The Technical Review Panel (TRP) as of last quarter 2014, reviewed 39 Concept Notes (CNs) of which 31 were approved for grant-making, with the remaining due for re-iteration and resubmission to address concerns highlighted by the TRP. The iterative process of the Funding Model is an ongoing feature to strengthen proposals for compelling cases of funding. While the TRP complimented the majority of countries for submitting CNs of high quality based on evidence and relevant programmatic strategies, it also highlighted areas where further strengthening was necessary for countries in the submission of stronger CNs.

One of the key recommendations by the TRP was the necessity for countries to include Gender-sensitive Programmes within the CN based on gender analysis carried out through a consultative process at country level. This recommendation was strongly supported through independent review of CNs carried out by technical partners including UNAIDS and UN Women. Other emerging challenges highlighted by the TRP included:

• CNs following the lead of National Strategic Plans, where gender issues are often not prioritised;
• Issues being identified and well described (such as Gender Based Violence (GBV)) with data, but no interventions were included in the CN;
• Very few sex-aggregated targets for key interventions such as Behaviour Change Communications (BCC);
• Targeting of sub-populations of female partners of key populations did not occur; and
• Gender-responsive interventions only being included within incentive funding as “extras”.

While the TRP welcomed the identification of key populations and issues of GBV as a priority by applicants, it also noted that adequate programming for these groups and clear budgeting towards interventions was lacking. The TRP encourages greater emphasis on gender-sensitive programming, with applications expected to address gender-specific health problems and barriers in accessing services for women and girls, and men and boys. Other recommendations included more attention should be paid towards HIV prevention and treatment programmes for adolescent girls and young women, and to deal with GBV. Lastly, the TRP encourages technical assistance providers and civil society partners with expertise in gender issues to engage with Country Coordinating Mechanisms (CCMs) during country dialogue to identify the best interventions and to ensure that these interventions are adequately budgeted for.

For more detailed comments from the TRP, please refer to the Global Fund Observer.