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August 28th 2013


Ai has played a leading role in developing the public-facing side of a programme to save the lives of African mothers and babies – MamaYe!

The project aims to improve maternal and newborn survival in six countries in Africa (Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Malawi and Tanzania.)

MamaYe is led in-country by teams of African experts, and supported by an international consortium of experts based at UCL, University of Southampton, University of Aberdeen, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The programme is funded by UKAID, and led by Louise Hulton of Options – the sexual and reproductive health consultancy.

Ai has been responsible for the development of an advocacy, communications and digital strategy, identity, naming, design and build of web platforms. Ai also continues to work on the all elements of MamaYe!

On 18th February, 2013 MamaYe launched across five countries with events that called on the public to ‘give blood to save a mama’ or ‘make our clinics safe’ in 5 countries. Along with the physical launch MamaYe also launched six websites, one for each of the countries, and one a ‘parent site’.

The websites highlight news, evidence, resources, stories and events organized by African-led teams in the six countries.


The Context

As our contribution to this project, we began by scoping and assessing public opinion in the six countries. Because we did not have funds for full opinion surveys, we had to rely on our own intelligence-gathering on visits to all the countries. We talked to a wide range of African communications professionals, experts in the field, activists, representatives of faith, women’s and professional organisations etc.- and observed what was happening in public spaces, to discover whether maternal and newborn survival featured there.

We learnt first, that despite its high level of priority at international policy-making level, and despite the activities of dedicated MNH experts and NGOs, maternal and newborn survival was not an audible part of the public conversation in all of the six African countries.

Second, we became aware of a widespread assumption across the six countries: that death in childbirth was ‘natural’ to quote an educated and sophisticated woman we met in Tanzania, or that alternatively it was “God’s will”. This widespread resignation and fatalism in relation to childbirth we concluded, is one of the biggest challenges that policy-makers face in reducing maternal and newborn mortality in Africa. Resignation lowers expectations, and inhibits citizens from expecting and demanding improvements in the care of mothers and newborns.

Ai subsequently developed an advocacy strategy based on the evidence assembled by consortium partners, and which aims to use effective communication to demonstrate that with quality care, especially emergency obstetric care, many more women and newborns can survive childbirth.

The MamaYe strategy aims to actively engage the African public in the issue of maternal survival, and to provide examples of actions that could save lives.

Reframing the Issue

We know from George Lakoff, Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley that:

“Frames are the mental structures that shape the way we view the world…they shape the goals we seek, the plans we make, the way we act, and what counts as a good or bad outcome of our actions. …To change our frames is to change all of this. Reframing is social change.” (Our emphasis)

From: ‘Don’t think of an Elephant’ by George Lakoff. Published in 2004 by Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, Vermont)

In developing strategy and associated communications for MamaYe, Ai worked hard at re-framing the issue: away from fatalism, despair and mortality and towards solutions, success and higher expectations of survival.

In developing both the advocacy and digital strategy Ai worked closely with the African experts in MamaYe teams in each country to tailor messages and “asks” of the campaign to suit each country’s context.

Central to the communications strategy is the task of identifying those who use evidence-based solutions to ensure the survival of women and their newborns – in order to showcase and celebrate both the solutions and the achievements of those who contribute to survival. We are particularly concerned to demonstrate and communicate to the African public that much can be done by any committed person to save lives, by: e.g. encouraging women to visit ante-natal clinics, taxi-ing a woman to hospital in an emergency; or giving blood.

Learn more about the story behind the ‘give blood to save a mama’ MamaYe campaign action >

The re-framing seeks to raise expectations of survival, and to arm ordinary citizens with evidence, information, actions and above all, the confidence that will enable them to expect and demand higher standards of care for mothers and newborns.


The MamaYe Identity

Ai started by working with Nairobi based design team ARK and Mark Kaigwa to come up with the MamaYe name and initial logo.

We knew that we needed an identity that resonated with the African public, that reflected the concept that motherhood was at the heart of the community, and that invited a new positive frame on the issue of reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health.

The ARK team tested a wide range of invented names in all 5 of the countries that MamaYe would have a public face to gauge responses of the public (from the marketplace in Abuja to the Northern rural districts of Sierra Leone). MamaYe emerged as the winner – and the name that didn’t have negative associations in any of the (many) local languages.

The logo was designed to reflect the importance of mama, baby (orange) and community (teal) in pulling together for solutions and survival. It was deliberately clear, clean and simple – because we knew it would need to be reproduced on web, digital, mobile assets – but also handpainted onto buildings, copied by illustrators who don’t have access to software but work with paper and pen.

