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Conducting and Disseminating Research

Advocacy is about persuasion and consequently depends on the collection of credible information and the preparation of sound policy proposals. The aim is to present information in such a way that policy makers, members of the media and other stakeholders can use the arguments to persuade people to support a particular position or solution. Advocates care less for receiving credit for collecting data than having that information used and quoted. While organizations may have experience collecting information, they usually have difficulty presenting that information in a succinct and user-friendly way.

Hunger in a World of Plenty,
Church World Service. Part of the series “Facts Have Faces,” this six-page document produced by CWS provides an excellent example of a factsheet for advocates. It begins by providing essential information on hunger around the world – a situation that is quite distressing. However, the factsheet provides hope by explaining how key interventions can improve food security for millions. CWS then reviews the roots of chronic hunger and profiles examples of interventions that are already working. It calls on the ecumenical community to speak out because it has an important contribution to make in shaping global food policies. Finally, the factsheet points out how readers can make a difference, highlighting useful websites and noting important sources of information.

Documenting media coverage is an important aspect of advocacy campaigns. The following item is an example of research, presentation of findings but also of monitoring the media.

Who Makes the News? The Global Media Monitoring Project 2010
(English, Spanish, French) monitored 1,365 newspapers, television and radio stations and Internet news sites, 17,795 news stories and 38,253 persons in the news in 108 countries with 82% of the world’s people to find out how women are portrayed in the news. The project found that only 24% of people heard and seen in the news are women. On the positive side, this figure is up from 17% in 1995 and half of all stories on television are presented by women. In addition to providing an overview of women’s portrayal in and reporting of the news, the GMMP provides a good example of how to monitor your issue in the news. The Who Makes the News highlights factsheet shows how to present research findings in an attractive and reader-friendly format. Monitoring methodology and adaptable monitoring tools are available in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish at www.whomakesthenews.org.

Case studies such as the following can be used to inform decision makers about causes and preferred solutions to a problem using a real-life setting.

In “Milk Dumping in Cameroon” Brot für die Welt and EED explain how a local dairy that buys milk from farmers in the region was forced to close in light of increased competition from a regional distribution center. To keep prices low, the distribution center was making dairy products from cheap European milk powder instead of buying from Cameroon farmers. The case study explains how the price of imported milk powder dropped consistently in 2008 and 2009 and the price of milk in Cameroon collapsed with the introduction of milk export subsidies by the EU. Brot für die Welt and EED consider European milk export subsidies unfair competition. “Instead of continuing to invest in the processing infrastructure for milk collection and processing, subsidies are effectively destroying the local markets.” The case study concludes with a call from Brot für die Welt and EED for the German government to ensure that agricultural exports are not sold at dumping prices in developing countries.

Informal Cross Border Trade: A focus on Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia is the product of a project implemented by the Economic Justice Network (EJN), the economic arm of the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa (FOCCISA). The goal of the project is to help build capacity of cross border and informal trade associations in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). The publication begins by outlining the challenges encountered by the informal trade sector and presenting research on current policies and attitudes towards informal cross border trade (ICBT). It profiles the story of one cross border trader and examines the policy context in four Southern Africa countries. Finally, it outlines ICBT advocacy issues for civil society and identifies ways forward for EJN.

A related document, Across Southern African Borders with Informal Cross Border Traders (Policy Brief) is written four years into the project.  During that time EJN assisted the organization of a meeting for informal cross border traders, out of which came the recommendation for the creation of a regional body to represent traders. The report explains informal cross border trade, the people involved, the contributions they make and the challenges they encounter. It tells the stories of eight traders and reviews existing government policies, making recommendations for improved policies.

As part of LWF Burundi’s program for Albinos, this newsletter presents three moving stories of potential program beneficiaries. Creating an emotional connection by bringing decision makers, reporters and individuals closer to individuals affected by a problem – in face-to-face meetings or through the telling of stories – is an important advocacy strategy. An online photo presentation about albinos in Burundi was also developed To view the movie, go to www.alws.org.au, click on Discover More, Photos and Clips and then the People Living with Albinism in Burundi.

Food Campaign
HIV and AIDS Campaign
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