Netherlands govt’s Voice Initiative Project impacted 2m Nigerians – Oxfam

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By Diana Omueza

The Netherlands government-supported Voice Initiative Project, aimed at amplifying the voices of marginalised rights holders, has impacted positively on the lives of more than 2million Nigerians.

The Country Director of Oxfam, Mr John Makina, disclosed this at the project’s Closeout news conference in Abuja on Friday.

Makina said the project implemented by Oxfam and other partners in Nigeria had empowered rights holders to amplify voices for themselves and others.

He said that it had also influenced positive action for issues of concerns, whilst ensuring representation for a more responsive and inclusive society under its “Nothing about us without us (Now-Us)” principle.

“The Voice project kicked off in 2016 and officially launched its programme in January 2017, since then it has funded over 40 organisations under four grant categories.

“They are: Innovate and Learn grant, Sudden Opportunity grant, Empowerment grant and Influencing grant.

“Voice has reached over 100 organisations. worked in over 100 communities across Nigeria, including universities, custodial centres, rural settlements, and urban slums.

“The project has reached and impacted over two million Nigerians directly and indirectly. Not only did the Voice project cover funding for specific projects, it also had the unique Linking and Learning approach for grantee partners and rights holders alike at its core,” he said.

Ms Anne Mulehi, the Voice Global Representative, said that the programme provided a total of 745 grants to over 1200 organisations across 30 countries in Asia and Africa with much of the funding given to rights holders at the national and local level.

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Mulehi said that only eight per cent of the total funding was at the regional level.

“The voice final evaluation report revealed that regional strategies have demonstrated the potential to magnify impact significantly.

“Notable examples from Voice include the Albinism advocacy efforts in Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania, as well as the Anti-slavery initiative in Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Mauritania.

“These initiatives underscored the value of collective action in reaching common objectives such as influencing national action plans,” she said.

Mr Akom Nya, the Voice Project Coordinator, said their partners had engaged with older people to ensure they were being prioritised on policies, especially in the health sector.

“We have empowered women to ensure that their voices are being heard and nobody is trampling on their rights. We believe that an empowered person will have the voice to speak up on issues around them.

“We have also worked with government agencies to draft policies to ensure that women, children, youth, persons with disabilities are included in conversations,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Voice is a programme within the dialogue and dissent policy framework of Netherlands Foreign Affairs Ministry aimed at strengthening the capacity of civil society groups in 10 countries in Asia and Africa.

It is an innovative grant facility that provides access to resources, participation, and rights of marginalised rights-holder groups like Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), the elderly, Indigenous and ethnic minority groups and women facing exploitation. (NAN)

Edited by Ali Baba-Inuwa

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