Advocacy is an essential tool used by civil society to achieve its mission to advance collective interests, solve shared problems and defend social causes. As institutions that facilitate communication between citizens and policymakers, parliaments constitute key stakeholders CSOs engage in the process of holding government accountable for providing services or promoting policy change.
It is within this context that, the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) in collaboration with Parliamentary News Africa (PNA) held a 5-day intensive training on Parliamentary Advocacy and Engagement for CSOs. The training, which took place in Accra from the 14-18 October, attracted participants from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and The Gambia.
The course was designed to respond to the gap identified in the ability of civil society organisations to effectively engage with their national parliaments. Parliaments have a critical role in the policymaking process. Samuel Obeng, Executive Director of Parliamentary Network Africa (PNA) said “Understanding the processes and proceedings of the parliament and the legislative assembly is a key element, civil society activists should consider in any approach of engagement”
The training was a blend of lectures, group works, role play and experience sharing sessions. It gave also the occasion for participants to understudy cases of successful policy reform process who took place through the strong advocacy conducted by civil society organisations in the region.
When asked how participants were going to use the knowledge and skills gained at their training, Agbede Opeoluwa, Programme Officer of the Royal Heritage Health Foundations said, his primary focus will be to conduct a step-down training to enable his colleagues to benefit from the valuable knowledge he acquired. In addition, Emmanuel Oluwafemi, Programme Assistant in WACSI’s Policy Influencing and Advocacy Unit, assured that this training empowered him to get more involved in the parliamentary process of his country.