ACBF - Background
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The Lesotho Council of Non-Governmental Organizations (LCN), founded as an umbrella body of national NGOs in May 1990, has, within this changing climate, acquired prominence as a potential development partner, and has in this respect risen to the opportunities of greater participation in the country’s development process. However, LCN and its member organizations lack the required capacities, at institutional, governance and human resources levels, to effectively engage in the country’s development. Given the immediate development priority to make PRS work and move towards the achievement of Lesotho’s national priorities as spelt out in the PRS and Vision 2020, and the unfolding decentralisation process. The following capacity challenges exist:
  • An inadequate coverage of the country outside the main urban centres by the existing Lesotho NGOs thereby leaving the rural areas behind in national dialogue and action around PRS; it is acknowledged by the government that during the formulation of the PRS, it was the NGOs that made the difference in engaging grassroots communities in contributing to the formulation of the PRS.
  • Inadequate capacity of the Lesotho NGOs to take up the challenge to engage communities in the implementation of PRS and hold government accountable to the nation for delivery on national priorities.
  • Weak coordination gap of Lesotho civil society; while LCN is recognised as the legitimate coordinating body for Lesotho NGOs, it is felt by many stakeholders that it does not have adequate capacity in terms of human resources, structures and systems to coordinate the sector.

In this respect, LCN, as the representative of Lesotho civil society submitted a project proposal to the Foundation (ACBF) geared towards strengthening non-governmental organizations to enable them engage the government, the private sector and international partners for alternative long-term development strategies for Lesotho, and contribute meaningfully and constructively to sustainable long-term socioeconomic development.


The capacity-building project aims to address aspects of identified capacity weaknesses of NGOs that still need redress, based on lessons drawn from previous donor capacity-building interventions. Hence, the project is geared towards, firstly, ensuring the leadership and better governance of NGOs through an emphasis on institutional and organizational strengthening of LCN and its members. A needs assessment undertaken aims to inform the development of a training program that will offer specialized, targeted professional skills to help increase NGOs’ capacity to undertake and participate effectively in development projects. Organizational development is employed as a strategy to enhance overall management, governance structures, systems and processes, including effective coordination between LCN and its members.

Secondly, provision of timely and reliable evidence-based knowledge resources through research and the establishment of a library/online resource center. This will help to increase NGOs influence on policy making process and decisions related especially to government’s poverty reduction strategies, budgetary allocation and service delivery at local levels. The knowledge resources will in turn also strengthen their advocacy efforts at national and regional levels. Thirdly, the project will build strategic alliance among NGOs and other relevant partners in the development process by facilitating well-targeted outreach and advocacy strategies at the national and regional levels.


Overall goal of the Project:

The overall goal of the Project is to facilitate the effective participation of NGOs in the national efforts to address Lesotho development challenges by enhancing their capacity to engage government’s policy-making processes. This will help to promote efficient service delivery and overall accountability and good governance, for the betterment of the quality of life of Lesotho citizenry.

The project specific objectives are to:

  • Enhance the substantive participation of NGOs in the implementation of key development frameworks among them the PRS, PRISP, and Vision 2020, through effective advocacy, monitoring and partnership building with government, business and development partners, especially donors to Lesotho, and
  • Strengthen the organisational and institutional capabilities of LCN, including its staff skill base, in order to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness and maintain its leadership role as the coordinating body of NGOs in Lesotho.

The strategies to achieve these objectives are (i) building the human capacities of LCN and it members through training and leadership development; (ii) building strategic alliance between NGOs and other relevant stakeholders in the development process through networking and dialogue and by advancing evidence-based advocacy. This will contribute towards an overall strengthening of the voice of civil society as a whole in Lesotho and ensure that government becomes more responsive to the development needs of the country; (iii) enhancing knowledge generation, access, dissemination and sharing among NGOs through the establishment of a research/library resource and networking center at the Council.


