In the context of the HELVETAS Programme 2017-2020, advocacy has been defined a transversal topic for the organization what means that advocacy is being addressed in all country programmes, as well as through specific projects. Hence, HELVETAS together with its partners and allies advocates on many different themes or issues, depending on the national, regional or local context and ranging across all five working areas. In order to ensure coherence and coordination throughout the organization, HELVETAS provides conceptual and strategic guidance around a number of key themes and issues, and facilitates knowledge exchange and joint learning among various organizational entities.
In this framework, Eastern Europe Unit at Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation held a one-week workshop on Regional Advocacy in Durrës, Albania during 17-22 September 2018. The workshop hosted by dldp programme gathered Helvetas programmes active in Eastern Europe.
This workshop aimed to actively discuss and understand what advocacy is all about through the advocacy cycle, covering analysis, strategy and monitoring and evaluation. The workshop, based on the cases developed by participants, elaborated and practically applied key advocacy concepts and practices. The workshop used the working definition of advocacy as “the deliberate process of influencing decisions within political, economic and social systems and institutions with the aim of making policies and processes more just, inclusive and pro-poor.”
Participants could better understand and exchange throughout interactive discussions of different topics within advocacy issue such as analyzing and understanding the advocacy ecosystem as a complex and dynamic relationships of functions and rules.
In the course of few days participants could underline as very important role of other stakeholders in advocacy, including donor agencies, thus in the workshop there were invited four representatives from international NGOs and development partners to talk and discuss on their role in advocacy and policy dialogue. The discussions focused on the support that other stakeholders give to projects such as Helvetas has and the boundaries within which such support can offer, the coordination and competition of different stakeholders in advocacy and mechanisms for managing the processes, successes and “failures” cases in advocacy. Also referring to concrete examples in interactions with dldp programme and beyond it building on their own experience.
The third day topic of the workshop was “Advocacy: Theory of change”, for that dldp facilitated a meeting with Mrs. Elgantina Gjermeni, who is a member of Albanian Parliament, former Minister of Urban Development and Tourism and civil society activist on women rights and representation. Mrs. Gjermeni hosted the meeting in Kruja and participants had the opportunity to visit the Castle and the old bazaar of this historic city. The discussions with Mrs. Gjermeni, organized as a round table, stressed interesting opinions on the role national civil society organizations have in Albania, the importance of foreign-funded programmes such as dldp in policy dialogue, the ways to strengthen the participation of CSO in advocacy, the potential synergies between organized civil society and elected parliaments for building effective policy dialogue.
The last day of the workshop closed with a simple and flexible but very effective format by organizing large group dialogue based on three topics where discussions focused on recommendations and forward-looking solutions.
Topic 1 was to convene the Eastern Europe Regional Advocacy Working Group for anchoring many of the points raised and discussed in the advocacy workshop. The group, led by Valbona Karakaçi from Dldp, had members from the different groups.
Topic 2 was to engage partners for an effective advocacy intervention. A successful development agenda requires partnerships to lay the foundation and ensure long-term and large-scale impacts. It requires that we know exactly what kind of partners we seek, who they are, how to increase partnership effectiveness, and enhance understanding of our roles and responsibilities for a shared vision. Gramos Osmani from Risi Albania Programme led the session.
Topic 3 was to manage and embrace the failures as challenges of lessons learnt. There were a number of reasons for this including uncertainties if failures are to be rewarded or penalized by donors or host governments. Denalda Kuzumi from Bashki të Forta led the discussions.
There is a long way to go towards a successful cooperation and development in Eastern Europe countries and advocacy is one of these challenges.