A functional democratic society requires a vibrant civil society and independent media sectors to ensure that citizens are well informed about the actions and performance of government and that citizens have the means to freely influence public policies. Despite this, however, civil society and the media sectors in Liberia and the region continue to face summonable constraints relating to their overall external operating environment. Specific internal organizational capacity deficits also affect their ability to perform effectively. Besides, the lack of financial resources and stability for funding their programs or activities remains a notable challenge.
Besides, despite growth, development efforts in Liberia and the subregion remain significantly challenged by severe capacity deficits at the community and national levels. This includes shortages of critical skills, inadequate leadership, impeding mindsets, and frail institutions. These deficits are having severe fraught on the implementation of government development plans and policies as well as donor-funded development projects.
Improving Access to Information and Building Capacity of Civil Society as Cornerstones for Sustainable Development
VOSIEDA is working to strengthen grassroots institutions, women-led and women rights CSOs through capacity building. Also, we create platforms for the participation of the private sector and non-state actors in identifying and addressing development priorities at both community and national levels. Besides, we work to advance freedom of information and expression and accelerate digital media to promote opportunities for citizens to add their voice to public debates and decisions to make the sub region free, safe, equitable, and democratic.
The majority of national CSOs’ ability to reach their full potential in contributing to development has been challenged by capacity constraints in Liberia and the Mano River Basin region. CSO capacity needs include analytical and adaptive capacities, the capacities for effective leadership, strategic planning, management and governance, the capacity to enhance accountability and increase legitimacy as well as the capacity for resource mobilization.
VOSIEDA conducts a participatory capacity assessment of civil society organizations in Liberia and the Mano River Basin region. Our team is mindful of the sensitivity of CSOs capacity assessment exercise, which is often conducted in a participatory manner including the development of the questionnaire, conducting the assessment itself, and the validation of the results.
Besides, VOSIEDA and partners lead the CSOs in the process of organizational development through training and coaching activities. We focus on building capacity for project design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation; communication skills with communities, government, and private sector; strengthening administrative and financial systems; and developing long term strategies to achieve their missions.
Over the next five years (2019 – 2024), we will focus on strengthening grassroot institutions, empowering women-led, supporting economic growth, enhancing skills, and generating and sharing knowledge at the community and national levels. Furthermore, we will create platforms for the participation of the private sector and non-state actors in identifying and addressing development priorities at both community and national levels.
Liberia and the Mano River Basin region suffer critical media-related problems. Foremost, the fundamental right to seek and disseminate information through an independent press is under attack. Part of this assault comes from unexpected sources. Elected officials that should be steadfast defenders of press freedom are making explicit efforts to silence critical media voices and strengthen outlets that broadcast favorable advertisement. The erosion of press freedom in the region is both a symptom of and a contributor to the breakdown of other democratic institutions and principles, a fact that makes it especially alarming.
VOSIEDA strengthens independent media and freedom of information. Particularly, it enhances press freedom, journalistic safety, and self-regulation; improve journalists and CSO’s awareness and networking and foster active citizens’ demand for information in Liberia and the Mano River Basin region.
Studies and experience have shown that there is a lack of awareness and knowledge about development proprieties amongst decision-makers and local communities in Liberia and the Mano River Basin region. For example, the buck of national development resources and international aid money is often spent to improve the supply-side (build infrastructures, train teachers, establish farms, etc.), which are necessary. Nevertheless, evidence from many communities across the region shows that these investments are often made at the expense of something equally important…creating demand for those investments so that the intended beneficiaries could use and benefit from them.
To address this challenge, VOSIEDA runs media campaigns to educate the community and to generate public demand. Our campaigns place development issues high on public agenda and effectively enable them to reach the influential group of policy-makers, elected representatives, professionals, political and religious leaders, power brokers, and interest groups. This inspires them to act in support of sustainable development in Liberia and the Mano River Basin region.