Resume and Map

Management

Assessment / Evaluation

Research

The Process of Creating and Nurturing a NGO

Body

I was an Associate Consultant for the International HIV/AIDS Alliance.  The Alliance created HIV/AIDS prevention and care programs in developing countries by identifying and nurturing in-country organizations that provided grants and technical assistance to local NGOs who, in turn, provided direct care and prevention services.  The process involved identifying potential partner organizations and/or staff to start new organizations.  There was a long-term commitment to the process.  One large project involved creating an NGO in Sri Lanka and providing, with other Associate Consultants, the necessary technical assistance to create and nurture a new organization.  This involved a good deal of strategic planning, organizational management, helping to create fiscal controls, and establishing criteria and procedures for quality control. Two reports are attached, showing an array of activities from monitoring and fiscal management to strategic planning and systems planning.

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A REPORT ON THE SIXTH FOLLOW-UP VISIT TO SRI LANKA 21 January - 3 February 1996
submitted by: Associate Consultants Mitchell Cohen Sia Norwrojee
TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. TERMS OF REFERENCE ........................................................................................................................ 1 2. 1996 PLANNING PROCESS.................................................................................................................... 1 2.1 Mission, Objectives and Values........................................................................................................................2 2.2 Establishing Priorities .......................................................................................................................................3 2.2.1 Workshop 3 2.2.1.1 Board and Staff Facilitation and Participation 4 2.2.1.2 NGO and Government Participation 4 2.2.1.3 Vulnerable Populations 4 2.2.1.4 Broad Agenda 5 2.2.2 Staff Review of the Workshop 5 2.2.3 Planning Retreat 6 2.3 Solicitation and Selection Process for Grants .................................................................................................6 2.4 Technical Assistance..........................................................................................................................................7 2.5 Monitoring and Review.....................................................................................................................................7 2.6 Board retreat......................................................................................................................................................8 2.7 Board participation and membership..............................................................................................................8 2.8 Planning and Budgeting....................................................................................................................................8 2.8.1 Review of 1995 8 2.8.2 Development of the 1996 Budget 9 2.8.3 Board Approval 9 2.8.4. Multi-Year Planning 9 2.8.5 Issues related to a one year budget 9 2.9 Alliance Lanka - International HIV/AIDS Alliance Relations ....................................................................10 2.10 External Relations .........................................................................................................................................10 2.11 Fund Raising ..................................................................................................................................................10 3. VANCOUVER ABSTRACT .................................................................................................................... 10 4. RESOURCE CENTER TOOLS .............................................................................................................. 10 5. INTERNET CONNECTIONS .................................................................................................................. 11 6. PROJECT VISITATIONS ....................................................................................................................... 11 6.1 Companions on a Journey ..............................................................................................................................11 6.2 Don Bosco.........................................................................................................................................................11 6.3. LAMSCO ........................................................................................................................................................12 7. LESSONS LEARNED............................................................................................................................. 12 ATTACHMENTS Attachment 1: Board meeting announcement and Draft Planning Document Attachment 2: IA review and planning framework Attachment 3: Draft 1996 Plan (also in file SRI96.doc) Attachment 4: Draft Budgets - files SRIB96.xls and SRIB96c) Attachment 5: Core values Attachment 6: Agenda for the workshop Attachment 7: Partial presentation of slides presented at the Workshop Attachment 8: Rappoteur’s report of the Workshop Attachment 9: Attendance log of the Workshop Attachment 10: National Plan of Action Attachment 11: Review of Beneficiary workshops and field visits Attachment 12: Draft abstract for the XI International AIDS Conference in Vancouver
