In this episode of our How To Build Community podcast and radio show, a team of experts offer you a step-by-step guide to community-led advocacy. JOANNA WATSON leads an advocacy team for Tearfund in the UK, CHALWE NYIRENDA is a Social Accountability Adviser for Tearfund in Zambia, and MUNYARADZI MATARUSE works in advocacy for the International Fellowship of Zimbabwe. You can listen to the podcast or read the highlights below:
Advocacy aims to influence the decisions of those in government, in particular the public policies and practices that shape economic and social development.
Community-led advocacy refers to activities that are carried out by citizens to influence local decision-makers and bring positive change to their communities.
The podcast guests explain that great advocates demonstrate many important qualities: collaboration, high relational ability, persistence, commitment and conviction.
They also mention ‘social accountability’. This is when government officials and key decision-makers are held to account by the citizens they represent.
Governments have a responsibility to create a secure environment where their citizens can thrive. This includes providing safe and equitable access to services such as electricity, water, sanitation, waste management and healthcare. In a social accountability initiative, community members might collect household information about the quality of these services. They can then use this information to hold decision-makers to account if service provision is poor or unjust.
Local government leaders are often grateful when community members draw their attention to a problem. As it helps them to understand what they need to do to make the situation better.
Rights and responsibilities
While claiming the right to good practices and provision in the community is an important part of advocacy, so is the recognition that we all have important responsibilities.
If we pay our taxes, look after our surroundings and interact well with other community members we show that we understand this. And it places us in a much stronger position when we decide to make requests of our local authorities.
Listen to how an isolated immigrant community in northern Pakistan used community centered media to claim their rights, HERE