The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) held a forum last Friday in Accra for its Ghanaian partners to engage them on the various developmental projects that they have embarked upon and the ones which they are currently handling.
The aim of the forum, according to the Law, Justice, and Human Rights Programme Manager of OSIWA, Ms. Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei, was to create an opportunity for the partners to have a direct encounter with the OSIWA representatives, and to deliberate on issues concerning their projects in Ghana.
The forum was also to enlighten the OSIWA representatives on the shortcomings (if there were any) of the projects undertaken by their partners, and to find solutions to them.
In a remark, the Law, Justice and Human Rights Programme Manager said since its inception in 2000, OSIWA has worked on a wide range of issues, including mining and human rights, and seeks to strengthen civil society organizations (CSOs) and enhance citizens' social demands for accountability and effectiveness in public service delivery.
For these reasons OSIWA, she said, has supported and funded many non-governmental organizations (NGOs), CSOs, and other organizations to carry out various projects which would have positive effects on the people living in deprived communities and those that mining have affected adversely, and the various sectors of the economy in the West African sub-region as a whole.
OSIWA, she disclosed, operates in 10 West African countries. These are: Ghana, Benin, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone. It is based in Dakar, Senegal, and with four country offices in Conakry, Monrovia, Abuja, and Freetown.
The organization has significantly supported a variety of projects bordering on democratic governance, legislative advocacy and access to justice, economic reform, and natural resource management initiatives to ensure the development of appropriate, acceptable, progressive and transparent framework for the emerging oil and gas sector of the Ghanaian economy.
Other projects focus on ensuring active community participation at the grassroots in local government decision-making, improving democracy, protection of the rights of people living with disabilities, the vulnerable, women and children, and the advancement of education.
There were over 36 groups of partners present at the forum. They included CDD-Ghana; IMANI-Ghana; the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG); the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC); Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL); Ghana Society for the Physically Disabled (GSPD); Amnesty International; the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE); the Electoral Commission of Ghana; Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, and many others.
She stated that OSIWA was currently working on a four-year strategy in the West African sub-region, with more focus on communities affected directly by mining operations to ensure that those communities benefit increasingly from the extraction companies.
Ms. Asare-Kyei noted that during this four-year strategy plan, more jobs were expected to be created for the youth. The capacity of media practitioners and their media houses would be built to improve their professionalism and effectiveness.
Ms. Asare-Kyei hinted that her outfit would work more with the non-conventional groups which by their own means were doing very well to help their communities.
In an exclusive interview with ModernGhana, the Law, Justice, and Human Rights Programme Manager of OSIWA hailed the Ghanaian partners for doing well with their projects over the years.
She also appreciated the ability of the Ghana government, which has taken the activities of CSOs very seriously and is working along very well.
She was optimistic that despite the current economic challenges Ghana was facing, “things will go well for Ghana again…we chose Ghana as our model country at the beginning of our project, because Ghana was sound economically and politically”.