Nigeria Toolkit: Advocacy
What is it?
Effective translation of policy to action at the State and LGA levels is critical for progress in the reproductive health sector. This means making policies accessible to gatekeepers, champions and civil society organizations (CSOs) so that they can effectively engage with policy/decision makers to create an enabling environment for family planning (FP).
TCI strives to create an enabling environment for the scale up of evidence-based family planning interventions by using a variety of advocacy efforts to:
- Assess the family planning landscape
- Coordinate family planning activities to reduce duplication of activities and amplify investment impacts
- Ensure resource stewardship and accountability, leading to sustainability of proven approaches
Why is it important?
- Increase investment from government (public commitment and budget expenditure) including support for contraceptive supplies
- Remove bottlenecks (commodities management, medical barriers and biases) within the system that hinder provision of FP services
- Facilitate public private partnerships
- Promote community acceptance and uptake of FP services, making FP a social norm
Assess the family planning landscape: Using Net-Mapping & Policy Environment Score
TCI supports the States to identify influential actors to spearhead interventions in family planning. These actors are often identified through a net-mapping exercise and engaged to ensure a conducive environment for FP interventions.
Did you know?
- Identify and invite stakeholders – such as policymakers, program designers and implementers, civil society organizations, service providers, community members, religious and traditional leaders and young people – involved in a State’s family planning landscape.
- Pose the following question to these stakeholders; “Who influences access to family planning information and services in your State?” Responses to this key question result in the identification of influential actors in the family planning or opposed to the idea of family planning.
- Ask participants to draw links between the influential actors identified, identify the level of influence of the actors and goals decorated of all the stakeholders.
- Then, weigh the influence each identified actor wields to determine those with the most influence for which to target interventions and engage
- Note whether these actors are in favor or oppose to family planning.
The net-mapping exercise is helpful in:
- Identifying FP advocates who have been decorated as champions
- Identifying influential stakeholders to form and/or strengthen the Advocacy Core Groups
- Confirming the critical role and importance of the media and religious leaders in FP advocacy efforts in all States
- Revealing whether there is poor coordination of the FP program in each State
- Illuminating entry points for family planning program designers, whether those are advocacy, information, commodities and/or funding
- Serving as formative research for the development of Life Planning for Adolescents and Youth (LPAY) workplans in TCI-supported states that desire to expand beyond FP to more intentionally target adolescents and youth
- Informing the various interventions in the integrated State FP workplan (described in more detail in the next step)
Policy Environment Score
The Policy Environment Score (PES) was implemented by TCI with support from the Reproductive Health Units of the States’ Ministries of Health in Ogun, Bauchi, Niger and Delta States. The purpose was to measure the degree to which the policy environment in these States supports the reproductive health of the population. This PES assessment report forms a baseline indication of how the policy environment supports effective policies and programs for reproductive health with emphasis on family planning, STD/AIDS, post-abortion care, safe pregnancy and adolescents in the States. See the report for more details on the PES methodology used.
Coordinate family planning implementation
TCI helps to facilitate the coordination of a harmonized State FP workplan by bringing together all organizations and stakeholders working in family planning in a State. This ensures a reduction in the duplication of activities, maximizes the State’s and donor’s investments and guarantees better planning and reinforcement of advocacy, demand generation and service delivery activities in a comprehensive manner.
Applying learnings from phase 1 States to phase 2 States, the net-mapping exercise and the work planning exercise have been brought together given that the same stakeholders are critical to the development of both. The net-mapping exercise takes 1.5 days. The results of the net-mapping is disseminated immediately after the exercise to inform all partners and technocrats as to the status of the State’s family planning program – from an advocacy standpoint as well as service delivery point of view.
After sharing these results, the stakeholders then develop a list of activities to address these findings and divide up responsibility for them in terms of implementation and funding support as well as timeline for completion. This leads to the development of a 12-month integrated State FP workplan that is accessible by all stakeholders working in FP in a particular state and can now be easily monitored.
Ensure resource stewardship and accountability: Advocacy Core Group (ACG)
In the effort to ensure that all partners are involved and aware of their responsibilities individually and collectively to creating an enabling FP policy environment, TCI worked with States to strengthen and/or establish Advocacy Core Groups (ACGs)/Advocacy Working Groups (AWGs).
TCI-supported States with ACGs already in place
The ACG is independent from government based on national policy and serves as a watchdog. The ACG helps to:
- Increase funding for family planning by advocating for a FP and specifically for its own budget line
- Ensure accountability for timely release of budget commitments
- Serve as a financial mechanism for good stewardship of resources
The net-mapping exercises helps to identify those with influence in a State that may be good ACG members. In addition, to quality as an ACG member, consider those who:
- Have worked for government; retired technocrats
- Respected/influential in the State, such as head of a religious group, CSO or CSO coalition
- Represent the Ministry of Health and its agencies – The FP/RH Coordinator is a member who guides with technical information but does not hold a leadership position of the ACG
Working with State counterparts, TCI helped to establish ACGs in Abia, Anambra, Delta and Taraba, using the Guide to Setting Up and Managing Family Planning Advocacy Working Groups – which is also used to help run them and the established ACGs. In addition, TCI provides technical support to the ACG by facilitating the SMART Advocacy Training, providing budget monitoring trainings (see Resource Mobilization approach) and assisting the ACG in becoming registered as a CSO. In addition, TCI has worked with the ACGs to develop fact sheets and position papers to help them better make their case to a variety of stakeholders.
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