Ai’s lead designer Jordan took the MamaYe identity and ran with it. In collaboration with the Ai team and the MamaYe in-country experts Jordan has handled all web design and created a body of creative assets.

At the core of the design approach was the need to always stay true to our framing of the issue. To use the right combination of photography, graphics, colour and typography to reflect an aspirational, innovative and postive future for mamas and babies.

Jordan referenced a lot of pop-culture from Nigeria, Malawi, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Tanzania. By taking the aesthetic values of pop music and film in our five countries MamaYe raises the aesthetic status of MNCH.

But it was also always key to retain the integrity of the identity- keep it human centred, warm and engaging. And be as clear and direct as possible whilst communicating sound evidence.

The MamaYe creative assets are a work in progress – and in collaboration with country teams Ai continues to work on them.


The Digital Strategy

Ai’s team, led by Ann Pettifor, Georgia Lee, Mark Kaigwa and Jordan Chatwin, worked closely with the six African country teams, and the team at Options and with other distinguished members of the consortium, to produce and design six websites. These will be central to a digital communications strategy that aims to amplify and enhance the advocacy strategy.

MamaYe sites are fully responsive to cater to the huge (and growing) African audience who are smart phone users. MamaYe aims to ride the digital revolution sweeping across Africa; to harness Africa’s telecommunications boom to reach a wide audience, especially Africa’s youth.

Ai is currently collaborating with the Sierra Leone team to develop a mobile ‘communications intervention’ to engage students and Okada (motorbike taxi) drivers via SMS.

For more information about mobile in Africa watch this video >



August 27th 2013


Over the last 18 months Ai has been working with the African Union’s (AU) Campaign for the Reduction of Maternal, Newborn and Child Mortality (CARMMA). We are part of the regional remit of the UKAID funded Evidence 4 Action programme, led by Options UK. Ai was asked to advise CARMMA on their strategy to improve maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) across the continent. As well as advising on strategy Ai works in close collaboration with the CARMMA team to improve the digital presence, public face, messaging, framing and resources of CARMMA.

The team at the AU is led by Dr Ademola Olajide, Head of the Health, Nutrition, and Population Division, and supported by Kenneth Oliko, Ai‘s African Union consultant for work on CARMMA.

In developing a strategy for the African Union Commission we recognised that for diplomatic and political reasons the AU cannot be a campaigning organisation; however it has a great convening power. We therefore strategised that the best way for it to promote the issue of MNCH survival through CARMMA was by using the AU’s convening and cross-continent power to reach a wide audience. The CARMMA scorecards (showing comparative data on MNCH indicators across the continent) is one example of its institutional capacity to reflect the progress of MNCH across AU Member States.

Our first collaborative work with the AU was the refresh of the CARMMA identity and creation of a bank of creative assets and photography for the campaign relaunch in October 2012.

With Kenyan-based design firm Asilia we developed an extensive visual identity around the prevailing logo and applied it across print and digital assets. This included designing flyers, reports, a desktop website, a mobile website, a set of bespoke iconography and scorecard infographics that show comparative data on MNCH indicators across 52 African countries.

The CARMMA site: was launched in two languages in October 2012 and was the first standalone site for the AU’s campaign. We also worked to apply the refreshed identity across social media channels.


Homepage-screengrab-500px Testimonials-Screengrab-500px

The Mama Afrika Award

After the successful launch and rollout of the refreshed CARMMA identity and digital presence we strategised with the AU and developed the idea that one way the AU could ‘campaign’ on MNCH was to establish an award. Such an award for maternal, newborn and child health is another example of the AU’s unique ability to mount a continent-wide competition that will highlight the achievements of individuals and organisations in reducing MNCH mortality.

Our team thought deeply about modelling this award on the Nobel Peace Prize process. In response to appeals that the award should have an African identity we undertook research into figures and institutions that would have a continent-wide appeal.

The concept of the laureate was developed, and then submitted to a process of consultation at an AU conference that brought together MNCH experts from across Africa. After discussion and iteration the group agreed the concept note for the award with the feedback that the name ‘Laureate’ was not sufficiently African-owned.

We were asked to propose a name for the award. We looked at the possibility of naming the award after a prominent, current African politician or statesperson, MNH activists and professionals, or after iconic African women.

We finally identified Miriam Makeba, the musician, who was a citizen of 10 African countries and whose only daughter, Bongi Makeba, died of causes related to pregnancy. Furthermore, Miriam Makeba was the only performer to be invited by the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie to perform in Addis Ababa at the inauguration of the Organisation of African Unity in 1962. Finally, Ms Makeba is known across Africa as ‘Mama Afrika’.

