By Winston W. Parley
In preparation for its phase-out from Liberia this December, Oxfam in Liberia has concluded a five-day workshop intended to strengthen partners’ capacity and make them more resilient to raise funds from different sources, and not be donor-dependent in continuing projects they have been doing over the years.
Women’s rights organizations with whom Oxfam has been working over the years, most of them women-led with offices in and outside of Monrovia, took part in the workshop which concluded Friday, 17 September 2021 along the Robertsfield Highway.
Madam Beatrice Newland, Gender Justice Program Manager, Oxfam in Liberia, said the initiative was funded through the European Union and Danish International Development Agency (DANIDAD) projects, implemented by Oxfam which works with 13 women’s rights organizations here.
Madam Newland said the workshop falls in line with Oxfam’s capacity-building plan for partners, given that Oxfam will be phasing out of Liberia by December this year.
“And these are partners that we have been working with over the years, implementing our projects and trying to help us actualize our vision in Liberia,” Madam Newland said.
She indicated that the intent is to strengthen partners’ capacity and make them more resilient to raise funds from different sources so that after Oxfam phases out, they will still be able to continue the work they have been doing over the years in the communities.
According to Newland, Oxfam has been doing a lot of projects in communities in Grand Gedeh and Sinoe Counties, seeking to change the situation of women by working with them at different levels, and educating the people that women’s way of dressing should not be an excuse for rape and other abuses, among others.
She said they have been working with women individually and at the community level, providing training, and carrying on a lot of advocacies at the national level.
Hawa Dunor Varney, Project Lead, Foundation for Community Initiatives on the European Union Enough Project, said the training was very essential for the different participating organizations especially that they learned about institutional financial sustainability, how to maintain donors and how to make your institution stand out among other organizations.
Madam Varney explained that there are a lot of non – governmental organizations (NGOs) in Liberia while the donor partners are in small number, thereby making it imperative for an NGO like hers to continue to implement its vision and stay accountable to its partner so as to be able to get funding to achieve what it has desired to do.
“And so another new thing that we learned is social enterprise, that’s a new module and it was introduced here. And some of us now as institutions we are going to see how we can experiment … some of those areas of social enterprise,” she said.
Through social enterprise, she expects that NGOs will get flexible funding to be able to support other components of their programs that donors don’t ordinarily support here, among others.
Alfreda Foboi – Nmah, Advocacy and Communications Manager, Helping Our People Excel (HOPE), Inc., said they learned a lot for the past five days, noting that mitigating violence in relationships between men and women is one of her key takeaways.
Madam Foboi – Nmah said her organization has a presence in Sinoe and River Cess Counties, promoting women’s rights and empowerment in the communities.
Additionally, she said another thing she learned from the workshop is that they were taught how to diversify their funding streams so that they should not continue to be donor-dependent, having recognized that for a lot of time NGOs here depend on donors for everything.
“And so we were able to learn new skills on how to go about improving our organizations, making sure that we write eye-catching proposals; we were also able to learn how to spot off donors because it’s not always sitting and waiting for call for proposals,” she noted.