Acquiring new skills to strengthen the Social Watch office in Benin

Gustave sharing ideas with
colleagues in a group. (Photo:
West Africa Civil Society

Assah Gustave, National Coordinator of Social Watch Benin, is participating in a two week capacity development initiative in West Africa. In 2012, he has attended over twelve trainings across the globe. This last one reunited civil society organizations from Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Niger and Guinea. “It is now up to us to apply the best practices gathered from this training, to contextualise them and apply in Social Watch,” he said

Social Watch Benin is a network of over 150 non-governmental organisations (NGOs). With over 14years of experience as a civil society practitioner, with seven of these in Social Watch, Gustave has served in different junior and senior positions within civil society organizations.

He describes this training by West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) as "unique". "It is one that lays emphasis on all the fundamental structures needed to make a civil society organization robust, vibrant, accountable and results oriented", he notes.

This trainng is ongoing and will end on Saturday 8. It comprises four principal modules which include Board Development and Strategic Planning; Human Resource Management; Financial Management, Budgeting and Grant Reporting; and Monitoring and Evaluation.

In addition to the resource persons who deliver this training, the expertise of financial managers, grant managers and the monitoring and evaluation officer of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) share their experiences and perspectives with participants on ideal approaches to be accountable, professional and visionary in the pursuit of improving the quality of life of West Africans.

Mr. Gustave strongly commends the choice and quality of facilitators who are leading the different modules in this training.

Gustave described what he learned at the first session on board governance for civil society organizations which ended on Ago 29. “We need to have an administrative board that is competent and responsive; one which should be able to address the challenges that we face today”, he noted.

He also pointed out that he is clear on the necessity to clearly outline and clearly distribute the functions and responsibilities of the board to ensure that they deliver efficiently during their tenure.

Human resource management is most likely to stand out as a possible challenge that one would expect in any organization having a large staff capacity. “We need to understand how to effectively manage our personnel,” he said. “It is now up to us to apply the best practices gathered from this training, to contextualize them and apply in Social Watch.”.

The 26 participating organizations participating in the training have been selected from four francophone West African countries.

West Africa Civil Society Institute: