The impact of advocacy

This compendium of case studies shows how the lives of many living in poverty have been transformed as a result of Tearfund’s policy and campaigning work:

From debt cancellation in Uganda resulting in improved healthcare, to lives saved in Liberia because of water and sanitation government promises, we have selected examples which highlight the geographic and sectoral spread of Tearfund’s global advocacy work over the past 15 years. 

Tearfund has been drawing attention to the issues of injustice that lie behind poverty since the 1960s. Early in the 1990s, Tearfund and Youth for Christ launched their first-ever campaign. It was focused on the environment and the target was the landmark 1992 UN Earth Summit, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Against a background of increasing high-level advocacy action by our  partners  in  developing  countries  and  growing  momentum  within  the  organisation, Tearfund started to mount effective campaigns with a distinctly Christian nature. 1997 marked a watershed in Tearfund’s growing engagement with advocacy, as supporters were urged to get behind the Jubilee 2000 campaign.

Advocating to challenge the root causes of poverty can produce dramatic results that would not be achievable by development or humanitarian programmes alone. For example, in 2005, Secretary of State for International Development Hilary Benn referenced Tearfund and Water Aid as having convinced the government of the need to double the UK aid budget for water. In 2006, they doubled it again, to approximately £200 million a year  –  an impact far greater than Tearfund could achieve in its direct programmes.

While it can be easy to see the impact of advocacy at this level, it can sometimes be harder to see what difference global advocacy has made at community level. What happens when the international pledges have been made, the campaigning placards have been put down, and everyone goes home?

These case studies provide an insight into 'what happened next?', giving examples of some of the real differences made possible through global advocacy complemented by local efforts. Change takes time and the effects of advocacy are rarely, if ever, felt immediately at the grassroots. For instance, while policy change relating to water and sanitation occurred in 2002, we have shown how it impacted a community in 2011. Advocacy comprises a range of tactics – from mounting large public campaigns to building the capacity of partners to influence at the international level – and this diversity has been reflected in these studies.