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Peer Assists for Family Planning Advocacy

Solutions from Nepal and Indonesia

A peer assist is a knowledge management (KM) approach that focuses on “learning before doing.” When a team is experiencing a challenge or is new to a process, it seeks advice from another group with relevant experience. The Knowledge SUCCESS project recently used this approach to facilitate sharing of experiential knowledge between Nepal and Indonesia. Amid declining population growth in Nepal, the project used a peer assist to advocate for continuation of leadership, commitment, and funding allocation for family planning (FP).

Patient seeks advice from skilled midwife

Credit: Aisha Faquir/World Bank.

Nepal’s Family Planning Sub-Committee is a critical driving force behind policymaking, coordination, and collaboration among all FP stakeholders in the country. Although the country’s population growth rate has declined to below 1%, it still needs to advocate for continued commitment and funding for FP. Women and families must have access to a range of contraceptive methods and have the ability to make informed choices about their fertility. Thanks to local elections and the beginning of budget planning, Nepal could see a change in leadership for the next fiscal year. The Nepal team wanted to learn about advocacy processes and strategies from a country that had undergone similar experiences, including:

  • Fertility decline.
  • Federal governance system with strong local leadership.
  • Success with national and local advocacy for FP/RH. 

Indonesia fits these criteria.

Partnering for Information Exchange 

To share its insights with Nepal, Knowledge SUCCESS collaborated with Yayasan Jalin Komunikasi Indonesia (Jalin Foundation) for a facilitated, virtual peer assist. Jalin Foundation is an Indonesian organization with vast in-depth experience in FP and reproductive health advocacy. It has also worked as a local partner to Johns Hopkins

University Center for Communication Programs (CCP) on several efforts, such as:

Preparatory information exchanges took place prior to the scheduled peer assist session. The Nepal team shared the current context and its main challenges in a concept note. This gave the Indonesia team a better understanding of the support being sought. This important step helped streamline the main questions for the peer assist session and helped the Indonesia team be better prepared in advance.

A man and a woman sit in front of laptop computers, they seem to be talking to each other about what's on their screens
Credit: Peter Kapuscinski/World Bank

Recommendations from the Indonesia Team

During the peer assist, the Nepal team presented their challenge—the urgent need to advocate for continued commitment and funding for FP. Declining population growth has led to leadership questioning the need for a continued focus on FP. Women and families need access to a range of contraceptive methods and must be able to make informed choices about their fertility. The Indonesia team asked clarifying questions for a thorough understanding of the context. Based on the conversation, the Indonesia team shared the following recommendations based on their experiences:

  • Agree on a common vision and strategy built with and understood by the main implementing partner’s top and middle management. 
    • Frame FP as a cross-sectoral issue related to maternal and child health and social and economic development.
      The cover of the SMART Advocacy brief

      The SMART Advocacy User Guide.

  • Create an advocacy task force within the main implementing partner’s organization. This will help form and build the skills of the advocacy task force at all levels (from national to local) using SMART Advocacy.
    • Establish working groups with a clear structure—at the provincial and local level—to lead the advocacy efforts.
    • Routinely conduct learning exchanges among local governments at the provincial and district levels, such as facilitating sharing of best practices and lessons learned on advocating for FP funding.
  • Use locally contextualized and evidence-based support and policy briefs that contain a clear advocacy message to make it more compelling. 

“Women and families need access to a range of contraceptive methods and must be able to make informed choices about their fertility.”

The Indonesia team also identified key success factors for FP/RH advocacy: 

  • Main partner’s full commitment and agreed common vision.
  • Advocacy task forces drive the issues, strategies, and activities.
  • Regular coaching and mentoring.
  • Monitoring and evaluation systems developed and used.
  • Sustainability plan discussed with main partners as early as possible.

Upon reflection, the Nepal team found the suggested options very helpful; however, it was concerned that some of Indonesia’s comprehensive and systematic experience might be difficult to implement in Nepal’s situation. Unlike Indonesia’s advocacy initiative, development partners or funding agencies in Nepal are implementing in limited districts and on select FP/RH issues. 

Indonesian women at a community meeting.
Credit: Nugroho Nurdikiawan Sunjoyo/World Bank.

A New Vision for FP/RH Advocacy

Nevertheless, Nepal’s Family Planning Sub-Committee has begun conversations with top management of the country’s Ministry of Health and Population (MOHP) in developing a vision for FP/RH advocacy. It also intends to engage development agencies and other NGOs to:

  • Fund advocacy initiatives
  • Invite stakeholders from Indonesia to continue to share their FP/RH advocacy with the Nepal government counterparts.
  • Continue the network and connection built with the Indonesia team. 

Through the peer assist, Nepal and Indonesia were able to exchange knowledge and experiences, reflect on key learnings, brainstorm possible solutions for a specific challenge, and build a connection within a short amount of time. 

To learn more about peer assists or implement one yourself, email Asia Region Knowledge Management Officer Grace Gayoso Pasion and sign up for Knowledge SUCCESS updates for the latest trending FP news.

Members of an Indonesian community meeting convene
Grace Gayoso Pasion

Regional Knowledge Management Officer, Asia, Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs

Grace Gayoso-Pasion is currently the Asia Regional Knowledge Management (KM) Officer for Knowledge SUCCESS at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communications Program. More known as Gayo, she is a development communication professional with nearly two decades of experience in communication, public speaking, behavior change communication, training and development, and knowledge management. Spending most of her career in the nonprofit sector, specifically in the public health field, she has worked on the challenging task of teaching complex medical and health concepts to urban and rural poor in the Philippines, most of whom never finished primary or secondary school. She is a longtime advocate for simplicity in speaking and writing. After completing her graduate degree in communications from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore as an ASEAN scholar, she has been working in regional KM and communication roles for international development organizations assisting various Asian countries with improving their health communication and KM skills. She is based in the Philippines.

Pranab Rajbhandari

Country Manager, Breakthrough ACTION Nepal, Johns Hopkins Center for Communications Programs

Pranab Rajbhandari is the country manager/senior social behavior change (SBC) advisor for CCP/ Breakthrough ACTION Nepal. He was the chief of party for the SBC Systems Strengthening project from 2018–2020, the deputy chief of party/SBCC advisor for the Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3) Nepal project from 2014–2017, and led the SBC team for CCP within the Suaahara Project from 2012–2014. From 2003–2009, he was with FHI 360’s USAID-funded ASHA and IMPACT projects in varying roles as the communication specialist, program team leader/SBCC advisor, and program officer. He has independently consulted nationally and internationally for USAID, UN, and GIZ projects. He holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from Mahidol University, Bangkok, and a Master’s degree in Sociology from Michigan State University, Michigan.

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