Voice to the People (V2P) is a good governance project supporting communities in Kaduna state and the Southeast region of Nigeria to take ownership of their own development by driving accountability among their leaders, raising their voices to demand the rights and services to which they are entitled, and taking part in the decision-making processes that affect their lives. Some of the core approaches used by the project are the use of community-developed charters of demand, the Problem Driven Identification Approach (PDIA) to supporting communities to address priority issues specific to their local contexts, power and gender analysis, and the use of Community-Based Monitors (CBMs).
The five-year project (July 2013 - March 2018) is being led by Christian Aid in partnership with state- and national-level civil society organisations (CSOs), with funding from the United Kingdom Government’s Department for International Development (DFID).
The objectives of the V2P are to:
- improve skills, organisation, and confidence of marginalised groups, communities, and civil society to enable them to demand their rights;
- increase participation and representation of women and adolescent girls in informal and formal decision-making structures in Anambra State;
- improve institutionalised dialogue and interaction between marginalised groups, community groups, civil society, and authorities at local and state levels; and
- effectively share lessons learnt to enable civil society partners to achieve increased linkages and leverages between voice and accountability programming across the project areas.
The project uses the following approaches to community empowerment:
- The Problem Driven Identification Approach (PDIA): This entails collective action research and iterative power analysis, where communities identify and map out their issues, recognise them as problems, and chart a way forward.
- The Information Self-help Approach: This involves a process of capacity building and information provision with mutual support between communities and civil society. It empowers communities by assisting them to acquire knowledge, skills, and confidence required in addressing their issues and challenges.
- The Demonstration Approach: This approach entails showing how things are done, as well as handholding and demonstrating, with learning and results as a catalyst for other actions by community groups.
The following are some of the specific activities and approaches used by V2P:
Community mobilisation - the project focused on intense continuous community-driven engagement working with influential groups and existing community structures such as town unions, community development committees, and traditional rulers, to ensure sustained community ownership of activities. Community members were used to identify influential groups.
Capacity building and knowledge sharing - A key component of the V2P project is building the skills, organisation, and confidence of community groups. In order to do this, several strategies are deployed to reach targeted groups. These include identifying champions as mentors, cross-community learning platforms, and monthly community reflection meetings.
Charter approach - A demand tool known as ‘Community Charter of Demand’ was introduced. The demand tool is a document that contains prioritised community needs addressed to duty bearers for redress. They are developed through community effort, and all community groups are part of the process. These demands can include the provision of personnel - schoolteachers, health workers - and infrastructure such as roads, drainages, water rehabilitation, and fertilisers and seedlings for farmers.
Partnership approaches in engagement with identified stakeholders - Partnerships between CSOs, communities, and the media have facilitated various engagements and achievements across the programme, as the combined efforts of these groups are more effective in advocating around a specific issue and engaging with appropriate authorities.
Policy/budget engagement: Working on the budget is a major focus of the V2P project. People-centred budgeting is both about the content of budgets and the process of formulating budgets in ways that are transparent and participatory. The budget therefore was simplified in such a way that communities could relate with it, and understand and use it to track projects being implemented in their communities. Communities were also educated on analysing the budget document and monitoring the allocation and following up to full implementation. Findings from the tracking informed issues for engagement with stakeholders.
Community-based monitoring - Communities were engaged in performance monitoring and evaluation using a community scorecard system. One of the key ways in which the intervention facilitated citizen-driven development was the establishment and use of Community-Based Monitors (CBMs). CBMs are recognised representatives of the people within the communities and at the local government and state level. They monitor budgets and government projects and services in their communities to ensure quality of service delivery.
Media campaigns/advocacy - This approach entails working with and using the media as a platform for information sharing, education, and engagement. The Peoples Voice Radio programme was put together by partners to highlight human rights issues, gender, community demands, government performance, and responsiveness. These issues are discussed on the radio with the relevant stakeholders present at the programme; listeners call in to make their contributions and air their views on the various topics being discussed. Communities were also supported to form a radio listeners’ group. Campaigns on other identified issues like scorecards, charter of demands, irregularities in the state, tax issues, etc. were also done through: the media; information, education, and communication (IEC) materials; traditional and social media; as well as through public campaigns.
Power and gender analysis - The introduction of power analysis in the entire community mobilisation processes helped the V2P project promote learning and engagement. For example, power mapping was used as a tool to plan engagement and advocacy, as it allowed the programme to identify new actors around their issues of concern.
Safe Spaces - Understanding the patriarchal nature of the communities being reached and the issues around gender integration and disparity, V2P initiated exclusive platforms as a way of engagement to allow for in-depth and detailed contributions from marginalised groups in the communities. Exclusive platforms were initiated through community support, which included a girls' parliament and Gender Empowerment and Development Organising Resources (GEADOR) circles. The project enjoyed full participation of women and girls as a result of these platforms.
For more information about V2Ps strategies, impact, and lessons learned, see "Voice to the People - Making governance work for poor and marginalised people" [PDF, February 2017]
As part of efforts to share learning within the development world, V2P has produced the following guidebooks on its key approaches:
Governance, Gender, Health and Education
"Active citizenship has been defined as “people getting involved in their local communities and democracy at all levels, from towns to cities to nationwide activity” (Open Society Foundations, 2013). It is a state of being of a citizen that defines the essence of participatory governance: an essential element to achieving development at community, state/regional, and national levels. Participatory governance in itself is regarded as a vital aspect of democracy and good governance, and refers to people being involved in decision-making processes about their development, and consequently, their lives and their futures. The problems of undeveloped communities, mismanagement of resources, and the lack or inefficient provision and delivery of basic services such as roads, schools, and health facilities in communities are as a result of bad governance and leadership. However, the burden of achieving good governance rests not only with the government, but with the governed as well. Through active citizenship, communities and individuals play a vital role in ensuring that governance is transparent, accountable, and responsive to their needs. It is on this basis that the Voice to the People (V2P) project was developed to facilitate active citizenship as one of its core mandates. (from Formation of Community-Based Monitors - Guidebook series to V2P approaches [PDF, March 2017])
Beginning in July 2013, the first phase of the programme was implemented by a diversified portfolio of six indigenous partners in 12 of Anambra’s 21 local government areas (LGAs) and reached over 85,000 people. It indirectly reached 2.5 million people. In August 2016, the project was extended to cover the rest of the south east region of Nigeria, including all 21 LGAs in Anambra state and Kaduna state.
By the midterm evaluation in November 2014, 94% of respondents said communities were able to advocate for basic services, and 87% noted improved government-community relationships. More than two-thirds (68%) of respondents said this had led to improved service delivery. The project has also brought about new facilities and services: Two schools, four health centres, seven roads, and a market had been built and 14 schools renovated, as a result of V2P. Thirty extra teachers and eight medical staff are in post as a direct result of V2P, while the programme also contributed to the deployment of 72 additional teachers and 72km of new roads.
Africa Centre for Leadership Strategy and Development; AID Foundation; Development in Practice, Gender and Entrepreneurial Initiative; Gender Awareness Trust; Hope Givers Initiative; Justice, Development and Peace Commissions of Awka, Enugu, Nnewi and Onitsha; Legal Awareness for Nigerian Women; Women Aid Collective and Youth Education on Human Rights and Civil Responsibilities.