MEETING WITH DR. IBRAHIM KANA (SOMLPforR PROGRAM MANAGER) AND OTHER SOMLPforR TEAM MEMBERS

MEETING WITH DR. IBRAHIM KANA (SOMLPforR PROGRAM MANAGER) AND OTHER SOMLPforR TEAM MEMBERS

The saving one million lives Initiative was launched in October 2012, in response to the poor health outcomes in the country especially for mothers and children. Thus,the program is intended to improve the lives of mothers and children through a result based partnership with States ministries of health.

On the 16th of March, the team at CODE met with Dr. Ibrahim Kana the Program manager of Saving One Million Lives Program for Results to get an extensive elucidation of how the program is being run and what it entails.
Dr Ibrahim and his team excitedly aligning us on how ($500 million) credit that had been negotiated by Federal government with World Bank from which $1.5million was disbursed to states and FCT as grants, sought to deliver high impact, evidence based and cost effective health interventions based on 6 ‘pillars’, namely:-

– Maternal, newborn and child health;
– childhood essential medicines and increasing treatment of important childhood diseases;
– improving child nutrition;
– immunization
– malaria control; and
– the prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV.

He stated that the states were receiving 82% of the money and the program unit is not involved in the spending of the money, also that the SOML Program involves reorienting the discussion of service delivery to results rather than just inputs, establishing a limited set of clear and measurable indicators by which to track success, strengthening data collection so that these indicators can be measured more frequently, bolstering accountability so that managers and health workers at all levels are engaged to achieve better results and fostering innovations that increase the focus on results and include greater openness to working with private sector.

He highlighted that The Program for Result is an approach to structuring of flow of resources to pay for results, outcomes and inputs and under it, states will be rewarded for their performance based on objective indicators using data from household and health facility survey as well as achievement of certain process indicators related to implementation of a performance management system. The program is placed in the Federal Ministry of Health and will be overseen by a Steering Committee chaired by the Honourable Minister of Health and comprising representatives from the state’s commissioner of health which is ultimately responsible for achieving the PforR indicators and ensuring stakeholders’ focus on objectively verified results.
The PforR will provide funds to the federal and state governments based on a set of five Disbursement Linked Indicators (DLIs) which are;

DLI 1.- Increasing Utilization of High Impact Reproductive, Child health and Nutrition Interventions; this will include states producing plans for achieving reductions in Maternal and Under 5 Child mortality, Improvements from states’ baseline on key health indicators such as penta 3 vaccination, insecticides treated nets used by children under 5, contraceptive prevalence rate, Vitamin A coverage, Skilled birth attendance and HIV counselling and testing during antenatal care. Lagging states are also encouraged to strengthen their MNCH weeks as part of an impact evaluation.
DLI 2. – Increasing Quality of High impact Reproductive and Child Health and Nutrition Interventions: This entails states improving the quality of care at primary health care facilities

DLI 3 – Improving Monitoring and Evaluation systems and Data Utilization; by conducting SMART surveys in all 36 states and widely disseminating the results.

DLI 4 – Increasing Utilization and Quality of Reproductive and Child Health and Nutrition Interventions Through Private Sector Innovation: A competitive innovation fund was established that supports innovations for techniques and technologies in health service delivery. This is been headed by the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria.

DLI 5- Increasing Transparency in Management and Budgeting for PHC: States are required to transfer health staff to entity responsible for PHC while produce and publishing a consolidated budget execution report covering all income and expenditures for PHC.

Speaking on the disbursement arrangement, he stated that once state earnings have been determined and verified, the PMU will set in motion the disbursement process. As soon as the World Bank receives a withdrawal application, funds will be disbursed to a dedicated account of the Federal Government for transfer to the accounts states have in Central Bank within 30 days.

The meeting with the Program management unit was very insightful, as a lot of questions we earlier came with were clearly answered but that did not leave us without having a few “asks” and recommendation that we hope will enable us at FollowTheMoney to effectively monitor and track the I.5 million dollars allocated to states.

Recommendations from CODE
Civil Society Organizations be included as part of the Independent Verification Agents
the National Orientation Agency should be carried along in sensitizing the general public about the program.

Specific asks from CODE
we asked to obtain a copy of the State’s Implementation Plans.

