South-to-South Learning on Advocating for Government Funding

South Sudan and Uganda

By Stewart Tichaona Muchapera and Sara Gómez

One of the advantages of being part of a global partnership is the chance to connect with and learn from others who have faced a similar challenge or have a best practice to share. It could be your neighbor or an organization on the other side of the globe — the opportunities are endless. 

As part of its new decentralized structure, FP2030 has unique opportunities to promote South-to-South learning both within and across hubs. One illustrative example is the recent case of South Sudan and Uganda. 

South Sudan is facing a converging set of crises including its highest-ever levels of food insecurity, repeated floods, armed conflict, and a renewed wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Violence between armed groups is creating new waves of internally displaced people and disproportionately affecting women and girls. One of the detrimental impacts of these crises is reduced access to family planning and to reproductive health services in general. 

When FP2030’s South Sudan delegation attended the International Conference on Family Planning in Pattaya, Thailand, in November 2022, they were looking for solutions. The East and Southern Africa (ESA) Regional Hub was barely a month old, and many of the country focal points attended the conference.1 

It was during a meet and greet at the FP2030 booth that the South Sudan delegation first connected with Uganda. The South Sudan delegation wanted to learn about Domestic Resource Mobilization (DRM) for family planning because they were having major challenges persuading the government to invest in family planning. FP2030 staff set up an introductory conversation between them and partners from Uganda who had been working with civil service organizations (CSOs) and parliamentarians and had successfully advocated for DRM. 

After the conference, FP2030’s East and Southern Africa Regional Hub organized a series of follow-up calls between the two countries. The South Sudan delegation was able to meet with the Uganda Family Planning Consortium in person after the Anglophone Africa Focal Point Workshop in June 2023. During that meeting, they learned how Uganda developed a coalition of civil society organizations that engaged with parliamentarians to advocate for domestic funding for family planning. They learned the steps they needed to take to develop a similar coalition in South Sudan. 

After this meeting, South Sudan delegates regrouped themselves to action with what they had learned from Uganda. In collaboration with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Ministry of Health of South Sudan, they held two meetings with members of parliament from the Budget Sector Committee of the Ministry of Health (the committee with decision-making authority over health including reproductive health and family planning). The first meeting with the Parliamentary Network on Population and Development focused on making a case for family planning and why the government should invest in it. The second one was the SMART advocacy capacity-building workshop aimed at developing strategies for increased financing for reproductive health and family planning in South Sudan. The South Sudan Focal Points will embark on the process of mapping more CSOs in-country to establish a formalized coalition that will spearhead the agenda. 

“You cannot work with parliamentarians if you’re not organized. You must organize yourselves so that when you approach them, you have a case to tell on why they should give this money to your sector and not the other sector. When partners are organized, they have a unique voice because they’re speaking as stakeholders on family planning in their country, and that would be their position. 

“What was moving for me is the level of commitment and effort the CSOs partners in Uganda took upon themselves to be able to come together.” 

-Alex Omari, Country Engagement Lead-Eastern Africa at the FP2030 East and Southern Africa Regional Hub 

1 FP2030 Focal Points refer to country-level professionals working as a team in commitment-making countries who set and lead the family planning agenda, to advance their country’s progress toward their commitment. They comprise of Government, Donors (two or three- mainly UNFPA, USAID, FCDO), CSO and Youth.