Reflections on Civil Society Engagement in the GFF - progress recorded but more needs to be done

4 October 2019 ¦ Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

As we participate in the workshop for the 10 new GFF countries (Ghana, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Somalia, Tajikistan, Chad, Pakistan, Zambia and Zimbabwe), we contemplate on the trajectory of Civil Society engagement since the start of the GFF.

Progress has been made. Civil Society participation in country delegations was secured for 80% of the countries, in many of these countries, Civil Society participated in national briefing meetings prior to the workshop and in some countries such as Ghana, Civil Society has already created a working group on the GFF and identified focal points for Civil Society to lead on GFF related work.

While progress is noted some challenges remain that if resolved could exponentially increase the Civil Society contribution to the GFF process through investment cases that respond to the needs of populations, aligned civil society service delivery and demand generation activities, and accountability for results and resources.

Building civil society capacity

One of the greatest value add identified by countries participating in this meeting for the GFF is the provision of technical assistance for the prioritization of RMNCAH+N interventions and for resource mapping. Civil Society participating in the workshop noted that a similar approach of provision of technical assistance around key issues would increase their health and financial literacy and enable them to engage meaningfully in the investment case development process and to monitor its implementation. While capacity building needs are obviously context specific, a consensus has emerged around several approaches:

Early identification of Civil Society networks, information sharing on the GFF process and contacts, and support for the creation of a functional coalition. Participants noted that support for coalition building needs to address certain constraints that exist in countries. The Civil Society landscape in countries is very fragmented and competitive. For instance, in Mauritania and Kenya there are tens of thousands of registered civil society organizations, many of which are organized in networks around diseases, driven by donor financing, and few of which are incentivized to collaborate and coordinate beyond their remit. As such capacity strengthening on coalition building needs to include information on how to incentivize participation (for instance through the creation of the thematic sub groups, the use of technical experts from member organizations in relevant government led conversations, the creation of space for civil society in constrained environments etc.) and joint resourcing of civil society coalition through voluntary contributions. Information on coalition building should also center on how effective coalitions address gaps between national and community level organizations. Special steps need to be taken to respect the local context in terms of what it means for CS coalitions to be inclusive, representative and structured.

Pauline Irungu, Advocacy and Policy Country Lead, Kenya, PATH and Civil Society Representative to the GFF Investor’s Group
Mathews Mhuru, Country Coordinator, CSO SUN Alliance
Kadi Toure, Technical Officer, PMNCH and Coordinator, GFF Civil Society Coordinating Group