A Report by the Zambia Council for Social Development, beneficiary of the National Projects support from the European Union (EU) and the French Development Agency (AFD) 

Timely communication and accurate information sharing are key in enhancing service delivery for national platforms such as the Zambia Council for Social Development (ZCSD). And apart from ensuring that platform members are well informed and kept abreast of unfolding events, communication also ensures visibility of the platform’s works to the members, funding partners, government, benefiting partners, as well as other stakeholders. Ultimately, it is one tool that promotes transparency and accountability to all the interested parts. 

It is due to the foregoing that the ZCSD, with funding support from the European Union (EU) and the French Development Agency (AFD), through Forus; successfully implemented a project titled: Enhancing the National Platform’s Service Delivery through Effective Communication and Members Engagement. One of the key results of the project was the development of the platform’s website.  The project’s aim was to improve service delivery through timely communication and information sharing among platform members as well as to provide an avenue for linkages and networking with potential partners and like-minded national, regional and international CSOs and stakeholders, by developing a national platform website to be used by all members of the platform. 

The website development has been completed while populating the page with information from the platform members and other critical information from the Secretariat, such as relevant government policy documents, regional and international agreements/conventions, etc. This process will continue as it is an ongoing one. The website is generally accepted by all the members. Visit the site on https://www.zcsdev.org.zm/.  A good number of the members are now visible on the website. Some selected members of the platform have also been trained in the use of social media and the internet (website) in advancing their lobby and advocacy work. The visibility of members and their work has enabled them to reach out to potential funders and other peers. Therefore, the website is a medium for exchanging ideas, sharing good practices and experiences. The website is also used to share calls for funding opportunities by the Secretariat as well as members for different funding sources.  It is also a valuable space to engage government, other stakeholders and the general public, which is not easily made available to most of the members of the platform; particularly those in rural areas. Members also showcase their work through shared reports and real time posting of activities through videos and pictures. This has been made possible through the skill capacities built in the members.  

Commenting on the developed website and training, one participant from Advocates for Development (A4D) said ‘‘Our work will now be seen and appreciated by the general public & people from outside the country giving us the opportunity for support” while another platform member commented “The website will give us a platform to share experiences, good practices and critical information such as government policies & intentions”. 

There have been challenges faced along the way, which include the following; 

  1. Limited access to internet services by some of the platform members, particularly those based in remote areas, which means that their contribution to the website is also minimally affected 
  2. Management of the website requires a full-time member of the staff dedicated to ensuring the site is as active as possible. But due to inadequate resources, ZCSD is unable to engage a full time Communications Officer to handle this job and this has affected timely updates of the site. We have been relying Interns to support management of the website. 
  3. Apart from limited access to internet services, the skill level of members of the staff in some of the platform member organizations is inadequate. This therefore affects the contribution of articles and other materials to the website. 

Overall, the project has lived up to its main objective of enhancing visibility of the national platform and its members, improving communications between the Secretariat and the members, among members, and with the many stakeholders at local, national region and international levels. Information, good practices and experience sharing using the platform has resulted in enhanced networking and linkages to all the interested parts.