|Summary Booklet of Best Practices in Africa - Issue 2 (UNAIDS, 2000, 116 p.)|
|Introduction: Best Practices in Africa|
Identifying practices around the world that work in responding to the AIDS epidemic, and examining how and why they work, is one of the UNAIDS Secretariat's main tasks. UNAIDS and its cosponsors promote the sharing of these practices, including through such means as documentation and widespread distribution of the lessons learned.
The concept of Best Practice is not reserved for "ultimate truths" or "gold standards." For UNAIDS, Best Practice means accumulating and applying knowledge about what is working and not working in different situations and contexts. In other words, it is both the lessons learned and the continuing process of learning, feedback, reflection, and analysis (what works, how and why, and so forth).
At its most basic, Best Practice suggests a simple maxim: Don't reinvent the wheel; learn in order to improve it, and adapt it to your terrain to make it work better.
The process of Best Practice is manifested in three ways:
· exchange of experience, including sharing between individual experts and Technical Resource Networks (TRNs)
· pilot testing, operations research, and other projects and programmes
· documentation including formats such as audiovisual cassettes, CDs, and presentation graphics (however, it is important to remember that Best Practice is not simply documentation, but an approach to sharing and using knowledge).
Identifying Best Practice that provides useful "lessons learned" means making judgements. To arrive at such judgements, two approaches may be used, each reflecting a different level of analysis.
The first approach is based on a simple description of the practice's accomplishments. From this point of view, Best Practice can be anything that works, in full or in part, and that can be useful in providing lessons learned.
The second approach is to carry out a thorough analysis using specific, established criteria that look at strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures. UNAIDS uses a set of five criteria as a guide: effectiveness, efficiency, relevance, ethical soundness, and sustainability. While candidate Best Practices should meet one or more of the criteria, they do not need to meet them all.
In summary, the Best Practice process helps to identify and describe the lessons learned and the keys to success of any given project, programme, or policy.
Why document Best Practice?
Our UNAIDS cosponsors, in-country staff, and Secretariat in Geneva are constantly asked to provide brief and up-to-date information - "snapshots" might be a good description - about the constructive and creative things that people and organizations around the world are doing about HIV/AIDS. This is a practical illustration of one of the main reasons we document and disseminate Best Practice. Without access to existing knowledge and experience from the field of things that work, whether fully or in part, mistakes may be repeated and valuable time may be lost. Lessons learned must be widely shared and adapted to local conditions in order to enable an effective response to the epidemic.
The formal objectives of Best Practice are:
· to strengthen the capacity to identify, document, exchange, promote, use, and adapt Best Practice as lessons learned within a country and between countries as a means to expand the national response to HIV/AIDS
· to promote the application of the Best Practice process for policy and strategy definition and formulation
· to collect, produce, disseminate, and promote Best Practice.
In this Summary Booklet, UNAIDS attempts to capture details of a range of Best Practices in order to provide useful lessons and offer references for those working in HIV/AIDS-related activities.
In this booklet, UNAIDS attempts to capture details of a range of Best Practices in sub-Saharan Africa in order to provide useful lessons and offer references for all actors of the IPAA. It is by no means comprehensive or complete: there are many other Best Practices in Africa that have been documented in the previous issue of the Best Practices Summary Booklet or will be documented in upcoming issues.
Where do Best Practices come from?
Sources of Best Practice are wide. They include UN system staff, non-governmental organizations, government representatives and agencies, community groups, and individuals. Sometimes Best Practice is identified through small or mass media. UNAIDS gratefully acknowledges the work of its staff, but especially acknowledges the diligent efforts of the field staff of its cosponsors (UNDCP, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, and the World Bank), the chairs of the United Nations Theme Groups on HIV/AIDS, and other partners to provide the lessons learned for the summary booklet.
Submissions usually arrived in electronic files, often with detailed supporting documents. Others, sometimes hand-written, arrive in the mail from non-governmental and community organizations and from independent researchers - that is, from people working on the front lines of the response to HIV/AIDS. Some of these have been accepted for publication almost verbatim. Still others have been gleaned from journals, project reports, and even from newspapers and magazines.
While some of the practices have been the subject of formal evaluation processes, most have not. This may seem odd in a publication devoted to Best Practice, but there is a reason for it that is based solidly in the reality of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Formal evaluation of the type practised by academic and government institutions is often a slow, complicated, and expensive process that can take more professional time and cost more than the actual process being evaluated - and that should be planned as part of a practice's life span. The majority of practices detailed in this summary were oriented towards action rather than methodological "purity"; many were formed by grassroots organizations and individuals, few of which have the resources or in-house expertise for formal evaluation.
For this reason, many of the practices do not present evaluation information per se. In all cases, however, the outcomes and lessons learned provide whatever information is available on outputs and impacts.
Using the Summary Booklet
Currently, UNAIDS collects and publishes information on over 50 topic areas related to HIV/AIDS. The practices described in this summary are organized, first, according to their main topic areas. Each practice is preceded by a brief introduction to the topic. Since most practices are relevant to more than one topic area (for instance, a national fund for high-cost drugs would be categorized first under access to drugs, but it is also related to human rights, ethics, and law), an index is provided at the end of the summary. This permits practices to be found by their secondary topic areas, as well as by country.
We have tried to provide complete contact information so that readers can get additional information on practices that interest them. Where possible, each practice contains a section called Further Reading, in which readers will find bibliographic references for obtaining more information (some of this is available on the Internet, and full electronic addresses are provided. An electronic version of the full Summary Booklet database is available at www.unaids.org/bestpractice/collection/summary/index.html.)