Peer learning for stronger maternal & newborn health network

For over a decade, E4A-MamaYe has worked with State Led Accountability Mechanisms (SLAMs) supporting them with technical skills as they hold sub-national governments in Nigeria accountable on key reproductive, maternal, newborn child adolescent health (RMNCAH) priority issues.

SLAMs use evidence-based advocacy to hold stakeholders to account for their commitments towards better health outcomes for mothers and newborns. Their focus is to identify reasons why women, girls and babies die during pregnancy & childbirth, learn how to navigate the competing political space and use evidence to influence decisions on how available resources can be used effectively to save lives. 

Through our Peer to Peer and Networking approach E4A-MamaYe is connecting all existing SLAMs in Nigeria to create a broader base for improved RMNCAH +N outcomes in the country. As of 2023, E4A-MamaYe has facilitated the establishment of SLAMs in eleven (11) States, (Lagos, Yobe, Kaduna, Bauchi, Niger, Jigawa, Zamfara, Kano, Gombe, Ondo, and Taraba States). Currently E4A works closely with SLAMs in 3 States of Lagos, Kaduna, and Yobe in Nigeria. 

The SLAMs are multi-stakeholder in composition. They bring together government, civil society, health professionals and the media. To effectively perform their role and promote evidence-based advocacy and enhance accountability for better health outcomes SLAMs have established three key sub-committees. These committees are: evidence, Knowledge Management and Communication (KMC) and advocacy with clear terms of reference to guide their operations. 

The evidence subcommittee generate evidence on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH) by analysing data from existing verifiable data sources in each State, the advocacy and the KMC subcommittees use the data to engage policy stakeholders packaging it in simple and easy to use advocacy communications tools targeting decision makers in the State. 

“The establishment of subcommittees in the SLAM is sort of division of labour which helps the SLAM to achieve its objectives and expected results in a timely manner and provides an opportunity for all members of the SLAM, both males and females to actively participate in the activities of the SLAM” Muhammad Babakucici, Yobe SLAM.

SLAMs leading peer to peer learning 

This year, SLAMs have come together to create a peer learning platform. This platform promotes information sharing, sharing of tools and resources, celebrating successes and best practices from their work on improving RMNCAH in Nigeria. 

Peer learning and networking has been identified as a veritable tool for transferring knowledge and skills among peer organizations and individuals. According to Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association (2023) ‘Peer learning networks are formal or informal groups that convene for the purpose of strengthening relationships, leverage tools and the collective knowledge of the group to accelerate the focused area of work and gaining strategic ideas and tactical skills to use on their job deliveries’. 

The E4A-MamaYe Global Public Goods (GPGs) have been developed as a result of working with the SLAMs. Currently, these tools have become important resources for SLAMs as they build their capacities. 

E4A-MamaYe applies different approaches in building capacity of the SLAMs. A structured technical assistance process enables SLAMs to implement their advocacy plans. This is delivered through a capacity building framework referred to as the “Transformation Pathway”. The pathway flows through the stages of Emergence, Formation, Coalescence, Institutionalization and Transformation while assessing each stage with performance in the following domains: Membership and structures, Resourcing, Data use, Political economy engagement (context), Gender and Advocacy. 

The framework uses training, mentorship, and coaching approaches to strengthen emerging organizations on a pathway to becoming resilient organisations. Now the technical assistance is provided to the SLAMs in clear demand driven technical assistance process. 

For a long time, SLAMs have been working in isolation. Considering the benefits of peer-to-peer learning and networking. E4A-MamaYe facilitated a peer learning event among the SLAMs in Nigeria. This event featured updates from Kaduna and Yobe SLAMs who are implementing the E4A-MamaYe seed grant. The SLAMs shared experience on their progress towards transformation pathway and the integration of gender transformative advocacy approaches and showcased results from their advocacy work, fostering networking and knowledge exchange. 

“I am impressed by how some SLAMs were able to influence budgets in their States. I never knew the government could really commit to implementing the ASKs presented to them by the SLAMs. I am impressed with the results of Kano and Lagos. I also learnt that SLAMs should consist of government officials, so they can support in reducing bureaucracy of access to key stakeholders for effective advocacy”. Taraba SLAM member. 

Lessons learnt from this event are: 

  1. Peer learning among SLAMs provides an avenue to address challenges and adopt useful strategies for implementing activities and sustaining operations. 
  2. Placing tools and information in the hands of local advocates enables effective engagement that influences policy stakeholders’ actions through use of evidence. 
  3. Establishment of a structured SLAMs umbrella network will be effective to promote functionality of SLAMs across the Nigeria States. 

Already most SLAM members are aware about the MamaYe Africa Collective; a grassroot advocacy coalitions and accountability mechanisms from national chapters coming together under an umbrella platform to use evidence in holding governments at subnational, national and regional levels accountable to deliver on their promises by effectively and efficiently distributing resources to improve service delivery, access and utilization of RMNCAH services for mothers, babies and adolescent girls across Africa. 

With Nigeria advocates being the pioneer members in the Collective, the legacy of SLAMs will sprout across other African nations, accelerating health for all through strong accountability mechanism.

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