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Not long ago, AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria looked unstoppable. In many countries, AIDS devastated an entire generation, leaving countless orphans and shattered communities. Malaria killed young children and pregnant women unable to protect themselves from mosquitoes or to access the right medicine. Tuberculosis unfairly afflicted the poor, as it had for millennia.

Partners in global health came together, to fight back. By working together, by pooling resources and expertise, and by involving people affected by the diseases, civil society, the private sector and governments, we have made progress way beyond what seemed possible.

Today, the Global Fund issued a Results Report, showing that health investments made through the Global Fund have saved 17 million lives, expanding opportunity and achieving greater social justice for families and communities worldwide. Even better, the report shows that advances in science and innovative solutions are accelerating progress at an ever faster-rate, getting us on track to reach 22 million lives saved by the end of next year.

But it’s no time to celebrate. We are only half way there. Tremendous challenges in global health still await us. Adolescent girls are contracting HIV at a terrible rate in southern Africa. TB/HIV co-infection is on the rise, as is multidrug-resistant TB. Gains made against malaria could be lost if we don’t expand prevention and treatment programs.

We have to concentrate on several key areas, including focus on adolescent girls and women, advancing human rights, and building resilient and sustainable systems for health.

Many more lives are still at risk. We must seize the momentum, embrace ambition and move faster to end HIV, TB and malaria as epidemics. Let’s remember that it has been a magnificent display of the human spirit that has gotten us so far. The greatest reward for this collective achievement lies not in the massive number – 17 million – but in the impact every life saved has for a loved one, family, friend, community and nation.

A life saved from AIDS is a mother who can raise her daughter and teach her about staying safe from HIV. A life saved from TB is a father who can return to work and earn a living to support his family. A life saved from malaria is a child who thrives beyond her 5th birthday and becomes a doctor, or perhaps the next President of Liberia.

The achievements of the Global Fund partnership are the results of determination to make our world better and more just, with contributions by governments, civil society, the private sector and people affected by HIV, TB and malaria. The people whose lives have been saved owe their thanks most of all to the partners on the ground, who do the hard work of preventing and treating and caring for those affected by these diseases.

As world leaders gather next week to formulate Sustainable Development Goals, as building blocks for improving the lives of billions of people, the achievements of global health can serve as a model for what can be achieved when communities come together and aim for common goals, like a world free from the burden on AIDS, TB, and malaria.

- By Mark Dybul, first published in Voices

The slogan of The Sunflower Fund is ‘Share a Little, Save a Life’, and I would like to give you an opportunity on 16 September 2015 to make a difference in the life of someone suffering from leukaemia or other life-threatening blood disorders.

Every year thousands of South Africans are diagnosed with leukaemia, a cancer of the blood or bone marrow. For those unable to stay in remission with chemotherapy alone, a bone marrow stem cell transplant becomes a life-saving treatment option, but only if they can find a perfect donor match.

The Sunflower Fund aims to give those diagnosed with leukaemia and other life-threatening blood disorders the chance of life, irrespective of their race and financial circumstances.

I will be running 250km from 4-10 October 2015 through the Atacama Desert in Chile to generate support and awareness for the work of The Sunflower Fund in South Africa.

The purpose of my association with The Sunflower Fund – before, during and after my run in Chile – is three-fold:

  • Raise awareness about leukaemia and other life-threatening blood disorders;
  • Raise awareness about the objectives and activities of The Sunflower Fund in response to the above; and
  • Encourage more South Africans to become bone marrow stem cell donors.

One of my key activities before departing for Chile is to give anyone living in or around Johannesburg an opportunity to become a potential stem cell donor.

All you need to do is follow two simple steps:

  • Read the Donor information and then phone The Sunflower Fund Toll Free Number, 0800 12 10 82 (weekdays, 8h30- 16h30), by Friday, 11 September 2015, to complete the pre-registration process. Someone will check if you meet the criteria to become a donor (e.g. you have to be younger than 45 years of age), and process your Sunflower / SABMR Registration Form. Please use ‘Atacama Project’ as your reference when you call.
  • Have a normal blood test (two test tubes) on Wednesday, 16 September 2016 (9h00-15h00), at The Sunflower Fund’s office in the Brightwater Commons in Randburg.

Both processes will only take a few minutes to complete.

But you have to complete the pre-registration process by Friday, 11 September 2015, in order for The Sunflower Fund to cover the full cost of your blood test on the 16th. 

What happens thereafter?

