Cover Image
close this bookUNAIDS and Nongovernmental Organizations (Best Practice - Key Material) (UNAIDS, 1999, 40 p.)
close this folderChapter 2: Examples of UNAIDS partnerships with NGOs
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAt the global level
View the documentAt the regional level
View the documentAt country level
View the documentNetworking at country level


Partnerships with civil society have been developed in a number of ways in the three years since UNAIDS was set up. Guidelines are currently being prepared to explain how partnerships work at all levels, what UNAIDS has to offer to civil society organizations, and how civil society can enhance the expanded response to the epidemic.

An important part of the process is communication. In Geneva, the UNAIDS NGO Liaison Office is establishing a pool of key partners at the global level so that information paths to civil society organizations can be developed and sustained. News of this pool will be included in the monthly UNAIDS newsletter, The Action Brief.

Many partnerships have already been set up between UNAIDS and NGOs, at global, regional and country levels. The following are some examples.

At the global level

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the Liga Colombiana de Lucha Contra el SIDA, in partnership with UNAIDS, organized a consultation to find ways of better meeting the needs of men who have sex with men (MSM). While a large proportion of HIV-infected people in this region are men who have sex with men, their needs have not been adequately recognized and discrimination is commonplace. The consultation brought together representatives of national AIDS programmes, NGOs and UN Theme Groups on HIV/AIDS. At the consultation, UNAIDS agreed to support the publication of a technical document Strategies and guidelines for action: HIV/AIDS prevention, care and support programmes for MSM in Latin America and the Caribbean. The collaboration has led to the integration of MSMrelated issues in the region and to efforts to attract greater national, regional and international funding for MSM projects. A similar consultation has also recently taken place in Asia.

In Europe, UNAIDS has worked in partnership with the British NGO, AHRTAG (now HealthLink Worldwide), and the Network of Sexwork Projects to produce a manual entitled Making sex work safe, for distribution in developing countries. UNAIDS has also collaborated with the Network of Sexwork Projects on their programme documents and in helping the network find funds for its activities.

In North America, UNAIDS has helped the Global Health Council bring AIDS-related topics to the attention of the mainstream media. And in partnership with the Canadian NGO, Street Kids International, UNAIDS supported the production of a video for street children, helping youth related NGOs at country level reach out to street children. Local-language versions of this video are also being developed.

Groups for people with HIV or AIDS are a vital link in public health strategies through their work in prevention, and UNAIDS welcomes partnerships with groups that work towards this goal. To this end, UNAIDS sponsored nine women with HIV to attend the 6th International Conference on Women and AIDS in Africa in December 1996. This active participation of HIV-positive women was hailed as an important step, and led to the election of one of the women as a vice-president of the Society for Women and AIDS in Africa.

In May 1998, UNAIDS collaborated with UNDP’s ‘HIV and Development Regional Project’ in West Africa and GTZ’s regional AIDS programme to enable twelve regional networks on HIV/AIDS and STDs to hold a meeting in Abidjan, Cd’Ivoire. Through this gathering, a wide range of networks started to share experiences and to develop ways of working together.

In partnership with the UK NGO AIDS Consortium, UNAIDS brought together, in February 1998, 27 global-level development agencies for a consultation on how to expand HIV work among development agencies working in developing countries. A report was produced from this meeting, entitled ‘Pathways to collaboration’. A meeting with the Spanish organization FASE identified ways UNAIDS could work in partnership with Spanish NGOs to make Spanish language materials available in Latin America. And Caritas Internationalis and UNAIDS have agreed to form a partnership focusing on human rights around HIV/AIDS, ethical issues and care.

At the regional level

The Intercountry Teams in East and Southern Africa, West and Central Africa and Asia-Pacific all work with civil society. Their priorities are to provide technical support to governments and UNAIDS Cosponsors, and to promote the involvement of civil society. The Intercountry Teams focus mainly on issues crossing national boundaries - such as drug use, refugees and migration. The Intercountry Teams have set up partnerships with civil society organizations to disseminate information and share experiences and information. An example is the partnership with SAfAIDS in Zimbabwe, where a ‘UNAIDS Focus’ page is included in the organization’s quarterly newsletter.

