maandag 30 maart 2009

Advocacy & Policy Influencing
Last week (23-27 March 2009) I followed a very inspiring course at the International NGO Training & Reserach Centre (INTRAC) in Oxford in Advocacy & Policy Influencing.

It was inspiring both for the diversity of the participants as for the content of the course.

The participants were all very experienced in the field and came from a variety of countries: Niger, Benin, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, a Zambian stationed in Fiji, Moldava and Slovenia. But also from different types of organisations: Unicef, UNDP, a Farmer Organisation, a health NGO, an umbrella NGO in citizen's participation and two consumer NGO's.

Key concepts
Although it is difficult to share the practical experiences of the different participants, I am able to share the key concepts of the course:

* Advocacy is more than only public campaigning. It contains research to produce evidence, lobbying, media coverage, working with allies in combination with public campaigns. But for a successful policy change you don't need all strategies always for all issues.

* The opposition matrix: Analise the arguments of your opponent thoroughly and use this in your campaign. If you only use your own arguments, you only convince people who are already convinced.

* Use unexpected allies: Do not look only for like minded NGO's in your coalition, it is more convincing if you have for example local government, companies and international organisations on your sight if you want to change government policy

* Use parliamentarians to put pressure on ministers. If you can persuade people in parliament to ask questions in parliament, this could accelerate the decision making process, because the minister has to react on questions in parliament

* Planning for success: advocacy does not stop when the desired change becomes policy. Plan for that time! You have to monitor the implementation phase and keep the pressure on the government, because sometimes policy is never implemented. Governments are not always sure how to implement and you might be able to assist.

* An effective campaign should pass the TEA test: it it should Touch people. It needs to make a connection with its target to prompt a response, but that is not enough. It convinces its target that there is a solution for the problem that touched the people, so it should Enthuse them. But the third part is the most important: the target should Act based on your message.

* For a good campaign you need to have a clear message, a simple solution, clear outrage, use of the media, political support, have good allainces and get people to act. You should be able to summarize your key message in 15 seconds for your elevator pitch.

* Rich picture: Use Rich picture as a tool: it illustrate the key factors of your issue, it could show the situation in all its complexity in the form of a cartoon type representation.

* The importance of M&E: measure the success of your activities in terms of output, outcome and impact. Impact assessment is the most important and this should be participative to include the end users. But that is something what we at IICD already clearly understood and have incorporated.

* The fun to design a campaign: With a small group we had to present a campaign against illegal dumping in the rivers of Anylandia that causes health problems for our children

Links for further reading

* BOND (British Overseas NGOs for development)
* Communication Initiative
* The advocacy toolkit from Tearfund
* Campaign Effectiveness Programme
* Advocacy Source Book Wateraid 2007

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