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1. TERMS OF REFERENCE A team of two Associate Consultants (ACs), Mitchell Cohen and Sia Nowrojee, visited Sri Lanka from January 29 - February 2, 1996 on behalf of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance (IA). Their terms of reference were to work with the Secretariat, Alliance Lanka (AL) to: 1. Complete the 1995 review process begun during the visit of the IA Executive Director in December, 1995. 2. Develop two alternative 1996 workplans, one based on funds already secured for AL 1996 activities; the second based on anticipated funds. The workplans were developed within the broader context of a three year vision. 3. Review fundraising expectations. 4. Facilitate a planning workshop with representatives from the National STD AIDS Control Programme (NSACP), NGOs, CBOs, vulnerable populations, and AL staff and board members to identify priorities areas for NGO responses to HIV/AIDS, and more specifically, for AL's 1996 workplan. 5. Facilitate a joint meeting of the Boards of Management (BM) and Board of Advisors (BA) to review and approve the draft 1996 workplan. 6. Discuss AL's relationship with the IA, as well as other external relations; The ACs also worked with the Secretariat on: 1. Assisted the secretariat to write abstracts for the upcoming International Conference on HIV/AIDS in Vancouver 2. Developing procedures for solicitation and selection of beneficiaries; 3. Reviewed and assisted in the development of the resource center 4. Met with representatives from the BM and BA 5. Visited selected projects. Towards the end of the AC visit, a special joint meeting of the BM and BA was called, to review and approve the draft 1996 workplan and budget. The meeting was chaired by Professor Sheriffdeen, Chair of the BA. (See Attachment 1 for board meeting announcement and Draft Plan presented to Board) 2. 1996 PLANNING PROCESS This was AL's first planning process based on comprehensive guidelines and a review of the previous year. The ACs followed the International HIV/AIDS Alliance (IA) review and planning framework (See Attachment 2). An outline of the 1996 plan was drafted, presented and approved at a joint meeting of the BM and BA. Their input was incorporated into the Alliance Lanka - 1996 Plan and detailed budget that the Executive Director will finalize, based on further input from the Boards and the IA. The draft plan is
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shown in Attachment 3 and Draft Budget in Attachment 4. The background Planning Budgeting Program is found in an Excel spreadsheet file SRI96.xls. The text of this report complements the attached 1996 Planning document and budget with a focus on process and lessons learned. 2.1 Mission, Objectives and Values During the planning process, the mission statement of AL was revised by Mr. Benedict, Chair of the BM, as outlined below. These changes were approved by the BM and BA: First Mission Statement: To assist local non-governmental and community based organizations engaged in HIV/AIDS prevention, care and community support of the infected and the vulnerable, with a nationally articulated, culturally sensitive strategy, thereby contributing to the global efforts to contain the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Revised Mission Statement: To enhance the capacity of Sri Lankan communities to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS by assisting local NGOs and CBOs to develop innovative approaches for prevention, care and support of infected and vulnerable populations, thereby contributing to the global effort to contain the pandemic. The revisions reflect increasing clarity on AL's role in the Sri Lankan response to HIV/AIDS, emphasizing the importance of capacity building; the involvement of the ultimate beneficiaries of NGOs and CBOs - Sri Lankan communities; the need to encourage innovative responses; and the needs of the infected and the vulnerable populations. In addition to a mission statement, a three year General Goal for 1996 - 1998 was established. It is: To support the activities of NGOs and CBOs to promote norms and behaviors that reduce the risk of STD or HIV transmission; to promote services for people facing the challenge of AIDS; to advocate for empowerment, legal and human rights of those infected and vulnerable. During the review process prior to the AC visit, the ten specific objectives of AL agreed upon during the initial planning process in 1994 (See Report of the Fourth Visit to Sri Lanka), were consolidated into three broad objectives: 1. To provide financial and technical support to NGOs and CBOs to build their capacity and conduct effective and sustainable HIV/AIDS/STD programs and related activities. 2. To mobilize a broad range of NGOs and CBOs to become involved with HIV/AIDS and sexual health activities, to encourage collaboration and share information
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amongst NGOs and CBOs working on HIV/AIDS, and to facilitate collaboration between NGOs/CBOs and the government. 3. To develop Alliance Lanka's own capacity to provide support to NGOs/CBOs, to mobilize and facilitate collaboration, to raise funds and report to donors, and to manage its own affairs. These objectives encompass the three main areas of AL's work: • • • Providing direct support to NGOs and CBOs; Facilitating and mobilizing NGO support mechanism; Enhancing AL's own capacity to provide technical assistance.
