Sunday, July 02, 2006

New Issue of HA-AP: Communicating for Advocacy: An Agent for Social Change

This issue of Health Alert Asia Pacific showcases the achievements of the Communicating for Advocacy Project (CFA) as summarized in the declaration of unity which all the partners agreed during the CFA Plenary held in Dhaka, Bangladesh in September 2005. This issue also talks about testaments of four advocates that illustrate what an empowered population can do to effect meaningful changes in their communities. Their stories put a human dimension to the seemingly abstract achievement of CFA.

The CFA project started in 2002 by four non-governmental organizations – Healthlink Worldwide, UK, Health Action Information Network, Philippines, Cambodia Health Education Median Services, and the Social Assistance and Rehabilitation of the Physically Vulnerable, Bangladesh.

The project aims to provide a venue where community groups and individuals can develop their capacity to influence practice and policy change. It also aims to develop capacity for information exchange and skills transfer by health and development agencies.

As the first phase of the CFA project drew to a close, it is important to look back at the gains that have been achieved in the past three years. The key and core partners demonstrated diverse learning experiences in advocacy. At the same time, all the partners carried out their own advocacy works that resulted in actual changes.

The success of the CFA may be attributed to its framework – that advocacy must be people-centered and rights-based. This empowered the people, allowing them to speak for themselves and make a difference.

The project itself may be over, but its relevance remains. The next challenge therefore is to set the direction of advocacy; to put it in its proper context. After all, where the project ends, the real work begins.

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