von Kristina Kroyer
Building Spaghetti Towers for Policy Dialogue
On 13 and 14 March, the Kenya Country Workshop of the CONSORTIUM PROJECT II: FURTHER STRENGTHENING CAPACITIES OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS (CSOS) ENGAGING IN POLICY DIALOGUE took place in Nairobi, Kenya. The Consortium Project is a joint project by the Austrian NGOs HORIZONT3000, Caritas, Austrian Red Cross, SOS Children’s Village Austria and CARE under the lead of HORIZONT3000 and funded by Austrian Development Agency (ADA). The project was started in 2014 and supports nine East African NGOs (DECESE, GROOTS, Kenya Red Cross and MIO-Net of Kenya, SOS Children’s Villages Uganda, WORUDET and CARE of Uganda, as well as SOS Children’s Villages Tanzania and Red Cross Rwanda) in building their capacities for effective engagement in policy dialogue. Ultimately, capacity building in policy dialogue shall lead to a stronger reflection of the population needs in national and local policies. The project is currently in its second phase and features tailor made learning and Small Action Fund Initiatives, allowing CSOs to develop and implement their own Policy Dialogue Strategies.
Although the regional exchange among partners is crucial to the project, country workshops in Kenya and Uganda give the organizations the possibility to focus on their national landscapes and stakeholders as well as to invite a broad range of guest learners from government, media and civil society in order to learn both: together and from each other. Lisa Nixdorf, Technical Advisor of HORIZONT3000 in Kenya, supported the workshop in Kenya and provides us with some insights on the workshop:
The focus of the Kenya Country Workshop was policy maker and media engagement as well as effective network building. In various interactive sessions, participants learned how to approach and engage with policy makers in all parts of the policy cycle and how to effectively and deliberately work with the media to lobby for policy changes. The Workshop was a great success. Participants benefitted not only from the content but also the experience sharing, peer learning and networking with other CSOs. Learning experiences were summarized in an exercise of building a spaghetti tower in smaller groups:
Spaghetti tower building is a group exercise. To succeed, participants must be aware of their own and their partners’ strengths and find their strategic position in the process. The same holds for policy maker and media engagement: a strong CSO must be aware of their own organization’s strategic position and their network and agents’ (policy makers as well as media representatives) mandate, strengths and weaknesses. Partners and agents must be chosen and engaged deliberately in order to reach the overall goal of representation of a CSOs concerns in policy making. Furthermore, a clear strategy is needed before building a spaghetti tower. This holds not only for architecture but also policy dialogue. Participants became aware of the importance of diligent strategy and planning before engaging policy makers or the media. This includes deep knowledge of the political and media system, meticulous research on all aspects of a challenge and their root cause, extensive data collection from all actors including grassroots, thorough and inclusive strategy development and documentation for future reference. With lots of laughter, participants completed this exercise and the Policy Dialogue Workshop and are looking forward to the Final Workshop in November this year.