During the joint session of the BM and BA at the end of the AC visit, these three objectives were approved as guiding principals for AL's work in the next three years (1996-1998). During work with the secretariat and at the Planning Workshop AL's core values (See Attachment 5) were reviewed and maintained without changes. 2.2 Establishing Priorities AL identified its priorities for 1996 through a consultative process including the broader NGO and CBO community, the National STD/AIDS Control Programme (NSACP), representatives from vulnerable populations, board members and staff. A key activity in this process was a workshop designed to elicit priorities for NGO activities on HIV/AIDS. Additionally, AL staff and board members worked together after the workshop to refine the priorities for 1996. 2.2.1 Workshop AL hosted an all-day planning workshop on January 28, 1996, at which 35 representatives of the NSACP, NGOs, CBOs, and vulnerable populations, as well as AL staff and Board members participated. The Agenda for the workshop is found in Attachment 6. The workshop provided participants with the opportunity to identify priorities for NGOs responding to HIV/AIDS in Sri Lanka, to suggest priorities for AL in 1996, and discuss AL's role in the national response to HIV/AIDS. The Workshop included presentations on the current situation of HIV/AIDS and future directions for action in Sri Lanka; the priorities of the NSACP and anticipated role of NGOs; ideas for new project ideas; and a review of AL's 1995 work and objectives for 1996. (See Attachment 7 for partial presentation of slides presented at the Workshop.) The agenda included participatory sessions on the role of NGOs, the definition and needs of vulnerable populations, and identifying priorities for 1996. The staff acted as rappoteurs of the sessions. See Attachment 8 for their report of Planning Workshop and attachments.
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2.2.1.1 Board and Staff Facilitation and Participation The 1996 planning workshop was largely facilitated by AL board and staff members. Board members utilized a broad range of facilitation and presentation skills and Board members were provided translation of several sessions were conducted in both English and Sinhala. Staff members actively participated in the planning of the workshop, and the Executive Assistant, Information Officer and Intern served as rappoteurs for the meeting. 2.2.1.2 NGO and Government Participation The workshop was well attended by a range of NGOs, including those represented by the BM and BA, a care and support organization, and women's organizations (see Attachment 9). Representatives from the NSACP, Mr. Arulananthan and Dr. Thiloma Munasinghe, presented on an overview of the National Plan of Action. To a large degree the National Plan of Action did not include a role for NGOs (Attachment 10). It is a lengthy wish list of HIV/AIDS programs and projects that are mostly not funded. Funding sources, when identified, are UNAIDS, UNDP, and WHO. In the discussion following the Government presentation, the participants agreed that the government and NGOs must work together in responding to HIV/AIDS. Many NGO representatives felt that the NSACP should develop its plan with more input from NGOs, and the plan should recognize the work of NGOs that are not part of the government activities. For example, the role and needs of sexual minorities are not addressed in the Plan, but NGOs are working on this issue. There were differing sentiments in the workshop about the role that government should take in instructing and guiding NGOs. Some representatives felt it was their role to respond to government requests while others saw themselves as more independent in defining and acting on their own agenda. Dr. Munasinghe asked at one point in the discussion if the government could apply for AL funds to implement parts of their plan. the ACs were clear that Alliance funds were limited to NGO, and that one approach the government might take to align themselves with an NGO and promote the NGO’s involvement in their priority activities. 2.2.1.3 Vulnerable Populations The discussion concerning the broad definition of vulnerable populations and the needs of those populations indicated that the Boards and NGOs continue to narrowly define populations and believe that awareness of the deadly consequences of HIV is sufficient to produce behavior change. Representatives of vulnerable populations, including commercial sex workers (both women and men), brothel managers, a person living with HIV, men who have sex with men, and women's organizations attended the workshop. The session was co-facilitated by Board members, Professors Sheriffdeen and Hettiarchchy, who have demonstrated
