On 13 February, civil society organisations and partners met in Malawi met to develop a civil society priorities charter in the response to HIV and TB.
Aids Accountability International convened the workshop in the capital Lilongwe, which included representatives from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Victor Chayamba, executive director of Malawi Global Fund Coordinating Commitee (MGFCC), said: "Civil society is an integral part of the Global Fund grant architecture. However, over the years, there has been little or no opportunity for the sector to come together and define a set of interventions to advocate for inclusion in funding proposals."
Limited access to funding
Civil society organisations (CSO) often feel they are not being consulted in the process of defining programmes to be included in Global Fund proposals. As a result they often fail to properly position themselves to receive grants.
In the past only a few well-established and city-based civil society organisations were involved in the process. Chayamba said: "At best, they would manage to fight for inclusion of just a fraction of the sector's requirement and at worst they would advance their own agendas to the detriment of the common good."
According to Chayamba this effectively meant some sections of society were denied access to services which would otherwise be provided by these CSOs.
"This put the MGFCC in an awkward position as explanations were always sought on why there was inadequate input from the sector. All that will now be a thing of the past with the development of the Civil Society Priorities Charter," said Chayamba.
Civil society priorities
Through the charter, civil society will have an opportunity to speak with one voice to express priorities to be included in applications via the Global Fund's New Funding Model.
The process enables civil society to think strategically about what can and should be supported bearing in mind the sector's comparative advantage. It also enhances a shared responsibility towards service delivery for the benefit of local people.
Malawi is the third country to develop a civil society priorities charter at this critical time in the process for developing its response to HIV and TB.
A vote by Civil Society Organizations present during the workshop showed that changing people's behaviour, for example in the use of condoms, and focusing on key populations, such as injecting drug users, men who have sex with men and sex workers, are their top priorities.