Harnessing UNDP strengths for effective Global Fund HIV grant management

30 Apr 2014

imageANTONIO JOSE GARCIA CAPOTE OF UNDP CUBA ASSISTS FELLOW COLLEAGUE NUNLADA PUNYARUT AT THE UNDP ASIA-PACIFIC REGIONAL CENTRE. UNDP PHOTO.

Bangkok - The Asia-Pacific region is both contributing to and taking advantage of the global ‘knowledge bank’ of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in its response to the HIV epidemic.

Evidence has shown rates of HIV among men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people are significantly higher than those in all other adult groups in many countries of South Asia. To address this, UNDP has spearheaded a Multi-Country South Asia Global Fund HIV Programme, aimed at strengthening community-based organizations to the point where they become self-reliant, through strategic, targeted capacity development efforts and partnerships.

The UNDP Asia-Pacific Regional Centre (APRC) serves as Principal Recipient for a two-and-a-half year US$16.7 million grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria covering Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. To get the programme off to a good start, UNDP called upon an innovative cross-regional knowledge exchange initiative to leverage existing Global Fund-specific expertise from the UNDP Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean (RBLAC).

The initiative brought staff with experience managing similar Global Fund grants in Cuba, El Salvador and Haiti on temporary assignments to ARPC to share skills in financial and risk management with UNDP colleagues and community-based organizations.

 

“The cooperation between the two Regional Bureaux has facilitated valuable capacity building of the UNDP APRC and the grant’s community-based Sub-Recipients. This is really critical for ensuring the Programme’s future, as well as for achieving enhanced promotion and protection of rights of some of the most marginalized people in South Asia,” said Haoliang Xu, Assistant Administrator and Director, RBAP, UNDP.

“This exchange is critical in ensuring rapid and timely start-up of the programme. It has enabled us to quickly get off the ground implementing and reporting results, and responding to the issues facing MSM and transgender people in South Asia,” said Clifton Cortez, HIV, Health and Development Practice Leader, UNDP APRC. “An initiative like this is only possible with an organization like UNDP that has a global presence.”

This knowledge exchange between RBLAC and the Regional Bureau for Asia-Pacific (RBAP) was not a one-off exercise. It is part of a wider country-to-country support initiative launched by the UNDP - Global Fund Partnership Team in 2010. The Team has facilitated more than 30 staff exchanges to date between country offices to build national capacity to manage Global Fund grant implementation.

UNDP plays a significant role in supporting delivery of Global Fund grants worldwide that prevent, treat and care for people affected by HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. As of March 2014, it serves as interim Principal Recipient for grants in 25 countries, totaling US$1.8 billion. UNDP’s organizational strengths, including long-term global presence, operational capacity and accountability framework enable it to support delivery of programmes in the most challenging conditions.

The knowledge exchange initiative benefits all parties. In return, the Latin America and Caribbean region staff benefited from exposure to key HIV programming issues being encountered by the Multi-Country South Asia Global Fund HIV Programme, particularly those related to human rights and HIV, community systems strengthening, and implementation of civil society-led grants that target key populations in restrictive legal and social environments, such as in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

For Antonio Jose Garcia Capote, the exchange was useful on multiple levels.

“As a Programme Analyst in Cuba I have developed expertise on procurement and finance related to implementation of HIV programmes funded through the Global Fund. This opportunity has enabled me to transfer this knowledge to colleagues and national counterparts in Asia and the Pacific. The experience has also enabled me to build my own capacity on working with these marginalized groups, which will be put into practice with my work in my home country.”

“As the partnership with the Global Fund grows, it is vital that UNDP continues to leverage the expertise and advantages that different UNDP Bureaux have to offer in such effective region-to-region or country-to-country capacity building initiatives,“ said Jessica Faieta, Deputy Assistant Administrator and Director a.i., RBLAC, UNDP.

The knowledge exchange initiative aligns with UNDP’s broader Strategic Plan for 2014-2017, which promotes South-South and triangular cooperation in its programmes and operations. This is achieved through knowledge sharing, harmonization of policies, legal frameworks and regulations, and strategic funding and technical cooperation. Cooperation between the Latin American and Caribbean and Asia-Pacific offices in response to the HIV epidemic highlights the institutional effectiveness of UNDP as a global development organization.