The African Development Bank (AfDB)’s consultations with East African civil society organizations (CSOs) concluded on December 9 in Nairobi, Kenya, with participants saying that they are now better equipped to deliver results.
For Caroline Wahome of the Kenya-Based Hivos-People Unlimited said the workshop was very useful. “The meeting has helped us to seize a better picture of the African Development Bank’s work in various countries. The presentation on procurement was about access to information. The procurement rules and procedures need to be taken to grassroots people, and to CSOs located in rural areas, even though they may not have the possibility to bid.”
Speaking at the closing ceremony on behalf of participating CSOs, Monica Malega of the Southern East African Trade Information and Negotiation Institute of Uganda, said, “These regional consultations are an outstanding example. Our minds have been enriched with ideas, information, statistics, strategies and visions. The workshop has provided a very useful platform to exchange information, share lessons from our own countries.”
Providing CSOs with as much information as possible was one of the objective of the regional meeting. To fulfil this objective, the meeting saw presentations from Bank experts on a variety of topics such as environmental safeguards, legal aspects of Bank interventions, the Bank’s new Development and Business Delivery Model, procurement, as well as presentations on agriculture, Jobs for Youth, and energy and climate change.
For Eric Paul LeBlanc, AfDB Principal Legal Counsel, it was important to inform CSOs on the Bank’s legal mandate, so that they get a better understanding of its development business. “Although the Bank usually finances projects with sovereign entities, such as countries, CSOs may get involved indirectly. They can act as the watchdogs or the social conscience in projects by participating in consultations, such as those under the Integrated Safeguards System. They can also intervene in the Independent Review Mechanism,” he added.
In addition to educating CSO on AfDB’s development business, the Nairobi meeting was also an opportunity to take stock of the concerns and expectations of civil society. These included mainly the need for better access to information and for capacity building. On these issues, Maria Mulindi, Senior Advisor to the AfDB President for Civil Society and Community-Based Organizations, said that steps will be taken to ensure continuous and constant interaction with CSOs.
At the end of the consultations process, Mulindi added, the Bank will look seriously into the need for capacity building that emerged as one of the common threads in the discussions. “We will ensure CSOs can participate and represent ably at every level of governance and policy-making and in strategic plans and government decision making,” she said.
The Nairobi meeting was the fourth of a series of five regional consultations with African civil society organizations. The meetings aim to strengthen mechanisms and grassroots support in the implementation of the Bank’s High 5 priorities (Light up and power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa) over the next 10 years. After East Africa, the North Africa workshop will be held in Tunis, Tunisia, from December 13 to 15, 2016.