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Digital Advocacy Capacity-Building in the Caribbean

Civil society capacity assessment and strengthening is at the foundation of our advocacy approach. Digital advocacy is a key component, and it plays a leading role in obesity prevention campaigns in the Caribbean. This fall, GHAI led a digital advocacy training for our partners in Barbados and Jamaica. The workshops were designed to help our partners hone their digital advocacy skills and increase engagement with their growing coalitions.

“The digital advocacy training has helped us build the digital advocacy capacity of our coalition members, including our youth advocates,” said Francine Charles, Program Manager of the Childhood Obesity Prevention Campaign at Heart & Stroke Foundation of Barbados, Inc. (HSFB). “We were excited to be able to use the space to identify ways to spread our advocacy campaign and mobilize our coalition partner networks.”

GHAI led the training for HSFB’s coalition partners in Barbados and for Heart Foundation of Jamaica’s coalition partners in Jamaica. In both countries, the goals were to develop a common framework for digital advocacy around shared health policy objectives, and to build capacity to carry it out.

We focused on three themes:

  • How to use digital media for health advocacy.
  • The difference between advocacy and marketing.
  • How each organization can participate.

The trainings featured sessions on the digital landscape in each country, how to design an effective digital campaign and how to manage content. All of these skills came together when each trainee participated in an exercise where they identified ways their organizations could use digital platforms to advance the coalition’s advocacy campaign.

The Results

Our partners had already made significant progress using digital platforms, based on numerical metrics. Some of the most important outcomes were new plans to make information more accessible to key audiences and to elevate the voices of people whose health would be improved by the campaigns—such as students in schools that are modeling ways to provide healthier food and drinks. Youth advocates played active roles in the training, and left with concrete ideas to raise their voices and mobilize their networks.

Feedback was extremely positive: 97% of participants wrote that the content was excellent or very good. The training “kept attendees engaged and…was extremely beneficial when identifying next steps for the coalition,” one participant said.

The trainings included 17 participants in Jamaica and 32 in Barbados.