By Moussa Coulibaly, Communications Officer of FECONG, Forus member in Mali
New communication technologies are a key tool for development. This cannot be ignored by NGOs. These organisations accumulate a wealth of experience, skills and knowledge of their own activities, but very often this experience is not widely recognised. To address this situation, the Fédération des Collectifs d’ONGs du Mali (FECONG), with support from Forus, has set up a website, a Facebook page and a Twitter account as part of the implementation of the "Project to strengthen both FECONG's capacities to support members and its visibility".
Once these communication tools had been developed, training was provided for a team of communication officers from the project's target NGO collectives, enabling them to ensure regular updating of the website.
Each member of the team is responsible for producing articles about the activities of the collective and the NGOs in their region, which is likely to promote ownership of the project by the member collectives and NGOs and also offers them a space for visibility.
As in other countries, in Mali, the Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted the activities of NGOs and caused disruption. This pandemic was compounded by the socio-political crisis which led to the resignation of the President of the Republic.
It is in this context that the team began and continues its task of running the website www.fecongmali.org and the social platforms, namely their Facebook page @FecongMali and twitter account @FecongMali.
The difficulties encountered were due to internet connection problems, notably disruptions in certain regions and also a need to increase the capacity of some contributors in terms of writing articles.
Since their creation, the website and social media platforms have become effective communication tools for FECONG who used them to post a message to raise awareness of compliance with Covid-19 prevention measures, as well as a statement setting out its position with regard to the sanctions imposed on Mali by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
In its first six months of operation, the website had 2041 visits.
Financed by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the European Union through Forus, the project covers a period of 10 months. It was welcomed by the members collectives. In this way, according to the President of the Regional Coordination of NGOs in Mopti, Mr Fakassi FOFANA, "these tools will allow us to re-launch our federation and continue to provide services to our members in particular, and to NGOs in general".
FECONG now has a presence on the World Wide Web and has tools available to make its voice heard and support the actions and positions that it chooses. The challenge now is ensuring regular updating of the website and social media and encouraging ownership of the project by all stakeholders. The key to success here is being able to rely on skilled and motivated facilitators on a permanent basis and thus enable the contribution and active participation of our members.