Your blood sample will be analysed (called ‘tissue typing’) and put on the national database – South African Bone Marrow Registry (SABMR). You will only be called back to donate bone marrow stem cells, which is similar to donating blood or platelets, if they are ever a perfect match for a patient.

The odds of being a match are about 1: 100 000 which is why The Sunflower Fund needs your help to mobilise as many donors as possible.

Please spread the word about this initiative among your family, friends and colleagues, and join us on 16 September 2015!

I am excited about supporting The Sunflower Fund over the next few weeks, and invite you to join me on this journey.

Follow updates on my blog, Facebook and Twitter, and via The Sunflower Fund’s various online platforms.

The theme of the event was ‘The Next Step in Innovation for Good Governance: Moving the Dialogue Forward from Potential to Impact’.
 
Buntwani 2015 was a global gathering of actors from the civil society, technology, donor, research, government and policy sectors focusing on the intersection of governance and innovation. It provided a platform for reflection, analysis and candid dialogue on the impact of technology-supported initiatives aimed at empowering citizens to voice their concerns and demands, and improving governments' responsiveness and accountability to their citizens.
 
The Buntwani team hosted two one-hour tweet chats in the period leading up to the event, and a third and final #BuntwaniChat will be held on Wednesday, 2 September 2015, in the following timeslot/s:
 
9h00, New York / 14h00, London & Lagos / 15h00, Johannesburg / 16h00, Nairobi / 18h30, New Delhi.
 
The topic to be covered is - "Buntwani 2015 - 'What have we learned and the way forward"
 
Refer to www.buntwani.org/tweet-chat or https://twitter.com/Buntwani for more information about the tweet chats, and https://storify.com/Jayeesh75/buntwani-chat and
https://storify.com/Jayeesh75/second-buntwanichat-19-august-2015 for Storify summaries of the previous two tweet chats.
 
The #hashtags used during the tweet chats are #BuntwaniChat and #Buntwani.
 
We invite you to participate in today's #BuntwaniChat, share this information in your networks and encourage others to join the conversation.

David Barnard
Vice-President: Africa
TechSoup Global
Tel: +27 82 870 8968
E-mail: dbarnard@techsoupglobal.org
Twitter: @david_barnard / @TechSoupAfrica
 
On behalf of Making All Voices Count (MAVC), Open Institute and TechSoup Global.

In the past few years we have worked with various Non-Governmental Organisation focusing on various organisational functions such as fundraising, developing Monitoring and Evaluation systems, Human Resource Management, Governance, strategic planning and others. Whatever the functions, we have always started processes with building a comprehensive profile and audit of the organisation across all aspects of organisational functioning.
 
When requesting information from organisations on whatever subject we are continuously referred to the dreaded TPA (Transfer Payment Agreements as signed with Department of Social Development –DSD).

  • When requesting job descriptions of for example social workers we are forwarded of list of activities and targets as detailed in the TPA.Quite often there are no other job descriptions that reflect Key Performance Indicators and results based outcomes.
  • When requesting organisational Bussiness plans we are forwarded a number of separate bussiness plans for the various DSD Priority areas within a province, or across provinces.Quite often the organisations do not have an incorporated or combined bussiness plan for their organisation, or a plan for where they see the organisation going in the future.
  • The same applies when requesting budgets – a number of separate, project based budgets according to the requirements and formats of DSD. There is limited evidence of organisational financial management and growth, but rather post management and limited operational financial management according to the TPA.
  • When one starts talking about strategic development and needs based services, you are informed that DSD does not fund this or that – and that is quite often the end of the discussion.
  • Going on to Monitoring and Evaluation and attempting to build a comprehensive M & E system, the requirements of the TPA, and the onsite M & E Assessments of DSD most often guides and limits discussion
  • Geographical service delivery is limited to where funding has been allocated by the TPA.The same applies to the development of new services and program development 

The establishment and development of the Non-Governmental field was based on the fact that they could be innovative, flexible, independent, as well as responsive to the needs of the community on grassroots level.  In the economic world, the era of big bussiness included the forcing out of the competition, and gaining control of the market.  It seems that the same is happening in the social development field, with the less powerful NGO’s merely being Mini Me’s of the DSD department.
 
It seems that the original vision, mission and objectives that led to the establishment of many Non-Governmental organisations, is now fully guided and limited by their TPA stipulates.  It further seems that the identity of various organisations are being gobbled up by the larger Big Brother who controls the purse strings. Many NGO’s are not adhering fully to the purpose of their founding, but rather to the vision of Government’s Social Development goals. If we don’t reverse this trend, we will optimally be in a place, where one question the continued existence of, and need for, NGO’s.

