The Asia-Pacific Community Rights and Gender Communications and Coordination (APCRG) Platform hosted by APCASO and Global Fund Advocates Network Asia-Pacific (GFAN AP) co-organised a South-to-South Learning webinar on “Lesson Learnt from Virtual Country Dialogues for Global Fund Funding Request Development in the Asia-Pacific” which was held on the 19th August 2020. The virtual south-to-south learning webinar is organised with the intention to share knowledge and experiences of community and civil society during the implementation of virtual dialogues in the first half of 2020 in the Asia-Pacific region to inform and support communities and civil society in countries that are preparing their funding request submissions to implement holistic country dialogues with meaningful and comprehensive engagements and consultations with key and vulnerable populations.
Following the successful Sixth Replenishment of The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) hosted by the Government of France in October 2019, the Board in November 2019 adopted the decision (GF/B42/DP03): Sources and Uses of Funds for the 2020 – 2022 Allocation Period which approved resources for the allocation cycle 2020 – 2022 to eligible countries. Allocation letters were sent to all Country Coordinating Mechanisms (CCMs) of eligible countries in December 2019 along with the announcement of the submission windows to submit the funding requests.
Funding request development for the Global Fund requires the CCM of each country to coordinate a transparent, inclusive and consultative process (country dialogue) with all stakeholders in the country. The ongoing country dialogue facilitates a platform where people living/affected by the three diseases are able to effectively and meaningfully define programmes, interventions, and services that better meet their needs.
With the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, countries have started implementing various restrictions to contain the COVID-19 pandemic with various forms of lockdowns, mobility restrictions, curfews in Q1 and Q2 of 2020. This has presented a set of challenges for country dialogues which have been conducted through in-person consultations and meetings.
Recognising the disruptions that COVID-19 would have – including preparations for the funding request, as well as on implementation – the Global Fund has responded accordingly. To ensure inclusive, comprehensive, transparent country dialogue processes in eligible countries, the Global Fund issued a Guidance Note on Virtual Inclusive Dialogues which included tips and tools for a virtual country dialogue, points to consider when choosing tools and platforms, guidance on repurposing CCM funds for supporting virtual country dialogues and a case study on virtual consultations conducted well. In addition, submission windows that were announced in December were revised to provide more flexibility to countries to conduct country dialogues and develop funding requests in accordance with the principles of the Global Fund – partnership, country-ownership, performance-based financing, and transparency.
The majority of eligible countries in Asia-Pacific have submitted their funding requests to the Global Fund by 30th June 2020 with the exception of Bhutan (31st August), Nepal (31st August) and Sri Lanka (Quarter 1 2021).
The experiences of communities and civil society in the Asia-Pacific engaged in the virtual country dialogues in the first two submission windows vary in terms of reach, established community networks, meaningful engagement, and virtual platforms/mechanisms used.
Thus the webinar was organised to:
- Facilitate south-to-south learning to share lessons learnt, challenges faced, and solutions adopted from the implementation of virtual country dialogues by communities and ciivl society; and
- Create synergies and support exchanges between communities and civil society in Asia-Pacific Global Fund eligible countries to strengthen community engagement in Global Fund country processes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The webinar provided an overview of the Global Fund Virtual Country Dialogue process with information from applicant surveys conducted from windows 1 & 2. Communities and civil society representatives from Nepal, Indonesia and Vietnam also provided insights, experiences, challenges, and recommendations from their experiences from having conducted virtual country dialogues and the importance of ongoing dialogues beyond funding request submissions as part of the ongoing country dialogue process. The APCRG platform also provided an overview of the work conducted and resources/toolkits available, including the results of the Asia-Pacific Rapid Assessment During the COVID-19 Pandemic which was conducted by APCASO, APCRG Platform and GFAN AP.
For more information on specific segments of the various speakers, please see below:
- Global Fund Virtual Country Dialogues [Webinar Recording starts at 16:41] by Hyeyoung Lim, Human Rights Adviser, Community Rights and Gender Department, Global Fund
- Country Experiences:
- Perspectives from Nepal [Webinar Recording starts at 51:48] by Achut Situala, Executive Director of Trisuli Plus and CCM Vice-Chair, Nepal
- Perspectives from Indonesia [Webinar Recording starts at 01:06:43] by Meirinda Sebayang, Chair of Jaringan Indonesia Positif; Chair of HIV National Technical Working Group of the CCM; CCM Member, Indonesia
- Perspectives from Vietnam [Webinar Recording starts at 01:22:23] by Dr Khuat Thi Hai Oanh, Executive Director of Center for Community Development Initiatives (SCDI) – SR for HIV and Malaria
- APCRG-led Initiatives to Support Inclusive Country Dialogues [Webinar Recording starts at 1:57:12] by Jennifer Ho, Deputy Director of APCASO and Manager of APCRG Platform