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ADVOCACY AND IEC STRATEGIES

After the introductory text, this page is divided into three sections:

 

       Achievements & best practices

 

       Constraints

 

       Recommendations for the way forward

 

Visit the Advocacy and IEC Strategies proceedings section to read the proceedings related to this thematic area.

 

 

 

By definition advocacy aims at changing the status of a policy, strategy or program whereas IEC aims at changing the knowledge base, attitudes, beliefs, values, behavior or norms within individuals or groups of individuals. (Advocacy implies undertaking research to clarify issues and strategic directions; providing adequate and appropriate information and education to all interested parties; building partnerships, alliances and coalitions; and mobilizing these partners that are interested in the issue being advocated for; dialoguing and negotiating with individuals and organizations with contrary views and positions; and networking with groups of similar persuasion elsewhere to learn from their experiences. IEC interventions are designed to change knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, values, behavior or norms within individuals or groups of individuals. See Lessons Learnt by UNFPA/CSTAA, 1993-1996, February 1997.) The ICPD-PA states that greater public knowledge, understanding and commitment are vital to the achievement of its goals and objectives and that increasing such knowledge, understanding and commitment is, therefore, a primary aim. It (i) indicates that members of national legislatures can have a major role to play, especially in enacting domestic legislation for implementing the NPPs, allocating appropriate financial resources, ensuring accountability of expenditure and raising public awareness of population issues; (ii) notes that fostering active involvement of elected representatives of the people, particularly parliamentarians and concerned groups and individuals, was a major objective; and (iii) recommends joint participation of the Government, NGOs, the private sector and the community not only in the dissemination of information but also in the development of IEC/Advocacy strategies.

 

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Achievements and best practices

Most ECA member States have not only recognised the need to design and implement advocacy activities but are in fact initiating such activities. In many cases they have developed advocacy strategies, often in conjunction with IEC strategies. They have also developed advocacy activities. (Although "advocacy" and "IEC" differ markedly in goals, their methods may be quite similar.)

 

Available evidence indicates that advocacy and IEC strategies have been widely used especially by national NGOs to mobilize political commitment and subsequent allocation of resources to address population and development issues; seek support for the promotion of practices that guarantee protection of women and men from abuse, for programs that prevent and treat STDs, including HIV/AIDS as well as for programs for eliminating traditional harmful practices; and create awareness about the type of activities that should be undertaken on these issues at different levels of administration. In particular, IEC strategies have been extensively used to generate demand for RH services; enlighten men and women about their RRs and responsible parenthood; promote safe sexual behaviors; and mobilize men to participate in RH programs.

 

The various strategies which have been adopted in member States to disseminate information on national population and development issues are presented in Table 14. The data show that the media (newspaper, radio and the television), seminars, workshops and meetings (both formal and informal) are the most widely used means of disseminating information. In 62 per cent of the States, there have been formal presentations of population and development issues to Parliament. Table 15 shows the percentages of the States in which IEC/Advocacy strategies have been developed within sectoral programs. Almost all the States have developed IEC/Advocacy strategies for issues concerning adolescents and youth, empowerment of women, FP and RH. Considerable proportions of the States have also developed IEC/Advocacy strategies within other sectoral programs: environment preservation, gender equality and equity (85per cent); population and development (81per cent); and, poverty alleviation (72per cent).

 

The NGOs have not only been involved in the dissemination of information on population and development issues, they have also received information on such issues from government parastatals. There is thus considerable exchange of information between the Government and the NGOs. Table 16 shows a high collaboration between government ministries (Education, Health, Information and Communication, Youth and Culture) and NGOs in the development of IEC/Advocacy strategies. Religious and policy leaders are also involved in about 84 per cent of the States. The general public is involved in 71 per cent of the States, the private sector in 54 and the civil society leaders in about half of the States. Table 17 shows that a significant proportion of the States have mechanisms for coordinating the various IEC/Advocacy components: from 64 per cent for training to 77 per cent for IEC strategy development.

 

The current trends in the liberalization of the socio-political environment have seen the emergence of several media channels (electronic and print media, community-based media) with the private sector playing an important role. A wider choice therefore exists for the dissemination of information and for interaction with various target populations. In States like Tanzania and Zambia, the institutional structures for the design, implementation and coordination of advocacy and IEC programs are already in place. The Planning Commission in Tanzania and the Inter-agency Technical Committee on Population have components which are focal points for the harmonization of IEC programs including the materials, messages and appropriate channels.

