Mobilising support example:
Campaign against rosewood logging
|Organisation||Social Initiative for Literacy and Development Program (SILDEP)|
SummaryOver the years, community based organisations (CBOs) in Ghana have faced an uphill task in garnering adequate support from community members to drive social causes. Despite their human centred missions, the scepticism of community members towards CBOs in the country is overwhelming. Fortunately, SILDEP has been able to overcome these constraints. In 2019, the organisation mobilised inhabitants of Tumu, a small town in the upper west region of Ghana, to raise over 37,000 Ghana Cedis, approximately $6,900, to support an advocacy initiative to protect their environment. Inhabitants of Tumu turned out in big numbers to call for the suspension of the operations of a rosewood processing factory whose actions had a devastating effect on their habitat. As a result of this targeted and public advocacy led by the community, which at times explicitly targeted the political establishment on the local and national level, the Ghana Assembly revoked permits on rosewood exploitation and subsequently banned its harvesting and exporting.
According to forest-trends.org, rosewood is the most widely traded illegal wild product in the world today, an endangered hardwood prized for its use in traditional Chinese furniture. Countries and communities in West Africa and other parts of the world where it grows, have been taking action to fight its illegal trade. A lasting solution will be to implement laws and adopt binding regulations to stop the illegal trade of timber.
SILDEP mobilised the community members to resist the actions of a timber factory processing rosewood in the Sissala East Municipality. Community members, civil society organisations, media, and other stakeholders voluntarily mobilised and came out to demonstrate, with positive result.
Which stakeholders (NGO’s, government, private sector) did you identify as allies and how did you involve them?
Community members, civil society organisations, media.
How did you involve your beneficiaries in the stakeholder analysis/campaign?
According to Wasor Ibrahim, Programme Manager of SILDEP, their organisation experienced many challenges because of ‘lack of trust’ from the community they serve; a situation in which the target population (beneficiaries) had misconceptions that CBOs would misappropriate their resources. Attributing such stereotypes towards SILDEP made it difficult for community members to support their causes.
The response of the community to the action against rosewood logging was in sharp contrast to his previous experiences. “Convincing our target groups to buy into our idea was a big challenge,” he says. “The idea of mobilising the total support of community members to equally champion the social causes SILDEP stands for happens to be a new direction we have embarked on.” This new approach was adopted by SILDEP after Wasor Ibrahim and his colleague Boduong Francis Atiine, who is SILDEP's Finance and Administrative Manager, took part in a Local Fundraising course in April 2019. Ibrahim says the lessons learned from these bespoke capacity development programmes enhanced his capacities to galvanise support from the communities they serve.
Ibrahim and Atiine admit that this programme delivered by the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), has contributed to a significant transformation of SILDEP’s operations. “The community’s willingness to come out in their numbers without any financial commitment from SILDEP to demonstrate against the factory due to the effect on the environment was commendable,” Ibrahim says. “Citizens voluntarily contributed resources to finance the process. Media persons were brought from the regional capital, Wa, and they were fully funded and catered for by the community members,” Atiine adds.
Short description of the organisation implementing the action/campaign
SILDEP was formed as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in 2008 and registered in February, 2009. The organisation was re-registered as an NGO in 2015 under its present name. Since its inception SILDEP has implemented projects in literacy; education; civics; agriculture; food security; governance; enterpreneurship; gender; rights of children, women and disabled; micro-finance and climate change. The programme is non-political, non-religious, non-denominational, non-tribal and non-profit making. The mission of the organisation is to promote the welfare of the rural people through language development, adult literacy, translation, gender equity promotion and skills development.
Action took place on August 26, 2019
Inhabitants of Tumu turned out in their numbers to call for the suspension of the operations of a rosewood processing factory whose actions had a devastating effect on the environment.
On 26 August 2019, the organisation mobilised over 250 community members to storm the streets of Tumu. They protested against the operations of the logging company in Tumu and over 1000 individuals signed a campaign petition to support the cause. Community members, civil society organisations, media, and other stakeholders voluntarily mobilised and came out to demonstrate.
The acts of the citizens compelled relevant agencies to respond by suspending the operations of the factory.
SILDEP remains in close cooperation with the government and local authorities to ensure no illegal rosewood production is taking place, and have recently expanded this partnership to also encompass the practice of fertilizer smuggling to neighbouring Burkina Faso. The established network has left a sustainable foundation for this work to continue in the future, and the community ownership formed the crucial component to its success. Although fundraising has become more difficult due to the strain in funding, SILDEP hopes to secure future funding again and further the interests of its people!