The Mama Afrika Award was our proposed name, subsequently agreed by the African Union Commission (AUC).


The Mama Afrika Award
Identity Design

When we began the design of the Mama Afrika Award identity our brief was firstly that the identity and aesthetic must be African – not owned by one country, but truly a continent-wide brand.

Within that brief the three themes that the Mama Afrika identity had to express:

  • Maternal and newborn survival.
  • Strength, resilience, pride and power
  • Achievement, celebration, positivity.

We started looking at traditional symbols of maternity from across the continent, motherhood and fertility, including, for example, Asante dolls from Ghana.

For strength we focussed on female leaders who have played an important part in Africa’s history and their identity. Specifically we considered Albertina Sisulu, Wangari Maathai and Miriam Makeba.

For celebration we looked at contemporary African designers, graphic artists and modern interpretations of traditional textiles.

Finally, drawing on all these sources, we designed the Mama Afrika Award identity.

Using the sillouhette of the mother and baby communicates all aspects of maternal and newborn survival. We used the 54 stars of the AU to show the Mama Afrika Award was connected to the AU. It was used in starburst effect to emphasise the celebratory element of the Award.

Finally, and crucially, the mother and baby were placed within an outline of the African continent. Together, the whole logo serves as a literal translation of Mama Afrika.

The Mama Afrika Award was launched at the African Union’s first International Conference on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, in Africa held in Johannesburg, South Africa from the 1st to 3rd August, 2013.

Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairperson of the AU, unveiled the Mama Afrika Award to the uplifting soundtrack of Miriam Makeba’s music:

“Individuals, organisations, communities, companies and governments who continue to make a remarkable effort to ensure that Africa’s mothers, newborns and children survive, and not only survive but thrive and realize their potential”

Dr. Zuma made a dramatic gesture and symbolically unveiled the Mama Afrika Award.

The Chairperson was joined by Miriam Makeba’s grandson Nelson Lumumba Lee who spoke eloquently about his grandmother’s commitment to the wellbeing of Africa’s mothers and children, he described the Makeba family and foundation as “honoured and humbled” by the Mama Afrika Award.

Nominations are open on the CARMMA site and work on the Mama Afrika Award continues.

Miriam Makeba Miriam Makeba, musician, is known across the continent as Mama Afrika. Ms. Makeba was the only artist to be invited by the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie to perform in Addis Ababa at the inauguration of the Organisation of African Unity in 1962.



Jubilee 2000

bono-and-ann-in-cologne-chainJubilee 2000 Human Chain, Cologne G8 Summit, 1999: Perry Farrell, Youssou N'Dour, Bono, Ann Pettifor
bhamspiralchain_72_jpgBirmingham 16 May 1998 - 100,000 people gather to call on the G8 to cancel debts


Jubilee 2000 was a global campaign that led ultimately, to the cancellation of more than $100 billion of debt owed by 35 of the poorest countries.

Ann Pettifor’s role: Strategic leadership, design of campaign, public advocacy and mobilisation across 62 countries. Oversight of communications (online, print and broadcast) at both global and national levels.


  • High level of public understanding of the role of debt and of creditor institutions in the global financial system.
  • The mobilisation of millions of people across the world in support of campaign goal, as expressed in the record-breaking Jubilee 2000 global petition signed – on paper – by more than 21 million people.
  • The ground-breaking use of the internet and web for worldwide outreach, education and mobilisation
  • Greater awareness in debtor nations of the nature and scale of the debt. This challenged the corruption behind much lending and borrowing, and increased accountability of governments to their people for foreign lending and borrowing.
  • According to the World Bank, clearance of approximately $100 billion of debt (in present value terms) owed by more than 35 countries to foreign creditors.
  • The resulting savings were subsequently used to reduce poverty, and to fund health and education programmes in many countries (see chart from the World Bank and IMF below).

Geldof-Sachs-Bono-and-Annafter-popeBob Geldof, Jeff Sachs, Bono and Ann Pettifor in Cologne, September, 1999
ann-ali-360Muhammed Ali gets his Jubilee 2000 pin
wangari-360Nobel Prize-winner Wangari Maathai addresses the crowd outside Nairobi

“Pettifor was the genius behind the Jubilee 2000 campaign that in 1999 pressurised the rich world to write off more than $100bn of the world’s 42 poorest nations’ debts.. She had the communication skills and tireless energy to transform a good idea into political reality. She created the first worldwide petition, with 24 million signatures, and built a “big tent” coalition including Bill Clinton, Gerhard Schröder, the Pope, the Dalai Lama, Mohammed Ali, Bono and thousands of international policy makers. She forced big changes.”