 

Ijeoma Oforka is a Program Officer at Connected Development, with a background in Public Health. She is passionate about advocating for the plights and issues surrounding women and girls health and education. She tweets via @ijoforka

Dare to be Bold for Change!

Dare to be Bold for Change!

March 8 steadily marks International Women’s Day, which is commemorated globally year after year. While the original focus of the celebration was a movement towards gender equality and women’s suffrage, it has since evolved to become much more than that.
It has become a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements and successes of women globally – as well as bringing awareness to the progresses they’ve managed to accomplish in various endeavors of life.
Still, I cannot help but wonder about the significance of this day – does it have any significance at all especially for women living in rural areas of Nigeria?
it is justly easy for women like me (as well as many others), who are living in the Urban areas to talk about the importance of International Women’s Day and how it brings awareness to our rights as citizens, and most importantly, as human beings; we still fail to realize that the majority of women, especially those living ‘back home’, do not have access to the same privileges, for they are denied even the most basic of human rights.

Let us begin with the 9.2billion naira approved by the Federal Government of Nigeria for the provision of 750,000 clean cook stoves and 18,000 wonder bags for rural women in Nigeria in November, 2014. I bet we all know that the World Health Organization estimates that 95,300 Nigerians especially women die of indoor air pollution yearly as a result of cooking using firewood. This was a wonderful project that will aid putting a stop to the depletion of forest resources caused by indiscriminate felling of trees as well as prevent women from dying of indoor pollution. The question however remains: how many of the supposedly rural women can say they have benefited from it? Indeed, lack of education is one of the greatest impediments to social and economic development, especially within the North East in Nigeria. And those women and girls who try to seek it face severe consequences, as is the case of the 276 secondary school girls who were abducted in Chibok by Boko Haram terrorist group. The Nigerian girl-child faces significant obstacles in accessing proper education because of inherent traditional and societal values placed on the boy-child over the girl-child. According to the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in 2015, 40% of Nigerian children, aged 6 –11, do not attend any primary school with the Northern region of the country recording the lowest school attendance rate, especially for girls.

I personally applaud Connected Development (CODE) as they recognize the significance of women and girls, and have continuously channeled their work to empower local communities and alleviate the suffering of women. As at 2016 and through Follow The Money, CODE has impacted 26,811 rural lives especially women and children in ensuring that educational and healthcare appropriations meant for them are well spent. In being #BoldforChange, they conducted a research on Girls Education policies in Nigeria with focus on Northeast, this will amplify advocacy around girl child education in the north. They are currently tracking the implementation of WorldBank’s $100 million for the improvement of girl-child education in five northern states, namely, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Jigawa. CODE understands that investing in women and girls makes the communities healthier and safer thereby creating more opportunities across the board.

Happy International Women’s Day and dare to #BeBoldforChange by taking actions to empower women and girls around you and reminding yourself of the reality that we do not need to single out just one day in the commemoration but celebrate them every day.

 

Ijeoma Oforka is a Program Officer at Connected Development, with a background in Public Health. She is passionate about advocating for the plights and issues surrounding women and girls health and education. She tweets via @ijoforka

 

REVIEW OF CONSTITUENCIES DEVELOPMENT CATALYST FUND BILL

REVIEW OF CONSTITUENCIES DEVELOPMENT CATALYST FUND BILL

A one day public hearing on Constituencies Development Catalyst Fund  Bill, which was sponsored by Senator Buhari Abdulfatai  was organized by Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) in collaboration with the Senate Committee on Poverty Alleviation. The objective of the public hearing was to provide a platform for public discussions on Constituency Development Funds (CDFs) through a proposition of  a legal framework that seeks to address concerns that the CDF is a tool for the embezzlement of funds rather than an intended vehicle for development. The Bill attempts to address the democratic-deficit in citizen participation in governance by encouraging economic development and participation at the grassroots and also create a legal framework for Constituencies Development Funds.

In the public hearing, Senator Buhari, remarked that there was an urgent need for the bill to be adopted as it will help bring about transparency and accountability thereby ensuring that the constituents get a feeling of the commonwealth. He stated that Zambia has been operating it since 1995 while it is also being implemented in Ghana.

