Equipping Civil Society Practitioners To Influence Policies In Africa
Accra, Ghana - Cousin Zilala, Executive Director of Amnesty International, Zimbabwe, describes policy advocacy as the core business of his organisation. He took part in a three - day training on Introduction to Policy Advocacy organised by the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) in Accra, Ghana from September 11 - 13 2013. He took part in the training 'to sharpen his skills and knowledge on policy advocacy'; he said on the third day of the training.
The training brought together civil society practitioners from five African countries - The Gambia, Benin, Togo, Zimbabwe and Ghana - who exalted the efforts of WACSI to revive their policy influencing skills. Practitioners who took part in the training stated that more of such capacity building interventions are needed to fully equip them with robust skills to significantly contribute to policy writing and implementation to improve living conditions on the continent.
Cousin Zilala said the training has equipped him with new advocacy tools to effectively engage in advocacy issues under the umbrella of his organisation. 'I have understood the need to use social media tools in an advocacy campaign', Zilala said. The facilitator of the training, Omolara Balogun, Policy Advocacy Officer of WACSI explained that social media is a contemporary advocacy tool that has been widely used to influence policies across the globe. This is because social media is more affordable and can reach a larger audience.
The training served as a refresher and a formidable platform for the acquisition of requisite tools to influence policies on various issues on the African continentn Participants were made to understand what policy advocacy is, how to identify stakeholders for a policy campaign, how to craft a message for a campaign, specific tools that can be used to engage on issues and when to use them and some effective advocacy strategies that can contribute to the success of an advocacy campaign.
Participants were exposed to strategies such as persuasion, denial, demonstration, confrontation, appealing, protest, sex strike, sit down strike, singing, negotiation, dialogue, mobilisation, lobbying among others, which are effective ways that could be used to convey an advocacy message. They were made to understand how and when to use them.
Queronica Quarley Quartey, Policy and Campaigns Manager of Action Aid Ghana said this training gave her an opportunity to acquire the relevant skills to meet the expectations in her current role. She attested to the fact that she has gained a better understanding of how to engage on policy issues. This would enable her to deepen the policy work of Action Aid Ghana and enable her organisation to develop policy campaigns to advocate for policies that would promote better living conditions for Ghanaians.
For more information about the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and its interventions to promote participatory governance in West Africa, please visit www.wacsi.org