Judges of the Good List, published in the Independent newspaper, September 2006.

The brief

Thanks to pressure from campaigners in debtor nations opposed to IMF Structural Adjustment Programmes, UK charities and NGOs had campaigned for many years to have the debts of the poorest countries written off. There had been endless negotiations, but little progress. Finally in 1994 a consortium of NGOs – the Debt Crisis Network – recruited Ann Pettifor to lead debt cancellation advocacy in the UK.

Ms Pettifor worked with leading NGO figures to begin ‘cutting the diamond’ of the future Drop the Debt campaign. Thanks to pressure from a small group of evangelical Christians at the very early stages of the campaign, it was named “Jubilee 2000” after an earlier campaign established by Martin Dent. The principles of the biblical Jubilee and associated ‘Sabbath economics’  underpinned the ethical aspects of this social justice campaign, and played a key role in the mobilisation of people of faith. The year 2000 became an end-goal for massive debt cancellation, and provided the campaign with a time-line by which to apply pressure on international creditors, and to monitor and  assess progress.

Ms Pettifor helped frame the campaign’s economic, ethical and political analysis of the debt crisis, and drafted and edited the group’s early publications on the issue: notably “Debt, the most potent form of Slavery”. In 1997 Ms Pettifor led the constitution of a broader coalition of organisations, which included the British trades union movement as well as  e.g. the Mothers Union, the Women’s Institute, the BMA and a range of multi-ethnic associations.

The coalition then expanded to include international organisations. With time, campaigners in both creditor and debtor nations called for the establishment of similar Jubilee 2000 ‘franchises’ in their countries. The simple Jubilee 2000 petition outlined the principles of the campaign. The ‘brand’  – a chain integrating the number 2000 – could easily be adopted and adapted by campaigners. The template of inclusive and co-operative coalitions formed the organisational basis for adoption by ‘franchises’ in more than 60 countries, and in thousands of cities and towns across the world.

allthepeopleAmerican campaigners demonstrate outside Congress

DCH_Kenya_jpgDemonstration organised by the Kenyan Jubilee 2000 campaign
laptopburnPublicity stunt at the G8 Summit in Okinawa: highlighting the link between sovereign debt and the 'digital divide'

“The style of the campaign was not only to win the issue, but to do so in a way which changed the rules of the game about the transparency of global economic decisions, and which changed the awareness of those directly affected, as well as broader publics, about how debt affected poverty. Economic literacy and public education which enable local people to speak for themselves were just as important as technical research, professional advocacy (for further examples of this approach see Just Associates 2006) As one analyst of the movement has written, Jubilee 2000 ‘enhanced participants’ critical consciousness, facilitating collective action as the basis for social empowerment and social transformation’ (Mayo 2005:189).”

Adapted from ‘Levels, Spaces and Forms of Power: Analysing opportunities for change’ in Power in World Politics. John Gaventa. 2007. Routledge. (This case study is available to download from the resources section of

Ms Pettifor remained Director of the UK Jubilee 2000 Coalition. As effective leader, she travelled widely to support Jubilee 2000 campaigns in countries as diverse as  Japan, Peru, Germany, Ghana, Honduras, Nigeria and the United States until the campaign was disbanded –  as scheduled – at the end of 2000.

John Gaventa has noted (see above) that “the (Jubilee 2000) movement was able to align itself across all the dimensions of power……. Along the vertical dimension, not only did it mobilise at global meetings of the G7, IMF, World Bank, Paris Club and others, but it also built links with national organisations and campaigns in over sixty countries, which lobbied, campaigned, protested and educated in their own countries as well. In many places, the campaign linked with local groups, such as in Uganda where the Ugandan Debt Network mobilised and educated debt-awareness groups at the village and district level, who could articulate the connection between the global movement and budget priorities of local governments (Collins, Gariyo and Burdon 2001).

“Along the horizontal dimension, the campaign spanned mobilisation in multiple spaces. While much attention was focused on challenging and making more transparent the deliberations of relatively closed decision making spaces, at the same time it took advantage of new opportunities for consultation, e.g. invited spaces, where campaigners could also negotiate and make their case, such as those related to discussions around the Highly Indebted Poor Country programme (HIPC), led by the World Bank, IMF and other bi-laterals. At the same time, it carried out mass mobilisation outside of both the closed and invited spaces, often simultaneously, symbolised most powerfully when in July 1998 in Birmingham when a 70,000 person human chain surrounded the G7 meetings and demanded to be heard.”

