Background: When determining whether to bid on an HIV program, organizations consider factors such as feasibility and scope alignment with their mission. Organizations often overlook the appropriateness and sustainability of their approach, likelihood of buy-in, and resources necessary to coordinate effectively within existing national structures.
Description: Under the US Department of State/PEPFAR-funded DREAMS Innovation Challenge Funds Manager grant, JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. (JSI) supports 46 implementing partners (IPs) across ten African countries to decrease vulnerability of adolescent girls and young women to HIV. JSI has learned several lessons about the importance of prioritizing local, national, and international stakeholder coordination as a key determinant of programmatic success. JSIĀ“s practical experience in HIV programming, stakeholder management, and system strengthening has value for donors, implementers, and other stakeholders.
Lessons learned: JSI found several areas to be critical for success of IPs working in these countries. Key considerations will be identified related to: priorities of various sectors and levels of government; donor landscape and priorities; existing local IPs (public, private, NGO); and formal and informal referral systems. Our multi-country experience enables us to present comparisons and contrasts across and within countries. Specific lessons that should be considered include the need to share work plans and budgets with national, and often subnational governments; regularly participate and contribute to technical forums and annual country operating plans; and report into existing government and donor reporting systems, requiring IP indicators to be established to meet donor, government and IP specifications. For example, in Kenya, where the governance system is devolved, reporting and attendance at coordination meetings is required both at national level and in every county that DREAMS was operating; whereas the IPs in Uganda report into one platform which is accessible to national and regional governments.
Conclusions/Next steps: This presentation will illustrate the ongoing evolution from donor- and IP -focused approaches, to ones centered on beneficiary needs and filling gaps in existing country systems. The information will be useful in rethinking what partnerships mean and building more sustainable and effective models.