The learning and sharing component of our work promotes peer learning within civil society by providing platforms where lessons learnt from successful or less successful initiatives in the policy-making process can be shared and new ideas can be discussed and translated into joint action. We recognise that there are opportunities to learn from civil society at large and not just among the organisations we support; thus, our target beneficiaries are all those with whom we come into contact and not just those who have received support from us.
Learning and sharing has typically occurred in three ways: in learning spaces; research which includes data collection and analysis; and communication between ZGF and the wider civil society environment.
Over the last eight years we have made a dedicated effort to convene spaces where CSOs can meet and share ideas. The structure of these learning and sharing events varies depending on the subject matter and past themes have included allowance culture, health accountability, land rights, education and electoral governance, to name but a few. The objectives of each specific event varied but the components remained essentially the same: 25 to 30 participants including both CSOs and government officials, presentations on the topic, and group work. More recently the events have evolved to include more sustainable components like the online learning and sharing platform hosted on the ZGF website.
We have commissioned impact studies on land rights, gender and community schools as well as smaller research papers on alternative sentencing models for prisoners and on accountability in health care. This research is complemented by analysis of media inputs of CSOs supported by ZGF in three major national newspapers. The media analysis provides an indication of media’s willingness to cover policy issues and CSOs’ ability to engage effectively with the media. The analysis is also able to capture duty bearers’ response to issues raised by CSOs. Our own communication strategy is predicated on the goal of learning and sharing with the wider civil society audience. Our weekly Newsflash and quarterly Tigwepo publications have distribution that allows us to engage with a wider audience.