Skip to content

Annual Conference

Against the backdrop of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on CSO/NGO operations in Africa, a major goal of this year’s conference is to engage with the question of the sustainability of Africa’s Civil Society sector with the associated sub-themes of inclusion, governance, and impact on communities also being interrogated.

The conference presentations have been generated by recipients of research grants under the AROCSA PhD Fellowship Program and are focused around the issues of sustainability, inclusion, governance, and impact as it pertains to civil society work at both the organizational and community levels.

The event is designed to provide a space for interaction and engagement between and among civil society scholars, practitioners, policy experts, and members of the public. This year’s conference format seeks to encourage robust discussions among African CSO practitioners, policy experts and researchers investigating issues around sustainability, inclusion, governance, and impact both at the organizational and community levels with the goal of throwing up solutions and fostering collaborations that can lead to real meaningful impact at the grassroots level.Stay engaged throughout the conference through the social media hashtag #AROCSACONF21

More information here.

Theme: "Towards a more Sustainable Civil Society in Africa: Inclusion, Governance, and Impact"

The sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and its shocking effect on the global economy has raised serious questions about the sustainability of Africa’s civil society sector. In October 2020, a joint statement released by the ILO, FAO, IFAD and WHO declared that the economic and social disruption caused by the pandemic had put tens of millions of people at risk of falling into extreme poverty, while the number of undernourished people, estimated at nearly 690 million, could increase by another 132 million by the end of the year. According to the statement, informal economy workers in low, and middle-income countries such as those in Africa were deemed particularly vulnerable because the majority of these nations do not offer their citizens social protections nor access to quality health care, with many having also lost access to productive assets (ILO, 2020).

A June 2020 survey of one thousand and fifteen (1, 015) CSOs across 44 African countries by Epic Africa, found that 98% of participating organizations had their operations impacted and disrupted due to COVID-19 in one or more ways, with 85% of organizations surveyed indicating that they were not prepared to cope with the disruption to their operations. With respect to funding, 56% of the organizations surveyed reported that they had already experienced a loss of funding, while 66% expected to lose funding over the next three to six months.

Historically, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Africa have played a critical role in plugging gaps in government service delivery as well as holding governments and political leaders to account, and ensuring the basic human rights of freedom of expression, association, and the right to freely choose one’s leaders through the ballot box are upheld. But even before the onset of the pandemic, African CSO’s had been facing an array of challenges regarding their sustainability due to changing aid patterns for development (Arhin et al., 2018).

Against the backdrop of the effects of the pandemic on CSO/NGO operations in Africa, and the twin opportunities created by the responsiveness of African CSOs/NGOs to the pandemic which is driving conversations around a shift in North-South philanthropic power relations on one hand, and increased interest by corporates and foundations in the global North in funding minority and ‘Southern’ causes triggered by the death of George Floyd and the global BLM movement that followed on the other, this year’s conference seeks to interrogate and discuss research papers focused on the issues of sustainability, inclusion, governance, and impact at both the organizational and community levels and what addressing these issues portend for the future of Africa’s civil society sector.

Conference Theme Overview

Panel Sessions A
  1. Enabling Leadership and Innovation of South African Corporates: In the pursuit of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
  2. Quantitative ethnobotany of multiple-use species in the Yaselia and Lilanda villages surrounding the Yangambi Biosphere Reserve in DRC
  3. Exploring Sustainable Perspectives of Adolescents Reproductive Health in Ghana and Participatory Project Initiation Process
  4. Fodder, Market and Trade in Somaliland: Trends and Institutions Changes

Panel Sessions B
  1. Civil Society Organizations and Electoral Integrity in Ghana and Nigeria
  2. Nature and Implications of Women’s Followership of Civil Society Organizations: the case of the National Association of Women’s Organizations in Uganda
  3. Effects of Demographic Characteristics on Facilitators’ Attitudes and Their Engagement in Advocacy towards Inclusion of Adults with Disabilities in the Literacy Training Program in Gedeo Zone, Ethiopia
  4. The Financial Sustainability of NGOs in South Africa
  5. Towards Programs Sustainability: Empirical Analysis of Adopted Community Participation Methods for The Sustainability of Pure Locally Funded Development Programs in Tanzania

Topics for Panelists

The conference program will include the following:

  • Opening Plenary
  • Breakout sessions
  • Pre-conference Skills Development Workshop for early career scholars

Conference Format

June 28th, 2020:                 Pre-Conference

July 29th, 2021:                Conference

Please contact the AROCSA office with your questions by e-mailing Amina T. Banu,

Important Dates

About the 2021 Conference

Scroll To Top