Eriasafu Lubowa, Progressio's Development Worker who is a specialist in advocacy and communications, shares his experience and achievements so far in the capacity building of the Malawi Civil Society Organisation Nutrition Alliance (CSONA) secretariat, and its member organisations around advocacy and communication. 

According to the 2015 Global Nutrition Report, Malawi’s under-five stunting rate was at 42 percent and stunting contributing to 23 percent of under-five deaths in 2015. Although the Malawi Demographic Health Survey (2016) indicates a reduction in Malawi’s stunting rate from 42 percent to an estimated 37 percent; this reduction is still minimal compared to neighbouring countries such as Zimbabwe, whose stunting rate was at 28 percent in 2014.

Maternal and child malnutrition remains a salient problem to Malawi – attracting intervention of a number of actors, including Progressio, through its Development Worker placements. 

In February 2016, Progressio UK recruited me in collaboration with Concern Worldwide to build the capacity of the Malawi Civil Society Organisation Nutrition Alliance (CSONA) secretariat and its member organisations around advocacy and communication. One of my major accomplishments is completing the revised 2016-2018 Advocacy and Communication Strategy – accompanying it with a costed strategy implementation plan. The participatory planning process has in itself been a learning process for the staff, especially on diversified advocacy and communication strategies toward scaling up nutrition.

Eriasafu, left, during the budget analysis and tracking training workshop for MPs and local CSO's, organised and facilitated by CSONA and Save the Children International in Blantyre, Malawi, March 2016

By the end of my contract in December 2016, it is expected that individual staff will be able to design and develop quality policy briefs, position papers, issue papers, press releases, fact sheets, reports, presentations, letters, talking points, case/success stories, narrative reports, funding proposals, training modules, posters, brochures and newsletters. It is expected that CSONA Secretariat will be in position to initiate and effectively execute various advocacy and communication initiatives for improved nutrition. At institutional level, it is expected that the following changes will be achieved:

Increased capacity of CSONA and its members to advocate for and raise awareness on the need for increased investment in nutrition by the Government of Malawi and other players.

Increased capacity of CSONA to make the Government of Malawi accountable on the implementation of its nutrition commitments. 

Good external relations with key regional advocacy organizations and networks established and maintained by CSONA.

Increased visibility and capacity of CSONA and its members to effectively communicate on Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) initiatives. 

Increased capacity of local Civil Society Organisations (CSO’s) to effectively implement nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions. 

Mobilizing CSO's to form a district CSO's Nutrition platform in Blantyre, Malawi

Guided by the Advocacy and Communication Strategy and the placement terms for reference, I am continuing to build and strengthen CSONA’s capacity at individual, organizational and institutional levels through identifying training/skill gaps, training staff, mentoring staff, coaching staff, technical backstopping to staff while in the field, providing professional counselling to staff, and providing hands-on advisory support to management and board. CSONA Project Manager is the targeted staff understudying me.

In addition to CSONA Secretariat, about 200 staff and over 100 local CSOs, as well as international NGOs implementing projects in collaboration with CSONA, like Save the Children International Malawi, are expected to directly benefit from the work I am doing at CSONA.

Progressio development workers are experienced and professionally qualified specialists who offer skills, expertise and knowledge that is not available locally. Our development workers are all committed to helping bring about real change - they don't do it for the money, they do it to make a difference to other people's lives.

Photo of the budget analysis and tracking training workshop for MPs and local CSO's, organised and facilitated by CSONA and Save the Children International in Blantyre, Malawi, March 2016