Edford Mutuma: champion for government accountability
Edford Mutuma is a problem solver. He’s worked for years to educate young people about contraception and safer sex. As executive director of Youth Vision Zambia and president of the African Youth and Adolescent Network on Population and Development, he promoted greater youth participation in Africa’s development. And he’s been recognized as an emerging leader by UNAIDS and WHO. Now, as executive director of the Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ), Edford faced a particularly challenging problem.
Thanks to the work of advocates like Edford, Zambian law protects every woman’s right to quality reproductive health care. But rights don’t always equal access, and like many countries, Zambia often falls short in providing women with the care they need. Part of the problem is inadequate government funding for reproductive health supplies.
The challenge was clear: how to persuade the Zambian government to take responsibility for funding reproductive health?
“For us that was the advocacy opportunity: How do we translate the importance of family planning into direct services for communities? We wanted to know why family planning is not on the development agenda. It became an advocacy issue for us to push the government to create this budget line.”
The road however, was complicated. It wasn’t obvious, for example, which bureaucratic ministry had jurisdiction. Health? Finance?
Edford and PPAZ knew the solution to the problem. But they needed some help to remove these major policy roadblocks: an influx of capital and human resources, policy advice from global experts, and connections to other advocates who have faced similar challenges. That’s where PAI came in.
The Opportunity Fund helped Edford and PPAZ pave the way to care for more women by providing:
- Deep policy expertise that helped PPAZ make the right policy recommendations;
- Money to allow PPAZ the time and space to devote to a powerful and effective advocacy strategy; and
- Connections to partner organizations to build a coalition to push for the change.
In the end, PPAZ and their allies navigated the government bureaucracy to identify which government agency is responsible for funding reproductive health supplies. (It turned out to be the Ministry of Finance.) The Ministry was focused on other issues like HIV and malaria, and had not dealt with family planning at all. So Edford and PPAZ began by educating them about the importance of funding reproductive care. Then, they worked with the Ministry of Finance to create a budget line to fund reproductive health supplies.
Their hard work paid off. Last year, thanks to PPAZ’s advocacy and a $50K investment from the Opportunity Fund, the Zambian government allocated $9.3 million to funding reproductive health supplies. It’s a huge win for Zambian women.
PAI understands that local problems have local solutions. That means we need local champions and problem solvers like Edford Mutuma. And Edford’s not done paving the way for women’s access to care.
“This is just a beginning. We have lots left to do.”
PAI was deeply saddened in June of 2016 by the loss of our friend and sexual and reproductive rights champion Edford Mutuma.