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particular sensitivity to vulnerable populations, and between them, speak both Sinhala and Tamil. Unlike the similar session held in 1995, this session proved to a poor forum for highlighting the needs of vulnerable populations. A representative of a women's organization strongly objected to the format of the session, even if those invited had agreed to participate. She felt that vulnerable populations were being put on display in the sessions and that they were unable to participate. After a long speech and some discussion, she excused herself. A representative of Companions on a Journey, a gay organization, said he did not mind participating, but that the benefits of doing so were not readily apparent. Although he had participated the year before, he joined the women in protest and left the meeting. Unfortunately, neither of these participants suggested alternative formats for such a session. While other representatives of vulnerable populations representing beach boys and sex workers did express how they were coping with HIV infection and AIDS, the majority of the active participants in this session were representatives of CBOs who discussed the merits of including vulnerable populations in planning meetings and their interactions with vulnerable populations. The discussion following these protests raised a number of important questions about how to solicit the participation of vulnerable populations. Some participants felt that sessions like this were a good starting point because it exposed NGO professionals to members of vulnerable populations. Overall, the session provided the Secretariat with important input on how to conduct similar sessions in future (see section on Lessons Learned). 2.2.1.4 Broad Agenda Participants at the workshop contributed a broad range of ideas on the role of NGOs and priority issues for prevention, care and support; advocacy and policy; and capacity building. While there seems to be more awareness of the need for work in the areas of advocacy, policy and capacity building, the emerging list did not really build on, nor narrow down, the range of issues raised at the 1995 workshop. Overall, the scope of issues raised during the workshop illustrates the continued need for a broad agenda for NGOs responding to HIV/AIDS in Sri Lanka and the range of emerging risks and needs. The low prevalence reported throughout the country made it difficult for participants to focus on priority areas or populations. The lists developed in the meeting provided the material for establishing the broad priorities that emerged from the planning retreat attended by the ACs and Executive Director. 2.2.2 Staff Review of the Workshop The day after the workshop the ACs and AL staff reviewed the meeting. While Sunil, the AL’s Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, and Chula, AL’s Administrative Assistant, were sensitive to several of the issues raised about funding and priorities, Mr. Jayarynte (Program Officer) and Cyril (Financial Officer) did not appear to comprehend the
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mission or goals of the workshop. Notably, Mr. Jayarynte left mid-way through the workshop. 2.2.3 Planning Retreat After the Planning Workshop, and discussions with staff, the ACs and Executive Director spent one and half days at a planning retreat, discussing and consolidating the information gathered into a draft document, including the role of NGOs, and specific priorities under each of the objectives. The ACs and AL Executive Director also discussed secretariat organizational development, staff , board development, selection of beneficiaries, technical assistance and monitoring and review procedures, AL/IA relations, external relations, and fundraising. The outcome of the retreat and the following days activities was the draft 1996 Plan, including the budget that was presented to the BM and BA. 2.3 Solicitation and Selection Process for Grants In 1996, AL is committed to better supporting NGOs and CBOs to move beyond traditional awareness raising activities and to submit proposals for creative project ideas that are realistic and sustainable, and have clear indicators of success. As indicated in the Attached 1996 Plan this will be done through more focused and strategic solicitation of projects, with increased technical support for project development. The BA and BM recognized that while the workshop had elicited a broad range of issues, AL needed to select priorities for 1996. It was agreed that small grants could support projects that addressed any of the priorities identified, but that the medium and larger grants would be solicited in a more focused manner, to address those priorities that the Secretariat had highlighted, based on the planning workshop discussions, discussions with staff and others. The need to have the selection process more transparent and include more persons was discussed, but no final plan was developed. There was a general consensus to have the small grants reviewed on an ongoing basis with the secretariat providing the initial review and recommendations to the BA. The BA would make the final selections unless there was a conflict of interest, at which time procedures in place to eliminate conflict of interest would be executed. For medium and large grants, there would continue to be letters of intent, followed by TA for those selected from the secretariat and proposals would be submitted to expert panels for review. The panels would make their recommendations to the BA and the BA will make the final selections. The principles of involving affected communities and a diverse panel of reviewers was agreed upon, however there was no final decision on the composition of the expert panels. These will be decided on by the Secretariat and the Boards.
