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WACSI Secretariat, Accra, Ghana

13-15 October, 2008


TABLE OF CONTENTS 1.0 Introduction 1.1 1.2 1.3 2.0 Objectives Expected Outcomes Methodology 3 3 3 3 3 4 5

Training Areas 2.1 2.2 2.3 Understanding the context of policy advocacy Structuring and developing a coherent policy paper Developing a targeted advocacy plan using the Advocacy Planning Framework (APF) 2.4 Contextual factors framing a policy project

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Conclusion and Recommendations

List of Participants



The West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) in collaboration with the Local Government and Public Service Reform Initiative (LGI) and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) organised a pilot policy advocacy training of trainers workshop from 13-15 October, 2008 at the WACSI Secretariat in Accra, Ghana. The overall objective of the workshop was to build the skills of civil society actors in developing effective strategies and communication tools for policy advocacy. Also, the workshop was organised to gauge its relevance and to ascertain modalities for full implementation from 2009 and beyond. 1.1 Objectives

The objectives of the workshop were: To build the technical skills of potential trainers in policy formulation, analysis and influencing. To enhance strategic insight, skills and resources for designing policy relevant advocacy papers that would yield effective campaigns and communication tools that deliver a compelling policy position and achieve desired policy objectives within West Africa. To test the suitability of the LGI policy advocacy training methodology and course content. Expected Outcomes


The expected outcomes were: Improvement in the ability of trainees to formulate policy briefs and policy studies; Recommendations from the workshop that will help tailor a policy advocacy manual that would suit the West African policy advocacy context; Establishment of a suitable training methodology and course content that would fit the West African context for future Training of Trainers workshops. Methodology


The training methodology used at the workshop included brainstorming sessions, presentations, discussions, case studies and practical activities. 2.0 TRAINING AREAS

The three-day workshop comprised twelve sessions. The three main aspects of the workshop were: understanding the context of policy advocacy writing; structuring and developing a coherent policy paper and developing a targeted advocacy plan using the Advocacy Planning Framework (APF). This report highlights the three main components of the workshop.


Understanding the Context of Policy Advocacy Writing

Public policy may be defined as: whatever governments choose to do or not to do; a purposive course of action followed by an actor or a set of actors in dealing with a problem or a matter of concern. Core elements that explain public policy include: Authoritative government action- Action implemented by the body government which has the legislative, political and financial authority to do so. Problem-solution relationship- One that seeks to react to the concrete needs or problems of a society or groups within a society. A framework that guides- Usually not a single decision, action or reaction but an elaborated approach or strategy. A course of action or strategy- Includes a statement of the reasoning behind the policy. Political (value-driven)-Policy that may be implemented by a single government representative or a body or by multiple actors. Decision-making- Based on interaction between government and stakeholders.

Contextual factors that influence policy advocacy campaigns and shape policy papers as purposeful communication tools used in the decision-making process were discussed in this session. The session highlighted the nature of public policy, approaches to policy-making and the different aspects of the policy network as a way of framing the policy paper. The characteristics of a good policy paper are a clear message, persuasive arguments, convincing recommendations, a rich background (data/ figures), concise and apt information. Policy papers should contain comprehensive and persuasive arguments that culminate in effective policy recommendations. These recommendations serve as decision-making tools and a call to action for the targeted audience. Within the context of West Africa, the session sought to enhance the understanding of trainees in the context of policy advocacy writing so that they could better influence policy analysts and advisors. Comments from Trainees: The purpose of the workshop did not highlight contextual policy challenges in West Africa. Trainees explained that in West Africa using other communication tools in addition to policy briefs are more effective policy advocacy campaign strategies. Chieftaincy, language barriers, ineffective advocacy strategies were identified as challenges to policy advocacy interventions.

