Faith-Based Organisations: Spearheading the SDGs

Maybin Nsupila • 30 May 2018

      The SDG Philanthropy Platform, the UN in Zambia, the Ministry of National Development Planning and the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs partnered to convene an interactive forum for faith-based organisations (FBOs) and religious groups in Zambia to enhance and strengthen their understanding and key role as champions and advocates of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

      The event held on 24th April, 2018 resulted in the identification of more inclusive and productive avenues to deepen partnerships among FBOs, religious groups and Government in the implementation of the 7th National Development Plan (7th NDP) and the SDGs. The meeting brought together over 60 participants from FBOs, religious groups and government ministries anchoring some of the development activities where FBOs have been active, including education, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, community development and social welfare, among others.

     “The 7th National Development Plan launched in June 2017, under the theme “Accelerating development efforts towards the vision 2030 without leaving anyone behind” completely departs from the sectoral and siloed approach and takes an integrated and multi-sectoral approach”, stated Mr. Muketo Mulele, Director of National Development Planning. “The plan has also been used as a vehicle for domesticating the sustainable development agenda 2030, the African Union Agenda 2063, the regional indicative strategic development plan and other regional and multilateral commitments”, he added.

    He hinted that while the theme was instructive with regard to the pace and spread of development, it also underscored the need to have new and innovative ways of working to accelerate and deliver inclusive development, reaching the most vulnerable groups such as women, children, the disabled, and people in rural areas, among others. He further observed that while government aspired to deliver development to all parts of the country, its presence in especially the remotest parts of the country and especially at the grassroots community level was often limited, underlining the need to forge partnerships with organizations and groupings that have a presence in the areas and community level. He acknowledged that FBOs and religious groupings represented the rightful partner for they had the outreach and presence in the remotest parts of the country and operating at the community level.  

      Stressing the importance of strengthening partnerships with FBOs in delivering inclusive development, Ms. Katongo Chifwepa, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs highlighted that FBOs were government’s natural partners. “They are present in every corner of the country, reaching the most remote places where government presence and services are either inadequate or unavailable and providing services in various sectors including health, education, water and sanitation, livelihoods, governance and accountability, among others. Their activities are integrated into communities and close to the grassroots, thus making them long-lasting and sustainable”. FBOs and religious organisations are trusted by the communities and have a wide network which can be leveraged to share information and learning.


Ms. Katongo Chifwepa, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs
Ms. Katongo Chifwepa, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs


      Speaking earlier, the United Nations Country Director, Ms. Mandisa Mashologu observed that the SDGs were a universal call to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. She highlighted the interconnectedness of the goals and applauded Zambia’s strides to employ multi-sectoral collaboration and innovative approaches to implementing the 7th NDP and the SDGs.


Ms. Mandisa Mashologu, the United Nations Country Director,


      "I would like to take this opportunity to express the UN System’s appreciation to the people and Government of the Republic of Zambia for the strong partnership we have had to translate these very ambitious and transformative development goals from “paper to practice” through the guidance of the Vision 2030 and the 7th National Development Plan”, stated Ms. Mashologu. She added that under the leadership of the Ministry of National Development Planning the UN system in Zambia provided technical support to ensure that the 7th National Development Plan was aligned to the SDGs in terms of the targets and indicators to hold us to account for our interventions. She stressed that realizing the aspirations of the SDGs and 7th National Development Plan will require greater partnerships between Government, Faith-based organizations, civil society, the private sector and cooperating partners, to marshal the necessary domestic resources and capacities for its implementation, as well as a sound system to monitor and report on real impacts in the improvement of people’s lives and well-being.

     She explained that the United Nations System in Zambia attached great importance to supporting national development priorities and had through the 2016 – 2021 Zambia-UN Partnership Framework for Sustainable Development ensured a programmatic approach to providing the support. “Through the Zambia-UN Partnership Framework, thirteen resident and twelve non-resident agencies in Zambia are partnering with various stakeholders to support policy and legislative development, institutional capacity strengthening, advocacy and awareness, and direct service delivery and programming, focusing on marginalized groups, particularly women, the youth, children and people with disabilities”, she added.

       Speaking at the same event Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors Vice President, Ms Heather Grady explained that the SDG Philanthropy Platform (SDG PP) was an initiative led by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and supported by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Ford Foundation, MasterCard Foundation and other Foundations and partners to support accelerated implementation of the SDGs. She added that the platform was a global and national facilitator as well as impact accelerator that helps optimize resources and efforts to achieve the SDGs by enabling effective collaboration with the broader ecosystem. She further emphasized that the platform seeks to educate and expand awareness and knowledge of the SDGs and how to leverage them, connect and increase engagement between stakeholders to help them increase their impact on advancing the SDGs as well as facilitate new types of collaborations and investment in promising transformative solutions between the philanthropy sector, business, investors, the UN, government, and broader civil society.

       "At the country level, the SDG PP has developed a flagship approach. The approach involves mapping stakeholder ecosystems for SDGs; convening stakeholders to share approaches and models for working more collaboratively to deepen impact in achieving the SDGs; holding participatory workshops to identify acupuncture points and levers that scale impact, as well as define collective outcomes for collaborative actions; and support innovative solutions”, she explained. She further informed the workshop that Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors was championing the “Scaling Solutions Initiative” which seeks to make the case for, and better ways for funders to place resources with organizations that have the intent and ability to scale their impact significantly, thus accelerating SDG implementation.

     In Zambia, the platform has been able to package information on the SDGs ecosystem that it has shared on the interactive website, This information is helping philanthropy sectors and other visitors to provide a better understanding of the SDGs framework in Zambia and how they get involved. The platform has also hosted a systems innovation workshop that aided in the selection of development areas to be prioritized to receive catalytic grants provided under the SDG Innovation Challenge. Accordingly, the platform has supported three pilot innovations addressing various SDGs that have contributed to not only transforming lives but also providing best practices for scaling and greater impact.

Banner photo credit: WorldFish