AfDB partnership with CSOs to spur development in Africa

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A committee comprising the African Development Bank and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has been relaunched with the aim of fostering partnership between the two players in order to enhance development on the continent.

The committee, reintroduced at a two-day meeting between the Bank and CSOs will discuss a work plan, modalities of its implementation as well as an accountability structure. “CSOs are our integral partners especially in the promotion of accountability, transparency and good governance. Accountability is key in terms of achieving our objective, and we could certainly do with an external reporting tool especially from CSOs,” Rakesh Nangia, Chair of the committee, said as he opened the meeting on January 14 at the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Addressing the participants, who included regional civil society heads and representatives of key sectors within the Bank, he reiterated the importance of strengthening engagement with CSOs. “The Bank recognizes and values the expertise and contributions of CSOs, which are essential in achieving sustainable development in Africa,” said Nangia, who is also the Evaluator General of the Bank’s Independent Development Evaluation department (IDEV).

His remarks were echoed by Mamadou Goita, Chair of the Civil Society Coalition, who described the role of civil society as crucial in helping the Bank to frame projects that would be more relevant to communities. “We need to be involved from the first stage of designing a project because we know the context of our various communities. We can then help follow through to the implementation, monitoring and evaluation stages,” Goita said.

He cited the recent Ebola response saying civil society organizations would have been approached to help in framing the nature of the Bank’s assistance. “We are the ones on the ground and we know the specific needs on the ground; if it is support in getting skilled care, drugs, or even building new hospitals, among others.” In August last year, the Bank approved a US $60-million grant to help strengthen West Africa’s public health systems in a bid to address the Ebola crisis.   

The issue of engaging with CSOs from fragile states came into focus with recommendations of sustainable funding and long-term institutional development of the organizations, including capacity building.

However there were calls for a range of CSOs (international and local) in fragile states to work together in order to strengthen delivery of services. “International NGOs may not be able to intervene on the ground without involvement of grassroots NGOs. Both need to collaborate and ensure results,” noted Baboucarr Sarr, the Lead Regional Fragility Coordinator in the Bank’s Transition Support Department. This, he said, was a key lesson learnt while working in the Horn of Africa.

The AfDB-CSOs partnership is guided by the Framework for Enhanced Engagement with Civil Society Organisations, which is in line with the Bank’s Ten Year Strategy (2013-2022)