Advocacy that Transforms Communities by Njavwa Simukoko (Zambia)

In 2022, my colleagues and I were privileged to undergo the Training for Transformation that was conducted by the TFT in Practice Team. The Zambian Governance Foundation (ZGF) is a deep-rooted organisation promoting local philanthropy in Zambia. We advocate for the growth and scope of philanthropic giving in the country across all sectors including community savings and giving. Therefore, the impact on the communities we work with becomes a very vital aspect in achieving our goals, making capacity-building training like that of TFT essential.

My personal reflection on the training

In my advocacy work, I understand that community-led responses are actions and strategies that seek to improve the welfare and livelihoods of their constituencies, that are specifically informed and implemented by and for communities themselves and the organisations, groups, and networks that represent them. Therefore, I appreciated the concept of ‘listening to the community’s agendas’ and began to listen more as it is key that the issues raised by the communities are well captured and relayed in a manner that does not distort its intended message.

Furthermore, the reminder that ‘transformation starts with the self’ is one other concept that stood out for me during the two-fold training sessions as this reminds me as I do my advocacy work to always put myself in the middle of most situations and attempt to understand the situation better. The idea of being able to always center & self-reflect aids me in devising human-centered strategies that help actualize community-led responses and further write impactful stories from within the communities where ZGF is operating.

ZGF: A collective experience

The Zambian Governance Foundation (ZGF) like most civil society organisations as recognized by the 2030 Agenda play critical roles in SDG implementation: as we raise awareness and mobilize; build capacity; design and implement projects; monitor and review policies; collect data; provide technical expertise, and both support and hold governments accountable to their commitments. To achieve most of these roles we need to take on transformative initiatives that aid in their successful fulfillment. The training offered tools to achieve these in practical ways.

The training included improved facilitation skills among me and other staff members which is a much-needed skill as we engage with our various community members. In addition, it allowed ZGF relationship-building through self-reflection, deep listening, and group processes for all staff.

My colleague Derwin Chali, ZGF said, “what makes TFT interesting is that it reminds us that transformation starts from within or with oneself. It puts people at the center of development by recognizing their abilities, experiences, and opportunities they can have from their environment.” He further added that “capacity building of this sort is what helps strengthen our community-led development approach and shifting the power to communities. The training provided an opportunity to reflect on how we can do our work better. It also served as a reminder that transformation is an ongoing exercise. Therefore, reflecting on how we contribute to shifting the power and community-led development is indeed necessary”.

Meanwhile, sharing his experience from the training Kelvin Tambulakani, a staff member, highlighted that “the training was insightful as it focused on us as staff first, transforming ourselves from within before we can transform the communities where we work”. He added that “We have to be appreciative of the communities to bring about a sustainable and positive change. The training was reflective and allowed the staff to facilitate some of the sessions. The training also created an opportunity for staff to get to know each other’s personal goals, values, and aspirations in their lives. A great team-building effort that will help ZGF have a stronger team moving forward.”


 As a Communications & Advocacy Specialist, the Training for Transformation helped me realize that the training concepts focus on creating the adaptive capacity of the individual, communities, societies, organisation, cooperations, and social-economic systems to work together for community transformation. Therefore, the application of these skills both in the personal and the professional will continue to be a great deal of my life because my goal is to transform communities through my advocacy work.