Yesterday I caught up with the stately Archbishop Winston Njongonkulu Ndungane, who is attending the Civil Society Forum here in Istanbul. The Archbishop carved out some time to meet before heading off to head a CSO Townhall meeting featuring Bank President Zoellick and IMF Chief Strauss-Kahn.
Archbishop Ndungane is the founder and president of African Monitor, an independent pan-African nonprofit whose main objective is to monitor aid flows, what African governments do with the money, and what impact it has.
African Monitor holds poverty hearings through which they seek to magnify voices. “We pride ourselves in having the confidence of people on the ground—the voice of people—and taking those voices to the corridors of power,” the Archbishop told me.
Archbishop Ndungane talked about linking up the creative and innovative minds of CSOs with the World Bank on today’s key issues—hunger, climate change, financial crisis. He emphasized the need to develop mechanisms for translating ideas into action.
Being “inside the room” at the the CSO Forum, is indicative of how things have changed and the fact that the Bank has created space for engagement, he said.
“CSOs have a lot of creative and innovative minds,” he said. “Listening should translate into action. God gave us two ears and we should be intentional about what CSOs are saying.”