The African Capacity Building Foundation’s (ACBF) support as the Resource Facility to the Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme (AACES) has been pointed as central to the success of the AACES program.
A recent performance assessment by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the 2014 ACBF’s support to AACES in the management of its programmes in 11 countries across Africa pointed out the excellent capacity of the Foundation in steering the program towards achieving its successes.
The ACBF’s role as the Resource Facility has been to provide timely, efficient, and effective logistical, administrative and technical support to AACES. In this respect, the Resource Facility has supported the communication, coordination and management of AACES.
Since 2012 when the AACES program began, 1,287,888 people have benefitted. From this figure more than 248,650 people accessed maternal and child health services, above 337,900 have experienced improved agricultural productivity while 638,210 now have access to water, sanitation and hygiene services.
The program focuses on marginalised communities, with particular attention to women, children, people with disability and people vulnerable to disaster. It is being implemented in the following countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The ACBF has helped develop mutual trust with AACES partners enabling effective communication and collaboration among the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) under this program. The culture of collaboration, now entrenched in AACES, is a key element of an effective program delivering real results.
ACBF also conducted two Partnership Surveys that recognized partnership as being an essential component of AACES. The surveys identified areas where partners wanted to see improvements. For example, the 2013 Partnership Survey results indicated that African NGOs wanted greater support for leadership and strategy development. Following this, staff from NGOs were encouraged and supported to take on leadership roles in the AACES Program Steering Committee and other forums.
The Resource Facility has also managed and supported the diverse relationships within the AACES partnership, resulting in improvements in communication between AACES NGOs and in the overall strengthening of the AACES partnership model. As an illustration, the development and management of Yammer - a shared online communication platform - has facilitated open and regular communication amongst partners.
The ACBF also improved visibility of the AACES work in the past years. The Resource Facility has to date produced three high quality AACES Annual Reports, which have been successful in informing and communicating with stakeholders the achievements of the program. The ACBF has also supported the launch and dissemination of the annual report through promotion of targeted media releases, linkage of the report on DFAT, ACBF and NGOs websites. Targeted support has also been provided to AACES NGOs to launch the report in their respective countries. The use of the innovative online press release publication on the ACBF website to share media releases to target audience worldwide using a number of Internet protocols and technologies, has resulted in increased media coverage and visibility of AACES.
The ACBF has also actively promoted visibility of the Australian Government-funded development projects through media coverage of AACES events such as field visits by the Australian High Commissioner and DFAT officials. It has also been instrumental in building the communication capacity of AACES partners through training in photography, writing techniques, and documentation.
In other areas, the ACBF has provided technical input in thematic workshops on AACES priority themes such as disability, sustainability, gender, value for money and monitoring and evaluation. These workshops have provided AACES NGOs with opportunities to learn and share approaches to improve their work. Learning and sharing has also been improved through the common communication platform – Yammer – that supports online communication, sharing of experiences and resource dissemination among AACES partners, and is particularly valued by African partners.
To increase knowledge sharing, the ACBF also opened up its Virtual Library to AACES partners. Through the library, AACES partners are now able to access online knowledge resources on capacity development and other development topics.
The ACBF was contracted in January 2012 by the Australian Government as the Resource Facility for the AACES program. AACES is a partnership of the Australian Government, ten Australian NGOs and their Africa-based partners. The 90 million Australian dollar program is funded by the Australian Government through DFAT.