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Poverty, voice and advocacy: a Haitian study

Date added: January 9, 2018

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Over the past ten years, Fonkoze (a non-profit organisation in Haiti) has adapted the 'graduation' model of lifting families out of extreme poverty through its Chemen Lavi Miyò (CLM) or 'pathway to a better life' programme. Yet despite international recognition for this approach, Fonkoze’s work is little known within Haitian policy circles on social protection and poverty.

This paper is the product of a 12-month action research project by Fonkoze with support from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). It used a rapid outcome mapping approach (ROMA) as a framework for creating an advocacy strategy through which Fonkoze could influence the development of Haiti’s social protection policy.  It also aimed to give voice and promote downwards accountability to people who have lived experience of ultra-poverty by enabling them to articulate their views within the policy process.

For Fonkoze, this was a first attempt to move into activities other than programme implementation, and to leverage its impact by influencing other development actors to engage with the ultra-poor as a group with specific vulnerabilities and needs. It achieved some successes, despite the very limited time scale, weak voice of local institutions in policy processes, and challenging external conditions. Giving voice and downward accountability to ultra-poor women (former CLM members) proved somewhat problematic though. These women, enmeshed in the structures that impoverish and marginalise them, cannot easily step outside of those structures to articulate their voice.

The report concludes by highlighting the problem that donors tend to channel their resources through separate government ministries or departments, which though inevitable (to some extent) given the context, is also unhelpful in promoting a coordinated social protection policy.

Key themes in this report:

  • policy processes are complex and rarely linear or logical
  • successful advocacy work requires a nuanced understanding of the agendas of all stakeholders (national and international)
  • communication and networking are essential parts of influencing policy
  • efforts to give voice to ultra-poor people need to be planned and implemented carefully to avoid inadvertently disempowering them.


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