The trainees were of the view that certain experienced practitioners amongst them could proffer West African specific examples during the course of the training programme. A key weakness identified by trainees was the inability of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the sub region to set realistic policy influencing goals that were in consonance with the development agenda in their sphere of operation. Structuring and Developing a Coherent Policy Paper


The purpose of a policy paper is to strengthen the policy writers ability to formulate convincing and persuasive arguments. This will be achieved by establishing the problem, providing solutions and its application to the problem. There must be a justification for the problem, a solution to it and an application of the solution to the problem. Thus questions bordering on why, what and how must be answered in a policy paper. The essence is to inform, persuade and to move to action. The essence of a good introduction is to grab the attention of the reader or policy maker. The introduction should include the context of the problem, definition or statement of the problem, statement of intent, methodology, limitation of research and the road map. A policy description establishes the urgency of a problem in order to form a basis for a peculiar situation. More so, it highlights the flaws of current policies in order to prescribe better alternatives. On the other hand, policy options advocating for change should provide feasible alternatives to current policies. These options encompass the historical background of the problem, nature of problem within current context (reflection on the past and present) as well as the causes and effects of the problem. Policy options provide an array of possible solutions to an identified problem, enveloping a framework of analysis and evaluation of policy alternatives for future purposes. It also contains opinionated arguments and places less prominence on the usage of primary and secondary sources of information. The conclusion and recommendations are decision-making tools that engender a call to action that creates a lasting impression on readers. Challenges in developing policy papers include: a. b. c. d. e. f. g. h. i. j. k. Defining the Problem Writing Objectively Bridging Research and Advocacy Defining a Clear Target Group Wording Reporting Communicating Policy to Stakeholders Summarising Policy Differentiating between a Policy brief and a Policy Study Timing Strength of Arguments

Comments from Trainees: The trainees expressed difficulties with differentiating between a policy study, a position paper and a policy brief. In West Africa, there is a skills deficit with respect to writing objectively and coherently and subsequently communicating policy options. Trainees explained that in West Africa, policy research is weak and therefore practitioners have challenges translating research outcomes into potential advocacy interventions.


Developing a Targeted Advocacy Plan Using the Advocacy Planning Framework (APF)

This framework comprises of an in-depth knowledge of the process that would lead to a feasible and objective goal. This includes an in-depth analysis of the policy process in order to identify entry points for CSOs (policy in context). Choosing the right messenger is vital in the planning process (Messenger) and shaping the message to appeal to policy-makers (Message). Policy networks are complex channels of information that lead to the formulation of a policy. Within these networks, Think Tanks are under-utilised while stakeholders lack the requisite information. In addition, actors lack the ability to access information. The inability to exchange information in a policy network hinders the potential solution to the specific policy problem. Policy networks are meant to persuade, convince, influence and solve problems. Advocacy planning includes coming to terms with the different variants of policy advocacy which may be categorised as advocacy, activism, campaigning, lobbying, dissemination and advising. These terms have specific meanings and should not be used interchangeably. Traditional and ad hoc project management approaches to policy advocacy have become ineffective within the contemporary policy environment. The Force Field Analysis tool is an important component of the APF. This tool helps the policy writer weigh the promotional and restraining forces of a policy option within specific policy contexts. It helps the policy writer to make the most feasible choice within a specific policy environment and propels a policy maker to strategically act in order to achieve a successful policy outcome. Comments from Trainees: A Trainee shared an experience with respect to a situation where the right messenger was not chosen for a particular advocacy initiative. Even though the message was clear and persuasive, the messenger did not appeal to the specific policy makers.

The trainees reiterated the need for practitioners to make use of the resources from think tanks in their policy influencing activities. This was manifested through a policy network activity which showed that think tanks were often underutilised during the policy influencing process. For many of the trainees the force field analysis was a revelation. Its objective of ascertaining the promotional and restraining forces of policy options was an invaluable eye-opener. The trainees emphasised the need for civil society actors to make use of such scientific tools so that their outcomes will be more successful. Contextual Factors Framing a Policy Project


