Practitioner Incubator

African CSOs – like other CSOs around the world – face challenges that limit how effective they can be: working in a context with limited access to information, training and resources and very limited political space, they struggle to find and retain enough people with the skills and experience they need and often face real difficulties in organising.

African CSOs often call on consultants to support them in addressing their challenges and filling in gaps in expertise. Generally, consultants will be asked to:

  • – Perform specific work (e.g. conduct a project evaluation, baseline study, etc.)
  • – Develop an element of an organisations’ system or strategy (e.g. internal procedures, strategic plan, funding strategy, communication strategy, etc.)
  • – Build the capacity of staff members (e.g. training, etc.)

In our experience, we have observed certain things about how consultants’ approach their work with CSOs, which do not always promote the long-term development or sustainability of CSOs nor ownership of the work started by the consultants. For example:

  •  – The client is often a spectator of a consultant’s intervention, instead of leading the process and defining the results;
  •  – Often consultants will already have a solution (or solutions) in mind when they arrive to work with a client and will propose these in the hopes that the client will agree;
  •  – The same solutions are often offered to a variety of organisations without considering the specific characteristics of each one;
  •  – Interventions tend to be highly targeted and address a specific topic without considering the deeper factors that influence the problem (e.g. without taking into account the broader context and dynamics of the organisation and the team).

The result of these approaches is that CSOs, even after having worked with several consultants, often remain at the same level, always with the same challenges and without having learned from the consultants’ expertise. It is not an approach that promotes the long-term development or sustainability of organisations.

In response to this challenge, Well Grounded is piloting an Internship Programme, or Organisation Development Practitioner (ODP) incubator, which targets individual consultants who are from and living in the Congo Basin and provides them with training on OD theory, facilitation and coaching skills, and the natural resource and community rights context in the region.

The objective is to increase the number of people from the region who can offer participatory, process-oriented and client-driven OD services to local and national CSOs working on issues of environmental and social justice.

The programme was launched in August 2017 and eight people from Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo are participating. You can also watch a short video about the internship programme here.