Subah-Belleh Associates and Management Systems International (MSI) of Washington, D.C., have released the 2016 and 2017 civil society organizations (CSOs) Sustainability Index for Liberia. The report is an annual study supported by United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to assess the strength and overall viability of the CSO sector in select sub-Saharan countries, including Liberia.
The study measures the sustainability of the CSO sector based on legal environment, organizational capacity, financial viability, advocacy, service provision, infrastructure, and public image. It also shows the overall progress or regression and compares yearly changes that affect sector-wide sustainability of CSOs. The study also employed an evidence-based methodology.
The project is sponsored by USAID, but contracted to MSI and now to an international NGO, FHI 360, a non-profit human development organization dedicated to improving lives in lasting ways by advancing integrated and locally-driven solutions.
The CSOs report, released a fortnight ago in Monrovia, brought together representatives from diverse professional backgrounds, including those from government agencies as regulators, partners and CSOs.
Oliver Subah, coordinator of CSOs Sustainability Index for Liberia, said after celebrating more than a decade of post-conflict peace, most CSOs were suffering from financial fatigue.
As such, Mr. Subah said many of the local organizations do not have the financial independence to carry out their respective mandates by impacting lives of ordinary Liberians.
According to the report, Liberia’s CSOs scored 5.0 out of 7.0 in ranking on sustainability– a mark which indicates that sustainability has been impeded.
However, Mr. Subah recognized that CSOs showed gradual improvement in 2016, and generally better than any other time on record.
“Sourcing local funding is virtually non-existing due to our depressed economy; these CSOs lack good financial management systems and sustainability and financial viability remain a challenge for most of our CSOs,” Mr. Subah said.
The findings highlight advocacy as the best area for CSOs’ operation with a rating of 3.7, indicating that sustainability in this area is evolving. This means that advocacy by local CSOs is progressing, and there exists some level of relationships between CSOs and the government.
Also during the weekend, Subah-Belleh Associates, and FHI 360 convened the 2017 CSOs’ Expert panel meeting in Monrovia responsible to discuss the status of civil society organizations over the reporting year, and to determine scores for the country’s report of the CSO Sustainability Index.
It brought together 10 diverse and representative panelists that included the government, media, the New Africa Research and Development Agency (NARDA), Lofa Integrated Development Association (LIDA), and the Center for Transparency and Accountability in Liberia (CENTAL).
The panelists discussed the dimensions for the year being assessed and reached consensus on the scores corresponding to each dimension.