Project Umubano is the UK Conservative Party Social Action project in Rwanda and Sierra Leone. Since 2007, Survivors Fund (SURF) has helped with the organisation of the project, providing support in-country for the visiting delegation. In addition, each year a team from the delegation works on a community project co-developed between SURF and the Project Umubano team.

In 2011, we developed and delivered an intensive capacity building practicum with SURF’s partner organisations,  providing support and training on the development of programme proposals to deliver projects in the fields of solar power, gender-based violence, and bicycle transport.

This year, we replicated that successful approach, but instead with a focus on advocacy. Over the course of the past two weeks, the Project Umubano team worked with our partner organisations, coaching them on an array of vital skills required to effectively advocate, from strategic planning to how to mobilise the media to lobbying.

The focus of the project was on developing a series of real-life advocacy projects, which the partner organisations competitively pitched (to a panel of “dragons”) for a fund of £10,000. The projects ranged from a campaign to secure support for older widows (AVEGA Southern and Western Regions) to a campaign to secure counselling and legal support for student survivors (AERG and GAERG).

Pitching to the "dragons"

The panel of dragons, which included Stephen Crabb MP, Leader of Project Umubano, and Emma McClarkin MEP, had a challenging job of determining which projects to fund. However a decision was reached to split the funding between three projects, with the coalition of IBUKA and Kanyarwanda receiving £5,000 for a pilot project to advocate for property rights of survivors in Kigali, AERG and GAERG receiving £3,000, and AVEGA receiving £2,000.

We look forward to reporting further on the progress of all these projects in due course, as Survivors Fund (SURF) focuses more effort on empowering our partner organisations to advocate more effectively over the years ahead.

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