 

The development of political pluralism along with the extension of civil liberties has created a fertile environment for the creation of NGOs, grassroots and professional associations, pressure groups and other networks for canvassing and advocacy. Once the facts are in hand, one has a wide choice of options to push ideas through so as to advocate policy changes. Most of the States have been conducting such nationally representative sample surveys as the DHS, Household Consumption surveys, Living Standards surveys etc. during intercensal periods. These have been vital for the update and complement of census data on which are based, IEC/Advocacy messages.

 

Some States such as Ghana and Senegal have been working closely with the RAPID (Resources for the awareness of population impacts on development model was developed during the 1970s by the Futures Group of USAID to generate the required awareness for the policy implications of the country's population growth components and changes on the nation's economic and social objectives) project to develop population profiles and to simulate population projections in relation to various resources and overall development in order to create awareness among decision-makers and opinion-leaders at national and regional levels. The use of such models which require basic data inputs and assumptions with differing scenarios displayed on screens, maps and charts have been found to create more immediate impact among government and traditional authorities than several pages of data and literature.

 

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Constraints

The main constraints are unwillingness of some major players to participate in the design of national IEC/Advocacy strategies; lack of relevant socio-cultural and other data; inability to clearly define the institutional and coordinating mechanisms; inadequate training and supervision of staff; inadequate capacity to produce IEC materials; low motivation among program implementers; and the inability to cover the target population. There are also problems with what processes are to be followed in developing the strategy; how the latter is to be used once developed; who uses it; whether its application should be policed; and who infact, needs the strategy. To a large extent, the data in Tables 14 to 17 amply testify to these constraints. Rarely has the target audience been involved in the formulation, monitoring and evaluation of the impact of IEC and advocacy programs.

 

There is an insufficient number of trained IEC personnel to provide the technical capacity for the management, message development, strategy development and the monitoring and evaluation of the impact of IEC and advocacy programs. This leaves room for amateurism and may adversely affect programs. Most States have not designed comprehensive national IEC strategies as yet and have not designated any particular institutional framework for the coordination of IEC and advocacy activities. As a consequence, several IEC programs are ongoing which sometimes pass on contradictory and ill-adapted messages to identical target populations. This creates confusion and suspicion among the population and may even jeopardize the cause for which such messages were designed. Besides, almost everywhere, there is an absence of socio-cultural research-based information or of a research agenda for the in-depth assessment and interpretation of behavior and attitude issues and for targeting messages at specific audiences. Most of the IEC and advocacy materials are hardly ever pre-tested and no operational research is foreseen to evaluate their impact.

 

IEC/Advocacy materials have been lacking in variety and specificity, as well as in quality and quantity. Furthermore their wide distribution has been hampered by logistic problems. No functional data banks have been created as yet for the pooling of all the vital population-related data, documentation and other information which could then be easily accessed towards focussed IEC and advocacy messages. Results of most research operations take a long time to be published and are hardly ever given a wide enough dissemination; the raw data files are never easily accessible. In most cases, census data has become obsolete. In Lesotho, the results of the 1996 census are anxiously being awaited before any consistent IEC and other strategies can be developed.

 

A few States like Senegal and Ghana have developed the requisite curricula and pedagogic materials for the teaching of Population and FLE in schools and out of school. Very little thought has yet been given to the training of trainers. A majority of the population, to which IEC messages are destined, is illiterate in States where there is a diversity of ethnic groups and dialects with no other lingua franca. This requires that the messages be translated into the various dialects and that the appropriate channels be chosen to pass them on. Not only do some States lack the expertise for such translations, but terms such as 'gender', 'RH' etc are new and there are no easy local equivalents for contraceptives and even FP that could appropriately pass on the right meaning.

 

In some States, the cost of radio and television spots and even newspaper space are so prohibitive that most of the actors are compelled to condense their messages to the extent that they are no longer easily understood. Most IEC programs have been executed with donor funding as specific projects with project staff and materials. Though the governments have been able to provide some logistic support through their media and staff, they are often never prepared to recruit the project staff at the end of the projects or to at least provide subventions for the sustenance of such programs during transition periods from one funding cycle to the other. As a consequence, experience is never cumulative and materials are not properly conserved. The UNICOM II project in Senegal loses its staff at the end of each project period and must recruit new, inexperienced staff for the next period.

