Blog Archives

Interview: Limbani Nsapato

On ensuring the 2nd decade on education in Africa is being observed: Interview with Limbani Nsapato, ANCEFA.

In 2012, the State of the Union coalition will powerfully hold Member States of the African Union accountable for the implementation of fourteen democracy, human rights and development African Union standards. The campaign will support Governments and citizens to understand and act to realize the freedoms and rights contained in the standards and legal instruments. At the beginning of the year, Pamela Inoti interviewed coalition leaders on their plans for doing so. For further information: www.stateoftheunionafrica.net

Limbani Nsapato is the Policy and Advocacy Manager, Africa Network Campaign on Education for All (ANCAFA), based in Lusaka, Zambia

Describe who you are and why personally you are working in this field? What motivates you?
I am motivated by the fact that I work in a field that is very critical to achieving one of the AU objectives; to have African countries prioritize the provision of compulsory and  basic quality education  (right to education for all). Since we are a Civil Society Organization, it is in our interest to inform and influence Government policy and implementation of the AU Protocols. Working with SOTU complements what we are doing.

Describe what you are trying to achieve in Africa and in relationship to the African Union?
Implementation of AU instruments in Member States has not been poor. As a CSO, we are working to ensure policies in education are supported by ensuring that countries take responsibility to implement education policy. We are also empowering citizens to demand for the right to education. This is the 2nd decade on education being observed in Africa where countries are mainstreaming their policy towards funding education.

What are the 2-3 key challenges you are facing both internally and externally within the wider context that hinders your work?
The first challenge is to identify the relevant AU structures and target the right people to push for implementation of education policy instruments. Secondly, lack of skills to translate structures into opportunities that can be harnessed to our advantage. Lastly, lack of financial means to follow up and ensure the right structures have been put in place within the Member States.

How well are you working with national organisations to hold their Governments accountable and to act in the area that matters to you? What challenges do you face?
We are mobilizing national education coalitions as an entry point. So far we have 35 organizations from 35 countries in Africa. We have strengthened their capacity through training campaigns on education financing and strategizing. The challenge comes when the implementation of policy requires domestic financing. At this point, the case of tax justice issues in member states begins to emerge complicating our mission.

Are there success stories and lessons that you could share of work at the national and the continental level?
At the national level, in terms of policy, we have managed to promote national accountability through budget monitoring and tracking. In so doing, we have created awareness on the need to increase education financing in countries such as Kenya, Malawi, Senegal and Ghana. At the continental level, we have mobilized CSOs to form national coalitions to engage their countries on education policy issues. The number of national coalition members in Africa has increased from 19 to 35. In addition, there is also an increasing awareness on AU education policies, especially observing the 2nd decade on education.

By the end of 2012, what results are you aiming to achieve in this area?
First, we would like to see that African countries offer better quality education and achieve higher levels of learning outcomes, especially in key reading and writing skills. Secondly, ensure compliance of AU education instruments to be domesticated and mainstreamed in national policies. Compliance is useless without implementation done by allocating adequate funds to support and improve the standards on service delivery.

Interview: Eve Odete

Promoting the rights of women in Africa: Interview with Eve Odete, Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition (SOAWR)

In 2012, the State of the Union coalition will powerfully hold Member States of the African Union accountable for the implementation of fourteen democracy, human rights and development African Union standards. The campaign will support Governments and citizens to understand and act to realize the freedoms and rights contained in the standards and legal instruments. At the beginning of the year, Pamela Inoti interviewed coalition leaders on their plans for doing so. For further information: www.stateoftheunionafrica.net.

Eve Odete is the SOAWR Secretariat Coordinator, based in Nairobi, Kenya

Describe who you are and why personally you are working in this field? What motivates you?
I am a young Kenyan woman committed to bringing about change in the lives of powerless and voiceless African citizens, especially women and girls.

