Case Study

Policy Co-Creation for Children’s Rights

How can policy co-creation support the unique needs of communities in regions of great diversity?

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Policymaking is typically a process that happens in capital cities behind closed doors, close to academics, lobbyists, and other “experts”, but far from the communities those policies are meant to serve. Where access is lacking, no amount of good intention guarantees inclusivity—or a policy’s effectiveness. This is especially true in Nicaragua’s North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN), an area populated by a variety of indigenous and non-indigenous cultures that speak different languages, practice different religions, and have distinct lived experiences. For policymakers in RAAN, supporting the needs of these communities demanded a fresh approach.

In partnership with the government of RAAN, and with UNICEF’s support, Reboot facilitated a policy co-creation program aimed at securing the rights of children across RAAN’s different communities. We led government officials through a series of participatory design exercises to cultivate an empathetic understanding of their constituents’ needs and yield the fresh insights necessary to craft appropriate policy responses. The program enabled the government of RAAN to develop a Regional Policy for Children that embraces and supports the diverse cultural heritages of the region.

 

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Nicaragua has made great strides toward improving the lives of its children in recent years. But these gains have not been realized universally. In RAAN, one of the country’s poorest regions, a stagnant economy, poor infrastructure, the lingering effects of natural disasters, and sociocultural complexity all conspire to challenge children’s healthy growth and development. Approximately one-third of the region’s children suffer from chronic malnutrition. On a host of human development indicators related to education, sanitation, and more, RAAN’s children are less well-served than their counterparts elsewhere in the country.

Regional leaders are committed to closing this gap. Since 2011, they have been working to develop a Regional Policy for Children, which will serve as a framework to guide programmatic interventions that protect and empower children in RAAN. Recognizing that the diversity of the region required a deeper appreciation of their constituents, the regional government, with the support of UNICEF, engaged Reboot to help facilitate a program of policy co-creation. Specifically, officials in RAAN and UNICEF sought Reboot’s support to demonstrate how tools and techniques of participatory design could inform the policymaking process.

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