6. Policy Makers and Networks
Relationship with Policy Makers
Recognizing that advocacy is primarily a matter of communication to key audiences and developing relationships, Civic Engagement Alliance conducted a strategic action of communication towards the government officials and diplomatic personnel. From 2017, ICCO’s director for West Africa, invested heavily in relationship building to government officials, ministers, ambassadors, heads of international NGOs to explain the content and the strategy of the program as well as the expectations of the beneficiaries. This proactive approach has facilitated formal and informal contact and relations with decision-makers and leaders of international NGOs and facilitated the building of synergies. As a result, the program is well-known to government partners. The program has excellent contacts with the Ministries of Agriculture and Trade, but also with the Prefectural Authorities and Mayors.
For many policy makers, the program seems really unique and attractive. They clearly see the difference with the traditional services delivery programs, since it strengthens smallholders’ power to lobby decision makers in policy development and implementation. Many parliamentarians are willing to accompany the program when needed. To some extent, this approach contributes to a better access of cashew and shea (private) actors to policy makers and could be an explanation of the changes in their attitude vis-à-vis the cashew and shea sector.
Membership of Networks
Civic Engagement Alliance succeeded in bringing together the community of international organizations active in the shea and cashew nut sectors. Joint field activities are conducted with international NGOs (GIZ, Technoserve) and also the private sector. The commitment of FLUDOR Benin, the largest agribusiness company in Benin is a typical example. ANABEL, Catholic Relief Service and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands participate in the activities of the program.
The Alliance has a specific contact person within theDutch embassy and the program is often involved in the Embassy events, like the “Food Security Partner Day” on October 3 2018. The embassy also participated in major events of the Alliance, such as the program launch ceremony and the exhibition of the program position paper in Bénin. The contacts with the embassy contribute to exchange and creating synergy.