By Pierre Konlani

The Federation of Non-Governmental Organisations in Togo (FONGTO) set up seven thematic commissions from 29 August 2019 to 17 July 2020. This action implemented the statutes revised on 12 October 2018, establishing the thematic commissions as an organ of FONGTO.  

The thematic commissions for the FONGTO were set up with the aim of bringing together members working in the same fields so they could pool their resources and put forward proposals. Three pilot commissions (Human Rights and Vulnerable Groups; Health and Sanitation; Governance and Participatory Development) set up in August 2019 enabled FONGTO to familiarise itself with the way the different commissions function in order to launch the four others. This is how the commissions were set up in July 2020.

Since the implementation period ended, the thematic commissions have been meeting at least once a month at FONGTO and working on development projects. They are also participating in implementing the National Development Plan (NDP) alongside the government, through the actions undertaken within the thematic commissions. 

 To date, three projects linked to the NDP have been prepared in response to La Francophonie Avec Elles' call for proposals. These include the African Women's Development Fund and the Project for the Promotion of Gender Equality and Capacity-Building of Women's Groups in the Haho prefecture, located in Togo's Plateaux region. 

A thematic commission is participating in implementing the West Africa Coastal Resilience Investment Project (WACA-ResIP), which concerns the development of agricultural sectors in seven prefectures, including the Golfe prefecture. 

The thematic commissions are also participating in the consultation framework on public policies alongside the government. Within this framework, the Health and Sanitation Commission proposed a partnership protocol which was submitted to the National Sanitation and Public Health Agency (ANASAP).

It must be admitted that this project was not accomplished without difficulty. Despite having started to set up three pilot thematic commissions, mobilizing members was difficult due to the divergent timetables of those participating in them. However, the election of the heads of the commissions enabled the members to discuss among themselves, agree on a date and then inform FONGTO of the practical arrangements to be made. For the thematic commissions to operate, financial resources were also needed to ensure the reproduction of documents, in addition to providing coffee breaks to motivate members.  Moreover, as the COVID-19 pandemic paralysed operations for at least three months, online platforms (WhatsApp) had to be used to carry out exchanges.

In short, despite a few drawbacks the thematic commissions have given new impetus to the umbrella organisation. On the one hand, they have enabled FONGTO to enhance the services it provides to its members, and on the other hand, the members have improved their participation in FONGTO's activities.