7.4 FSC Advocacy: A Core Cluster Function
  • 06 Dec 2023
  • 4 Minutes to read
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7.4 FSC Advocacy: A Core Cluster Function

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Article summary

Advocacy is one of the six core functions of each Cluster. According to the Reference Module for Cluster Coordination at Country Level (IASC, 2015), the FSC should support robust advocacy by:

  • Identifying concerns and contributing key information and messages for HC and HCT messaging and action.
  • Undertaking advocacy on behalf of the cluster, cluster members, and affected people.

Why advocate? The goal of advocacy is to incite specific action or change by influencing the decisions of policymakers. Advocating for food security needs involves sending the right message to the right people at the right time. Doing so requires using the right channel to attract interest, support or funding to improve a situation.

What to advocate for? Topics could be related to the present crisis, a forecast situation, a sudden worsening of the situation or the need to create stronger humanitarian-development links or to build resilience, for example. 

How to advocate? Advocacy should be combined with other forms of influencing (information dissemination, reporting, monitoring, negotiation, conferences etc.) and can be conducted through:

  • Public statements: such as global, collective or intersectoral FSC statements.
  • Private dialogue: such as a Coordinator’s discussions with government representatives.

To whom? The first and most important audience for advocacy is decision-makers. Advocates must influence these to achieve policy change. Next are those who influence the decision-makers most, be they those in policy, resource mobilisation, and senior figures in ministries, for example. Finally, other audiences also influence decision-makers, but less so, such as the media, opinion leaders and the general public.

Partner Contributions? Partners can contribute to FSC advocacy efforts, as can government and institutional actors and local communities, by:

  • Advocating for donors to fund priority activities of all FSC partners.
  • Presenting their own activities in the context of the overall sector effort, whenever possible and appropriate.
  • Emphasizing the importance of – and their commitment to – coordination and collaboration.

What is the role of the Coordinator in advocating? The Coordinator is responsible for the following: 

  • Regularly meeting with donors (individually and collectively) to explain the situation (see more on advocacy with donors in 8.2.2).
  • Participating in planning and executing multi-sector advocacy and communications strategies. 
  • Highlighting food security needs in inter-sectoral processes (HCT meetings, donor meetings, etc.).
  • Ensuring FSC messaging is clear and coherent across CLA and partner advocacy material. This coordination (of messages) function is very important to avoid contradictory messaging and reporting (for instance, a partner speaking of a looming famine resembling to the latest experienced in a given country, while food security indicators show a different, though alarming and attention-worth, situation – or vice-versa)
  • Preparing concise, easy-to-read briefing material and presentations to support resource mobilisation (see more on resource mobilisation in 8.2), highlighting the priority gaps in the food security response and the human dimensions of the problem.
  • Preparing messages for the CLAs when they represent the Cluster in high-level fora (HCT) or with external stakeholders
  • Providing detailed technical material and presentations when requested by a particular donor.

Example: See this advocacy note from South Sudan. See also the “Messaging Example: FSC Advocacy for Enhanced Coordinated Response” text box below.

Support: Contact the GST Communications Team (FSCcommunications@fscluster.org) for support, guidance and tailored templates as well as up-to-date examples of FSC advocacy notes. 

Messaging Example: FSC Advocacy for Enhanced Coordinated Response

This is an example of messaging which could be used by Coordinators at country level: 

  • WHAT: Flexible and multi-year funding strategies must be implemented now. 

Persuade leaders and donors that food security emergencies (COVID-19, desert locust, climate shocks, conflict, economic volatility, etc.) can be mitigated through strengthened coordination of planning and response, and they have a critical role to play in ensuring continuity of this work.   

  • HOW: Emphasize and focus on coordination of good practices.

Underline the importance of data collection, analysis and assessment, reporting, monitoring and evaluation and steering operations to ensure expected food security outcomes, ensuring accountability to affected populations. Make sure decision makers, partners and donors are fully informed of the situation on the ground and what needs to be done to save lives. 

  • WHO: Attention must be paid in particular to vulnerable populations in fragile contexts.

Severe weather shocks, pest infestations, economic volatility, conflict and civil unrest are already stressing food systems, and now the COVID-19 pandemic will only exaggerate these factors further, with potentially drastic outcomes. 

  • WHY:  Save lives, livelihoods, time and money by coordinating response and anticipatory action.

In the case of COVID-19, the food security aspect of the pandemic in particular is not receiving the global political or media attention it needs to. Decision makers, donors and the general public must clearly understand the disastrous consequences COVID-19 and other emergencies could have on hunger levels: this goes beyond yet is closely entwined with the health and economic fallout for millions and millions of very vulnerable people, and currently ongoing crises including desert locust conflicts, climate shocks and others are only going to exacerbate this. 

  • WHEN: If we don’t act now

… millions more could fall further into food insecurity from impacts that may only start to be seen and felt months from now – by which time it will be too late. Planning must be not only for the immediate future in terms of continuing food supply and production, but also for the longer 1-2-year term.

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