-Says nothing has changed in the country
A representative group from civil society organizations, government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and development partners on Friday, February 15, 2019, released the ninth edition of the Civil Society Organizations Sustainability Index (CSOSI) 2017 report on Liberia.
The report, which covers 2017 and 2018, says nothing new has changed in the country between the years under review.
The Index is intended to be a useful source of information for local CSOs, governments, donors, academics, and others who want to better understand and monitor key aspects of sustainability in sub-Saharan Africa’s CSO sector. It relies on an expert panel of CSO practitioners, and researchers in each country to propose a score for each dimension.
The report, according to Oliver Subah, a consultant at Subah-Belleh and Associates (SBA), is a valuable resource for USAID, other international donors, local partners, researchers, academics, as well as civil society institutions. Subah is also the project coordinator of the CSOSI in Liberia.
The Sustainability Report is a valuable tool developed by USAID/Washington to gauge the strength and overall viability of the civil society sector.
The report analyzes dimensions that are critical to the sustainability of organizations in the sector. It highlights accomplishments made, problems remaining unresolved, recognition of the nature of outstanding challenges by local factors, and strategies to address these challenges in the development of CSOs.
The exercise is carried out annually in 15 African countries and other regions, including the Middle East, Eurasia, Central and Eastern Europe, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The reporting process for the Africa region is managed by US-based firm, FHI 360 (formerly Family Health International). Subah-Belleh Associates, a Liberian management consultancy, has led the Liberian process since 2009.
The 2017 Sustainability Report was presented by Mr. Subah, who said that the CSOSI report is an evidenced-based analysis of seven variables which include the legal environment, organizational capacity, service provision, financial viability, infrastructure, advocacy and public image.
Accordingly, the process begins with the impaneling of a team of experts who are knowledgeable of the operations of CSOs. That team, which includes civil society actors, journalists, researchers, lawyers and government representatives, meets for a day and exchange information on their assessments of CSOs.
Subah said the CSOSI evaluation process employs a 7-point scale with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of sustainability. These levels are clustered into three general stages which include Sustainability Enhanced (1 to 3), sustainability evolving (3.1 to 5), and sustainability impeded (5.1 to7).
He said the overall sustainability of Liberian CSOs did not change in 2017, because a rating of 4.8 was recorded, suggesting that sustainability of CSOs remains evolving, but has not improved.
The report further reveals that the financial viability of most organizations is not potent. Overall, CSOs are still not in the position to sustain their programs and activities beyond the intervention of donors.
In terms of service provision, most CSOs are still actively engaged in sectors such as health, education and food security. Mr. Subah explained that service provision by CSOs was stable in 2017 and complementary of government services which often inadequate.
As regards public image, the report reveals that government’s perception of CSOs is largely positive, until they become critical of government’s actions, as happened during the 2017 elections, when the government failed to enforce the code of conduct for state officials.
He added that most private-sector entities regard CSOs as reliable business clients.
The representative group of stakeholders at the launching recognized the usefulness of the index process. It provides an opportunity to look at the development of CSOs from a larger picture and to also reflect on the advancement of the sectors in the context of other programs and activities.
The CSOSI 2017 Report was formally launched by a partner of Subah-Belleh Associates with an encouragement to organizations and all stakeholders to use the report to strengthen their engagements in communities and in interacting with the Government.