Increasing the positive impact of civil society organisations in development

25 Oct 16
ZAMBIA

Civil society organizations have been tasked with the responsibility of helping bring about solutions to many issues of concern. The question of using resources judicially is one of society’s key concerns and its attainment, one of the main tasks requested of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). As such advocacy around and related to governance, transparency and accountability have become paramount in the CSO work agenda.

Restless Development is determined to increase the positive impact of civil society organisations in development, from the grassroots to policy-making. Our work has been designed to include, as a major component, capacity building targeting like-minded CSOs. With over 7 years of experience championing evidence-informed advocacy, we have significantly expanded the reach and results of our work with and for young people. We have influenced and aided government’s decision making, policy implementation and formulation. This has further broadened our experience and knowledge and given us the credibility needed to effectively build and promote the professional youth-led development sector.

We know there are many organisations out there that share our views on the important role that advocacy plays in development. We believe that if we work together and synergize our efforts, we can have an exponential impact. We recognize the sharing of knowledge and experiences; our track record and proven methods together with local knowledge, as key in achieving this. As such we provide technical training and ongoing support on social accountability to youth-led and youth-serving civil society organisations, efforts meant to result in both an increase and improvement of their policy engagement work.

We recently conducted a training for civil society organizations which was aimed at equipping them with the skills, knowledge and confidence to successfully undertake their role in advocacy and use social accountability as a vehicle to this. Through this CSO Social Accountability Advocates Training, participants were guided through a training segmented into 4 modules, designed to deliver the 7 step Social Accountability Training Model. Additionally, the training equipped participants with the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to support their organisations create their accountability frameworks and deliver overall on advocacy.

The model was delivered over a four-day training focusing on capacity strengthening of civil society organisations on how to employ social accountability methodologies in policy monitoring, follow-up, review and accountability. Additionally, the training further provided organisations with support in packaging of advocacy and lobbying strategies around national development processes. It also took participants through practical exercises built around our good practices generated from our social accountability work. As part of the training package, the participating organisations are then further supported, post training through mentoring Restless Development staff who are attached to each organisation to work with them in identifying specific organizational skills gaps around advocacy. The organisations are then put on a 3 month capacity building trajectory specific to the identified gaps.

A total of 11 organisations were trained and provided with social accountability tools such as the Community Self-Assessment, Community Score Card and the School Comprehensive Sexuality Education Assessment. The participants were encouraged to adapt the tools to fit their settings and situations as all them indicated that they didn’t have anything to use regarding the collection of beneficiary voices.

The training was made possible with support from the Zambia Governance Foundation who has been behind the development of the Restless Development social accountability work. We hope to see this work scaling up beyond the CSOs that we have worked with on the introduction to social accountability and the role of the CSOs as part of the work that we shall be leading on as the Social Accountability Hub.