Global Commitments to Local Action: Fostering Accountability Together
By Dr. Moses Muwonge, Director, Samasha Medical Foundation, and Mande Limbu, FP2020 Manager, Advocacy and Civil Society Engagement
The 2012 and 2017 summits on family planning were landmark events, spotlighting a rising tide of support for government-led commitment and accountability to family planning goals. In the years since, country governments have stepped up with ambitious commitments to the FP2020 partnership. But how can in-country populations — the people who will eventually benefit from fulfilled commitments — monitor progress toward those goals? How can civil society organizations (CSOs), steeped in their home country’s history and context, help hold their governments accountable?
When governments make global commitments, there are rarely country-level mechanisms to help civil society organizations learn about, understand, and track those commitments. CSOs are powerful forces to monitor and hold governments accountable to their promises. As we take stock of historic progress made so far, the role that CSOs play has become critical to move from commitments to tangible progress in countries.
One promising approach for tracking FP2020 commitments is the Motion Tracker®: a six-step, customizable, and dynamic framework for strengthening accountability and driving local action. The tracker is currently administered by the Samasha Medical Foundation, and implemented in Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia. The Motion Tracker works to increase understanding and generate consensus among CSOs on what needs to be done for governments to meet their family planning commitments. It also serves as a framework to guide implementation activities among stakeholders, and how to share progress and celebrate it.
The tracker’s approach for galvanizing civil society support to achieve FP2020 goals means that stakeholders are aligning their efforts, collaborating, and leveraging their comparative advantages to help governments fulfill their commitments. In just five months, the Motion Tracker has seen encouraging successes:
Increased partner participation and engagement: Partners in Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia regularly engage and gather for consensus meetings to ensure universal understanding of commitments. More than 180 CSOs across implementing countries are harnessing their collective power to hold governments accountable to their commitments.
“We don’t have many local CSOs, and still we have seen new local CSOs come through at each [Motion Tracker] stakeholder meeting — at least 2 new partners at each meeting.”
- Mulenga Ching’ambo, Centre for Reproductive Health and Education, Zambia
Improved renewed commitments: The Motion Tracker framework empowers CSOs to demand clarity from governments, encouraging governments to create explicit goals. This has led to governments sharpening and specifying their commitment activities — and in some cases, developing action plans related to each piece of their commitment.
“This time round the government commitments were very explicit and included figures. During meetings held to finalize the 2017 Zambia government FP2020 commitments, the government officials kept saying, ‘We don’t want the Motion Tracker guys to come asking what we meant…’”
- Amos Mwale, Centre for Reproductive Health and Education, Zambia
New resources leveraged to achieve policy and service delivery commitments: Through the implementation of the Motion Tracker, partners identify bottlenecks to achieving country commitments, and work together to help fill the gaps. For example, in Uganda, the tracker identified a need for localized commitment-tracking, and so Plan International Uganda provided resources to build the capacity for 16 local CSOs to track commitments at the local level.
“Commitments are owned by all the stakeholders in-country, not just the commitment makers.”
- Hon. Spelanza Baguma, Chair, NAWMP, Uganda Chapter
Increased media engagement to keep commitments visible: The Motion Tracker dashboard, policy briefs, and media engagement framework showcase contributions from partners and community-members, galvanizing families and neighbors to support, celebrate, and advance nationwide commitments.
“Monitoring commitments is important for all, not just the country, but also other partners (development partners, civil society and implementing partners) as well.”
- Dr. Peter Bujari, Health Promotion, Tanzania
These are just a few of the ways the Motion Tracker is making a difference. More countries are joining the effort: At the December 2017 Ouagadougou Partnership (OP) stakeholders meeting in Conakry, eight of the nine OP countries chose to adopt the Motion Tracker® to monitor the implementation of commitments made in London in July 2017.
Participatory, engaged monitoring efforts are essential to monitor progress and maintain political commitment to family planning goals. The Motion Tracker creates an environment that fosters accountability and success. It provides a neutral platform for civil society engagement and a unique opportunity to promote transparency amongst partners.
The Motion Tracker is just one way that CSOs can engage and create ownership over government-led commitments. The FP2020 platform provides many of the tools to build CSO-led efforts: vetted evidence, reliable country-specific data, opportunities for different sectors and stakeholders to collaborate and learn from one another, and more. The community is coming together around CSO-led accountability. By fully embracing CSOs as a partner for progress, the FP2020 partnership can fulfill its promise of accountability to more women, girls, families, and nations.