In Togo, it is difficult to see civil society organizations working with parliament. Added to this is the lack of a forum that encourages collaboration between the two entities to identify common challenges in the work they do. To help solve these problems, Parliamentary Network Africa ( PNAfrica ) and the Coalition of Associations against Impunity in Togo (CACIT) organized a workshop in Lomé on Tuesday.
The purpose of the meeting organized by PNAfrica and CACIT was to provide capacity building for CSOs.
The activity allowed the organizers to educate the participants about the project “Open Parliament Engagements and Networking in West Africa (OPEN West Africa)”. A project implemented by PNAfrica with the financial support of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), based in the United States.
“OPEN West Africa aims to establish a community of CSOs in the West Africa region, with the aim of sharing experiences and best practices aimed at promoting parliamentary openness within the ECOWAS Parliament and national assemblies in the region,” explained Cynthia Afi Dzudzor.
The Communication and Advocacy Manager, PNAfrica explains that the project follows the observation that the parliamentary oversight work of civil society organizations in favor of the promotion of openness has received less attention in Africa, in particular in West Africa than in other parts of the world.
A baseline study commissioned with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa found that “despite cordial relations with parliament, a significant number of civil society organizations struggle to access information and consider the National Assembly to be a relatively closed institution.
Creation of a Parliamentary Resource Hub
The project includes the organization of learning and networking workshops for PSOs in West Africa and the creation of an online parliamentary resource center that will serve as a repository of best practices within the community. PSOs for peer-to-peer sharing and exchange of experiences.
It also intends to develop a standardized Open Parliament Index monitoring and evaluation tool to improve the openness of West African National Assemblies.
The Index will rank West African National Assemblies on the issue of openness, transparency, accountability, responsiveness and level of citizen participation in parliamentary work and disseminate the results widely.
Story By: Louis KAMAKO