Proposal Development Training in Nigeria
Since 2010, a formal partnership between the Nigeria Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President for the Millennium Development Goals (OSSAP – MDGs) and The Earth Institute (EI) at Columbia University has existed. Known as the Nigeria Scale-up Initiative, the focus is an ongoing collaboration through technical support and knowledge transfer, to support Nigeria in meeting the 2015 education and health MDGs and to develop the institutional capacity of the Conditional Grants Scheme (CGS) team at OSSAP to distribute and support grants for health and education to Local Government Areas (LGAs) throughout the country. EI also collaborates with OSSAP to develop data software, data collection tools, creation of the Nigeria MDG Information System (NMIS) by Columbia’s Modi Labs, proposal development tools, and has together developed a proposal evaluation process in order to ensure that the proposals from the LGAs are in line with the overall purpose of the program, helping the country to achieve the MDGs. Within each LGA, Technical Assistants design community development projects that target education and health indicators, and then write the proposals that are technically reviewed by an OSSAP and EI review committee, which are either disapproved or approved. If approved, CGS will release MDG allocated funds for project implementation.
In preparation for the 2013 CGS – LGA Program, OSSAP and EI held a proposal development training for LGAs in Abuja, Nigeria from January 10-11, 2013. Representatives from the Senior Special Assistant to the President for the MDGs and the Director of MDGs welcomed all to the training. Dr. Brisebe Seiyefa, Head of CGS at OSSAP and Barrister Chinedu Eze, Team Leader of CGS at OSSAP, presented on the overall CGS, on the investment focus of the scheme, and on objectives and responsibilities. With this key detailed overview, the training proceeded to focus on the proposal template, proposal development tools, and requirements and expectations for each proposal section.
Over 300 participants representing LGA Chairmen, Zonal Technical Officers, and Technical Assistants were present and active in the use of tools, in engaging with the facilitators and presenters, and in completing training exercises and case-studies for this critical workshop. A significant amount of time was dedicated to the explanation, use, and completion of education and health sector gap sheets which highlight service delivery gaps that will need to be addressed in the proposal development process. As applicable for education, emphasis is on enrollment, school continuation and completion, gender parity and equality, literacy, infrastructure, furniture, teachers, and teaching and learning materials. After a gap sheet session presented by representatives from EI, Technical Assistants worked to complete their individual LGA gap sheets by referring to their respective LGA data. The next morning two Technical Assistants presented in plenary education and health gap sheets and combined with EI facilitation questions and answers were presented and overall comprised a session that provided necessary clarity and support to the Technical Assistants. In addition to gap sheets, EI presented two sessions on proposal development and writing, which was instructional and highlighted in detail the expectations and requirements for each proposal section providing the Technical Assistants with increased knowledge and skills to write and complete a thorough proposal for technical review. Following these presentations, OSSAP presented on local development planning and design specification and costing providing additional key information for the Technical Assistants.
This first training of the year concluded with a summary that continued highlighting key information to which the Technical Assistants need to be attentive. Overall, the training was well received, providing all concerned with consistent, data-driven tools and knowledge to use in drafting proposals for their respective LGA(s). A combined OSSAP and EI review committee will begin proposal evaluation in March, with additional trainings and workshops to be held throughout 2013.
With the emphasis on data driven methods informing the real needs of the LGAs, the Technical Assistants are well positioned to continue building their skills with data collection via mobile devices, assessing needs, surveying, and identifying local gaps that inform the necessary technical proposals. Developing these skills is a component of the knowledge transfer aspect of EI’s work with OSSAP. With this training, the Technical Assistants and Zonal Technical Officers will be in a position to advise future Technical Assistants involved in the CGS scheme as well as be more involved in future trainings and contribute to potential revision of tools. The skill development does not solely rest with the proposal development and proposal writing but rather is an all-encompassing component of EI and OSSAP’s collaboration.