AfDB commits to strengthening dialogue with African Civil Society Organizations

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“To strengthen the collaboration between the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs): issues and options.” This was the theme of a discussion on the role of the Bank and CSOs during the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Marrakech. After the meeting, Ginette Ursule Yoman, Gender and Social Development Division Manager of the AfDB, assessed the relationships and options that aim to promote a more effective and constructive engagement. Her key words are: “the involvement in the operations of the AfDB,” “a policy of dialogue” and “a commitment to transparency.”

What is your assessment after discussions with representatives of African Civil Society at the Annual Meetings?
The 2013 edition of the Forum of Civil Society has been a great success, both in quality and number of participants. This forum provided an opportunity for the Bank to present its policy in three major areas: the dissemination and access to publications for all citizens, the promotion of integrity and the fight against corruption and the mechanism of independent inspection and mediation. These policies are a perfect illustration of the Bank’s commitment to transparency and its desire to be more open to the public. To achieve this, close collaboration will be established with civil society, which has welcomed these initiatives and demonstrated a willingness to participate in their success.

How does the AfDB’s plan to boost its partnerships with these organizations for high-impact results?

In October 2012, the Bank adopted the framework of consolidated engagement with civil society, which substantially strengthens the 2001 framework. This engagement framework opens up new opportunities for collaboration at the institutional, country and project levels. It strengthens the partnership initiatives, dialogue and communication, and plans for more sustained interventions – especially in fragile countries, the independent inspection mechanism and social areas.

You insisted on four dimensions for future AfDB action to strengthen the effectiveness of the partnership. What are your priorities for these actions?

This new partnership is the basis of strengthened collaboration. It will be completed in the coming months through a mapping of Civil Society Organizations on the continent and updated mechanisms for their integration into the operations of the Bank. In addition, the regional offices of the Bank, as of this year (2013), will host an Open House for the benefit of Civil Society Organizations to raise awareness of its mission and operations, in order to help maintain and strengthen collaboration with these entities.

And what is the next step when we hear representatives of Civil Society imply, recalling the spirit of Busan Partnership, that “the AfDB is a powerful organization”? Some say that the AfDB should go further to encourage African policy-makers to play “the right game” to allow the AfDB to be more effective on the ground. What do you say to this?

The Bank’s Ten-Year Strategy is accurate and calls for a structural transformation of the continent, with our institution having a central role. To do this, as defined in the strategy, the Bank will focus on the five upheld priority areas and three areas of interest: gender, food security and fragile states. In all these areas, as usual, the dialogue with regional member countries will be strengthened and the instruments of funding and assistance will be used effectively.