As part of the CSOs regional learning event, Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF) supported Masaka NGO Forum to hold a stakeholders’ meeting to reflect on the different aspects of the Network. The reflection was against a background that Masaka NGO Forum has been experiencing many operational challenges that have almost brought her operations on a standstill. The CSOs learning event took place on 2nd – 3rd March 2017 at Hotel Brovad, Masaka bringing together 50 CSO leaders from Masaka, Kampala, Kibaale, Ntungamo, Tororo, Bushenyi, Rukungiri, Kalangala and Mukono districts.
The learning event aimed at offering an opportunity for CSOs/Networks to reflect, share and learn new approaches, innovations for the existence of strong and sustainable networks; and specifically it sought to -to undertake an institutional assessment for Masaka NGO Forum; to have an in-depth understanding and appreciation of the role of CSO Networks; to offer space for shared learning on the best practices, to build consensus on the key principles and practices for effective networks.
Day one of the learning event was an in-house reflection on the Masaka NGO Forum by its stakeholders while day two focused on the wider discussion on building strong and sustainable CSO Networks. On day two, participants benefitted from the presentation on CSO Networks, legitimacy and Accountability by Richard Ssewakiryanga, Executive Director, UNNGOF; this helped create appreciation of a vibrant CSO network. Also participants learnt from the journey of CSO Networks as shared by Mr. Kakonge Apollo, Chief Executive Officer of Western Ankole CSO Forum – Walking the Talk: The case of WACSOF (The journey, successes, challenges and lessons learnt) CSO Networks best practices. Speaking at the learning event, the RDC Masaka Lt. Joe Walusimbi challenged CSOs to ensure they stick to the mission and vision of their NGOs to avoid clashes with government. He also encouraged CSOs to regularly network as this enhances learning amongst them.
Moving forward, leaders of Masaka NGOs resolved to revamp Masaka NGO Forum and constituted a normalization committee to fast track this process. There was an appreciation of the need to embrace QuAM as a means to improve systems within the Networks. Uganda National NGO Forum committed to provide technical back stopping to CSO Networks and particularly Masaka NGO Forum because CSO coordination is less problematic when Networks are strong.
Networks play a critical role in coordinating CSO efforts; providing reflection and sharing spaces; information sharing; and also as a nucleus for policy advocacy. The current challenges within Networks however, have left CSOs efforts and voice uncoordinated and thus their impact not felt in communities. Such learning events will help to create a forum to discuss the current realities in the sector and build a strong and vibrant CSO sector that can participate in development processes of this country.
Story by Robert Ninyesiga