World Bank Report, September 2009
Average Debt Service and Poverty Reducing Expenditures*

worldbankreportSources: HIPC documentsl and IMF staff estimates. *Prior to 2008, figures represent debt-service paid, and thereafter, debt service figures are projected.

ann-facing-popeMeeting with Pope John Paul II in September, 1999

“Ann Pettifor combined all the virtues of the best lobbyists. Marshalled her material, occupied the high moral ground, acknowledged when she was wrong, and had an infectious faith in her cause!”

Michael Holman, Africa editor of the Financial Times, in correspondence with Paula Goldman, social anthropologist and author.



New Start Nigeria

Advocacy International was engaged by the government of Nigeria to consult on the design and implementation of an ambitious debt-reduction campaign.


In 2000, Nigeria’s average debt service due to the Paris Club each year was $2.4 billion. But as the government prioritised spending on vital services, it could only afford to pay on average $1.2 billion. Arrears kept rising with penalties added.

In the absence of any framework of justice for the resolution of international debt crises, the Nigerian government could only rely on the goodwill of powerful creditors. President Obasanjo and his formidable Finance Minister, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, then began a sustained campaign to persuade creditors to write off Nigeria’s debts. By this time the debt had become a major political issue inside Nigeria.

Ai’s role: Strategic consulting, public advocacy, media communications across Europe and Japan


  • High level of awareness of Nigeria’s reforms.
  • Modification of Nigeria’s reputational overhang
  • Clearance of $30 billion of debt owed to foreign creditors, saving Nigeria almost $47 billion over the next 15 years.
nsn-thumbFinance Minister Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Director of the Debt Management Office, Dr. Mansur Muhtar, ready to deliver an opening statement to OECD creditors, at the start of an exhausting 48 hour non-stop negotiation.The meeting took place at the Paris Club of OECD Creditors, based at the French Treasury, Paris.newstart

mansur-360Donald Uduehi, advisor to Dr Muhtar and Mrs Okonjo-Iweala.
clubparis-sign-360The entrance to the Paris Club, in the heart of the French Treasury in Paris
donald-fm-360Donald Uduehi, advisor to Dr Muhtar and Mrs Okonjo-Iweala.


The Campaign

In 2003 the government of Nigeria  embarked on an ‘inside track’ strategy to persuade world leaders  to agree to substantial debt cancellation. However there was still resistance from key creditors. Nigeria’s then Finance Minister, Mrs Okonjo-Iweala , working closely with Dr. Mansur Muhtar of the Debt Management Office recognised the need for urgent action: a public advocacy campaign in OECD countries.

Advocacy International was employed to design and implement the campaign.

The brief was challenging: to communicate to creditors and the public in Europe, the United States and Japan that Nigeria’s new government had made a fresh start. However the ‘overhang of debt’ hindered the government’s attempts to stabilise and reform the economy, to tackle poverty and end corruption.  An honourable agreement between debtor and creditors was needed if Nigeria’s fresh start was to make a positive impact on the country’s economy.

Advocacy International held extensive briefing sessions with Nigeria’s foremost economists and experts. Our team began the hard work of ‘cutting the diamond’ – analysing and communicating Nigeria’s case to a sceptical public in Europe, the US and Japan, based on credible evidence.

We branded the campaign “New Start Nigeria”. We called on creditors to acknowledge the reforms and changes already implemented by President Obasanjo’s team using a slogan that played on the issue of debt: “Credit where credit’s due”.

Ai oversaw the design and build of a modern, up-to-date website that reflected the changes taking place in Nigeria and showcased the country’s achievements. The site provided extensive briefings and news on the economy, reforms and the debt, and acted as a mobilisation point for Nigeria’s supporters.

We contacted  key stakeholders – the many groups representing Nigerians living in the diaspora. We invited them to become ‘messengers’ for the campaign. Ai enlisted the support and third party endorsement of high-profile dignitaries and celebrities, including Nigerian football players based at European clubs.


“Your extensive advocacy has in no small way helped in securing the debt package which we received from the Paris Club (of creditors). This package will help guarantee the future of millions of lives in Nigeria. No words can really express how grateful we are for your extraordinary commitment.”

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, then Finance Minister of Nigeria, now Managing Director of the World Bank.

Working closely with the Nigerian Finance Minister Ai staff set out to brief and update journalists, and set up a series of interviews with influential opinion-formers in the European and US media. Mrs Okonjo-Iweala was interviewed on the BBC’s globally respected “Hard Talk”, and by the Economist, the Financial Times and Daily Mail. Each encounter resulted in positive coverage, including an extraordinary double page spread in the Daily Mail. This then encouraged further coverage.

