July 3, 2019
Kenneth is the Advocacy and Networking Officer at HEPS-Uganda.
In 2016, the Key Population Investment Fund (KPIF) was announced by PEPFAR leader Ambassador Deborah Birx at the UN High-Level Meeting. It took two years before this commitment materialized, and at the AIDS 2018 conference in Amsterdam, Ambassador Birx announced that the funds would finally be disbursed to selected awardees through PEPFAR agencies to existing cooperative agreements. The $100M (split between CDC and USAID) is meant to support scale-up of key population-led community approaches to expand and enhance HIV services. In Uganda, the $10m envelope of funding for KPIF is being implemented by CDC through existing implementing partners like The AIDS Support Organization (TASO) and Baylor.
Since the announcement, advocates and key population (KP) representatives have been at the forefront of planning for KPIF implementation, advocating that the fund must serve its primary purpose—expanding demand for and access to quality, effective HIV prevention, care, and treatment services for key populations; addressing structural barriers, reducing stigma, discrimination, and violence; promoting regular and meaningful engagement of KPs; promoting human rights without distinction; and supporting collection and analysis of epidemiologic data on KP subpopulations. Ugandan civil society representatives have kept a keen eye on every stage of the KPIF planning and implementation thus far.
Early on, key population and civil society representatives were involved in a consultative priority-setting meeting in October 2018. These KPIF priorities were echoed at the 2019 Regional Planning Meeting (annual meetings to make plans, set targets and define approaches for Country Operational Plans (COP)) and they were incorporated into the Strategic Direction Summary (a country-specific document that describes investments, targets and program strategy for the COP).
Furthermore, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) spearheaded the formation of the Uganda Key Population’s Consortium, and under the banner of the consortium, civil society and KP representatives of the PEPFAR core committee led nationwide popularization of the KPIF.
After the Regional Planning Meeting in March 2019, KPs and civil society representatives have continued to monitor the implementation of the KPIF. After CDC’s implementing partners sent out the first calls for application, advocates and some KP representatives set up a technical working group team that supported local community-based KP organizations to review applications and help strengthen the proposed interventions.
During this process, advocates observed that there were needlessly stringent requirements and that there was minimal dissemination of the call, which was contrary to the objectives of the KPIF. Additional issues raised by KP representatives and advocates included lack of experience by some of CDC’s implementing partners in working with KPs, blatant homophobia and the requirement that groups be fully registered with strong financial systems, which disqualified many community-based KP organizations (which the fund is ideally supposed to strengthen).
Advocates were able to successfully advocate for a formal advisory group, which includes civil society and key population representatives, to oversee the implementation of the fund. And in the meantime, CDC has halted the sub-granting process to address some of the issues raised by CSOs. Watch this space for further developments!