Oxfam in Ghana as an Influencing Office: Sharing our experience with the NGO World

Team from INGOs in some African countries visits Oxfam in Ghana

Written by: Naana Nkansah Agyekum, Media and Communications Lead, Oxfam in Ghana

Oxfam in Ghana Country Programme has gone through different phases since its operations began in 1986. Over the past three decades, Oxfam has supported vulnerable communities to access education, health care, agricultural resources among others. As the context of operations continues to change; Oxfam always positions itself to be relevant.

Ghana drifted more to ‘Influencing Programme’ vis a vis service delivery in 2013. This decision was to readjust to the political and economic context after the Country assumed a lower middle- income status and its implication on donor funding.

Oxfam felt the need to rethink and position itself as an influencing office for impact at scale using our evidence as examples for adoption, sharing and putting forward policy ideas for government and the private sector. In the influencing work Oxfam does, focus will be placed on urban poverty to ensure services are available to reach the urban poor.

Oxfam in Ghana was sharing this experience with a group of Non -Governmental Organisation (NGO) leaders from seven countries including Zambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Namibia who were in Ghana as part of the AROCSA Ford Foundation fellowship for Civil Society Organisation leaders in Africa.

The Country Director, Tijani Hamza explained that Oxfam in Ghana is leveraging on opportunities the country offers to engage key stakeholders to shape policies. He added that Oxfam’s new country strategy is pinned on three key thematic areas to address systemic change. Major systemic changes to pursue are addressing issues of patriarchal system that favours men; economic system that privileges few; and political system that distributes power unfairly.

“We can do a lot to bring the change we desire when we aim to collaborate rather than compete; facilitate rather than be directive; adapt and think beyond our immediate environment and ensure impact at scale,” he advised colleagues within the NGO sector.

In all its influencing programmes, Oxfam in Ghana is working with partners sustainably, so partners can take up advocacy roles even without Oxfam.

The Ghana Team shared government’s attempt to work with NGOs through the establishment of the NGO Board and the NGO Secretariat. The Country now has a 11-member Non-Profit Organisation board with three of the members from the NGO space.

The Board is supposed to advise members and approve guidelines; pronounce sanctions and generally regulate the NGO space in Ghana. It is also to serve as reference for recommendation.

The Country Director observed that Ghana needs to do more to make its democracy beneficial to its citizens.

“Broadly the democracy in Ghana with regards to conducting elections keep improving but people are not feeling the dividends of the democracy they have as they see public office holders focusing on individual benefits than on issues targeting public good,” he noted.