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The workshop raised a range of issues around care and support. At the joint BM and BA meeting Several board members raised concerns about confidentiality and authenticity around requests for care and support by people living with HIV/AIDS and their families. There was some misunderstanding on the Board about the differences between anonymous and confidential services. Some board members raised questions about how to accept requests from PLWH/A if they were to be confidential and how to prove that requests for support were actually coming from people living with HIV or AIDS. There is clearly a need to operationalize the concepts of confidentiality for Board members and beneficiaries. It was agreed that AL should solicit requests for support from NGOs and CBOs working with people living with HIV/AIDS or vulnerable populations requiring particular support, and that they should be supported if their applications satisfy AL's selection criteria. 2.4 Technical Assistance The need for TA is determined by the Alliance secretariat and the beneficiaries. On the Alliance Lanka Projects Proposal Form there is a page for the beneficiary to specify TA needs. From the workshop and general discussion with board members and beneficiaries there is a need for a better understanding of what TA the Alliance can provide and its overall purpose. The Executive Director is aware of the importance of TA and, as indicated in the 1996 Plan, is preparing a database of consultants. In 1995 the staff performed the most of the TA. During the AC visit, there was limited time to discuss TA visits to projects, and in many instances they were combined with monitoring and review visitations. It is clear that AL needs additional personnel and expertise to effectively perform TA and that there is presently no quality control of TA by the Secretariat. The 1996 Plan indicates that the May/June IA consultancy will include TA to beneficiaries and holding an evaluation and monitoring workshop. There is also a list of other TA areas identified by AL. They indicate that monitoring is largely based on a assessment of whether tasks have been done and are not qualitative. There is little, if any, monitoring done on expenditures. It is unclear whether the monitoring officer uses the initial plan, which specified monitoring and outcome indicators. 2.5 Monitoring and Review In 1995 the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer visited several sites. At the ACs request, staff provided copies of their 1995/6 site visit reports, as well as a summary of workshops held by AL during 1995. The ACs did not question beneficiaries about their impression of the monitoring and evaluation of their projects. A summary of these visits is shown in Attachment 11. The report summaries show the challenge in moving beneficiaries from awareness models of prevention to participatory programs, and an awareness of the task by the Sunil Ratnayake. The organizational restructure plan places the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer under the Program Director and relies more heavily on Field Officers. It notes that the goal of
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monitoring is to “assist the beneficiaries in overcoming obstacles to their plan and modifying their plan...”. It will be a challenge to shift the focus of the monitoring from an auditing function for the secretariat to a TA function for the beneficiary. It suggests a stronger reliance of the development of indicators with the beneficiary, their measurement, and engaging in a dialogue with the beneficiary. The Executive Director is committed to the role of monitoring and evaluation and has scheduled a workshop in 1996 to her staff and beneficiaries. 2.6 Board retreat At the combined BA and BM Board meeting there was a lively discussion on the value of the Boards coming together for a retreat, to discuss issues beyond usual board business. Many members felt that they are too busy, and are reluctant to commit to yet another workshop. Others were concerned about the appearance of the boards meeting at a fancy hotel when they could just as easily meet at AL and anticipate criticism from the NGO community. It was agreed that a one day session, in Colombo but not at the AL office (to avoid distractions), might be useful to discuss issues such as BM and BA roles and responsibilities, board-Secretariat relations, and institutional policies, particularly as AL supports more policy and advocacy work on HIV/AIDS. 2.7 Board participation and membership At the joint BA and BM meeting, the was a discussion of perceived lack of support of AL by some Board Members. The discussion was in response to anonymous letters sent to some ministries questioning the fiscal integrity and national interest of AL. It was agreed by the BM and BA that should board members miss three board meetings a year, that could be asked to leave the boards. This would ensure the active and supportive participation of all board members, as well as the chance to expand board membership. 2.8 Planning and Budgeting 2.8.1 Review of 1995 Reviewing the 1995 budget process and developing the 1996 budget took several days during the ACs visit. The planning budget tool developed by the Alliance was used in 1995 and 1996. As part of the process of developing the 1996 budget, the 1995 plan and budget was reviewed with the Secretariat. It was clear that the assumptions underlying the 1995 budget in almost all budget categories except salaries were not understood by the Financial Officer and consequently the assignment and reporting of expenditures in 1995 were somewhat arbitrary. The Executive Director had not been involved in the level of detailed monitoring that ensured funds were allocated according to budget categories or that assumptions underlying the budget figures were considered. The development of the 1996 budget necessitated clarifying AI budget categories and definitions.
