District Networks urged to Reposition themselves for Greater Performance and Impact.

Published By UNNGOF |  December 8, 2014

On 1st and 2nd December 2014 at Esella Country Hotel, Uganda National NGO Forum (UNNGOF) hosted the 3rd Annual SPAN Convention with the theme, Beyond 2014; Securing the Change we Desire! Following three previous conventions, this year’s objective was to take stock of the year 2014 – the progress and challenges that emerged and lessons learned. The convention also provided an opportunity for the SPAN (Support Programme for Advocacy Networks) partners to critically generate strategies to entrench the place of District Networks as key players in the development arena.

Speaking to participants, Mr. Richard Ssewakiryanga Executive Director UNNGOF, shared with participants a short history of the evolution of CSOs, describing them as the political space between the family unit and the state.

“The earlier groupings like the trade unions, women’s groups, workers groups, associational groups and religious groups inter alia rallied around specific issues and worked tirelessly to effect desired change,” said Mr. Ssewakiryanga.

Similarly, the SPAN partners were called upon to reposition themselves amidst the shrinking operational environment caused by perceived state failure that perpetrates violence and protests and limits CSO organizing. Mr. Ssewakiryanga urged participants to think about their reach, impact in terms of numbers, and how to increase their scale of influence and relevance. He also tasked SPAN partners to be accountable and embrace QuAM so that they serve with transparency and integrity He called upon them to harness their potential and espouse values like respect, responsibility as well as act with resilience and have positive attitudes.

SPAN infrastructure has direct presence in 600 sub-counties reaching approx. 16.5million citizens. It also plays a great role in linking CSOs with Local Government. ULGA appreciated CSO efforts in building relationship and pleadged commitment to work with the district partners for change.

This two day convention also saw presentations from the Regional Advocacy Networks (RANS) on their work in 2014, with described wins like more sharing amongst the network partners, mobilization of partners in regards to collective campaigns and ability to fundraise, all thanks to capacity building efforts for the networks.

Also described were challenges like the need to integrate the social accountability model into all their operations, capacity gaps especially for new networks like ICT usage that need be filled, governance issues and fundraising.

The convention also accorded participants a chance to ‘clean house’ and collectively plan for 2015; agree on collective areas for engagement and streamline efforts towards achieving the set goals.

Participants echoed the need to do more research for evidence based advocacy and also increase the number or women in various programmes.

In order to strengthen skills in fundraising, participants were subjected to success stories and inspirational sharing from different speakers such as Mr. Jackson Kaguri of Nyaka Project, Mr. Christopher Gumisiriza Grants Manager USAID GAPP and Rob Otin from NDI. The mai facilitator for the convention was Mr. Joseph Ssuna.