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Reinforcing civil society contributions to health

A BACKUP approach to making Global Fund money work

Stuart Adams

Peer reviewers
  • Dr Joy Backory, Partnerships Advisor, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
  • Greg Munro, Associate Director, Technical Cooperation Unit, International HIV/AIDS Alliance

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, April 2012

1 Backup

In many countries, faith-based and other civil society organizations (CSO) were pioneers in providing essential health services now provided by governments, and ─ as the global AIDS epidemic has served to remind us ─ CSOs continue to play important roles in ensuring that those services are extended to poor and otherwise marginalized and vulnerable populations. Recognizing their essential function for partner countries’ health systems, the German BACKUP Initiative provides CSO with demand-driven and flexible technical support as they build their capacities to qualify for Global Fund financing and then put that financing to effective use.

The latest publication of the German Health Practice Collection, ‘Reinforcing civil society contributions to health’ illustrates the BACKUP approach to making Global Fund money work for CSO.

A first example looks at an ICASO initiative known as the Civil Society Action Team (CSAT). With seven Regional Hubs, CSAT aims to help CSO identify and overcome their capacity-building challenges so they do not miss opportunities to reap optimal benefits from Global Fund financing.

The second example looks at the Burkina Council of AIDS Services Organizations (BURCASO) and focuses in on the challenges it faces, in a severely resource-limited setting, as it participates in a Global Fund Round 8 tuberculosis project.

The third example looks at the Youth in the Real World (YuRWorld) project in Dominican Republic. It addresses HIV among marginalized youth, serves as a model for the whole Caribbean region, and now oversees the Marginalized Youth sub-component of the Vulnerabilized Groups component of a regional Global Fund Round 9 HIV/AIDS project.

Lessons drawn from BACKUP support to CSO include:

  • Community-based CSOs established by members of marginalized and vulnerable populations are often best placed to provide those populations with services, but they need support to do this effectively.
  • Support must be flexible and timely, responding to challenges and opportunities as they emerge.
  • CSOs are eager and well able to benefit from the type of capacity-building support that BACKUP offers.
  • Staying the course pays off in the long run. There is value in continued interest in effective CSOs and their programmes and, when the moment is right, in providing them with additional support even when earlier support was not entirely successful.
  • Support for CSOs often has knock-on benefits, since they are often multi-functional and building their capacity to perform one function often builds their capacity to perform others.
  • During times of cut-backs in development aid, CSOs that can legitimately claim to represent and serve the poor and otherwise marginalized and vulnerable should not be pushed to the back of the line.
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