The Open Health Institute (OHI) is close to choosing the 26 sub-recipients to implement activities under the $11-million HIV grant awarded to Russia under the new funding model. Implementation of activities specifically targeting key populations should begin in July following their selection.
The large number of SRs is attributed to the vast size of the country and the decision by OHI to choose non-governmental organizations who are closely aligned with specific geographic areas as well as the targeted population. There is a great need to integrate direct service delivery to these key populations with prevention activities and it is hoped that these smaller organizations will be more effective in developing links with local health departments because they are drawn from the same community.
Working at community level with smaller, tighter projects could also lead to a greater likelihood that the programs are taken over by local governments, said coordinating committee chairperson Irina Maslova.
A series of oversight visits began in May by the Coordinating Committee and regular monitoring and evaluation visits by the PR will help OHI to assess how successful past SRs have been in carrying out grant activities. Monitoring and evaluation visits are also forecast under the new NFM grant: the first to be fully implemented under the Global Fund’s NGO rule.
The coordinating committee, too, has strong roots at the community level, Maslova said, which makes it easier for beneficiaries to be candid in their appraisals of how well the SRs are carrying out activities.
Once the SRs are selected, OHI will issue two other tenders for co-financed and small-grant projects. These additional programs will help to strengthen sustainability of community-based projects and improve the ability of community-based organizations to maintain them without the need of external funding.
Eligible organizations for the co-financed grants will have already received state funding for HIV prevention, and need a ‘top-up’ to retain staff or provide additional services to an established clientele: clean needles for people who inject drugs, for example, or condoms. The program’s main emphasis is to establish stronger cooperation with district AIDS centers and state programs so that these entities are more likely to take over responsibility for the programs in the future.
The small-grant program seeks to include smaller, fledgling community groups in the Russian response to HIV, to nurture their growth and professionalism in order to help them thrive. This can include developing research capacity, improving their ability to advocate for a changed legislative or policy environment and strengthening their internal systems. The goal here is for small groups to be able to demonstrate their value to communities in order to be treated as viable partners by state health officials and the central health ministry, in order to maintain the prevention side of the HIV response in Russia.
The coordinating committee receives funding separate from the $11 million allocated to Russia under the NFM, to help ensure that there is distance between the PR and the CC so that it can oversee the full implementation of the grant under the NGO rule. The CC is serving as the country coordinating mechanism for Russia, though it draws members only from outside government. Representatives to the CC were selected during country dialogue in the spring of 2014.