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Nigeria: working together for children

More on the partnership between Save the Children, Society for Family Health (SFH) and Pact

In my last blog on this subject, I predicted that the partnership between our three organisations in Gombe, north-east Nigeria, will most likely blossom into the type of collaboration that will be the envy of many. I’m delighted to report further on the collaboration.

Implementation leaders met in the growing town of Gombe during the last week of August, 2012. The objectives of the meeting included agreeing on a work plan that will ensure the three organisations complement each other, agreeing on a Memorandum of Understanding and if possible, arrange a meeting with His Excellency, the Governor of Gombe state.

The first two objectives were achieved after sessions of very healthy debates and discussions. The third could not be achieved because the Governor was out of the state at the time.

However, the team agreed that the first step in gaining entry into the state is actually through the office of the Commissioner for Economic Development.

Meeting the Commissioner

The meeting was easily brokered by Pact’s Chief of Party who knows the Commissioner personally – an advantage of partnership.

We arrived in Gombe on Sunday 26 August, and by 10am on Tuesday 28 we were ushered into the office of the Honorable Commissioner of Economic Planning.

In the meeting was the Commissioner, the Permanent Secretary, two directors and a few other officers of the new Ministry. Our three organisations were well represented by the project leaders.

After introductions, each organisation was introduced to the Ministry. In doing so, we made it quite clear that the essence of the introductions were to let the Commissioner and his team know where we’re coming from but that we’re on the same side and speaking with the same voice to ensure quality health for mothers, newborns and children of Gombe state.

The story of Eglantine Jebb, the founder of Save the Children, was part of Save the Children’s introduction and it had a great impact on the Commissioner and his team.

Our propositions

Three ‘asks’ were put before the Commissioner. He was asked to lead in the crusade to ensure that provision is made for robust healthcare for mothers and children in Gombe state.

He was asked to facilitate the meeting of the partners with the Governor of Gombe state and to ensure that the state signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the partners as soon as possible.

All the propositions were accepted by the Commissioner with open arms and indeed, he opined that the state has zero tolerance for child deaths.

In fact, the Commissioner believes that the timing of this meeting is auspicious because the Ministry has been planning to convene a meeting of all Development Partners because of the newly created Department of International Relations.

He noted the synergy in our three organisations and commended us. In his closing remarks, the Permanent Secretary thanked us for the visit and requested comprehensive briefs of the three organisations.


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