The Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU) is an independent NGO, formed in 2006. It is registered as a Trust. Its formation was necessitated by the banning, of Amani as the founders felt the need for research to continue. RAU is registered in Zimbabwe which is also its geographic area of focus. The Unit has a clearly stated vision and mission set by the whole organisation. The mission is “To conduct research on human rights and governance issues, particularly those pertaining to women, children and state institutions, with a view to bringing about policy changes which promote a democratic culture within Zimbabwe”. The vision is “To be a key organisation fostering a democratic culture through citizen empowerment”.In pursuit of the achievement of the objectives and mission, RAU is involved in:
- knowledge generation/research,
- policy analysis and advocacy,
- mobilisation/movement building, collaboration/partnership, as well as
- enhancement of capacity.
Policies within RAU are the Human Resources and Staff Development; Gender and Sexual Harassment; IT; Conflict of Interest; Vehicle, and Climate Change policies. Annual external audits are carried out, as well as program reviews.
RAU has a Board of Trustees comprised of experienced academics, gender and NGO management experts. Board of Trustees/Directors. It also comprises of the Founder, an Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer, Finance Director/Manager, Accountant, and Communications Manager/Officer.
RAU has a strategy developed by the internal team, management, and an external consultant. Consistent with the strategy, RAU focuses on Gender and Women’s Rights, Displacements and Governance, Youth, and Climate Change. RAU has produced over 100 reports and opinion pieces on a wide variety of topics, some under its name and others in the name of its partner organisations.
Projects implemented by RAU in the past two years include Young Women and Devolution; People in Contact and Conflict with Justice System; Women Participation and Governance; Youth Resilience; and Vending. Of these, three have budgets below US$500,000, one has between US$100,000 and US$300,000, and the last one has US$300,000 and US$500,000.
In the last three years, RAU produced eight policy related products inclusive of policy briefs, reports, journal articles, and books. Research is carried out by the internal team and involves desk research and surveys. RAU also utilises research carried out by the Mass Public Opinion Institute. Research is disseminated through the website, official launches, and circulation through email list servers, as well as in hard copies. In the last three years, RAU was part of more than 20 workshops with CSOs, NGOs, embassies, business sector, government, political parties, donor agencies, general citizens. RAU also featured on TV and radio interviews discussing policy-related research. RAU carries out advocacy, seeking to influence policy change at the local (community/municipality) and national levels. RAU’s advocacy involves preparation of policy briefs to support policy positions, analysis and communication of policy gaps, and suggestion of new models, engagements with policy makers, and mobilising networks seeking policy change. An advocacy unit within RAU and the Executive Director/CEO is responsible for advocacy.
Constituency and Movement Building and Collaborations
RAU’s work benefits
- local community,
- local NGOs,
- international NGOs,
- social movements,
- CBOs, government departments,
- think tanks with technical expertise,
- multilateral agency, for example UN agencies, and
- specific special interest communities that include women and youth.
These get training support, use RAU-generated evidence for policy advocacy, and leverage on the name of RAU to enhance their interventions. The contribution of the beneficiaries to RAU’s strategy/focus areas has been their involvement in mapping the problems the organisation focuses on. RAU collaborates with other organisations. It collaborates with CBOs, local NGOs, for example it is a member of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe. It also works closely with international NGOs; government departments; think-tanks with technical expertise; multilateral agencies (e.g. UN agencies). Collaboration areas have included joint implementation in similar projects, provision of research-based evidence to advocacy focused partners and receiving as well as providing technical assistance. RAU, in pursuit of better advocacy, also produces documentary videos to complement the reports that it produces. In partnership with New York-based WITNESS, it has produced four widely respected documentary films.
Measure of Effectiveness
In measuring its impact, RAU commissions regular evaluations, engages in ongoing internal monitoring, promotes feedback from partners, considers government’s adoption of recommendations it proffers. The organisation’s management measures the impact. RAU has written/recorded affirmation by beneficiaries, as documented evidence of the impact of its interventions to date. It engages the media TV appearances, radio features, and newspapers.
RAU’s annual budget is US$400 000 - US$1.2 million, with 80% going towards programs/projects and 20% towards institutional support (administration costs). The Unit has a mix of sources through which it funds its work. These are earnings from existing endowment, fundraising, consultancy income, and income from other investments. Earnings from existing endowment contribute 3%, fundraising 100%, consultancy income: 3 - 4%, and income from other investments 3%. RAU does not have a finance/funding strategy. In preparation for a situation where it runs out of funding, RAU has not yet done anything but is currently trying to put a paypalsystem for people to pay for its publications.
The main factors affecting RAU’s work include funding situation, information technology, literacy levels, limited number of collaborating partners, the economic situation, and government policies.