Theme: A Just and Green Recovery for Africa: A Call to Action
Africa’s debt burden is heavy, very heavy, and servicing this debt is taking precious resources away from the continent that could otherwise have been used for development, the provision of social services, or the purchasing of anti-COVID-19 vaccines. With the health and economic crises that followed the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the flow of financial coming to the continent has shrunken, at a time when the need for resources is perhaps even greater than before the crises. We therefore need all the resources that are available on the continent to overcome the crises and build better futures. Calls for the cancellation of the external debt, or, at the minimum for a prolonged moratorium on the servicing of the debt (at least until 2022) are becoming louder and more pressing, and are coming from many people and institutions, including a growing number of African governments.
On 15th March 2021, ActionAid, TrustAfrica, Africans Rising, Oxfam, the West African Civils Society Institute (WACSI), the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF), East African Civil Society Organizations Forum, CIVICUS, African Forum on debt and Development (AFRODAD), and ANCEFA came together in round table discussion on the African debt, as a side-event of the 53rd Session of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development. The Senegalese Minister for the Economy and Cooperation, Mr Amadou Hott, delivered the opening address, following the welcoming remarks of Ms Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, ActionAid board chair and IMF special advisor. Participants discussed reports of studies carried out in several African countries as well as presentations on possible responses to the debt burden.
Project Manager: African Philanthropy
After four years with TrustAfrica she is embarking on a new adventure with TrustAfica friends at the Global Fund for Community Foundations. Ese Emerhi, was most recently the project manager for the African Philanthropy program at TrustAfrica. From 2017 to 2020 she served as the project director for the Kiisi Trust Fund, a donor-advised-fund managed by TrustAfrica on behalf of the Kiisi Trust's Trustees for the benefit of the Ogoni people in Rivers State, Nigeria, where she explored how TrustAfrica could best accompany and support community foundations in setting up.
In her last few months at TrustAfrica, Ese has been contributing to the strategic planning for the TrustAfrica Nigeria/West Africa country office, leading TrustAfrica’s role in the Community Immunity Initiative, as well as strategically thinking through ramping up the African Philanthropy unit at TrustAfrica. Ese recently wrote an article titled, "What's the Matter with Small Grants", where she explores her insights around this question: “If small grants are an attempt to addressing the uneven power balances in traditional aid, then its approach must also work to address or at the very least recognize limitations inherent in grantmaking and seek adjustments to improve." Read her full article here looking at a participatory approach to grantmaking, leveling the field between donor and grantee-partner, and ensuring that community representatives have a say in how the funds would be used. Ese also recently appeared in conversation with African GrantMakers Affinity Group (AGAG) discussing her article and more on 31 March 2021.
On 23 and 24 March 2021 the Inaugural World Communities Forum was convened by SHOFCO where the Global Alliance for Communities was launched as a coalition of 160+ proximate leaders from around the world. Over 1500 people tuned in across the globe to conversations from community-based leaders focused on solutions and insights from their work on the front lines of inequality and social change. Themes explore the prioritization of women in community development, economic recovery from the grassroots up in the post COVID-19 era, grassroots community organizing and mobilizing, and envisioning a more equitable future with regards to race, health and wealth. TrustAfrica was honored to host a Collaborative Workshop on day 1 of the WCF exploring how Communities Are Organizing for Their Development. The output of the WCF will be passed to the Global Alliance for Communities, in which TrustAfrica is a founding member, hat will build on the conversations from the Forum by advancing high-level policy asks that shift funding and resources to the grassroots.
On 10 and 11 March 2021, TrustAfrica in partnership with the Thomson Reuters Foundation convened 110+ media and civil society practitioners from xxx to discuss and debate the issue of illicit financial flows (IFF) from Africa in the Covid-19 era.
The virtual convening focused on the theme: ''Strengthening the collaboration between the media and civil society in the fight against illicit financial flows (IFFs) from Africa in the Covid-19 era." The convening was part of the 2021 edition of the Media-Civil Society Meeting on Illicit Financial Flows in Africa.
The meeting aimed to 'create a space for African journalists covering IFFs to engage with civil society organisations and other relevant stakeholders'.
The goal was to develop strategies on how media reporting on IFFs can best translate into an effective resource for advocacy efforts and constant pressure for policy change, particularly in the Covid-19 era.
As mentioned in our opening article, TrustAfrica, as part of the implementation of its project: “Embracing the Challenge: Changing Social Norms for Equality and Empowerment of Women and Girls in Senegal, Mali, and Burkina Faso”, and to celebrate the International Women's Day, organized a series of meetings throughout the month of March with our partners IES- Femmes (Association pour l’Intégration Economique et Sociale dans le Développement) in Burkina Faso; ADE SAHEL (Alternative pour le Développement et l’Environnement au Sahel) in Mali, and; ALPHADEV (Alphabétiser pour un Développement Durable) in Senegal.
From Burkina Faso, Mali and Senegal, 89 men and women participated in debates exploring the feminist social movement and contributed to advance actions for a systemic change for engendering women's rights and possible solutions to enhance women's empowerment. The main outcome of this series of convenings was to consolidate the different platforms for engagement, exchange and coordination of strategies for the women's rights movement.
During the series of events, champions were selected and will be invited during the month of April to take part in a data-driven advocacy training program with the aim to train gender advocates in the basics of data research, analysis, and evaluation, and to enable them to have a clearer understanding of how to use data in their advocacy work.
This year's International Women’s Day (IWD) theme recognizes the impact of the COVID-19 global health pandemic in 2020. For the 2021 campaign, the UN Women announced the theme "Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a Covid-19 World". A social media campaign was launched to inspire women to #ChooseToChallenge and call out gender prejudice and disparity. The theme profiles women's incredible work in creating an equal future for everyone, recovery from the pandemic, and the existing gaps. At TrustAfrica we were excited to host a series of meetings throughout the month with partners under our initiative to redress gender-based violence and challenge the norms and stereotypes which strip women of agency and also spent time planning how we prioritize gender responsive programming through the collaborative Community Immunity Initiative.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that women in leadership drive development in communities. In fact, some of the most effective and positive responses to dealing with the pandemic were led by women and women were at the frontline of the COVID-19 response: in the health sector working as caregivers during the pandemic, as female scientists researching vaccines, and as daily wage earners eking out a living for their households during difficult shutdowns across Africa. Despite the enormous contribution of women in the fight against COVID-19, women at the frontlines are still paid 11% less than their male counterparts, according to data released by the United Nations. We must #ChooseToChallenge and end the gender disparity in pay. That’s why at TrustAfrica 40% of funds dedicated to community-led responses from the TrustAfrica Solidarity Fund went to support solidarity networks of women that were being responsive to the situation in countries across West Africa.
During the Inaugural World Communities Forum, in which TrustAfrica hosted a session, Chelsea Clinton hosted four amazing women exploring The Power of She and role women need to claim and be given in designing for communities’ development in light of the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on women. To build a better post COVID-19 future, we cannot simply return to the world as it were. We must lend our voices to the injustice against women, crushing the barricades that hold women back. This year's IWD is a strong wake-up call for gender equity. It is time to harness women's leadership power to achieve a more equal, all-encompassing, and sustainable future.