Dr Maureen Van Wyk, the executive director of HIV and AIDS networking organisation, NACOSA, recently celebrated 10 years at the helm. In the years since she joined the Cape Town-based organisation, the national AIDS response and funding environment have changed dramatically. Maureen shares her observations, challenges and learnings from a decade leading a non profit network.

Seeing the Difference

When Maureen joined NACOSA in 2005, it was a small operation with a handful of staff operating on a limited budget within the Western Cape. Under her leadership, NACOSA has grown into a major player in the HIV/AIDS and TB field (it is a principle recipient for the Global Fund and partners with USAID and PEPFAR and government), with a national network of 1,500 organisations, over 70 staff and channels resources to deliver services on the ground in all nine provinces.

"I’ve worked in government and I’ve worked at a university and I’ve chosen to work in civil society because of the dynamic nature of it, the engagement and interaction with issues,” says Maureen when asked why she has chosen to work within civil society for so long. “Unlike in government, there is not much bureaucracy and one can really make a difference and actually see the difference that one makes."

Van Wyk, who has a PhD in Social Development from the University of Pretoria, has noticed a sea change in the sector over the last ten years: "It has become more professional and more accountable because donors expect to see value for their money. In the past, many organisations were funded without clear deliverables but now the scenario has changed. Many NGOs have gone under but others have grown."

HIV Response

"The HIV response has grown tremendously. Ten years ago was just the beginning of treatment in South Africa and today we have the largest treatment programme in the world. The knowledge and information we had back then was very limited whereas today we have a fantastic multi-sectoral HIV response in the country in terms of prevention, treatment, care and human rights."

The fruits of this coordinated response are being realised with declining incidence rates, increased life expectancy and a dramatic reduction in mother-to-child HIV transmission. The burgeoning HIV response is mirrored by NACOSA’s own growth. "I think my greatest achievement is building NACOSA from a small Western Cape-focused organisation to an organisation that significantly participates and impacts on the HIV response in the country,” Van Wyk reflects. “We now work in all provinces and thousands of people at grassroots level benefit from the funding that we manage."

As Principal Recipient for the Global Fund alone, NACOSA has channelled over $60 million to community organisations across the country, achieving an A1 rating (the highest) for the duration of Phase I of the grant.

Challenges

But growth and success hasn’t come without its challenges, the biggest of which has been accessing sustainable and consistent funding from local donors. "If you look at the funding scenario right now, you will find that the HIV response is largely funded by international donors. We would have liked more funding to come from local donors and government."

Funding and resource issues are by far the biggest challenge facing NACOSA member organisations at the moment. The majority of respondents in a recent member survey reported lack of funding (63%), staffing or human resource shortages (44%), unreliable or inconsistent funding (41%) and access to information about funding and other opportunities (30%) as major challenges. Lack of technical skills was listed by 20% of respondents and staff retention, funding for salaries, lack of equipment and office space and “lack of local political will” were also reported by some members.

"I would like to see a better, more committed government response in terms of funding for civil society in South Africa,” says Van Wyk. “We work in at grassroots level, where government cannot reach, and we need a more sustainable funding streams from local government as well as provincial government.”

The current trend towards the pooling of corporate social investment funding for health and education is further eroding access to funding by small, grassroots organisations. Despite her wish for more meaningful engagement with local donors, Dr Van Wyk cautions: “It is vital that international funding also stays consistent to maintain our current HIV response."

Women in Leadership

"What is challenging women in South Africa is the old, outdated, patriarchal way of thinking about gender roles and what is expected and what is not expected of a woman,” notes Van Wyk who, having worked in the heavily gendered HIV field for ten years, also acknowledges: “Honestly, this also affects the men because gender stereotyping prevents people, both males and females, from being the person they could be and want to be."

"Women in management positions, particularly in civil society, face many challenges: fundraising, managing a diverse staff as well as running all their programs. Unlike in other institutions where you have a lot of support functions, in the NGO sector, the leader has to be multi-skilled. Luckily for me, NACOSA has more support systems in place and we’ve got fantastic staff."

An informed, skilled and committed board has also been a great support to Dr Van Wyk over the years.

Advice

As for her advice to other women – or men – in civil society leadership roles: "It is important to keep your strategic focus, even through difficult times, to see the bigger picture.”

“We have many strong examples of women leading NGOs in South Africa,” she concludes. “My advice is to remain focused, passionate and always keep your integrity. It is important to find a balance between the work that needs to be done and making sure that your staff works in an environment where they feel respected."

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