W4GF organised a webinar on February 7 2017 for W4GF advocates to engage with the Global Fund Secretariat (GFS) and share lessons and country experience in Global Fund country processes.

1. Introduction
The Global Fund is focusing on adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in 13 priority countries across East and Southern Africa (Botswana, Cameroon, Lesotho, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Many W4GF advocates are working on funding requests in various roles and countries will be submitting funding requests in the next three windows: March, May and August. The agenda for this webinar included:

  • Updates from the GFS
  • Updates from W4GF advocates: Where are the challenges and opportunities around women in all their diversity- especially AGYW
  • Questions and discussions
  • Next steps and actions

2. Update from Global Fund Secretariat
To view the slides presented by the Global Fund Secretariat click here. As many know – in January 2017 the Global Fund launched its new Strategy, with changes in the area of gender equality and sub-objectives focused in this area. The Global Fund Strategy consists of four main focus areas and this webinar focused on Strategic Objective (SO) 3 to promote and protect human rights and gender equality. The Global Fund will focus on scaling up programs to support AGYW including programs to advance sexual and reproductive health and focus on investments to reduce health inequalities including gender and age related disparities. Issues around AGYW are integrated throughout the strategy and the Global Fund hopes to have a nuanced approach in how gender is discussed and addressed.

Catalytic investment
The Global Fund sent allocation letters to countries in December 2016; indicting funding amounts for the next allocation cycle (2017 – 2019). The Global Fund Board approved three types of catalytic investment (amounting to $800 million). See slide three which expands on Matching funds; Multi-country approaches; and Strategic initiatives.

Of the matching funds US$55 million is set aside to incentivise programs around AGYW in the 13 priority countries. The $55 million is proportional to allocated amounts and adjusted according to disease burden, income, legal environments, key populations and other qualitative factors. The Global Fund has created technical brief on AGYW which outlines priority interventions to be considered that deliver strategic investment. For example Zimbabwe has been allocated US$8 million in matching funds for AGYW needs. The country must programme US$8 million specifically for AGYW to access the additional US$8 million in matching funds. The Global Fund will be looking for comprehensive and quality programmes. Matching Funds exist for AGYW, another US$50 million for human rights and US$50 million for key populations. See slide 8 that speaks to which countries are in focus and the overlap of countries eligible to apply for funding in more than one of these areas. These countries can articulate three separate ways to use this money. The Global Fund is aware that in the first two windows proposals that speak to the catalytic funding may be challenging to fully develop, but countries are still encouraged not to delay their submissions.

In the 13 priority countries an ambitious target of 58% reduction of HIV in 15-24 year old AGYW was set, which the Global Fund hopes to contribute to over the next 5 years. The other sub objective is around addressing gender and age across the three diseases, specifically looking at trends and trying to get a broader understanding of current figures. A gender assessment tool rolled out in 2016 showed a number of countries specifically addressing TB and the Global Fund hopes there will be another 6-8 gender/TB assessments taking place in 2017 and look at gender disparities in TB.

Community Rights Gender (CRG) Initiative for Technical Assistance (TA)
The strategic initiative (15 million) has three arms: Short term TA; long term capacity development and regional platforms.

  • The short term TA helps civil society to engage in Global Fund processes. This is an easy application and requests have been received from Uganda and Zimbabwe.
  • For the long-term capacity development, specifically with AGYW, the Global Fund is launching a Request for Proposals (RFP) to identify an organisation to manage long-term capacity development for groups working with AGYW around SRHR, to engage in national processes that drive Global Fund investment frameworks.
  • The Regional Platforms (for this webinar the focus was the Eastern Africa National Networks of AIDS Service Organisation (EANNASO) – providing support around civil society engagement in the Global Fund and accessing relevant resources. They are having a meeting in Rwanda to engage civil society (discussed below).

The CRG Strategic Initiative recently gave money support to the Global Coalition of TB activists (GCTA) to support TB communities at the global, regional and national levels to engage the Global Fund. This is an avenue for W4GF advocates to engage with and ensure the platform addresses TB and gender. Please click here to access the Resources Page of the Global Fund – Important to review is the modular framework!

3. Discussion
• The Global Fund clarified that throughout the funding request countries must show how the “current funding request supports strategies and actions to improve longer-term sustainability of the program(s), in particular those programs that are highly reliant on Global Fund funding that relate to key populations and removing human rights and gender related barriers.” Although the Global Fund is requesting all countries to address this – the conversation will vary depending on how close countries are to transitioning out of the Global Fund.
• EANNASO is preparing for two meetings in Kigali (February 27 – 28, 2017): 1) civil society CCM forum to address issues and challenges around representation on CCMs 2) The Anglophone Africa Global Fund CRG Platform Meeting on Sharing civil society and Community Groups Engagement Experiences in GFATM Processes” (March 1-2 2017) also in Kigali. The meeting will create space for discussions and identify strategies to support more active engagement of civil society. The meeting will also address available TA and the effectiveness of the TA and how AGYW are accessing support.