In this session, the policy design was defined as building capacity for the implementation of policies in the decision-making process. Consultation is a key factor as a participative mechanism in the policy-making process. Consultation cuts across all elements of the policy cycle. Governments ought to consult community citizens before implementing policies. The workshop is, among other issues, meant to address the complexities of the policy-making process. The ability to formulate an effective policy design is broadly accepted as weak in West Africa. Stakeholders participating in the decision-making process lack the requisite skills to influence the decision-making process. Legislative timing makes it difficult for CSOs to enter the decision-making process. However, the development of effective strategies and communication tools for policy advocacy is fuelled by a policy paper that is well structured with a clear introduction, a problem description, policy options, conclusions and recommendations. During the session, the trainers utilised sample policy briefs and studies for practical assessment and analysis. The trainees drew experiences from these activities to enhance their understanding and appreciation of policy papers. In depth analyses of policy studies entails qualitative and quantitative approaches. Conclusively, the trainers reiterated that there was the need for CSOs to identify entry points for policy advocacy within the policy cycle within their specific contexts. The session highlighted that Think Tanks and research institutions could play a multiple role in the decision-making process. Think Tanks should be encouraged to create working partnerships with West African governments in the sub-region. This will facilitate the strengthening of governance processes. Comments from Trainees: A trainee sought to ascertain the stage of the policy cycle CSOs should seek to influence policy.

Some trainees were of the view that CSOs should influence policy from stages one, two and three of the policy cycle. Their reason was that it will be difficult for CSOs to get involved in all stages of the decision-making process. However, others felt that CSOs should influence every stage if its possible within their specific contexts. This could be done by forming networks or coalitions so that individual groups would specialise on influencing a specific stage. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS


The development of effective strategies and communication tools for policy advocacy in West Africa is core to the transition from academic writing of policy papers to practical real world formulations. Enhancing the skills of actors will facilitate the proper conceptualisation of policy problems and facilitate the required policy outcomes in their specific local contexts. Generally, trainees appreciated the importance of the workshop, adding that it was timely and informative. However, the potential regional trainers emphasised that the training should encompass existing policy advocacy initiatives in the region both oral and written. Further, the trainees recommended that local training methodologies should be used in future workshops to enhance understanding. Towards this end, WACSI will continue to play an instrumental role in the process of contextualising the training methodology and course content. The following 16 recommendations emanated from the pilot workshop: Overall Impression 1. The training course was timely, educative and activity driven, however, the trainers should familiarise themselves with local training methodologies. 2. It is imperative for WACSI to frequently organise such initiatives within the region at national levels. 3. There is a need for WACSI to contextualise the application of the training tools. Pace/ Intensity/Timing 4. The course must be extended to a 5-day period so that participants can imbibe all that needs to be learnt. 5. The trainers must endeavour to familiarise themselves with the different levels of skills competencies of civil society actors in the region. Bridging Research and Advocacy 6. It is important for the training to highlight the gap between research and policy making in the region and proffer solutions to bridging this gap.

7. There is a skills deficiency capacity to undertake policy research in the region. Thus, creating the needed capacity base and sharpening skills for policy research is imperative. Relevance for West African Context 8. The training course should be relevant to the West African context and must reflect advocacy approaches and case studies from local contexts. 9. More importantly, there is the need to tailor the trainings to suit the different lingua franca in the region in order to facilitate holistic effectual outcomes. 10. There is the need to highlight indigenous advocacy tools and approaches within the course structure. 11. Training should highlight existing entry points for CSOs within national and regional policy frameworks. This will strengthen the advocacy campaigns of actors in the region. 12. The training should build on existing policy frameworks within the region. Potential Regional Trainers 13. WACSI should develop selection criteria for potential trainers. This would help in attracting the required cadre of policy advocacy trainers. 14. WACSI must make provision for Anglophone and Francophone training methodologies in the pursuit of the common objective of the course. 15. It is important to engage regional trainers who are committed to the entire training process. 16. There is the need for emphasis to be placed on the competence of potential trainers in order for the workshop to achieve its ultimate objective.


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Diarra Tall Ba Komivi M. Deh Nana Afadzinu Frank B. Darkwa Christian Lawrence Excellence Eyo O. USO Tsike-Sossali E.S Senegal Senegal Nigeria Ghana



Email Address simon@abusuafoundation. net

Sierra Leone Nigeria Ghana

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Fred Mahama Ruby Quantson Hilda Mensah

Ghana Ghana Ghana

The Ark Foundation IDEG UNDP


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Charles K. Vandyck Gima Forje Omolara Balogun

Ghana Ghana Ghana

WACSI WACSI WACSI balogun.omolara@yahoo.c om