In order to enable the grantees’ participation in the “World Health Summit”, an international health conference, taking place annually in October in Berlin, the learning and sharing meeting happened in Berlin.
Seven out of the nine grantees participated in the meeting. Unfortunately the partners from HERFON, Nigeria and TANGO, Gambia could not attend the meeting, as they were not able to secure their visas to Germany on time for various reasons.
The objective of the learning and sharing meeting were:
- to receive an update on grantees work over the past months of project implementation
- to review and share the successes, challenges, main achievements, key learning’s and best practices
- to network and develop key relationships across countries
Marion Lieser, the Executive Director of Oxfam Germany, welcomed the HPAF grantees to Berlin and Oxfam. She highlighted the importance of the HPAF in terms of Oxfam’s work and as contribution to better health for all, as well as the focus of Oxfam’s work and strategy going into 2020.
Jörn Kalinski, the Director of Advocacy and Campaigns, gave an overview of the Campaigns and Policy work in Oxfam generally, and Oxfam Germany’s work, and linked it to the HPAF.
Cheryl Jacob-Singh provided a brief overview of the IHP+ in the absence of an IHP+ representative and referred the grantees to the IHP+ website for more information.
The HPAF project team gave background information on the HPAF, its previous work, objectives and ways of working. The roles of each HPAF team member and their interaction with the grantees were clarified, previous ways of working and communication between the grantees and the HPAF team was discussed, and agreements to improve communication were made.
The grantees had been asked to prepare a presentation of their project, including achievements, outcomes, challenges and recommendations, based on a template which was developed by the HPAF team and shared prior to the meeting. The template ensured that the information that was shared was specific and important for the objective of learning and sharing.
After every presentation made there was a discussion and feedback round with questions, observations and suggestions from the other grantees for each project, highlighting impact, recommendations and identified challenges.
The grantees shared their experiences about their projects and health advocacy in their countries with Oxfam Germany staff members at a “Brown Bag Lunch”. Dr. Sin Somuny from MEDiCAM, Cambodia and Kenneth Mwehonge from HEPS, Uganda gave some brief presentations about the advocacy work in their countries, which were followed by an interesting discussion and exchange of experience with Oxfam staff. Grantees expressed that this discussion was very enriching for them as it provided information from another perspective by also showing how advocacy is done in the Global North.
The learning and sharing meeting was connected to a two-day-capacity building workshop (on October 8th and 9th), facilitated by Jessica Hamer, the Southern Policy and Campaigns Officer supporting the project in terms of capacity building. This included inputs from Oxfam Germany’s Social Media, Fundraising and the Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation und and Learning (PMEL) departments.
Additionally the grantees had the opportunity to participate in the World Health Summit in Berlin from October 11th to 13th and related side events.
Outcome and key learnings from the Learning and Sharing meeting
The grantees evaluated the learning and sharing meeting as a great opportunity to exchange experiences with the others and learn from each other, based on different working contexts, approaches and thus different challenges.
Both the HPAF team, as also the grantees expressed that the learning and sharing meeting helped them to improve their understanding of the grantee’s projects, objectives, contexts and challenges. It was positive to get to know the partners in person and thus facilitate communication. The discussion and learning from experiences in other countries were assessed as enriching and inspiring.
The grantees pointed out that understanding the context of each project was crucial and essential for the interventions to be implemented – and that those actually differ quite a lot depending on the context. However, grantees also identified similarities between the working environments of networks in their countries.
It was also pointed out that the advocacy strategy very much depended on the projects and country context and had to be adapted to that, and that it was either dialogue or confrontation. In this sense the grantees expressed that it was very interesting for them to learn about Oxfam Germany’s advocacy strategies. Also challenges around civil society space were discussed and addressing accountability in this context. Civil Society control to monitor and improve health policies was considered as crucial.
Shadow reporting was a new advocacy tool for some organisations, but all grantees evaluated it as a very important and effective tool in the strategic monitoring of politics and for improving service delivery. They pointed out that knowing the context before engaging in a shadow report was crucial. All grantees were interested to further learn about shadow reporting and improving their organisations skills in this sense.
The importance of a well prepared and defined strategy and methodology before the beginning of the implementation of a project was emphasised.
The learning and sharing meeting itself was considered as a proof of an effective and productive way of organising a workshop in terms of logistics and methodology and thus a practical example.
Monitoring and measuring the impact of advocacy was considered as highly significant, but also technically challenging. Developing appropriate project and context sensitive strategies and tools to monitor health policies is essential.
The grantees recognized the importance of an effective umbrella organisation (in health) that coordinates CSO activities for and effective advocacy.
It was clear that understanding of aid effectiveness is crucial for the grantees’ project, but at the same time, that there was no universal understanding and definition among the grantees, but that the perception was different from organisation to organisation and country to country. Further training on this topic shall be provided.
The grantees regretted the absence of an IHP+ representative in the meeting and suggested to have a closer/more direct contact with the IHP+ Core Team, e.g. in form of consultation calls. They also suggested to further use IHP+ country meetings to raise concerns.
In terms of cooperation among the grantees and the HPAF project team, the grantees expressed that ways of working, communication and reporting were much clearer now which was considered as extremely helpful and helped to clarify questions they had.