for Civil Society Actors in Sierra Leone The policy and advocacy section of the institute was designed to provide civil society organisations and actors with an unclutter understanding of advocacy concepts. the way forward was increased.and weakness. It has also left me with a burning desire to passionately pursue sustainable development in the civil society sector.

reputable organisations. Being a part of the WACSI team including which included facilitators. actors and building strong networking and collaboration with its partners. The institute have held numerous trainings which has been targeted to civil society actors in the sub region. however. I gained extensive knowledge on report writing. planning and executing programmes and how civil society can engage with governments to foster development. . Wacsi Experts Database As part of the institute’s (WACSI) commitment to strengthen the capacities of civil society organisations. To make the database credible. the institute created an indigenous experts database for development professionals within the sub region and Africa. this was the first training the institute held in Sierra Leone. I was in charge of call of applications.designed Specialised Policy Engagement and Advocacy course targeted at equipping civil societies and its actors to effective plan successful advocacy campaigns and policy influencing strategies. Working on this project helped me to understand how influential practitioners are or should be in the development of Africa and the sub region and it helped increase my interpersonal and relation skills having to deal with well acclaimed experts and professionals in the development sector and other related fields. the institution had to identify and document the interpersonal and facilitation skills of African professionals in their individual fields. logistics preparation before arrival and in country and the reporting of the training. and governmental agencies and amongst professionals.

My leadership skills were horned and harnessed during my internship period through the responsibility bestowed upon me to take charge of various internal procedures and working on institute’s social media and database. This was purely achieved by the institute commitment to developing young individuals and granting them leadership position. through which my decision making skills were structured. It also helped me to function in a variety of setting making it easy to adapt to new situations and organisational concepts. This is achieved through mentoring. elections and democracy. The internship also provided me with increased knowledge on thematic issues such as peace and conflict. internal trainings for staffs and other knowledge sharing platforms. During my internship. . training and monitoring the growth of these individuals. the programme has created an enormous impact on my skills and aptitudes in different domains. This internship programme has given me the opportunity to work in a multicultural environment. This was possible due to extensive publications and resource center available at the institute and through its activities such as convening meetings in security sector.THE INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCE The “Next Generation Internship Programme” was founded to provide next generation of competent leaders to sustain the development of civil societies. I learnt how to write reports objectively and diligently having been exposed to the institute’s programmes and trainings. It has the aim of grooming young Africans scholars and professionals with the required and adequate skills needed to work in the development sector. gender development. I was introduced and exposed to a professional environment where I have learned how to work in a structured environment and have learnt many office procedures which included administrative task. As an intern.

however it is subject to improvement which I would like to humbly present. This can increase WACSI visibility and the intern’s versatility and experience. having been able to ameliorate its approach towards the internship programmes. interns should therefore be given a detailed orientation of the activities and mandate of the institute. the institute commission researches and develop manuals for use within civil societies. thus making it record a lot of achievements which are evident in the individuals who have gone through this programme.As part of the institute commitment to bridging the capacity gaps identified within civil societies. Internship Project The internship programme is a platform which was created to groom future competent leaders to their full professional potentials. which can always be attributed back to the quality acquired during their internship. This programme should not interfere with other activities the intern is scheduled on. I had the experience and opportunity to contribute to the development of its manuals in policy advocacy. . RECOMMENDATIONS The internship programme instituted by the WACSI has grown a lot. which has improved my research skills and ability and added knowledge to conducting and carrying out research. One of the ways to achieve this would be to allow every intern to come up with a project ad-hoc with WACSI’s mandate to run its course during the internship period. Training for Interns WACSI is a well-structured institute with different functional units. The interns should also be given special trainings in WACSI’s intervention areas to improve their knowledge.

As a learner. WACSI is also bound to benefit since interns under the exchange programme will apply the experience acquired from other organizations in WACSI and improve the functioning system at WACSI and the implementation of its strategic plan. which aims to develop the skills of interns. peace and peace processes. WACSI can provide mentors for interns who should be professionals in the proposed intern area of specialization to develop and mentor the intern and thus building the intern leadership and professional capacity. The preview that interns would serve for two months in partner organisation during their period as interns at WACSI has not been implemented. CONCLUSION Six months at WACSI as an intern has been a unique experience which gave me the opportunity to explore my personal interest in research. country and sub-region. WACSI provided me with an opportunity to acquire practical skills and a deep understanding of the civil society and organizational management. interventions and challenges. The reinstitution of this exchange programme would bolster the visibility of the Institute and as well. I have bettered my understanding of civil society operations. My understanding of civil society operations. INTERNSHIP EXCHANGE PROGRAMME WACSI should consider effectively implementing the internship exchange programme.Mentoring This should be part of the aim of the “Next generation internship programme”. This will go a long way to strengthen the internship programme and make interns useful to the institution in future. serve as a platform for the creation of new and concrete partnerships in the sector. . During this period. interventions and challenges has appreciably been enhanced. The exchange programme if implemented will enable interns to learn a lot and gain the experience of working in diverse organizations. issues relevant to civil society that are vital for a healthy society which in turn promote democracy. In view of this.

but also trains personnel to fill the human resource gaps in the rapidly developing sphere. . human rights among others. the goal of grooming young professionals is achieved. which does not only strengthen personnel in the sector. WACSI has distinguished itself as a warehouse for the civil society sector. Presently. I have also gained an indepth understanding of the challenges facing West African communities which impede the achievement of economic. The Institute is assured that through the internship program. I have realized that a vibrant civil society is needed to make things right in less developed countries in the face of poverty and marginalization in nations under bad governance. It is a great privilege to be one of the beneficiaries of this practical learning and professional molding platform in West Africa. Through the ‘Next Generation Internship Program’.policy advocacy. social and political development. gender.