The CDF bill tends to apply to all Federal Constituencies in Nigeria. The Clause 4 establishes a Constituency Project Development Board to administer the funds allocated for Constituencies. Charges and expenditure from the fund shall be made in accordance with financial regulations, the Public Procurement Act as well as other provision in the bill. The Minister of Finance –Under clause 17(1) of the bill, the Council Planning Officer is to submit annual returns to the minister of Finance no later than 60 days after the end of every financial year. Allowable projects under the bill were not specifically indicated or listed, but the bill provides that they should be community based development projects with benefits that would be available to a wide section of inhabitants of the area in question.

It was such a rich and engaging deliberation as  fundamental observation and questions were raised which includes that the objectives of the Bill does not explicitly state the percentage of the annual budget that will be allocated to the Constituency Development Catalyst  Fund and merely refers to a portion of the Federal Annual Budget.  Also the composition of the Constituency Development Catalyst Committee in clause 10(c ) mandates that one of the councilors in the committee should be a woman. What happens where no woman has been elected as a counselor in the relevant Constituency? There is also no indication in the Bill on how all of the bureaucracy created by it will be funded. Lastly the currency for the fine in clause 28 (1) should be changed from shillings to Naira.

It is also imperative  to know that there is a similar Constituency Projects (Budgetary) Provisions Bill, 2016 sponsored by Sen. Stella Oduah that passed second reading on 8th December, 2016 and also a Constituency Development Fund Bill Sponsored by Sen. Ali Ndume that has passed first reading on 9th November, 2016. Similarly, in the House of Representatives such Bill exists which has apparently passed second reading and I ask “can’t these Bills be consolidated to have one Bill”?
I sincerely hope that the questions and recommendations made during the public hearing would be considered, as the Bill if enforced, its mechanism is likely to enhance citizen participation in the administration, management, monitoring and evaluation of funds that could bring about socio-economic development, empowerment, transparency and accountability in the constituencies.

Ijeoma Oforka is a Program Officer at Connected Development, with a background in Public Health. She is passionate about advocating for the plights and issues surrounding women and girls health and education. She tweets via @ijoforka

 

RETURNING  TO THE MOTIVATION HOUSE

RETURNING  TO THE MOTIVATION HOUSE

 

So, after much anticipation and keenness, I am back to the working world at Connected Development (CODE). In many ways, it feels as if I never left – as if my entire absence for my internship was nothing more than a slightly peculiar dream. I remember vividly how I received the news of getting the internship slot, It was a dream come true as I had anticipated working in an environment where maternal and newborn health were the focus but this was coming with a prize, and the prize was quitting my job at Connected Development.  This wasn’t an easy decision, my friends were like, you can’t do this, they couldn’t understand how I could walk away from what I had at CODE and they couldn’t see a path for me to walk back later. One year later I’m back to where I started from, the motivation house as Chambers stated on one of his posts on Facebook.

Bumping into Hamzat that fateful Wednesday was actually orchestrated by higher powers, because I was thinking about what I was going to do with my life when my internship ends on Friday. We got talking and I told him I was going to be done on Friday.  He was shocked, “So you are going to be jobless? He asked, I said yes, after a while he told me I could come back to work for CODE if I’m interested. I was elated. At this time where the rate of unemployment has skyrocketed to 13.3%, here he was giving me a second chance and offering me an opportunity not to be among the statistics and also contribute again to the success of CODE. I sent out a mail the Friday I ended my internship and anxiously waited for his reply, the Hamzat I used to know while I was working with him, always reply his Emails before he retires for the day. I got scared when I didn’t get a reply and thought maybe he had changed his mind, I checked my mail over and over, refreshed it countless time yet no reply. Every notification I got on my phone got me running to check if it was the expected mail and trust MTN to keep you on your feet with their messages. Alas, I finally got the mail to resume on Wednesday.

The day before my big return to work was possibly the worst experience of Tuesday night I’ve ever experienced. But then, of course, it would be, wouldn’t it?  The cough wouldn’t let me sleep; the anxiety of the changes I have to face and the new people I will have to be working with was all making me restless. I managed to doze off with the intention of waking up early so I can be punctual and not show myself as the famous late comer to work which I was actually known for before I left. I woke up that glorious morning with a beautiful smile perched on my lips, got prepared and set out for work in time, but the desire for me to break the barrier of going late wasn’t possible as I stood at the bus stop for close to 30 minutes looking for a cab. I finally arrived 15 minutes late. That feeling of dealing with enough newness on your first day was hanging around me, but then I have to deal with it. I met some strange faces which was expected because, over the year, I have kept up with the activities happening at CODE. I was introduced to the new ones and the old ones were happy to have me back I guess.

