A major decision at the 15th Board Meeting of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria (GFATM) was to strengthen the role of civil society and the private sector in the Global Fund’s work. This includes involvement at both Board and country levels. Not only should Country Coordinating Mechanisms (CCMs) be more representative of all the major players in the public, private and civil society spheres, but they should also ensure “routine inclusion, in proposals for Global Fund financing, of both government and non-government Principal Recipients (PRs) for Global Fund grants (“dual-track financing”).
The evolution of CCMs from government agency-donor clubs to bodies that represent the broader society of a country has been occurring in recent years as constituencies affected by and civil society organizations working to fight the three diseases have gained a greater voice. While this voice is growing, little has occurred in the way of major funding for civil society at Sub-Recipient (SR) level, let along through simple contracting with the PRs. Until civil society groups can become PRs in their own right, they will be speaking from the sidelines.
As reported recently, grants operated by NGOs perform better than those with government or UN agencies as the PR. With dual track funding, not only will NGOs and CSOs have an equal chance to manage grants, but possibly a healthy competition between government-managed and NGO-managed grants will lift the boat of performance for all.
CSOs and NGOs come in all sizes and functions. Many, especially ones indigenous to the grant-receiving countries, are new to the concepts and processes of the GFATM. Fortunately a quartet of NGOs has put together a guide entitled, Engaging With The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria: A Primer for Faith-Based Organizations. This guide will in fact be valuable to all civil society groups, not just the faith community. It should help them understand the structures, functions and proposal writing steps at the country level so that they not only have a voice in the CCM but also have a voice and a hand in how critical AIDS, TB and Malaria services are provided.