Learning event: Lobby and advocacy for children with disabilities

Since 2015 the African Studies Centre Leiden and the Liliane Foundation work together in a learning programme on lobby and advocacy for children with disabilities. Based on research in Cameroon and Sierra Leone, the programme seeks to understand the factors that explain the success and failure of lobby & advocacy for children with disabilities. Moreover, the knowledge generated in the programme is used to strengthen the capacity of Liliane Foundation and its local civil society partners to support, design and implement effective lobby & advocacy strategies. Learning events organized in Cameroon and Sierra Leone play an important part in the capacity strengthening. During these events preliminary research findings are presented to local stakeholders and their practical implications are discussed.

  • Glory Tchiaze of the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services.

On 21 March, the first learning event took place. This event focused on the lobby and advocacy efforts of the Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services (CBCHS), the local strategic partner of Liliane Foundation in Cameroon. CBCHS has been trying to convince the government of the necessity to make education more inclusive for children with disabilities. The research conducted by the students Zuleikha Mohammed and Sebastian Potthof formed the starting-point of the learning event. While Zuleikha’s research focused on the opportunities and constraints offered by the political system in Cameroon to influence the government, Sebastian’s research looked at the organizational capacity of CBCHS to implement an effective lobby and advocacy strategy.

  • Dr Walter Gam Nkwi of Buea University. 

During the learning event Zuleikha and Sebastian presented their preliminary research findings to a group of about 30 people consisting of various stakeholders including CBCHS staff, local chiefs, headmasters, representatives of the government and representatives of civil society organisations. After the presentation of the findings, Dr Walter Gam Nkwi of the University of Buea and Glory Tchiaze of CBCHS facilitated a participatory session to tease out the research’s practical implications. After several rounds of lively discussion in small groups, the participants presented their insights during a plenary session. Amongst other things, the presentations and the discussions that followed highlighted the need for CBCHS to devote more time and energy to building coalitions with other stakeholders while making better use of organizational resources which currently remain unused.

Willem Elbers