Citizen Advocacy Groups Catalyze Change

By Covenant missionary Pete Ekstrand

Citizen Advocacy Group
One of the initiatives of Covenant Kids Congo powered by World Vision is to train up Citizen Advocacy Groups. Recently I accompanied the CKC team as they visited the first group formed in Gemena. It was fascinating to learn what they did, how they did their work, and the impact of their reporting.

Covenant Kids Congo powered by World Vision only started training the first Citizen Advocacy Group in 2017. The group was trained to recognize and assess issues within their neighborhoods and then prepare them for presentation to the local authorities. They presented to us the work they had done to study the status of several health centers within the city. They reported the following:

  • Receiving a copy of the national norms for health centers. These concern the requirements for the building, equipment, proximity to water, cleanliness, toilet facilities, and more.
  • The group compared two health centers to the national norms, taking pictures where appropriate.
  • They then prepared a report, which was presented to the Minister of Health for the South-Ubangi province, the medical head of the Gemena health zone, other government health authorities, and the local neighborhood leaders.

The response of the government authorities was to toss out former reports and demand that changes take place. Immediately the local neighborhood leaders decided to take action to improve the bathing area and toilets for the health centers in question.

Advocacy Group Drawing

Since the history of the DR Congo has included much oppression, there has not been great precedence for citizen advocacy.

As Justin Kazadi, the World Vision Ledia Operations Manager, told me, “We want to have a change in the system, because we believe that if the system changes, then the population will have access to sustainable development.”

As Citizen Advocacy Groups are trained and multiplied, they have great potential to create positive change in their neighborhoods. I celebrate the government leaders’ response to this group’s initial report and look forward to hearing about more activities and solutions.

Pete Ekstrand is a Covenant missionary working with the Covenant Church of Congo (CEUM) in northwest DR Congo. He is married to Cindy, and together they serve as advisors to the CEUM leaders. Pete and Cindy are the champions for the CEUM’s Community Health Evangelism (CHE) holistic development model.

An earlier version of this post previously appeared on Pete and Cindy’s blog, Ekstrands in Congo. Used with permission.

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One Response to “Citizen Advocacy Groups Catalyze Change”

These Citizen Advocacy Group training is giving local people away to influence government leaders in a very concrete way. It was exciting to read the first impact of their report on the Health Center.

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