We then suggested that a group of Nigerian Parliamentarians visit Europe, the US and Japan to augment the campaign. Accompanying the parliamentarians on the trans-continental trip, and working closely with Nigeria’s diplomatic representatives, the Ai team arranged meetings with the media, key officials, politicians and civil society groups across Britain, France, Italy, Germany and Japan. Aensured that a range of voices put Nigeria’s case to official, media and NGO audiences in creditor countries.

On 11th June, 2005, the UK’s Chancellor, Gordon Brown, announced  that G8 finance ministers had agreed a massive, and unprecedented debt deal for Nigeria. Later in the year, at the Paris Club in October, 2005, creditors finally cleared $30 billion of debt Nigeria owed to foreign creditors. The deal will save Nigeria almost $47 billion in debt service payments over the next 15 years.

nsn-negotiationsTowards the end of the negotiations Nigerian Senators and Congressmen flew in from Abuja to join the delegation, monitor progress and report back to President Obasanjo. This transparency and accountability of the negotiating team to elected representatives set a precedent for negotiations that are normally secretive. Here the Hon Farouk Lawan, Senator Udo Udoma and Mrs Okonjo-Iweala listen attentively to Mr Moulin, then secretary of the Paris Club as he reports on the latest offer from OECD creditors.

Related articles:

ECONOMIST: Nigeria’s debt: No longer unforgivable

March 17 2005

Not only is the government starting to spend within its means; the reformers are also trying to ensure that public funds are spent more transparently. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) describes Nigeria’s recent record as “commendable”.

FINANCIAL TIMES: A High-Risk Political Strategy

By David White

By giving a high profile to the campaign, President Olusegun Obasanjo and his team have brought a patriotic dimension to their reform strategy, showing themselves as fighting for national interests on an international stage.

NEW YORK TIMES: Nigeria Finalizes Plans to Pay Off $30 Billion Debt

By Lydia Polgreen

Nigeria reached an agreement last October with the Paris Club of creditors, which includes Germany, France, Britain and other wealthy nations, that allowed Nigeria to pay off about $30 billion in accumulated debt for about $12 billion — an overall discount of about 60 percent.

GUARDIAN: Biggest African debt rescue saves Nigeria 17.3 billion GDP 

By Larry Elliott and Patrick Wintour

Rich western countries yesterday announced the biggest single debt relief in Africa’s history when they unveiled a plan that will eradicate $31 bn (£17.3 bn) of debts owed by Nigeria within six months.After last-minute lobbying by Britain overcame resistance by small creditor countries, the Paris Club accepted a three-stage deal that will allow Nigeria to hire 120,000 new teachers and put an extra 3.5 million children into school.

Anatomy of a 2005 Debt Deal: Nigeria and the Paris Club

By Professor Thomas M. Callaghy

It is easy to be cynical about Nigeria, often with very good reason, but, as we shall see, not always. This paper is about a period when things started to go right in Nigeria. It took a while to really gather momentum, but that it did so at all is a stunning achievement.

DEVELOPMENTS: New debt-Free Start 

By Ann Pettifor

Ann Pettifor tells the inside story of how Nigeria convinced the world it was a good bet for debt relief.



Visit to London of the Minister for Women’s Affairs of Afghanistan

Advocacy International was honoured to organise the December 2010 visit to London of the Minister of Women’s Affairs in the Afghan Government, Dr Husn Banu Ghazanfar. Dr Ghazanfar was joined by her team made up of Ms Habibi Director, MOWA, Mr Zabi, translator, and Mrs Sharmistha Barwa of UNDP.

Dr Husn Banu Ghazanfar and her team were keen to raise the profile in the UK of the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA), its objectives and work. This was achieved by briefing the media, British Government Ministers and Shadow Cabinet members, think-tanks and NGOs on the work of priorities of MOWA.

Dr Ghazanfar was able to outline the achievements of her Ministry for Women’s Affairs in Kabul. Dr. Ghazanfar is proud of the 37% increase in girls attending school since her Ministry was formed in 2001, and of the 25% ratio of women in the Afghan Parliament – higher than in Britain, where women make up 22% of the UK Parliament.

Finally, the Hon. Minister was keen to discuss the challenges and concerns faced by MOWA with influential decision makers and opinion-formers in London.

Baroness Sayeeda WarsiThe Rt Hon Baroness Warsi, Conservative Party’s co-chairman and minister without portfolio

Meeting with Baroness Sayeeda Warsi and Baroness Sandip VermaDr Ghazanfar meets with Baroness Sandip Verma, Government Whip and Spokesperson for the Cabinet Office, the Department of International Development and Equalities and Women’s Issues.