My running nose chose this blessed  day to come in full force which got me sneezing every minute, I managed to start off with documents on what CODE currently does and how they achieve their objectives and targets, surprisingly it has really evolved. While I was here a lot of things were done by everybody, but right now we have people who work in different teams. They are new projects and also new partnership with various bodies has also been formed.

Now, though, I’m back in the rhythm of it, and back to finding ways to make every moment of my work count – moping around is certainly not allowed if I really want to make it up to the steep learning curve ahead of me.  I have also been assigned to a team and I hope to add the new skills I developed while interning to propel my team and also learn more. I hope to also gain insight on how Follow The Money track funds meant for marginalized communities and how to use the FOI Act to hold our leaders accountable.

Another project of CODE that gets me really excited is the tracking of the Save 1 million Lives grant by the World bank to improve maternal and child health in states. This I hope to get really involved in as i am ruthlessly passionate in issues that leads to the survival of mothers and newborn. Finally  I hope that my return to the motivation house will  hone my skills in using advocacy to advance and bring about  development in health, education and environment sectors.

 

Ijeoma Oforka is a Program Officer at Connected Development, with a background in Public Health. She is passionate about advocating for the plights and issues surrounding women and girls health and education. She tweets via @ijoforka

 

Begining The Year with a Bang!!!

Begining The Year with a Bang!!!

A new year presents a sea of new possibilities, especially for our works, lives and careers. It’s a time for making resolutions and setting goals. To kick-start our work for the year at Connected Development (CODE), an internal mentorship class was organized between January 16 – 20, 2017. The training was conducted to ensure that the team is guided at the work to be done and learn more about the inner workings of the organization that aren’t often spelled out in the organization chart and policies and also provide us a chance to attack our work with new vigor and passion.

The first day began with Oludotun Babayemi who was our mentor taking the first session on the concept of creativity, he highlighted the things that influence creativity. The session established that a project must challenge the statuesque as the most successful ones do not live on default and that there is also need for having the right attitude, gaining actual knowledge and connecting and combining with people or network for a project to run successful.
After the break, he took us on what Problem statement, mandate, scope and stakeholders analysis were, after which he asked that the team be divided into groups, with each person identifying a project he/she would want to carry out and state their goals, objectives, problem statement and scope of it.
Following the presentations and debrief, the training class was closed for the day.
Day 2 began with a presentation on Action plan which is an activity carried out throughout the project lapse. He also stated that it is measured by number of people carrying out the project, timeline and roles of people executing the project. He also did not fail to let us know what strategies, activities and execution of a project entails.

The focus on the morning of Day 3 was analyzing the funding ecosystem and coming up with budgets for projects. The team was then identified to present short summaries of what had gone on in the first two days of the training-workshop where we were all asked to work and pitch and pitch a project at the end of the training.

The fourth day which happened to be the last day of the training class happened to be the best day for me. We were asked to write what we would like to see on our tombstones. Tunde a colleague went overboard and said he wants to be” remembered as that who was able to solve world challenges” this got everyone interested to know how he intend to do that when identifying activities, input, output and outcome towards achieving that. Another outstanding experience was Chambers, who I believed was going to awesomely do well owing to the fact that he is our amiable office professor, unfortunately he was given the lower belt when it was clear that he didn’t understand the task given.

The day came to an end with Dotun reminding us of our presentations the next day. The presentation day offered us all an opportunity to review what we learnt the past days and where the strength of each member lies.
I am most grateful to the organization for giving us such a wonderful start for the year, through the training, I was able to get a clear understanding of a grant proposal and what each activity entails. Now is the time for me to define not just long-term goals but also short-term milestones that are both aspirational and achievable within the organization.

Ijeoma Oforka is a Program Officer at Connected Development, with a background in Public Health. She is passionate about advocating for the plights and issues surrounding women and girls health and education. She tweets via @ijoforka