By Bukar Bolori
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched a five-year US$32.9 million activity to enhance Nigeria’s civil society and business membership organizations (CSOs and BMOs) capacity to influence policies and reforms across the most critical service sectors of the country.
The US$32.9 million Strengthening Civic Advocacy and Local Engagement (SCALE) activity, according to a statement by USAID will strengthen the financial, management, and advocacy capacity of CSOs and BMOs to create a more accountable and democratic Nigeria with more efficient public service delivery.
The statement said at a launch ceremony attended by a wide variety of governmental and private sector advocates for good governance, USAID Acting Mission Director, Ms. Katie Donohoe said that Nigerian civil society has the potential to support transformational change in Nigeria.
She said: “This investment underscores
the depth of the U.S. commitment to strengthen CSO advocacy in Nigeria,” adding that: “Civic action has achieved significant global impacts in recent years. People here and around the world are expressing their wish for a stronger, better functioning democracy.”
Built on the framework of the earlier USAID Strengthening Advocacy and Civic Engagement activity, Palladium Group serves as the implementer for SCALE in partnership with strong local organisations such as the Policy and Legislative Advocacy Center, Center for Leadership, Strategy and Development, and Nigeria Network of Non-Governmental Organizations.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Sen. Pauline Tallen, who pledged the Nigeria government’s support for the activity, said: “This activity aligns with the government’s commitment for a more accountable and responsive government to the citizens of our great nation, Nigeria.”
She said: “SCALE could not have come at a better time — when citizens are looking to us to consolidate on the change we promised.”
According to the statement, SCALE helps CSOs and BMOs exercise their rights to advocate for economic opportunities that lead to better lives by influencing policy reform in critical sectors such as health, education, water and sanitation, governance, agriculture, and extractive industries.
It noted that special attention will be paid to the prevention of child marriage, trafficking in persons, and gender-based violence.
The statement also said by improving the civil policy and regulatory environment at the local level, SCALE enhances collaborative advocacy in areas that will improve quality of life for Nigerians, especially women, youth, people living with disabilities, and other vulnerable populations.