Toolkit and Training on Global Fund Processes – SOMOSGAY, Latin America

This case study has been prepared by MPact to analyze community approaches used to increase meaningful engagement in Global Fund processes to ensure access for key populations.

Being implemented in 23 countries and across 6 regions, the Global Fund (GF) technical assistance program aims to increase meaningful engagement of Key Populations communities in GF processes through a series of community meetings and consultations/training workshops; peer-to-peer coaching; tools development; watch-dogging HIV program implementation; facilitating partnerships between community actors and national decision makers; and integrating human rights-based strategies into national AIDS plans.

This program aims to achieve:

  1. Well-supported key population membership on County-Coordinating Mechanisms (CCMs);
  2. Stronger community engagement in concept note development;
  3. Development and implementation of HIV-related programs tailored to the needs of gay men and other men who have sex with men, transgender people and other key populations;
  4. Ongoing monitoring of Global Fund-funded program implementation to ensure alignment with normative guidance issued by UN agencies, including the WHO; and
  5. Transition and sustainability readiness.

The following summary was the result of in-depth questionnaires, interviews, and reviews with our partners at SOMOSGAY in Paraguay.

In April, 2018, SOMOSGAY, with support from GayLatino, developed a toolkit for community groups to understand how to engage with Global Fund processes locally and at regional and global levels. The toolkit, Manual de Comunicación LGBTI+, is a living document that can be easily adapted as circumstances change and Global Fund processes and guidelines evolve. Partnerships were of paramount importance in the development and dissemination of the toolkit. What was unique was that it was developed with 16 SOMOSGAY partners in all Latin America – through a broad consultative process involving over 200 people providing comments and input. During the two-month public consultation phase, health experts, activists, government authorities, international agencies including UNAIDS, teachers, students, and communication professionals made approximately 300 contributions in terms of suggestions and text development.

The involvement of many voices means that the toolkit covers topics beyond the Global Fund and has an appeal to a wider range of interests beyond just KPs. In keeping with this inclusive approach, SOMOSGAY incorporated design elements that appeal to local conditions. Rather than stereotypic images of gay men, they included, for example, a photo of an indigenous transgender women, images of the reality of being gay and poor, and other design elements and colors that are relevant to the region. Probably the most challenging – but most important – approach in developing the toolkit was the decision to make sure the language was easy to read and understand. Sergio Lopez, Program Officer at SOMOSGAY, said: “When we realized even we were getting bored reading the text we had written we knew we had to do something about this and simplify the text.”

A lesson learned about this process is that keeping track of all of the suggestions was a complicated process and would need to be systematically dealt with in future iterations of the toolkit. SOMOSGAY partners are located in Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Bolivia, and Paraguay, so input was provided in Spanish and Portuguese. Mistranslation of certain key words led to confusion and delays in some instances.

Successes attributed to toolkit development

SOMOSGAY noted that the toolkit and follow-up dialogue with partners was worthwhile and resulted in a few successes, which would not have been achieved otherwise. For example, the SOMOSGAY and GayLatino partner in Colombia, LigaSida, was selected as the Principal Recipient for Global Fund activities from 2019-2022. The decision was in large part due to the thorough understanding of Global Fund processes LigaSida had from accessing the toolkit. They demonstrated knowledge of Global Fund processes sufficient to become a strong PR.

SOMOSGAY has followed up on the toolkit by offering mentoring and capacity-building and skills development to partners through webinars and in-person meetings. SOMOSGAY consultants based in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, and Paraguay facilitate peer-to-peer collaboration and joint advocacy at the CCMs and other policy forums.

The budget for the development of the toolkit was the bare minimum and required a lot of additional in-kind contributions by SOMOSGAY and the GayLatino community in Brazil. Support to continue this work and ensure that the toolkit is updated on an ongoing basis is needed. SOMOSGAY appealed for a slightly more generous budget that would allow for more consultation, expanded mentoring, and capacity-building follow up.

As with the other partners highlighted in this case study, the importance of building a broad-based alliance was an essential element of the success of the initiative. Ensuring the toolkit spoke to multiple audience strengthens systems and builds solidarity, which is important when rights or KPs are at risk.

Findings and successes achieved

The methods used to engage KPs in Global Fund processes discussed in this case study have varied from hosting training workshops to conducting in-depth data gathering and analysis activities to production of toolkits and other information material. The approaches were tailored to the needs of the communities being served.

Successes noted have included winning seats for KP representatives on CCMs and implementation roles as SRs, as was the case with SOMOSGAY and GALZ. Acknowledgement of the importance of engaging KPs in the HIV response marked a significant achievement due Affirmative Action’s ‘Stay Tuned’ being endorsed by senior government officials. In the case Lighthouse in Viet Nam, the field visits and in-depth interviews with SSRs will provide excellent guidance on community needs and how Global Fund programming in the country can adapt to ensure a sustainable response.

Lessons learned, recommendations, next steps

At this early stage, there did not seem to be a common precondition to predict success of the chosen engagement activities. However, it is possible to identify a common approach used by three of the four projects analyzed. The common factor in GALZ, SOMOSGAY, and Affirmative Action approaches was a focus on alliance-building. In the case of GALZ, their work would not have gotten off the ground if they had not strategically brought on board non-LGBTI partners. The toolkit prepared by SOMOSGAY was particularly useful because it involved such a diverse set of contributors and voices. Affirmative Action created a strategic alliance with government officials, KP networks, and implementors, which raises the profile of KPs in a way that no number of independent studies would have achieved. The second common factor is that all projects indicated that continuing support and more funding are needed to expand scope and reach.

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