4. Updates from W4GF advocates
W4GF advocates from Zimbabwe shared that the country is submitting its funding request in the first window on March 20th. EANNASO supported civil society in all their diversity to develop priorities before entering into the country dialogue process. This enabled a stronger/coordinated civil society voice. Webinar participants were reminded to stay focused on the needs of the country. Zimbabwe is also reviewing the National Strategic Plan (NSP) and further defining the definition of key populations. Another Zimbabwean W4GF advocate spoke to the ongoing PEPFAR Country Operational Plan meetings and the importance of advocating for young people’s voices to be heard in discussions and through to implementation.

W4GF advocates in Malawi provided updates (also submitting it funding request on March 20). Updates included highlights on the constituency dialogue and CSO meetings as well as a mapping of Global Fund supported programmes that identified gaps in implementation and highlights on where programmes need to be expanded. Key challenges include:

  • Issues around representation of key populations on the CCM – currently there is only a sex worker which is not representative of key populations in all their diversity;
  • Around RSSH – community based monitoring is being discussed as the score card implementation has is not adequately being implemented;
  • Issues around capacity building and building links between the districts and community levels even through health facilities;
  • Not enough TA support has been accessible and national CCM have not been very supportive and have not followed process and advertised for Principle Recipients (PRs) in newspapers, which is essential for transparency;
  • The Family Planning Association of Malawi and the Story Workshop will support programming around AGYW.

A W4GF advocate from Tanzania spoke to involvement working on the community core cards and the CCM performance assessments and this report will be released at the end of February. It is critical that CSOs understand and benefit from Global Fund processes and this remains a huge challenge for communities and EANNASO has done a great job at supporting communities.

W4GF advocates in Uganda have had several priority stakeholder meetings and 7 nominated civil society representatives were included in the initial funding request writing team that has been going on for the past week. Key issues highlighted included:

  • This is the first time that so many civil society have been included in the process and a key challenge is ensuring civil society in each of the small groups given that the majority of women living with HIV and those focusing on gender are in the RSSH group; in the group on AGYW; and in the key populations group.
  • On Feb 8 the group meets to discuss progress and learn who remains after the initial two-week process, as the writing team will shrink to finalise the funding request.
  • It is not enough to have people in the room – it is essential to have others outside who are able to provide evidence and best practices for those making the requests. TA remains an issue and is required in the form of a support person to get this information and support the group to move beyond asks to provide the costing which is challenging for civil society in the writing team. It is important to go beyond the priority setting.

A W4GF advocate from Zimbabwe responded to issues raised and shared their process to develop a paper ahead of the drafting which spoke to 6 priority areas identified by women. This paper supported those on the writing team to make the case and addressed the following: What is the intervention and activities and why is this essential in the current context; Is this in the NSP?; and Evidence, data and epidemiological situation to support the intervention and its activities.

5. Comments from the Global Fund Secretariat

  • It is essential to document the process so that the Global Fund Secretariat and others can learn from what is working well and what could be strengthened to better support meaningful engagement.
  • Heather will be in Malawi and will follow up directly but wanted to respond around the issue on searching for a new PR. The reality is that even though Malawi is developing a new funding request the implementation on the last grant has just begun so the Global Fund would be hesitant to launch a call for a new PR. This is why the CCM is hesitant to find new PRs.
  • Heather confirmed that they have received the request for TA from Uganda and urged advocates to be clear and specific about needs – especially for short-term support and hopes to address longer-term support through the launch of the RFP discussed earlier.
  • Rukia attended a workshop in Namibia with representatives from the 13 priority countries (except Cameroon) to find ways to best integrate sexual and reproductive health, and HIV for AGYW. Three main take-away points included:
  • We must compliment what is happening in countries with networking and ensuring the right people are attending/informing the right processes.
  • Highlighting strategies that that take place beyond the funding request such as thinking through the monitoring and evaluation that happens during grant making
  • Organising advocates at the national level – Who is missing at the table? What technical support do we need? And interventions need to scale up and what should be a pilot to learn more about this?

6. Questions to the Global Fund Secretariat
What is the advice to W4GF advocates who are advocating for something not in the NSP?
If this is the case – lean on the Global Fund technical briefs and information notes that highlight what the Global Fund want and expect to see in funding requests. AGYW and community systems responses may not be included in the NSP so lobby technical partners to advocate for these and if all else fails reach out to the Global Fund Secretariat. If something is not in the NSP this does not mean the Global Fund would not fund this. It is important to leverage on other national strategies and other national documents.

EANNASO also highlighted the need to prioritise interventions, based on country data, the context and country mapping and what will provide the highest impact. The Global Fund is looking for comprehensive approaches to achieve maximum impact and it’s important to remember this. Its also helpful to know who is doing what and where and if this aligns with priorities then this is an important starting point for advocacy. For example what is PEPFAR supporting and where under the DREAMS work?

The webinar was hosted by the W4GF secretariat – Sophie Dilmitis (Global Coordinator); and attended by 15 participants: Mara Banda, Angeline Chiwetani, Kelvin Makura, Tumainiel Mangi, Lilian Mworeko, Lucy Mungala, Olive Mumba, Carol Nawina Nyirenda, Claris Ojwang, Olivia Ngou, Zelda Nhlabatsi Immaculate Owomugisha, GCTA Secretariat, Talent Madziva, Alice Welbourn; and from the Global Fund Community, Rights and Gender (CRG) Department: Heather Doyle, Senior Coordinator on Gender and Rukia Mannikko, Technical Advisor- Gender.