How to renew your AmplifyChange grant – COVAW, Kenya

Written by Wairimu Munyinyi-Wahome, Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW), Kenya

Please describe the situation your organisation and project were in before you renewed your Amplify Change grant.

Before we renewed our grant, COVAW experienced a stall in our influencing work on female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in Narok County. Whilst we had limited resources to implement further activities, there was pressure from the communities that we worked with to continue with our engagement in order to address the existing need. We realised that the continuity of access to resources is critical for maintaining the momentum created through a project. So, despite the stall, it was also a positive time for COVAW, as it allowed for us to reflect on how to manage the funding portfolio strategically.

Please explain briefly, why your project required the additional funding of a renewal grant and how this extra funding would result in additional success.

There were a number of issues that, if addressed with continued support, could create the change and generate the impact we aimed for. For example:

  • The risk of losing gains already made towards ending FGM/C called for intensified interaction with the community. Continued support would allow us to engage, continuously meet and communicate with the communities, while at the same time build the communication capacities of the key influencers (community leaders) to help combat this practice.
  • Reporting of GBV cases was still low, especially on FGC, early marriages and teenage pregnancies. Through increased funding, linkages with the law enforcement agencies as well as the county government departments would be enhanced to enforce existing laws. We would also be able to raise awareness within the communities on the existing legalization, encouraging a change in the culture of not reporting the violence.
  • Men had proved to be vital in bringing societal and cultural change in the community – with continued funding we would increase the involvement of men in the project by engage male champions.
  • Low literacy levels among the communities meant many still did not value education for their children. Education is a big catalyst in bringing about change in the community. Therefore, there was a need for us to encourage them to embrace education as well as create information, education and communication (IEC) materials that worked for this type of audience, for example using pictorials as opposed to written words.
  • The harmonization of CSO’s working on the same issue would go a long way in achieving impact – there is as existing network of CSO’s that was formed in the former grant and increased funding would support their deliberations when they needed to meet.

What changes did you make, and how did this enable you to successfully renew your grant?

By investing in our direct work in the communities, by for example building the capacity of key influencers as well as identifying and train community activists, and by increasing our collaboration and coordination with law enforcement agencies as well as other like-minded organisations, through for example the formation of a CSO network called NACCSNET (Narok County Children Support Network) and the Gender Technical Working Group – we created opportunities for GBV to be discussed openly. This created an appetite to involve more community members, including more men, in identifying solutions and realising change. A change in attitude on issues of FGM/C, early marriages, unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortion was also beginning to take place.

These achievements from our original grant proved that our tactics and project was working, we were coordinating with other organisations and becoming a stronger organisation ourselves. This gave us a good case for a renewal grant as it was clear how our first grant had made an impact, but we had also made a strong case about how much work we still had to do.

What did you learn from this renewal experience?

  • Identifying and building the capacities of change agents (CAs) who are part of the target communities is an integral part of securing sustainable results.
  • Continuous monitoring and reflection are important during the entire project cycle. COVAW continues to do this, in partnership with other partners, networks and government agencies. FGM/C is a sensitive subject and therefore conventional approaches to monitoring and evaluation may not work. Actual numbers of survivors are difficult to come by, However, through processes similar to outcome harvesting or gathering most significant change stories, COVAW has been able to track and document progress, both at policy and practice levels.
  • By sharing what we had been able to achieve, COVAW became a reference organisation for anti-FGM/C work in Narok and this increased our commitment to deliver quality work. Community demand for continued intervention led to the second AmplifyChange proposal, as a scale-up to the first grant.

What are your tips for an organisation hoping to renew their Amplify Change grant?

  • Invest in the communities you are working in – close involvement and open communication will create a sense of ownership of the project within the community, facilitating strong support and encouraging positive change.
  • Track, document and demonstrate progress – throughout the entire project.
  • Keep the communication between your organisation and AmplifyChange open – do not be afraid to share successes as well as challenges.

Wairimu Munyinyi-Wahome, Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW), Kenya

Wairimu Munyinyi-Wahome, the Executive Director Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW) Kenya, has over 15 years of experience in development, including on women’s rights and influencing work, garnered across 4 countries in Africa – Namibia, Somaliland, Sierra Leone and Kenya.

Wairimu joined COVAW in July 2018 and has since then enhanced the profile of COVAW through investing in its communication strategy and networking capacities. She has facilitated the acquisition of two grants that will complement COVAW’s work under the AmplifyChange funded project.