Governance

Case Study: Mozambique


“…training supported the community members to successfully lobby the local government.”

AFAP recognises that in order to attain equitable and sustainable development, vulnerable and excluded communities should be involved in the decisions, which impact their lives and that the backbone of strong political systems is civil society. Providing citizens with information and training helps them to engage and participate in planning, increases government accountability, shaping the future of their communities.

The Shared Futures Project in Mozambique run by AFAP and partner Concern Universal provides communities with training in governance and social accountability, giving them a political voice and appropriate channels to lobby their local government. The project also trained communities in Ngauma District of Niassa Province on existing district plans, budgets and laws, including guidance on how to channel their development requests to government.

This training supported the community members to successfully lobby the local government, asking them to address the lack of adequate classrooms and poor teaching conditions. Thanks to the request the government constructed a new classroom in April of 2012.

Our Work

Our core approach to poverty alleviation and development is to strengthen and empower local civil society organisations and community groups so that they can better meet their own aspirations and reach their full potential. An engaged and active civil society plays an important role in achieving equitable and sustainable development. Promoting social accountability and good governance, underpinned with a strong focus on institutional strengthening, is central to all the work of AFAP.

The overarching goal of AFAP’s governance program is to strengthen civil society and enable local organizations to be better informed and develop their ability to participate in the political process. At the onset, AFAP’s programs are developed in line with national-level policies. However, the government often has limited capacity to implement to their policies, particularly in rural and remote areas. By supporting grass roots knowledge of policy and creating channels for participation within the communities we work, in addition to promoting accountability at a local and national level with priority given to the increased role of women, AFAP is able to increase community capacity to influence and shape the policies that effect them.

Building on work in the Solomon Islands, AFAP continued with partner the Solomon Islands Development Trust (SIDT) on a project, which is also concerned with the promotion of peace, working with community leaders and existing development structures to enable them to articulate and bring their concerns up to the local and national level via the existing structures. In countries like the Solomon Islands there is no clear chain of communication between the largely informal village governance structure and the provincial and national government. While village structures are in place, capacity varies and men usually hold the most influential positions. Women and other vulnerable groups, like youth, are often absent from the decision making process. Even if the resources and skills are available, villagers rarely have the resources or skills to communicate their priorities and concerns in a way that authorities listen to. This creates possibilities for tension that can easily escalate in countries that have a history of civil unrest. Towards this, AFAP supported the “Bridging the Gap” Program in three districts, working intensively with the existing community structure to develop the capacity to participate in the development process. In Africa, with funding from The Charitable Foundation, AFAP supported the International Crisis Group on research in the Congo to further the understanding of peace building and conflict resolution. AFAP also works in Mozambique along with Concern Universal to train the residents of remote villages on how to lobby their local government for changes identified by the villagers themselves. Through this work local communities become their own advocates for change on an ongoing basis.

While Vietnam has made remarkable progress in development, overall the equity of development remains a challenge, with many people still living either just above or below the poverty line and increasing gaps between groups despite the increase in overall wealth at national levels. To understand and provide a means to address the growing inequity, AFAP and our partners are trialing social accountability methods so that citizens can hold the state accountable and participate in the economic growth. AFAP Vietnam has been implementing the “Ensuring accountability of local government for redistributive policies and national Socio-Economic Development Plan” with funding from AusAID’s Innovations Fund. In Vietnam the voice of civil society remains quite weak. Traditionally, citizen or civil society-led efforts to hold government accountable include actions such as public demonstrations, protests, advocacy campaigns, investigative journalism, and public interest lawsuits. In recent years, the expanded use of participatory data collection and analysis tools combined with enhanced space and opportunity for citizen/civil society engagement with the state have led to a new generation of social accountability practices. These methodologies emphasize a solid evidence base, and direct dialogue and negotiation with government counterparts. The use of such methodologies in Vietnam has been limited, however the results of our work this year show that once initial concerns are overcome, activities that promote transparency- including more participatory public policy-making, participatory budgeting, public expenditure tracking, and citizen monitoring and evaluation of public services- hold increasing opportunities for those that are most often marginalized.

Action on Poverty

Action on Poverty