UNASO and Uganda AIDS Commission engage regional CSOs

UNASO and Uganda AIDS Commission engage regional CSOs

Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC) in Partnership with Uganda Network of AIDS Service Organizations (UNASO) organized and held regional CSO engagement and coordination meetings that brought together CSOs implementing HIV, TB, GBV and SRH. The meetings were held in the regional districts of Arua, Mbarara, Masaka and Fort Portal.

The objective of the meetings was two-pronged;

  1. To orient CSOs on sustainability and the need to transition from donor-led to government-led funding
  2. To obtain feedback from CSOs on their achievements and challenges faced and recommendations to mitigate the challenges

Sustainability of HIV&AIDS Programs

Participants were oriented on the proposed approach to sustainability of HIV&AIDS Programs and the transition from donor-led to government-led financing.

As the resource envelop for HIV/AIDS programs diminishes globally, UAC & GIZ are considering how Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) can be supported to brainstorm on how they will navigate out of this challenge.

Some organizations have already adopted more sustainable models; for example, BRAC uses the social enterprising model where they encourage the community to raise their own resources. They also establish village saving schemes which empower communities, emphasizing the notion that funding must be sustainable.

UAC therefore intends to transition into social contracting, where government contracts and works with CSOs to implement social services. UAC is therefore seeking proposals from CSOs on how this model can best be implemented.

Some countries in Africa, like Botswana have already embraced social contracting (Private NGO Partnerships); where government works closely with CSOs to deliver services.

The regional CSO engagements were a stimulus for brainstorming on how CSOs will contribute to the development of Uganda in a more sustainable manner.

The role of UNASO in national CS coordination

A UNASO representative gave a presentation on the role of effective CSO coordination and why this is important in the national response.

UNASO exists to provide support to AIDS service organizations to be able to integrate HIV with other programing. The funding landscape has changed; hence we need to move with the times as we reach out to our communities. UNASO also supports member CSOs in integrating SRH and GBV in their programing. UNASO ensures that network members look at these program areas much more broadly.

To join UNASO, a CSO has to share a copy of registration certificate, two to three previous annual reports, and a recommendation letter from the district of operation. UNASO has three categories of members. These are; National level, International level, District level. District level members pay UGX 200,000 annually, National level members pay UGX 500,000, while international level members pay UGX 1,000,000.

As a network, UNASO has registered a number of achievements in the recent past; including representing CSOs on different platforms including the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) of the Global Fund, introduction of some projects on social accountability, Strengthened CS platforms like the ED’s Forum and advocacy platforms like the AIDS Trust Fund and advocacy for the roll out of PrEP and the Dapivirine ring.

The role of the NGO Forum in regional and district CS coordination

A representative from the region’s NGO Forum made a presentation on the work of the Forum in the district highlighting the approaches, achievements, challenges and recommendations.

The new UAC regulations

Finally, a UAC representative made a presentation on the new UAC regulations as a mechanism to check the actions of CSOs and other players in the national response.

In the past, UAC has not had an enforcement mechanism and the right to check the actions of players, hence the development of the regulations. The regulations are largely to provide a framework to harmonize the HIV response and provide effective collaboration so that all players in the HIV response speak the same language. UAC is currently developing a system for reporting to be used by all sectors. The essence is to have every NGO to be variable to the response.

The new regulations are meant to guide on the requirements and process of accrediting CSOs in the HIV/AIDS response and the periodic renewal of their certificates and operating licenses.

The four regional meetings provided a platform for the role played by CSOs in the HIV response to be appreciated and for them to be reminded that the times are changing hence the need to speak as one, be visible and account to their stakeholders including the government. CSOs need to develop strategies to sustain their work in our communities as donor funds keep dwindling.

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