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West Africa Civil Society Institute Strengthening Civil Society


Image 159 (photo: WACSI)

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Policy Influencing and Advocacy Training Courses

The policy advocacy trainings of the Institute covers the main barriers to civil society policy engagement, understanding the context policy processes and writing, communicating for policy influence, structuring and developing a coherent policy paper and developing a persuasive advocacy campaign, networking and alliance building, policy research methodologies amongst others.

Introduction to Policy Advocacy and Engagement For CSAs In West Africa
The “Introduction Course to Policy Advocacy And Engagement For Civil Society Actors In West Africa” is one the newly launched courses of the Institute in 2012. The course aim to specifically introduce emerging actors to the basic concepts of policy advocacy and engagement, as well as deepen their overall knowledge in policymaking and influencing processes in West Africa. The course had been specially designed to facilitate the exposure of new and experienced development practitioners, who may be interested in advocacy and seek techniques to enable them demand for a more open and participatory governance system in West Africa.

Advanced Policy Advocacy and Engagement Training CSAs In West Africa
The “Advanced Policy Advocacy and Engagement Training CSAs In West Africa” was the outcome of a tripartite project initiated by WACSI in 2008 as part of its targeted policy advocacy capacity development strategies. The training which was established in partnership with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the Local Government and Public Service Reform Initiative (LGI) of the Open Society Institute (OSI), is focused at equipping CSAs with strategic insight, skills and resources to design advanced policy-relevant advocacy campaigns and communication tools that deliver a compelling policy position and thus, achieve desired policy objectives.

Since inception in October 2008, the project has established a cadre of policy advocacy trainers who are capable of transferring the these skills to other deficient CSAs in the sub-region following a six-months long Training of Trainers (ToT) exercise, and had built the capacity of over 200 civil society actors across 10 countries in West Africa including Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Guinea, Cote D’Ivoire, the Gambia, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Senegal.

The syllabus for this advanced training in policy advocacy and engagement is built around three (3) main aspects and consists of twelve (12) sessions. The 3 major aspects are: 1) Understanding the context of policy advocacy and writing, 2) Structuring and developing a coherent policy paper, 3) Developing a targeted advocacy plan using the Advocacy Planning Framework (APF).

Networking and Alliance Building
While, the coming together of some communities, interest groups, individuals and organization in pursuit of common goals have achieved greater result in the past, some other have failed repeatedly thereby jeopardizing the well-meaning objectives for which they were established. Most of these failures are attributed to lack of adequate skills, techniques and knowledge to manage these networks and alliances. Inter and intra-membership disagreements over managerial and operational issues including governance structure, leadership, designation of roles and responsibilities has led to the collapse of many well-meaning coalitions/networks across the sub-region. Thus, the “Networking and Alliance Building” course was introduced by the Institute to respond to the dearth in skills and capacities of CSAs to achieving their network objectives.

Policy Research Methodology
In order to influence governance and national policies, civil society needs to be able to do undertake credible investigative and policy research and analysis to produce cogent reports, policy briefs, monographs and books around which more focused advocacy can be launched.

This is important, because too often government officials tend to dismiss civil society actors in West Africa as “ill-informed noise-makers” who should be ignored. The training envisaged will bring experienced researchers and academics as facilitators of intensive courses for young civil society practitioners from across West Africa.

Training Facilitators
WACSI’s course facilitators are professional development practitioners vast in their various areas of expertise. They are skilled in facilitating trainings using participatory adult education and learner-centered (learning-by-doing approach) methods to generate insights and experiences of the participants while also introducing new skills, ideas and knowledge on the subject matter.