The Global Financing Facility is a country-led mechanism, bringing together multiple sources of funding to accelerate progress on reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health and nutrition (RMNCH-N). Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) play a crucial role in the GFF: amplifying the voice of their constituencies to influence priority setting; monitoring country commitments; and holding government to account for mobilising domestic resources and improving RMNCAH-N outcomes. However, despite the pivotal role they are expected to play in the process, CSOs are often unaware of how the GFF works or how they can get involved.
The E4A-MamaYe team from Options works alongside civil society to give them the knowledge, tools, and approaches to effectively engage with the GFF. This approach combines technical assistance in areas like budget and expenditure tracking and analysis, with tailored assistance, specific to GFF activities, such as engaging in the GFF process and setting up civil society coalitions. Options, through E4A-MamaYe, has supported several countries to develop GFF accountability scorecards. These innovative tools enable civil society to consistently and regularly track GFF progress and commitments, empowering them to hold constructive discussions with decision makers.
Until now, in-country support on the GFF has been limited, particularly for French-speaking countries. To address this, a three-day workshop was held in Senegal, welcoming delegates from ten francophone countries engaged with the GFF. Participants came from a range of CSOs, including representatives from youth groups and women’s organisations, many of whom had not received tailored support on civil society engagement with the GFF prior to the event. Workshop facilitator and member of the GFF Civil Society Coordination Group, Maty Dia surmised the issue, arguing “If we are to achieve the sustainable development goals, and leave no one behind, we need to ensure that civil society in francophone countries understand how the global health initiatives translate in their regional and national context.”
Sessions covered a range of topics, from explaining how the GFF works, to offering guidance on engaging youth and ensuring minority voices are heard throughout the process. Participants shared their experiences and learning on the GFF, highlighting possible difficulties that can arise throughout the process and offering solutions. Representatives from The Democratic Republic of Congo presented the challenges they had faced in ensuring high-levels of CSO participation from across the country, whilst those from Senegal shared their experiences on using feedback mechanisms to enhance monitoring. On the final day of the workshop, the group outlined the next steps they would take to share learning across civil society in their countries, and how they would use their learning to enhance engagement with the GFF going forward.
E4A-MamaYe created materials to enable civil society to adapt, reuse, and disseminate information about the GFF - enhancing the concepts integral to the GFF: transparency, accountability, and inclusiveness. Since returning home, many of the participants have planned feedback workshops and reports to present their learning to other members of civil society, and government ministers. Chancela Malessawa, from the Central African Republic, said of her experiences, “I have learned many things, which will stay not only with me, but with all the youth of Central Africa.”
The workshop has created a francophone community of civil society, who are able to continue to engage and learn from each other, following the event. Many delegates reported that they were still in touch with the contacts they had made. “I feel included in a network,” one delegate said, “I know that I have a whole community [workshop participants] that will help advance my efforts in my country”.
Some of the delegates who attended the E4A-MamaYe and Options-led workshop will be meeting again in Norway, at the GFF’s Replenishment Event in Oslo this November. The event will offer guidance and advice to support the GFF’s expansion to 50 new countries. The E4A-MamaYe team will attend the Oslo event, supporting delegates, including those from francophone countries, to further enhance engagement, as well as amplifying the voices of civil society who cannot be present.