Children speak their minds on leaving no child behind in Nigeria

Thursday 26 November 2015

By James Bigila, Media Coordinator

Next campaign planning process in Nigeria

As we reflect on the successes achieved in Nigeria under the EVERY ONE campaign, James Bigila, Media Coordinator from the Nigeria Country Office talks to us about how planning for the next priority campaign is going in Nigeria.

Under EVERY ONE the National Health Bill was signed into law and a new budget was allocated to nutrition. James explained that we now have an opportunity in Nigeria to "carry everybody along", not leaving any child behind, and that they will also "join the global community, shoulder to shoulder in achieving progress on the new global goals".

The challenge of identifying the excluded

One of the greatest challenges in planning for the next priority campaign is identifying which excluded group of children the campaign should focus on. Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation with a population of roughly 170 million - more than 100 million live on less than $2 per day and many groups in the country are marginalised or excluded as it develops.

Nigeria has some great ideas about who their campaign, addressing access to quality services, should focus on and hope to reach a decision soon, "we have identified quite a few groups as potential targets of the campaign including, migrants, refugees and IDPs, ethnic and religious groups, disabled children and street children." Adding to this the country office must consider which groups they can access, as most communities do not have good roads. Linking the campaign to programming is crucial for the next priority campaign to be a success. Another challenge, James pointed out, is securing the budget required to carry out all campaign activities. Since they are still in the planning stage, without specific details of campaign requirements and cost estimates defined, it is difficult to allocate funding or attract funding for specific activities at this stage.

Children's voices lead the way

To help overcome the challenges of identifying what exactly the national campaign plan will seek to achieve, the Nigeria country office invited children to present their ideas and solutions. "The introduction of children in planning the campaign has given the campaign a major boost as the children presented real time solutions to their needs in order to make sure no child is left behind at the end of the campaign", James told us.

As Nigeria's campaign planning team, along with colleagues from Save the Children UK who provided technical assistance, held a workshop to develop the country's campaign plan, a parallel session was held with children from Junior Government Secondary School Gwagwalada. Before the brainstorming began, the children were taken on a tour around Save the Children's Abuja office to introduce them to staff, including various thematic leads who take our programmes and messaging to our beneficiaries.

In their presentations the young people identified the children who they believe are most at risk, the children who are most fortunate, and those who are exposed to risks and dangers bad things on the streets in Nigeria. They also presented the three main areas which they believe the needs of Nigerian children centre on and should be addressed. These are: quality education and health care, the provision of portable water and children's right to protection.

The children also hosted a participatory session to lend their voices and contribute towards planning the future they want for Nigerian kids with members of staff guiding them.  Children also lent their voices by drafting and drawing on paper, the future they want and what they would love Save the Children, along with the government and other decision makers to bring about by 2030, to make their lives better.

Next steps

The team in Nigeria have taken all of the insights gathered from the children, from staff across all teams and from Save the Children UK colleagues, and are now working on developing their plans further. "We are busy planning our internal launch at the moment", James explains, which will play a key role in engaging all staff in the campaign. "We are about to begin designing our automatic countdown which will be installed on every staff member's computer. On the day we will link up all of our field offices, via skype so that they can watch children making presentations"

Plans are also being developed for the external launch, which will be crucial for Save the Children Nigeria to get buy-in from a broad range of stakeholders who are critical to the campaign's success. "These stakeholders, some of which are engaging for the first time in the campaign, will help to spread the message of our campaign to almost all sectors of the Nigerian economy." The launch will involve a series of meetings and events with everyone from development partners to academics, religious leaders, celebrities and corporate representatives.

Energy around the campaign and engagement in the planning process is really strong in Nigeria. Their plan is well thought through and ambitious, looking not just at plans for Abuja and Nigeria, but on creating linkages across the region and helping to shape the pan – African agenda. We look forward to seeing how their campaign plans come together over the coming months!