“ADVOCACY is a set of hands-on technical skills and practices needed to effectively press for change.
"It is also the foundation of active citizenship, a process through which ordinary people learn to participate in decision-making at all levels. Identifying priorities, crafting a strategy, stepping forward, taking action, and achieving results are critical steps to finding one's voice, making oneself heard, and shaping one's future.”
— Institute for Sustainable Communities
Many of you have been asking about the work Common Ground will be doing in Uganda over the next couple of weeks. I am excited about the project, particularly the opportunity to work in Africa again.
This time, we’ll be working with the Uganda Feed the Future Enabling Environment for Agriculture Activity (EEA)—a three-year activity that aims to improve the environment for agricultural development, trade, and adaptation to climate change within the coffee, maize, and beans value chains in Uganda.
A specific objective of our work will be to enhance the capacity of Private Sector Organizations (PSOs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to contribute to policy decisions related to agricultural development, agriculture trade, and climate change adaption.
In addition to one-to-one technical assistance with a dozen agricultural associations, I’ll be leading a two-day advocacy training workshop that will result in the development of advocacy and lobbying skills among selected Ugandan organizations in the agricultural sector.
Our approach is practical, results-oriented, and grounded in the adult experiential learning cycle. The workshop will foster participation and the application of real-life experiences, ensuring that more than 30 members of selected organizations will acquire the skills necessary to define and clearly communicate their positions on key policy issues, engage a cross-section of stakeholders (including the media and local government), and help them to achieve their mission-critical organizational goals.
As a primary resource for the training, Common Ground will adapt our Advocacy Planning Toolkit for use in Uganda. The toolkit assists organizations in preparing a detailed Advocacy Campaign Plan, providing a systematic way for them to 1) Identify a problem; 2) Research the issues surrounding the problem and the stakeholders who care; 3) Plan a set of activities; 4) Act on the plan; and 5) Evaluate the results of their efforts. The toolkit will help participants identify specific targets for their advocacy, create SMART objectives with clear monitoring and evaluation (M&E) indicators, and carefully select their advocacy and lobbying activities.
During the second week in Uganda, we will conduct site visits and provide more than 40 hours of individualized technical assistance to participating associations/organizations on issues in direct support of the development of their public policy advocacy and lobbying activities.
We’ve been fortunate over the years to work on many agriculture projects—in Bolivia, Macedonia, and Moldova, for example—and on several projects in Africa—in Ethiopia, South Africa, and Uganda. Our advocacy training background is extensive and includes an almost identical scope of work for a project we did in 2010 in Albania in which we provided two, two-day trainings to local CSOs and PSOs focused on advanced elements of the advocacy campaign cycle and an advanced workshop on monitoring advocacy campaign outcomes.
We’re excited to be back in Africa working on such an important project and looking forward to once again experiencing the amazing energy, passion, and power of the people of Uganda.