The project has three components:

  1. Leadership and Organizational Development – this aims to provide LCN and its members with requisite professional skills that will empower them as capable partners in the development process. The component will also strengthen LCN’s staff capacity through the provision of additional highly skilled mix staff, which will improve its overall coordination, representation and advocacy services to members. This component will also facilitate an organizational review of LCN and propose enhanced linkages aimed at improving the interface of the Council and its members that would ensure the leadership and relevancy of NGOs as key partners;
  2. Outreach and Advocacy – this is targeted at sustaining national debate, in form of anti-poverty campaigns, organized in various outreach activities, and comprising all stakeholders, of issues related to poverty reduction, economic empowerment, pro-poor and budgetary allocation as well as service delivery to disadvantaged communities; and
  3. Research and Dissemination – this component will aim at facilitating accessibility to evidence based research and knowledge resources that is required to build NGOs effectiveness, impact and influence of policy issues, both nationally, regionally and internationally.
    Rationale for ACBF Involvement

This project is consistent with ACBF mandate to strengthen and professionalize the voices of civil society as effective partners in the development process. The Foundation support will help to strengthen the LCN governance structures, boost its human resource capacity and redefine and strengthen its networking capability amongst NGOs in Lesotho. In particular the strengthening of the role and capacities of the Sectoral Commissions as the hub of sectoral activity at national and grassroots level as well as enabling them to mobilize CBOs and NGOs at district level for local action. It is envisaged that assistance from ACBF would help to strengthen dialogue among civil society institutions, as well as between government, private sector, development partners and civil society as a whole for improved policy formulation, implementation and monitoring. Also, the project will enhance and strengthen NGOs’s governance structures, which are essential component of good governance.

Project Components and Activities

The proposed project has three components:

  • Leadership and Organizational Development
  • Outreach and Advocacy
  • Research and Dissemination.

Leadership and Organizational Development

This component will firstly, involve training based on practical case studies/experiences training in workshops format and conducted at field level of LCN Sectoral Commissions to enable their effectiveness and efficient. The training program will be build upon the areas of needs identified in the Needs Assessment Report, among them, Financial management, Leadership and NGO Governance, Project Management, Community Monitoring Techniques, Rights-based Policy Advocacy and Marketing and Communications. Secondly, the component will help towards mobilizing and expanding the LCN sectoral membership base for increased CSO coordination and build a critical mass for local action as part of the field based-training component and by also organizing rotating Sectoral Commissions meetings at the districts levels.


Commissions community pro-poor policies engagement outreach programme will enhance community and commissions participation in development and budgeting processes. Thirdly, it will activate and strengthen the direct participation of the members of the sectoral commissions in prioritisation, resource allocation, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of programs through the hands-on training under activity that will be provided, thereby making LCN a more accountable umbrella and more relevant at programming level. The Commissions would also be capacitated to better access the Know How Funds that have been earmarked by donors supporting the ongoing capacity building program at LCN to enable Commissions to undertake projects at local level, applying their learnt skills.

This component will likewise enhance the capacity of Board Members of LCN through training in budget analysis, strategic planning and evaluation of approved plans and budgets and management of stakeholders’ relationships. In particular, the Board will be empowered to play a stronger oversight role in the management of donor funds.

In addition, under this component, LCN institutional capacity will be strengthened by facilitating development of appropriate structures, systems and processes, including financial management, at all levels, that emanate from the specialized training of staff and management in the areas of identified needs that will institute performance management culture towards high quality service delivery to members. It will also enable better operational delivery at LCN thorough the recruitment of high quality staff and the facilitation of extended services to Commissions located at grass root level through the purchase of a project vehicle.

Training program of LCN and its members will mainly be delivered through technical assistance with on-the-job training facilitated by relevant training consultants, induction courses for newly recruited staff, study tours and staff exchange to learn best practices. The training will also include subject matter related workshops and seminars, and short professional courses at diploma and certificate levels at identified reputable organizations within the Southern Africa region. The project will be encouraged to explore linkages with the Foundation’s supported interface projects in Swaziland and Botswana with regard to enriching the scope and content of the training program.

Outreach and Advocacy

This component will assist to strengthen LCN programming standards and outreach to civil society, business sector and government through various fora as delineated under the section of project strategies on PRS monitoring, policy dialogues and dissemination, and dissemination on the implementation of the PRS, in order to hold government and the business sector more accountable to the public. Activities will include among others, organization of annual regional and national policy seminars comprising government, business sector, civil society and development partners. The component will promote benchmarking and knowledge sharing of the LCN budget tracking initiative against regional best practices, through the organisations of exchange visits to identified countries in Africa.

Research and Dissemination

This component will assist in the development of a library /resource center at LCN that will facilitate ready access to evidence-based knowledge for Commissions and other civil society organizations. This will comprise the conduct of commissioned studies by LCN on selected key development issues, including baseline research by the Commissions and Staff of LCN. These research studies will be repackaged, documented and widely distributed. They will constitute the basis of LCN’s online resources. This component will also ensure publication and wide dissemination of reports of the annual regional and national meetings.

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