“We must be better equipped in terms of negotiation, in terms of advocacy with the Ministry of Budget, this meeting is the starting point of exchanges.”
—Mamadou Samba, Health General Director
Since the political validation of its national Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD) Program Sustainability Plan in 2020, the Cote d’Ivoire’s National Program for the Fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases with Preventive Chemoprophylaxis (PNLMTN-CP) has strived to implement priority activities, one of which is the mobilization of domestic resources. To secure commitments and financial contributions, the PNLMTN-CP convened a domestic resource mobilization (DRM) roundtable on March 15, 2022, with specific stakeholders across health, financial and civic sectors that have an interest in sustaining the gains made against NTDs. This blog story details the preparation work that set the stage for a conducive meeting with actors not traditionally invested in NTD activities or financing.
The PNLMTN-CP’s DRM roundtable planning encompassed five stages: 1) Development of the concept note and the terms of reference (TOR); 2) financial analysis of the PNLMTN-CP and identification of financial needs from budget management and planning analysis; 3) identification and prioritization of stakeholders to be invited; 4) roundtable event preparation; 5) execution of the roundtable itself. Each stage entailed implementation of key activities that helped inform the proceedings in the next stage. Ensuring that appropriate decision maker stakeholders were identified and invited as well as developing compelling content to facilitate a productive gathering entailed meticulous pre-event planning (stage 4). The activities completed during the roundtable preparation stage (see Figure 1 below) were especially crucial to the success of the roundtable event: the planning work required careful, strategic and methodical approach that would result in successfully bringing the needed stakeholders to the event.
Vital Lessons from the Roundtable Preparation Stage
Leading up to the roundtable preparation stage (4), approximately four months prior to the DRM event, the concept note and Terms of Reference were drafted for the event, which respectively described the event and outlined who the anticipated participants will be, the event day, time, location and draft agenda (stage 1). The PNLMTN-CP subsequently conducted a financial analysis (stage 2), which took about five days to complete with the Tool for Integrated Planning And Costings (TIPAC). Only after the financial analysis was completed and stakeholders were confirmed and prioritized for inviting (stage 3), was the PNLMTN-CP able to move onto roundtable preparation (stage 4). At this stage, about three months prior to the event, the PNLMTN-CP established a multisectoral technical committee, whose role was critical in shaping the event’s design and content. The committee—comprising of 16 individuals representing from the PNLMTN-CP and Act | West consortium partners and other partner organizations—determined advocacy documents that needed to be created, to be used with selected stakeholders who would later be invited to attend. It also helped shape the content to be presented during the roundtable and assisted in pinpointing stakeholders who will later be invited.
Beginning two months prior to the event, the PNLMTN-CP organized weekly planning meetings with the multisectoral technical committee to develop and finalize advocacy tools (identified by the multisectoral technical committee) to be used with to-be-invited stakeholders, discuss the creation of promotional materials (banners, flyers, program briefs), and other pre-event logistics. Closer to the event date, concurrent to weekly planning meetings, the PNLMTN-CP made appointments with and visited stakeholder organizations and actors to discuss the roundtable, advocate for the need to secure financial commitment to maintain gains made, and to clarify the specific requests that will be asked of stakeholders attending at the event. These strategic, pre-event engagements and consultations yielded pre-commitments for the PNLMTN-CP and provided the opportunity for some actors to prepare ahead for the roundtable meeting. The advocacy meetings also helped confirm stakeholders’ intentions to attend the roundtable event before the invitations were issued.
Event Successes, Lessons Learned and Next Steps
The roundtable event was attended by 53 individuals representing the Ministry of Finance, private companies, civil organizations, technical and financial partners, and a foundation. Participants listened to a speech about current status of Cote d’Ivoire’s fight against NTDs, and heard presentations about Cote d’Ivoire’s Sustainability Plan priorities, the PNLMTN-CP’s funding gaps and about champions engaged in the fight against NTDs. The final portion of the event was a discussion on securing financial commitments from stakeholders to enable long term continuity of the NTD elimination and control services.
The roundtable event was successful in achieving the event’s main two objectives of mobilizing stakeholders and obtaining financing commitments due to the PNLMTN-CP’s thorough pre-event planning efforts. Among the successes achieved through the event:
The PNLMTN-CP also gained some lessons learned from this experience that will be applied in planning similar, sustainability-focused events in the future:
The PNLMTN-CP’s DRM experience clearly underscores the fact that planning and confirming substantive event content is just as and maybe even more important after the political validation of the Sustainability Plan than before: the level of effort and detail required for getting stakeholders to the table does not go away after a sustainability plan is politically validated. Moreover, the success of the DRM roundtable was not the end for PNLMTN-CP’s sustainability efforts, but instead is just one step in an ongoing process for obtaining funding and commitments to ensure long-term sustainability of NTD programming across sectors. Hence, the need to identify, engage with and secure stakeholder commitment in program advocacy and financial commitment is a process that needs to be built upon and repeated, with each budget year and change in partner leadership.
I am very surprised, what you have done is a great job, we must salute the work that has been done, the quality of the work, it is hierarchical, it is structured, there are elements of intervention ... it must be archived and addressed directly to the companies of the place ... I would like to congratulate you.
—Deputy Director of the Autonomous Port of Abidjan, Roundtable Participant
As the PNLMTN-CP maintains it momentum towards operationalizing components of its NTD Sustainability Plan, their next steps for resource mobilization will involve follow up with stakeholders to confirm commitments, continued advocacy with stakeholders and documenting post-roundtable follow up activities.