Describe what you are trying to achieve in Africa and in relationship to the African Union?
We are dedicated to linking African women with relevant organizations in order to empower them with knowledge about public laws, policies and institutions relevant for change. We are also empowering African women to hold their Governments to account on policy and legal commitments of the ratified AU instruments on women rights.

What are the 2-3 key challenges you are facing both internally and externally within the wider context that hinders your work?
Externally, there is lack of Government implementation of key AU decisions that they have been collectively agreed upon in relation to upholding the rights of women in Africa. For example, provision of adequate budgets to address women reproductive health rights lacks in most countries.
Internally, there is lack of public awareness and knowledge about the existing laws relating to women rights.

How well are you working with national organisations to hold their Governments accountable and to act in the area that matters to you? What challenges do you face?
SOAWR has active members in 31 countries in Africa. The members are working closely with their national ministries and gender offices to persuade their Governments to adopt the provisions of the AU Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa. Due to this initiative, Governments across Africa are becoming more responsive and ratifying the Protocol. However, the pace of ratification is slow and there are a lot of challenges to domestication of the Protocol within the Member State’s national laws.

Are there success stories and lessons that you could share of work at the national level? At the continental level?
At the national level, many countries have already ratified  and implemented the Charter on Women Rights like Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, to name but a few. Success at the continental level is exemplified by the fact that 31 countries have ratified the Rights of Women Protocol. Two years after its adoption, the Protocol came into force on 25 November 2005, historically breaking all records for the speed with which an African Human Rights instrument has come into force.

By the end of 2012, what results are you aiming to achieve in this area?
First of all, we would like to see all the African countries that have not ratified the Protocol do so. Secondly, we hope that those other countries that have ratified it begin to implement the provisions of the Protocol more actively. Lastly, we would also like to see women rights organizations that are members of SOAWR work closely with their Governments to domesticate the provisions of the Protocol, as well as begin to monitor the change in the lives of African women.

To find out more about SOAWR, email: eveodete@yahoo.co.uk or visit their website: www.soawr.org/en

Interview: Kipp

Promoting open governance by mobilising citizens to demand transparency and accountability in the provision of services: Interview with John Kipcumbah, Huduma.

In 2012, the State of the Union coalition will powerfully hold Member States of the African Union accountable for the implementation of fourteen democracy, human rights and development African Union standards. The campaign will support Governments and citizens to understand and act to realize the freedoms and rights contained in the standards and legal instruments. At the beginning of the year, Pamela Inoti interviewed coalition leaders on their plans for doing so. For further information: www.stateoftheunionafrica.net

John Kipcumba is the Inventor of HUDUMA and co-founder of INFONET, based in Nairobi, Kenya

Describe who you are and why personally you are working in this field? What motivates you?
I have a background in computer security, but with an interest in human rights and championing reforms. My passion is to use technology to drive change in people’s lives by channelling access to information. This feedback process assists in connecting the public and the Government and other service providers.

Describe what you are trying to achieve in Africa and in relationship to the African Union?
HUDUMA is both a strategy and a tool that creates and strengthens systems by triggering debates. We are engaging with SOTU to track the implementation of AU Instruments in Member States and giving feedback to AU.

What are the 2-3 key challenges you are facing both internally and externally within the wider context that hinders your work?
Our challenges occur largely in the area of whistle-blowing. This is when citizens find they are not receiving the services they should. Once a complaint is received, there are investigators who follow up on the leads to make sure that the information is valid. Some of the investigators have received death threats and other forms of intimidation in an effort to cower them. In some countries, only a few ministries have agreed to work with us, while others fear having their shortcomings exposed.

How well are you working with national organisations to hold their Governments accountable and to act in the area that matters to you? What challenges do you face?
HUDUMA educates people on the services that the Government offers in relation to the AU charters. Impact is not about the numbers, but the change process. Some Governments have been responsive and the service is already functional in those countries. However, there is a challenge that all complaints are not acted upon by the relevant ministries.