 

More than one third (about 38per cent) of the member States have never informed their Parliaments about the contents of their population and development issues including national and sectoral policies (Table 14). Although only 17per cent of the States has not used such other channels as the media, seminars, workshops and meetings to disseminate the information on population and development issues, the non involvement of a sizeable proportion of member States' Parliaments which normally comprise decision makers and professionals as well as the general public (26per cent); youth and women groups, religious institutions (20per cent); NGOs (16per cent); and policy makers and government officials, as well as service providers (10per cent), is a serious omission.

 

Besides dissemination, more than one fourth (28per cent) of the member States have not as yet developed a national population IEC/Advocacy strategy purporting to address poverty alleviation and about one fifth are yet to develop such strategy for the population and development sector (Table 15). Admittedly the corresponding proportions are much lower in the cases of such other sectors as environment preservation (22 percent); gender equality and equity (15per cent); RH (8per cent); and FP (7per cent). But the message and the implications are clear in terms of effects on the operationalization of population and development activities in these States.

 

Even in sectors where an IEC/Advocacy strategy exists, about half of the member States (46per cent) do not involve private organizations; about one third (30per cent) do not involve the general public; and about one fifth (16per cent) of the policy leaders and of Government institutions (in the case of Ministry of Culture) are not involved in their development (Table 16). Worse still, mechanisms do not exist (Table 17) for the coordination of such population IEC/Advocacy functions as training (36per cent); message and material development (31per cent); message dissemination(28 per cent); research and evaluation (32 per cent); and information exchange (34per cent).

 

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Recommendations for the way forward

By definition advocacy aims at changing the status of a policy, strategy or programme whereas IEC aims at changing the knowledge base, attitudes, beliefs, values, behavior or norms within individuals24 or groups of individuals. The ICPD-PA states that greater public knowledge, understanding and commitment are vital to the achievement of its goals and objectives and that increasing such knowledge, understanding and commitment is, therefore, a primary aim. It (I) indicates that members of national legislatures can have a major role to play, especially in enacting domestic legislation for implementing the NPPs, allocating appropriate financial resources, ensuring accountability of expenditure and raising public awareness of population issues; (ii) notes that fostering active involvement of elected representatives of the people, particularly parliamentarians and concerned groups and individuals, was a major objective.; and (iii) recommends joint participation of the Government, NGOs, the private sector and the community not only in the dissemination of information but also in the development of IEC/Advocacy strategies. Accordingly, the Committee recommended that:

 
  • Broad-based partnerships and pro-active consultation between government and NGOs, NGOs and NGOs, Donors and NGOs, and Government and Donors should be developed.

  • Resources from public, private-sector, civil society and donors should be mobilized for sustainability of advocacy and IEC programmes.

  • Conceptually, the future IEC/Advocacy strategies should emphasize logical step by step process namely: needs assessment through organized research, design, development including pretesting, development of implementation strategy, programme implementation, evaluation, expansion and replication.

  • Evaluation mechanism to measure IEC and advocacy outcome and impact should be established.

  • Qualitative and quantitative data for development of indicators for IEC and advocacy should be collected, processed and disseminated timely.

  • International Organisations should support capacity building in the area of evaluation of communication programmes and activities.

  • Government should ensure that advocacy and IEC support the paradigm shift as outlined in the Programme of Action--to go beyond reproductive health and include other development and environmental issues.

  • Network of communicators in Africa region through which there will be increased sharing of information and support materials should be established.

  • Sub-regional and Regional Institutions should include advocacy and gender dimensions in their training and research programmes.

  • Those concerned with IEC/Advocacy programmes are urged to ensure that appropriate research is undertaken for the development of IEC/Advocacy messages, with the full involvement and participation of all stakeholders and adequate attention to their social and cultural sensitivities.

 

 

 

Visit the Advocacy and IEC Strategies proceedings section to read the proceedings related to this thematic area or visit one of the other areas identified in the assessment of the African experience:

 

 

 

 Theme 1 Reproductive health and rights

Reproductive health and rights

 Theme 2 Family, youth and adolescents

Family, youth & adolescents

 Theme 3 Gender empowerment

Gender empowerment

 Theme 4 NGO amd private sector roles

NGO & private sector roles

 Theme 5 Policy amd development strategies

Policy & development strategies

 

 

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