The West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) organised a series of trainings to strengthen the capacities of environmental civil society organizations (CSOs) in Sierra Leone. These interventions came up as a result of funding support received by WACSI in 2020 from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). WACSI is a Ghana based international organization that seeks to enhance the effectiveness and performance of other civil society groups. It aims at strengthening the legitimacy, transparency, accountability and resilience of these groups through training, shared-learning, mentoring and coaching programmes among others.

The Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) was among several other CSOs in Sierra Leone that benefitted from those interventions.

Trainings tailored to the organizations` needs

The Institute began by assessing the operational needs of the targeted local CSOs, action plans outlined how the respective institutions intended to implement such plans. Training modules were then developed and tailored to meet those specific needs of the organizations. The trainings were conducted using virtual and face-to-face platforms, with the first set conducted through zoom in November, 2020 and covered topics like Resource Mobilisation and Sustainability, Organisational Governance, Results Based Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) and Project Management.

Mentorship as tremendous help for CSSL

In order to ensure efficiency in effecting the desired functional changes in CSOs, WACSI contracted Dr. David Sidikie Yambasu as a National Resource Person to support partners with the implementation of their respective action plans. Dr. Yambasu is a civil society activist and development professional who, until his contract ended in May 2021, engaged individual organizations both remotely and face-to-face at their office facilities and provided the required mentorship and guidance to ensure organizational effectiveness in operations. This service was indeed invaluable to CSSL, as gaps were identified and strengthened during this period.

“…we feel fulfilled by the mentorship provided to our staff by Dr. Yambasu over this short period. This has tremendously helped us reshape our operations as an organization”
Edward Sessay, Programme Manager CSSL

The virtual sessions also led to the development and submission of small grant project proposals to CEPF for funding. Technical support was jointly provided by the WACSI team and Dr. Yambasu to ensure that the proposals were written in accordance with the prescribed CEPF criteria, and against the organised shared learning virtual sessions for partners in order to further strengthen their skills in project proposal writing.

Valuable support in difficult times

Over five environmental CSOs who benefitted from these trainings saw WACSI’s intervention as timely and helpful especially when there are growing environmental problems in the country that require sustained advocacy. Building the capacities of such institutions to step up environmental advocacy work was hugely embraced by participants.