News and Ideas (19)
Written by Florence Kayemba (SDN), Ese Emerhi (TrustAfrica), and Charles Kojo Vandyck (WACSI)
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In March 2021, the World Communities Forum brought together organizations working with local communities to reflect on the past year and how Covid-19 has impacted the work that they do. TrustAfrica hosted a breakout session on “Community as a Response: Communities Organizing for their Development” on Day 1 of the virtual conference to tease out what are the enablers in supporting local communities in self-organizing for their development. The breakout session was facilitated by development practitioners and community leaders Ese Emerhi (TrustAfrica - Nigeria), Florence Kayemba (Stakeholders Democracy Network - Nigeria), and Charles Kojo Vandyck (West Africa Civil Society Institute – Ghana).
This follow-up article elevates key recommendations offered during the breakout session, by first giving some context on the challenges faced by local communities (often in conflict) and centering the article on factors that have enabled communities to respond to development challenges, including what priority interventions donors should invest in to support community actors to build resilience when responding to power dynamics within the broken aid system in the Global South.
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The original strategic approach of the Trust in 2017 was a focus on supporting local community-based organizations to implement projects in any of the seven thematic funding areas of the Trust. It was understood and appreciated that funding projects in a conflict-prone area to promote community development and other activities that support sustained economic development is a complex exercise with high risks, and hence, the need to work with local community-based organizations with the support of small grants to increase capacity and minimize risks.
In conceptualizing the Trust’s work with local community-based organizations, the Trust worked with a local Advisory Council made up of predominately Ogoni representatives and seasoned development practitioners to identify organizations and make funding recommendations to the Trustees of the Kiisi Trust. The Council met quarterly to review funding dockets, and as part of their work in discharging their responsibilities, met with Ogoni community representatives and stakeholders to discuss the work of the Trust. Between 2017
and 2020, the Advisory Council reviewed and debated over 64 grant applications and ultimately recommended 35 of those funding applications. Those funded projects resulted in impacting 30,861 beneficiaries in 68 communities across the 4 local government areas of Ogoniland. The Trust supports projects in seven thematic areas: agriculture, women’s programs, peacebuilding, education, governance, health, youth skills development/SME.
the Executive Summary
Grantmaking for the Kiisi Trust officially began in early 2018, after the inaugural Advisory Council gave their first grant recommendations to the Board of Trustees in December 2017. Currently, the Kiisi Trust gives out small grants of less than $10,000 in 7 thematic areas (peacebuilding, health, education/ adult literacy, youth skills development/ SME support, women’s programs, agriculture/ environmental rights, and governance/voice/ accountability). Projects are a minimum of six-months and a maximum of 12-months, depending on the project activities and objectives. Grant cycles are administered twice during the fiscal year (April – March), with a grantees’ forum conducted at the end of each grant cycle that officially signals the start of funded projects in that cycle.