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2.8.2 Development of the 1996 Budget Creating the 1996 budget using the planning and budgeting tools developed by the Alliance to create the 1996 budget was very helpful for the Executive Director and Financial Officer. As the substance underlying the budget evolved from the planningbudget process, the understanding of where the numbers came from and how they should be monitored and reported became clear. Two budgets were developed, one for Rs 10.5 million which reflected the funds already secured for AL activities by AL and a second budget was developed that assumed additional fund raising of Rs 7.65. The details of the two budgets are presented in the 1996 Plan and accompanying budget. 2.8.3 Board Approval When the proposed budget was presented as part of the Proposed 1996 Plan to the BM and BA the overall reaction was favorable. However, a Board member did highlight that the larger budget had a smaller percentage of the funds going to grants, and the impression that the larger grants added administrative expense at the cost of Grants. The Secretariat and ACs pointed out that the process of creating the budgets started with a larger budget and, in an attempt to cut all nonessential administrative costs in reducing the budget, support costs were dropped at the expense of leaving a greater amount of money for grants. The result was that the larger budget had more workshops and support but the percentage going directly to grants was smaller. Once understood the BA and BM were in agreement, but recommended that in circulating documents only one budget be presented to eliminate misinterpretations and confusion. 2.8.4. Multi-Year Planning The 1996 Plan’s Mission and General Goal were created with a three year perspective. In creating the 1996 budget, the lack of comprehension by the Financial Officer in what the budget categories stood for and the budget process meant that there was not sufficient time to create a multi-year budget. Given that the Financial Officer and Executive Director are more familiar with the planning-budget process, the creation of a multi-year budget can be undertaken during the year. 2.8.5 Issues related to a one year budget At the joint BM and BA meeting, many board members raised concerns about having AL's work based on a one year budget, particularly in relation to attracting qualified and invested staff and the process of planning beyond one year. The ACs reminded the board that the IA faces similar constraints in its own funding. They also stressed the value of institutional planning beyond one year, regardless of budgetary restrictions, particularly since fundraising looks promising in the year ahead. Board members strongly advocated for the need for multi-year funding to overcome the perceived limitations of a one year budget.
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2.9 Alliance Lanka - International HIV/AIDS Alliance Relations AL has a good, collaborative relationship with the IA. AL has received technical support on programmatic and management issues from IA staff and ACs, and the IA has benefited from working closely with one of the most developed linking organizations in its network. As AL builds its own capacity and creates a niche for itself in the NGO community, its relationship with the IA is moving more towards a partnership. The Executive Director emphasized the importance of open discussion and debate and transparency between AL staff and IA staff and ACs as this partnership develops. The issues about independence and fundraising are likely to be on the agenda in 1996 and will need attention. They should not, however, divert attention from the need for TA by the IA, particularly in the areas of program development, staff development and monitoring and evaluation. The link between budget and monitoring has been enhanced by the AC’s visit, but it will need reinforcement. Based on interactions with the Secretariat, once the Financial Office and Executive Director understand the assumptions behind the budget and their allocations to the different budget categories, many of the reporting problems that occurred in 1995 will be eliminated. 2.10 External Relations As AL increasingly impacts the NGO response to HIV/AIDS in Sri Lanka, the AL Secretariat and the BM and BA recognize external relations as important. However, at this stage of AL's development, it was agreed that developing external relations with the government, the media, the NGO and business communities should continue through AL's existing outreach and consultative strategies, and should not detract from AL's work to directly support NGOs and CBOs. Additionally, the BM and BA advised the Secretariat to exercise caution in developing relationships with government and the business community, particularly in relation to fundraising. The overall strategy is found in the Attached 1996 Plan. 2.11 Fund Raising As discussion are ongoing about fundraising between the IA and AL, the ACs had only very brief discussions with the AL about fundraising in the private sector. AL expressed a desire to maintain a 2% reserve fund and IA said they had no fundamental disagreement, but that concrete guidelines had to be established for the reserve fund. 3. VANCOUVER ABSTRACT On the first day of the Mission the ACs assisted with the writing of the Abstract for the XI International AIDS Conference in Vancouver. (See Attachment 12). 4. RESOURCE CENTER TOOLS One function of the Resource Center will be to collect and distribute HIV, AIDS and related material. To facilitate the archiving and retrieving of information, an AC modified a bibliographic data base and mail list database and trained the head of the Information Center on the use of the software. The adoption of the software is likely to require
