January 25, 2024
AVAC and Pangaea Zimbabwe are thrilled to announce Pangaea Zimbabwe’s new leadership of the Coalition to build Momentum, Power, Activism, Strategy & Solidarity (COMPASS) Africa, a historic milestone in the development of innovative models for power-sharing in coalition and an important step toward decolonizing global health.
Launched in 2017, COMPASS Africa is a civil society coalition with 29 organizations working in three countries as well as regionally and globally, using data-driven advocacy to improve the HIV response with high-impact campaigns. Its achievements to date have set new standards for mobilization and advocacy, improving laws and policies, increasing investment in programs, elevating the leadership of affected communities in the HIV response, and holding all stakeholders to account for targets, commitments and impact.
In December 2023, Pangaea Zimbabwe signed a new two-year, $4.9 million grant agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as the new secretariat of COMPASS Africa. For the first 6 years, AVAC served in this role, and worked with a coalition-wide governance committee to develop a clear transition plan for COMPASS to be led by African civil society organizations.
“Since 2017, we’ve been breaking new ground under COMPASS Africa. We’ve expanded our networks and brought together the superpowers of new and seasoned advocates who have diverse strengths and have joined together to develop and share technical expertise and winning strategies,” said Imelda Mahaka, executive director of Pangaea Zimbabwe. “This is a foundation of collaboration, knowledge-exchange and trust that can and will accelerate innovative advocacy under African leadership. We are so proud to take this step with AVAC and with support and collaboration of the entire consortium.”
COMPASS Africa supports coalitions and organizations based in Malawi, Tanzania, the United States and Zimbabwe, and COMPASS Africa members are currently leading more than two dozen active campaigns to advance HIV prevention and treatment.
“From its founding, COMPASS Africa pursued a vision of collective power and shared decision-making that planned for a future in which an African-based organization would assume leadership as a vital step to sustaining this essential work,” said Mitchell Warren, executive director of AVAC. “The communities who are most affected by HIV uniquely understand their context, challenges and opportunities—their leadership is essential to developing solutions that work. With inclusive governance structures formalized, including Pangaea Zimbabwe as the new secretariat, that leadership is in place, and we are excited that AVAC will continue to be part of the coalition in its new form.”
“As planned from the inception of COMPASS Africa, coalition members are taking their highly successful model to the next level. We are jointly investing in the long-term success of African leadership because it is absolutely essential to breaking cycles that perpetuate inequity and that stall progress in the HIV response,” said Justine MacWilliam, senior program manager and COMPASS Africa partner at AVAC.
Along with the handover of the secretariat from AVAC to Pangaea Zimbabwe, COMPASS Africa has developed a new governance manual strengthening operating structures for the growing coalition. AVAC will continue as a COMPASS Africa sub-grantee and technical partner focused on advocacy strategy and tactics, including ensuring community priorities are influencing global-level HIV policies, funders and programs.
“This effort put a premium on creating structures to deepen and sustain transparency, accountability, effectiveness and continuing growth within the coalition. COMPASS has a track record of remarkable achievements, this new leadership structure ensures we leverage lessons learned, scale up our advocacy, strengthen each other, and set ambitious goals for impacting the HIV response,” said Dr. Lilian Benjamin Mwakyosi, executive director of DARE Organization in United Republic of Tanzania and co-chair of the COMPASS Governance Working Group.
COMPASS Africa has been unparalleled in testing and succeeding with new models for transnational collaboration. The results have brought campaign after campaign that have marshalled the power of data-driven advocacy to advance community priorities and have convinced policymakers to do the right thing. With these latest innovations, COMPASS Africa is now pioneering a leadership structure that offers the field a sustainable model for decolonizing global health.