To ensure that the Hon. Minister was given the fullest opportunity to present the work and goals of MOWA, the Ai team arranged meetings with the Rt. Hon Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, the Conservative Party’s co-chairman and minister without portfolio. Baroness Warsi is the first Muslim woman to serve in a British Cabinet.

A meeting was also arranged with Baroness Sandip Verma, a member of the House of Lords, and currently a Government Whip and Spokesperson for the Cabinet Office, the Department of International Development and Equalities and Women’s Issues.

Ai also arranged meetings with Opposition Ministers with similar responsibilities; Parliamentary and committee members; the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO); the media (the BBC; the Financial Times and The Guardian); a think-tank (Chatham House); universities in both London and Oxford; and the Executive Director of an NGO in Oxford (OXFAM).

Therefore, during the short visit, the Hon. Minister and her delegation were given the opportunity to brief a broad spectrum of British governmental, parliamentary and media decision-makers and opinion-formers.

The team also arranged for the media and think-tanks to be briefed on the work of Islamic women in Afghanistan, working on a non-governmental basis. These were represented by Mrs Daisy Khan, Director of the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE) and of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA). Mrs Khan attended some meetings during the first two days of the Minister’s visit to London, and provided a briefing to journalists and others on the work undertaken by WISE members in Kabul.

During briefings to think-tanks, journalists and NGOs Dr Ghazanfar was able to outline the achievements of MOWA over the last 9 years. These included:

  • The preparation of the National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan (NAPWA) launched at the London Conference in January 2010 and followed up at the Kabul Conference in July, 2010.
  • Gender mainstreaming – $3 Million earmarked for gender mainstreaming over 3 years.
  • The education of girls and young women has risen from almost 0% to 37% since the Ministry was established in 2001 . Young women now make up 18% of university students.
  • Women in Afghanistan now make up 5% of security organisation employees. MOWA aims to raise this proportion to 30% within the next 8 years.
  • There are now 3 female Ministers in the Afghan Cabinet – an achievement in itself.
  • MOWA have been working (with UNDP) to develop a databank on Violence Against Women (VAW) with the aim of collecting reliable evidence on VAW so that they will be better placed to take strategic action to prevent widespread atrocities against women.

All of these developments were recognised as important steps. However, it was noted that all these positive developments need first, to be protected:

“work on women’s rights must not move backwards”

and second, built upon. Capacity-building for women politicians at all levels of the political process was mentioned as particularly important.

During the higher-level political meeting with Baroness Warsi there was dialogue around the need for peace negotiations to be undertaken on the basis of the Afghan Constitution. Baroness Warsi shared the UK government’s own draft action plan on Afghanistan and asked for feedback from MOWA and UNDP.

Homa Khaleeli of the Guardian drew on Minister Ghazanfar’s statements in her comprehensive article ‘Afghan women fear for the future’ published on Friday 4th February.


Khaleeli raised the point that although Afghan women’s rights were a prominent part of the rhetoric of the invasion of Afghanistan, today “the treatment of women under the Taliban is increasingly being dismissed as part of local culture”. She went on:

“Deniz Kandiyoti of the School of Oriental and African Studies’ gender studies department disputes these claims that the culture is to blame. “These people have been tossed to the wind and displaced, the old society has been eroded. Girls being given away to pay for opium debts, that’s hardly traditional. Now it is the people with the guns, the money, and the drugs runners who have power,” she says.

Today, according to Zainab Salbi, who has testified before the US senate, there is little appetite among US politicians for protecting women in the region, despite support from the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. Instead, she says:

“There is a clear, clear opinion that women’s rights were a) not that relevant and b) irreconcilable with peace in Afghanistan.”

mowa-thumb2Government girls school in Banyam. The education of girls and young women has risen from almost 0% to 37% since MOWA was established in 2001. Photograph: Canada in Afghanistan

Khaleeli goes on:

“Few would argue that improvements have been made in women’s rights in the last decade. On a recent visit to the UK, Hussan Ghazanfar, Afghanistan’s minister for women’s affairs, outlined the progress made: 57% of women and girls now go to school, and 24% of health sector workers and 10% of the judiciary are female.

Yet activists say improvements are patchy and far from ideal – with healthcare, social care and freedom unavailable to many poverty-stricken rural women, many already living in Taliban-controlled areas. Even Ghazanfar admits: “Life is different in the countryside – the literacy level is different, traditional customs are stronger, and women have no financial or economic freedom there.”

