SDN has published three case studies looking at how communities can work together to support social change. The case studies highlight how advocacy groups in Kpite, Nonwa, and Ogu have lobbied their local authorities to implement key infrastructure projects in their area. The case studies highlight that while social change is complicated – and although it clearly does not involve community advocacy alone – presenting their joint opinion is one way that communities can make their political voice heard. Each community featured has a Community Monitoring and Advocacy Group (CMAG), which was initially set up with the support of SDN. The CMAGs are composed of members of different groups within each community, such as women and young people. The CMAGs come together at intervals. They jointly decide what they consider the priorities for their local area to be. Often this can involve repairing or improving common or social infrastructure, such as roads or a local building such as a clinic. Once they have decided on their goals, SDN supports the groups to organise meetings with their local political representatives and government officials. The case studies show what the CMAGs have achieved so far.
In Kpite, the CMAG contributed to the construction of drainage alongside the main access road leading into the community. This should help reduce flooding, which among other things has prevented children from going to school. In Nonwa, a link road was also rebuilt, and repairs made to the local school buildings, while in Ogu, the CMAG used local radio to good effect to get work to begin on their school infrastructure as well. As the Vice Principal of the school said: “I am an alumni of this great school and it gives me joy to see the school being rebuilt to her past glory. This school used to house a boarding facility and we had students from Lagos, Cross River, Delta who were boarders. Now that reconstruction is almost complete, teachers from outside are lobbying to be posted to the school.”
The process can take time – SDN has been working in these communities for several years now – and can run into political problems, as well as disagreements within the communities themselves. This is understandable, as different people have different views on what is the most pressing local need. However, overall the case studies highlight how local communities have the capacity to act, and can engage productively with their local authorities. Trust can be a fragile commodity in the Niger Delta, so we are pleased to support the CMAGs to build stronger relationships with their government representatives, and we look forward to continuing to do so. For more information on each of the communities we work in, click here for Kpite, here for Nonwa, and here for Ogu.