Assisting Regional Organizations in West Africa

Filed in Best Practices by on October 25, 2016 0 Comments

Imagine a world where local organizations are given the tools to assess their own organizations, prioritize their investments and areas to improve, and increase their ability to grow and be sustainable.

Kanava took steps toward this goal by utilizing its Impact Strengthening Development (ISDTM) assessment tool and certification program to work with five regional organizations in West Africa, grantees of the USAID/West Africa-funded West Africa Trade and Investment Hub (the Hub) project implemented by Abt Associates, to delve down into the policies, systems, and procedures they have in place to support the technical work they undertake. ISDTM looks at these nine interlocking components that are critical for organizational sustainability.

For the Hub, Kanava fielded a team of two, COO Carol Yee and a short-term French-speaking consultant, to West Africa in July 2016 to conduct assessments of five regional organizations, covering different technical areas and a combination of English and French speaking organizations. The project had a requirement to undertake a mid-term organizational capacity assessment (OCA) for these organizations, and in discussing the assignment, Kanava proposed expanding the activity to conduct a full ISDTM assessment of the organizations. By doing so, we provided the organizations with a more robust picture of the management systems they currently have, focused onisd-graphic-revised the ISDTM nine areas, and potential weaknesses that may hinder their development, growth, and sustainability.

We posited that they should view this as a mini-retreat to take a hard look at their own organizations, and soon they were involved in lively and intense discussion and debate about what they have or don’t have, as well as how well their systems are operating, despite some initial skepticism. None of the organizations had previously undertaken such a thorough review of their management systems. As a result of the ISDTM assessment, we developed a list of areas needing improvement for each organization, and worked with the project on which priorities they should focus on, while suggesting other activities that the organizations could either address directly or could seek funding from other sources. The organizations are eager to use the results of the assessment in their strategic planning this Fall.

Additionally, since OCAs were required for each organization, we mapped the OCA areas to ISDTM, thus provided each with an ISDTM and an OCA score. Previously, under the Capacity Building of Cambodia’s Local Organizations (CBCLO) program, Kanava had mapped the NUPAS questions to ISDTM, demonstrating the utility of linking near term and longer term capacity building indicators for users who would receive either a required NUPAS or OCA ranking, while also receiving the more comprehensive ISDTM rating.

COO Carol Yee also spent a week in Niamey, Niger, attending the work planning workshop for the newly awarded USAID-funded SERVIR West Africa project (SERVIR WA) under a subcontract with Tetra Tech. SERVIR West Africa is a partnership between USAID and NASA. The workshop was attended by consortium members, both expatriate and regional and staff from USAID and NASA. The project works with local organizations in the West Africa region to support the use of satellite imagery to improve conservation and climate-resilient, low-emission growth. Kanava is strengthening these local organizations in building their organizational capacity. Specifically, Kanava will support capacity building among the SERVIR WA consortium members on managing international projects, organizational processes in support of SERVIR/WA, financial management systems related to grants management, staff development, and partnership management.

Kanava is very excited to be able to work with these local organizations, to positively impact their ability to be sustainable and to positively affect the lives of the peoples of West Africa.

About the Author ()

Susan Puska is a retired U.S. Army Colonel turned entrepreneur with over 25 years experience in logistics operations, who also served as China Foreign Area Officer. She led Joint Logistics Support operations to over 30,000 Cuban and Haitian refugees and supported humanitarian medical assistance in Mongolia. She is a noted China expert who has written on political-military, logistics modernization, crisis management, and research and development topics. Her forthcoming publication is 'Commissars of Weapons Production: The Chinese Military Representative System,' with Debra Geary and Joe McReynolds, in "Forging China's Military Might: A New Framework for Assessing Innovation," edited by Tai Ming Cheung.

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