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additional training. The ACs introduced resources available to the Resource Center through the Internet, but because an internet connection could not be established during the visit, did not demonstrate the use. 5. INTERNET CONNECTIONS The ACs spent time with the Secretariat reviewing the Internet / E-mail connection. It was observed that there is 2400 baud modem in the Secretariat machine. The supplier assured AL that they would assist in contacting Compaq to exchange the modem for a 14.4 modem. The type of internet service was upgraded to allow AL access to the Internet for the Resource Center and to tap into CompuServe. Due to the terrorist bombings and higher priorities during the mission, facilitating connections to CompuServe and training was deferred. Before the next mission, it would be useful to make sure that the modem is installed and software is available for training on the use of CompuServe and other internet links to HIV and AIDS information. 6. PROJECT VISITATIONS During the mission the one or both AC visited Companions on a Journey (not funded by AL) and the Don Bosco Center for Boys (partially funded by AL). 6.1 Companions on a Journey Companions on a Joinery is the only openly gay organization in Sri Lanka. Although AL does not fund Companions on a Journey, the ACs and Executive Director have been supportive of their efforts. With funding from the Dutch, they have rented a house where they plan to have support groups and provide HIV and AIDS education and a conference is during 1996. The start up has been slow and their Director has been the target of media and personal attacks. The House is rented but given the discrimination against openly gay persons, there are many barriers to the successful operation of the program. 6.2 Don Bosco The ACs were invited to spend an afternoon visiting the Don Bosco Center for Boys by AL board member Father Pinto. The ACs were given a tour of the vocational training centers, which include impressive electrical, mechanical, carpentry and computer facilities. The center trains as many as -- boys in these areas and places them in jobs after their training is complete. According to Father Pinto, there is no shortage of jobs. Some of the boys at the center are orphans, some are beach boys who have gone through the Don Bosco "rehabilitation" program, and others have been brought to Don Bosco by their parents. About a quarter of the boys are residents. One of the center's musical bands performed for the ACs and other guests. The talented band performed HIV/AIDS educational songs that they usually perform in area schools, as well as popular songs with applicable messages. After the concert, Father
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Pinto thanked AL for its support of the Don Bosco project and asked the ACs to distribute pocket sized calendars to the boys, funded by AL. The ACs then briefly addressed the boys, thanking them for their hospitality, and answered questions about HIV/AIDS. The boys' questions were focused on how you do and do not contract HIV. The ACs were also taken to visit the Rehabilitation Center for young boys, aged 7-11, who have been sexually abused, usually as beach boys. AL provides support for this project. As part of the rehabilitation program, the boys receive medical care (but not HIV testing), reading and writing classes, as well as instruction on "family values," spirituality and training in developing work ethic and discipline. The Center is currently at an old house, which includes a classroom/worship area, a dormitory room, a kitchen and dining room and a large garden. Unfortunately, the electricity had been cut at the Center, and it was difficult to really have a tour of the center. This is just one of the difficulties that Don Bosco has encountered with the facility. However, the government has recently donated another facility for this center, and Don Bosco will be able to increase the number of boys that it can provide services to. In the short visit of the ACs there was no evidence of coercion of the boys at the Center. Some of the posters on the wall at the Center were blatantly homophobic, and when this was discussed with Father Pinto, he indicated that he did not support discrimination of any kind, but the Church in general was not tolerant of homosexuality. The ACs asked that the poster be removed and that discriminatory and homophobic teachings not occur at the Center. This should be revisited on later Missions. 6.3. LAMSCO An AC had a brief discussion with LAMSCO regarding their efforts on the behalf of AL. AL believed it is already doing most of the financial management and reporting without LAMSCO. It is using LAMSCO’s system, but as of January had not reconciled LAMSCO’s system with their reports to the IA. It was difficult to assess the efforts of LAMSCO with beneficiaries, but the impression of the ACs is that it has been relatively little. The ACs recommended that the LAMSCO and AL clarify their respective roles and establish a clear schedule and understanding of activities. If AL is to take on more bookkeeping and monitoring responsibility, the Financial Officer has to be more familiar with the budget assumptions and categories. There was little time to understand the fiscal monitoring and TA of the beneficiaries. From what was seen, it appears that this is an area that needs substantial attention in 1996. 7. LESSONS LEARNED 1. The Boards of AL, Executive Director and AL staff have done an extraordinary job in moving the AL to an operational organization in a year.