The West and Central African Intercountry Team has joined up with the International Planned Parenthood Federation to carry out and monitor a large-scale project integrating HIV/AIDS into reproductive health services in francophone Africa. It has also supported other activities, including a regional symposium on women and HIV/AIDS, and research on gender issues with the African AIDS Research Network.

The team has also collaborated with other NGOs, such as Enda-Santn Dakar, Senegal, that has particular skills in doing translations and documentation, and in mobilizing human resources in the region.

The East and Southern Africa Intercountry Team has - among other activities - provided technical assistance on strategic planning, and financial support to the Southern Africa Network of AIDS Service Organizations (SANASO), in partnership with the regional programme of the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). The team also helped them organize their regional meeting in Swaziland.

In the Asia-Pacific region, UNAIDS has worked with the Asia Pacific Council of AIDS Service Organizations (APCASO) to provide capacity-building and technical support for its strategic planning meeting. This support included work on the facilitators’ workshop for the Community Forum held in Manila in 1997 during the International Conference on HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific. This Community Forum has helped community groups from across the region identify priorities, and will followed up by APCASO over the next three years.

Also in the Asia-Pacific region, a successful project involving partnerships has been the establishment of the (free) subscription-based computer information exchange, SEA-AIDS. This was financed by the World Bank and supported by the Asia-Pacific Intercountry Team. More than 1200 people and organizations now subscribe to this discussion group, with access to archive documents through the system. SEA-AIDS has proved of great value for NGOs, as well as for government and UN agencies. It has also led to the compiling of a Directory of HIV/AIDS information sources in the Asia Pacific region, for which the information was submitted through the e-mail network.

Regarding partnerships on specific issues at regional level, UNAIDS collaborated with the Macfarlane Burnett Centre in Australia to promote harm reduction activities in the Asia Pacific region. This collaboration included support for a meeting of the Asian Harm Reduction Network (AHRN) and a situation assessment of drug use in South-East and East Asia in the context of vulnerability to HIV. As a result, AHRN published a report entitled The hidden epidemic.

At country level

At country level, UNAIDS works within the UN’s Resident Coordinator System. In a particular country, the UNDP Resident Coordinator usually also takes on the role of UN coordinator. Most countries now have a UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS, convened by the Resident Coordinator. The core membership of a Theme Group consists of the agency heads of those UNAIDS Cosponsors and other UN agencies who are present in the country. The host government is invited to participate. At country level, UNAIDS can be seen as the sum of the AIDS-related activities carried out by the seven Cosponsors with the backing of UNAIDS staff, technical guidance and other resources.

In many developing countries there is now a UNAIDS Country Programme Adviser (CPA), supervised by the Theme Group chairperson in that country and reporting to UNAIDS Director of Country Planning and Programme Development in Geneva. The CPA is the normal point of contact for civil society organizations in UNAIDS at the country level. In their work on HIV/AIDS at country level, civil society organizations can also seek partnerships with UN Cosponsors, who have long-standing experience of work with NGOs. In countries where there is no CPA, the usual contact is through one of the Cosponsors.

There are, however, wide variations in the development of relations with civil society at country level. CPAs and Theme Groups have different levels of experience of working with civil society, and the development of civil society organizations varies in different countries and regions. The involvement of civil society in Theme Group work can be enhanced by:

· expanding the Theme Group to include representatives of different interest groups

· expanding the Theme Group’s Technical Working Group to include civil society representatives

· organizing a standing consultative forum to enable regular contact between the Theme Group and interested parties

· holding ad hoc meetings with particular individuals or organizations on specific topics.

Networking at country level

In Africa, with the support of CPAs, a number of Theme Groups have been successful in working with networks within civil society. For example, the Zimbabwean AIDS Network has collaborated with the local Theme Group and CPA to help NGOs in the country work more closely together. Joint field trips have helped solidify this partnership. Namibia’s Theme Group on HIV/AIDS has also started on a project to bring together NGOs and other organizations working on HIV/AIDS who had previously been working in isolation.

In late 1997, after nearly two years of collaboration with UNAIDS and the AIDS Task Force in Fiji, APCASO was able to establish a network of NGOs stretching across the Pacific Island countries.

In Mozambique, UNAIDS has set up a technical and financial partnership with a group of eight NGOs, including a pioneering project to prevent the spread of HIV among military personnel. And the Mauritius Family Planning Association has worked with UNAIDS to establish a peer education project for women who, having left school early to work in factories, had had no sex education.