Are there success stories and lessons that you could share of work at the national level? At the continental level?
There many success stories I can share at the national level. For instance in the case of Kenya, there was a complaint received from Northern Kenya about the lack of anaesthesia during surgery caused the Government to act and make sure all the hospitals are fully equipped.  These two examples show that a single voice can trigger a response that benefits many the citizens.

The Uchaguzi (elections) campaign has been rolled out in four African countries to drive the ratification of the charter on elections, democracy and governance in Africa. HUDUMA has also been launched in Zambia. There are plans are underway to finalize its launch in other countries in the continent.

By the end of 2012, what results are you aiming to achieve in this area?
I would like to ensure that HUDUMA has spread and been embraced in the whole of Africa. This would streamline the AU process of following up on ratification and implementation of relevant instruments.

Interview 1

The formation of a Consortium to push for ratification of AU instruments in Rwanda: Interview with Alexis Nkurunziza, CLADHO.

In 2012, the State of the Union coalition will powerfully hold Member States of the African Union accountable for the implementation of fourteen democracy, human rights and development African Union standards. The campaign will support Governments and citizens to understand and act to realize the freedoms and rights contained in the standards and legal instruments. At the beginning of the year, Pamela Inoti interviewed coalition leaders on their plans for doing so. For further information: www.stateoftheunionafrica.net

Alexis Nkurunziza, is the Public Policy Advocacy Officer, Le Collectif des Ligues et Associations de Défense des Droits de l’Homme au (CLADHO), based in Kigali, Rwanda

Why did your organisation join the State of the Union coalition?
CLADHO is an umbrella of 8 human rights organizations in Rwanda. Our aim is to defend, protect and promote human rights and social justice by raising citizen participation in policy awareness. CLADHO shares the vision of the SOTU coalition.

How far has your organisation reached in terms of establishing the conditions for your Government to ratify and implement key AU standards and decisions?
We have and continue to rally the citizens to seek accountability from the Government. In 2010 we conducted a survey in 2010 on the ratification of AU instruments and Rwanda scored poorly. Soon after the release of this report, we were happy to see the Government ratified the Charter on democracy, elections and governance, one of the recommendations in our report. The Government has since become more proactive on such issues.

What important trends and opportunities exist for the realisation of these standards and human rights instruments?
The Government is keen on the process and has become involved in the coalition. In addition, other CSOs that are not part of the coalition are becoming more responsive towards our work. This has enabled us to share this cause with many stakeholders.

What are you planning to do to make Governments more open towards domestication of the pending relevant treaties?
We are seeking to embrace the Government’s responsiveness towards the domestication of other relevant treaties. With other CSOs, the Government and other stakeholders we will work to popularize domestication and domestication of all the Treaties.

What are the 2-3 key challenges you are facing both internally and externally within the wider context that hinders your work?
Firstly, there is a lack of citizen awareness about the AU Charters and their impact on the lives of the people. This is compounded by the restriction that the Government has placed on the media houses which makes it hard to use any media outlet to sensitive the people. Secondly, some senior Government officials are not sufficiently informed or sensitised about the AU charters.

By the end of 2012, what do you want to have achieved in this area?
We want to make sure that the established consortium is operational and in high gear. We seek to establish with Government an inter-ministerial committee to drive forward the domestication process. Secondly, we will have simplified and translated the key instruments into Kinyarwanda and make them easily understood. Afterwards, we will distribute the simplified version to teachers, churches, women councils and the youth to make sure they reach rural communities.

To find out more about CLADHO’s work email: nkuruflor@gmail.com or visit their website: www.cladho.org

Andrew Osiany

Andrew N. Osiany

Research and Policy Officer – State of the Union Coalition (SOTU)

A political scientist by training, Andrew’s academic bias is in political economy and public administration. His professional experience spans the fields of economic diplomacy (trade), policy governance and advocacy, and human resources management. Andrew leads in the design and implementation of SOTU’s research and policy analysis activities around the African Union (AU) instruments, Policy frameworks, and Standards. He also leads in coordination, identification, and analyses of relevant policy issues of SotU-focus at national and continental levels in selected African countries.