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2. The Alliance Lank Project Proposal Form has proved to be an excellent tool in assisting the beneficiaries in developing proposals and providing AL with monitoring and evaluation indicators. 3. The role of Alliance Lanka in the Sri Lankan community is becoming institutionalized and there is a great potential for Alliance Lanka playing a significant coordinating role in HIV/AIDS prevention and care in the NGO community. AL should focus its energies on ensuring that the first round of grants are well executed and that grant cycles are defined and maintained. Funds should move into the community on a regular schedule. 4. The ability of the Secretariat to track and find information on grantees is impressive. The systems and filing of beneficiary and project information is excellent. 5. The greatest challenge for AL will be to hire and develop staff. Chandrani, recently hired for resource center, is highly motivated and capable. Program and fiscal staff may not have the necessary skills to provide adequate fiscal and program monitoring and evaluation. The Executive Director should have staff she can place on a management team and can contribute to the management and development of AL. 6. Planning and fiscal management requires that the Financial Officer understand the overall mission and how it translates into budget categories and reporting mandates. Greater effort should be spent ensuring that the Fiscal Officer and Executive Director fully understand the relationship between operational plans and budget categories and assumptions. The Alliance planning-budgeting program is very helpful in promoting that understanding. 7. While fundraising by AL will play and increasingly important role, the focus of AL should continue to be on the effective implementation of grant cycles and efficient movement of funds to beneficiaries. A good track record in assisting in the development and evaluation of project proposals, bringing selected projects to contract, and providing TA will be the best recommendation to potential funders. 8. IA and ACs could have greater contact between missions to facilitate an ongoing process of monitoring and development of the planning and budgeting process. Continuity between IA’s missions and AC’s mission could be better. 9. There is a great need to build capacity in providing TA to beneficiaries. The development of a central database planned by the Secretariat will be helpful. There is a need to develop quality control for TA. Future TA visits should allow time to receive feedback from, and work with, beneficiaries. 10. More advanced planning of workshops and meetings scheduled to coincide with AC visits could encourage greater participation at the meetings.
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11. Involvement of populations vulnerable to HIV infection should be institutionalized with their participation in work-groups and on Boards. Participation in workshops should be a consequence of continued contact and partnership. 12. There is a need to encourage a broad interpretation of HIV/AIDS prevention and care, including the encouragement of projects focused on reproductive and sexual health. 13. There is a continuing need for greater geographic and diversified participation at the Board levels and in choosing beneficiaries. Hiring and training field officers will facilitate the task. 14. The solicitation and selection process requires greater participation and involvement of regional and affected community representation. The idea of letters of intent have not been well established. Procedures should be established for the rapid assessment and implementation of small grants. 15. The need to move beyond awareness raising for prevention is well established at AL, but not at the Board level. Board training and development should be a priority in 1996. 16. Monitoring and evaluation of projects should be improved. The indicators in the project proposal form should be operationalized and used as a guide to the monitoring and evaluation. 17. Based on the government plan, there is little willingness to give NGOs a main role in prevention and care. This suggest a need for greater participation of NGOs (and AL) at the government planning level and a need for greater advocacy for the role of NGOs. 18. There is a mandate by the NGO community to develop a resource center. The use of the Internet to download prevention and care information could greatly enhance the collection and diffusion of information. Training in cataloguing, internet, and information center management would be beneficial. 19. AL has the interest and infrastructure to use office automation to facilitate several office functions including fiscal management and tracking, mail lists, cataloguing, filing, fund-raising, presentations, and correspondence. Training on information systems and use of automation would facilitate the adoption and use of available technology.
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