Hamidi says most women she speaks to “are tired of war and killing”, and fearful of the future. “If the situation goes bad again the women here have nowhere to go.”

Dr Ghazanfar’s visit resulted in the voice of MOWA being heard in the British media, but also amongst high-level opinion formers and decision makers.



July 29th 2011

Cutting the Diamond

Cutting the Diamond explores the fundamentals of successful public advocacy. It covers essential themes such as leadership, communication, identity, the role of social and mobile technologies, working with celebrities and monitoring and evaluation.

This introduction will help your organisation build an advocacy strategy that harnesses public opinion, holds decision-makers to account, and pressures politicians to listen, follow through and deliver.

We hope it spurs you on!

Author: Ann Pettifor

No. of pages: 60

Publication date: July 2011

Available languages: English

To download Cutting the Diamond click here

Read the online version:



June 26th 2011

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

For the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ai was commissioned to review the state of pro-poor advocacy in low income countries, and to make recommendations. The work involved a global and regional advocacy mapping exercise; the preparation, distribution and analysis of a questionnaire; interviews with leading players, and the production of a report.

The analysis of the results raised a number of key issues, summarised as follows:

  • Funding for pro-poor advocacy was considerably under-resourced.
  • As a result, networking at local, national, regional and international levels, was vital for pro-poor CSOs. Networking was valuable for sharing research, data and best practice, and also for adding weight and volume to advocacy arguments.
  • Links between northern and southern advocates on pro-poor development were weak.
  • Politically, national events were regarded by our participants as providing the strongest opportunities for effective advocacy, because NGOs/the public have more scope for holding their own government to account on ‘binding’ commitments.
  • International events, on the other hand, had value in agenda-setting, peer-pressure and shifting political attitudes, but less value in accountability terms.

We obtained very clear messages about the specific characteristics which advocates ascribe to effective advocacy:

  • A persistent vision and commitment to the process of advocacy over the long-term, combined with a flexibility that allows for opportunism.
  • Expertise, detailed research, evidence and case-building, alongside a thorough understanding of the relevant political and cultural context.
  • Strong communication skills; working relationships with opinion-formers and decision-makers, and skills in presenting the case in a compelling and accessible manner.
  • Strong networks and alliances between NGOs, stakeholders, local communities and donors.
  • Complementarity and diversity through shared overarching goals and messaging, but differences in approach and nuance.

We made the following recommendations:

1.       A long-term approach by donors was needed, to match the long-term nature of the advocacy process.  This would allow for additional resources to broaden advocacy from the current tendency to focus on obtaining commitments from decision-makers, to include the task of holding decision-makers to account for the delivery of those commitments at a national, regional and international level.

2.       Support for developing and building participatory democracy at the grass-roots level, especially in countries where representative democracy may be weak.

3.       Support for more liaison and networking, particularly between NGOs and social movements in the north and south for the purposes of consulting and agreeing advocacy goals; amplifying voices working on pro-poor development; sharing evidence, information and best practice;  ensuring the making of commitments; and working together to press for delivery of commitments to the poor.

4.       Resources to examine how monitoring and evaluation for advocacy can be strengthened, and what instruments and tools could be most applicable to advocacy gains.



June 26th 2009

Operation Noah

Operation Noah’s vision is informed by the science of climate change, motivated by faith to care for creation and driven by the hope that our society can be transformed and enriched through radical change in lifestyles and patterns of consumption.

Ai’s role: Strategic consulting, public advocacy, membership mobilisation, fund-raising, online, print and broadcast  communications


  • The re-branding of Operation Noah
  • Research for and development of,  a bolder vision and goal
  • The mobilisation of many leading figures within Britain’s faith communities behind the campaign; and more than 1,000 people to an ON event at Southwark Cathedral in advance of the Copenhagen Summit in 2009.
  • Oversight of the day-to-day management of the campaign
  • The design and build of a Drupal website


“Operation Noah brings together a rainbow coalition drawn from across the faith spectrum.They combine a rigorous respect for the scientific facts of the case together with campaigning passion. If we want to be part of the solution of the problem of Climate Change, Operation Noah is a good ship to enlist on.”

The Brief:

Advocacy International was approached by the board of a small UK church-based climate change campaign, to help lift its profile first amongst Christian communities within Britain, but also more widely.  We undertook research into the science of climate change, produced reports and developed a campaign strategy, including the ‘Ark Campaign’ of 2009 which called on supporters to “Cap the Power, Cut the Carbon”,  Our work with Operation Noah is ongoing and can be viewed here:





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