Cases in Places

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Advocacy Challenges in Weak States

  • Advocacy Tales

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Traditional democracy programs focus on community or civil society advocates that define their agenda and ask for changes from government.  This model works if government has strong institutions, because civil society can push their agenda alongside political parties, businesses, and moneyed interests.   But many transitional countries have weaker government institutions with few resources and less capacity.  In these places, a strong advocacy campaign makes for a lopsided effort that usually frustrates both advocates and government leaders.

In weak states, democracy works best when government and advocates communicate, create understanding, build trust and collaborate to make change. 

This is not a western view, decision making in jirgas, tribal councils, traditional leader mediation, and government-advocate consensus building is a democratic norm.

Work with Advocates

  • Articulate policies, practices or legal changes to government bodies or leaders.
  • Increase understanding of government decision making bodies and implementation.
  • Understand budget opportunities and constraints
  • Understand the human capacity, financial or administrative challenges to advocate for the improved implementation of services, programs or laws

 Work with Government

  • Government needs to understand the importance of actively informing citizens, engaging them in dialogue and responding to their needs.
  • Create plans, budgets and timelines to provide direction to implementing staff.
  • Leverage existing public information opportunities such as directions, explanatory materials and websites, citizen information centers, and social media.
  • Increase target communications to key public audiences on information they want to know.
  • Evaluate gaps in citizen compliance or behaviors to identify messages and avenues to increase acceptance.