Head of the Energy Access Programme at Strategic Youth Network for Development (SYND), Priscilla Adogo Ahiada, has bemoaned lack of adequate data to support the work of civil society organisations (CSOs).
Despite enactment of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, she said the decision to restrict information empowers public actors to deny CSOs access to vital data needed to aid their work – particularly on matters of transparency and accountability.
RTI, she argued, should have made it possible to access all information except those that border on national security. “Government needs to be forthcoming with data because CSOs mostly rely on research for our activities.”
She explained that the watchdog role of CSOs requires compliance with the right information to enable them play their part in nation-building and monitoring projects, including those funded by donors.
Madam Ahiada was speaking in an interview on the back of a workshop in Accra for CSOs on harnessing opportunities to influence multilateral development banks, and also called on CSOs to present a united front.
She advised CSOs to be more defined in their areas of operation, as well as build synergies to strengthen their operations.
“CSOs need to build their capacity and understand how the system works in order to relate and operate. There is also a need to have an interest in whatever is happening around us. If you have the interest, you will be able to follow conversations, policies or projects being implemented.
“All of these will inform you in making informed decisions or having a say on issues relating to areas of operations,” she said.
For instance, she said, SYND serves as the ACCESS Coalition West Africa Regional lead; and the workshop organised by SYND aims to build the capacity of participating CSOs.
This will be achieved by providing them with the knowledge and tools needed to engage with international financial institutions effectively and efficiently, particularly on issues relating to energy and climate change.
The World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB) have developed comprehensive frameworks for engaging CSOs in their operations.
These frameworks play a pivotal role in strengthening and sustaining the engagement of CSOs with banks; ultimately enhancing their programmes, policy documents and participation of CSOs in the development results of Regional Members Countries (RMCs).
The AfDB’s CSO Engagement Framework, aligned with its medium-term strategy, aims to better-integrate African citizen’s aspirations into its operations.
The World Bank Group, on the other hand, actively collaborates with CSOs worldwide; focusing on addressing key areas such as poverty, inequality, climate change, gender and more.
“The workshop therefore created an opportunity for ACCESS Coalition members to wield their influence on multilateral development banks. It’s a chance to shape policies, projects in their respective line of work,” she noted.