By Chris McWilliams, Christian Aid programme communications lead
An exciting new organisation called the STAR Ghana Foundation has been launched in Ghana to champion active citizenship and social justice, promote giving and fill a critical gap in the country’s civil society space.
The development of STAR Ghana
Christian Aid, always a pioneer, has played a key part in this landmark moment, part of an increasing drive towards home-grown solutions to African development and governance issues.
Since 2015, Christian Aid has managed the £22m STAR-Ghana programme, funded by the UK Department for International Development, the European Union and Danish development agency DANIDA. STAR stands for Strengthening Transparency, Accountability and Responsiveness and has aimed to support an active, engaged civil society and responsive, accountable government.
STAR has supported 430 projects which have transformed lives by:
- getting more children into school
- helping women take control of their livelihoods
- supporting rural communities to get a fairer share of development gains
- encouraging citizens to participate in inclusive and peaceful elections
- standing alongside citizens and businesses working against corruption.
But another pillar of the programme was always to lay the groundwork and launch an independent, Ghanaian organisation within its five-year lifetime.
Christian Aid recognises that as civil society in countries in the Global South grows, our role is changing to one of accompaniment and collaboration, with power and decision making falling more and more to national organisations we work with and their leaders.
The STAR Ghana Foundation
The new STAR Ghana Foundation will be a national centre for active citizenship, civil society and philanthropy, looking beyond aid, moving away from dependence on dwindling overseas development assistance and tapping into new domestic and international funding sources, including Ghanaian philanthropy.
It will support a more robust and resilient civil society in Ghana and seek to put gender equality and social inclusion firmly on the country’s policy agenda, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.
The growth of Ghana’s economy and political stability mean the timing is right for Ghanaian civil society to build partnerships, move towards greater sustainability and work together to bring change on issues that capture the energy and imagination of Ghanaian people. The STAR Ghana Foundation will be at the heart of this movement.
‘The emergence of STAR Ghana as a national foundation is a major change in the landscape in Ghana and Africa as a whole,’ said Dr Esther Ofei-Aboagye, chair of STAR-Ghana’s steering committee. ‘The time is now right to shine a light on STAR Ghana’s bold efforts to create a Ghanaian-owned and led national centre for civil society, active citizenship and philanthropy.’
Goals and ambitions
‘We are very ambitious for the future. We remain committed to our ultimate goal of ensuring that all citizens, regardless of gender, disability, age or location, are empowered to participate in decisions and raise concerns.
‘We will continue to support a vibrant civil society to engage constructively with government and drive forward a transformative development agenda that will leave nobody behind.’
Ghanaian civil society has also responded positively to the move. Kenneth Ashigbey, CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, said: ‘I completely agree to STAR Ghana’s transition. It’s about time we determined where we wanted to go with our development. We should look within to create the capacity to develop the future of our country.’
Christian Aid is totally invested in the work and success of the STAR Ghana Foundation. We will be involved alongside our donors and consortium partners until 2020, as we move through a transition period. This is a sustainable development model that we can certainly see being rolled out in other places, so there will definitely be much rich learning along the way.
There is a long journey ahead for the Foundation but if the spirit of solidarity and collaboration that has marked STAR Ghana out so far continues, the sky is the limit.
A history of working in partnership.
For 70 years, Christian Aid has always been deeply committed to working in partnership with organisations and movements seeking sustainable and inclusive solutions to development challenges and to supporting civil society and citizens to be the true agents of change in their own countries and communities.
And this won’t be the first time that Christian Aid has played a pivotal role in the creation of important and radical new organisations and help push them boldly onwards and outwards:
In the 1950s, we set up and administered Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) to enable young people to make a difference in meeting the needs of poor people around the world.
In the 1960s, we created the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) so that development agencies were seen to work together in times of humanitarian crisis.
The Fairtrade Foundation was established in 1992 by a group of agencies including Christian Aid. Fairtrade works directly with businesses, consumers and campaigners to make trade deliver for farmers and workers.
In 2014, after five decades of supporting local organisations, Christian Aid responded to the changing political and aid context in India by launching Change Alliance, as a wholly owned subsidiary.