As we gear up for the Global Financing Facility (GFF) Investors’ Group (IG) meeting on the 24th and 25th April 2017, the GFF Learning Meeting as well as the Spring Meetings in DC have provided a number of opportunities for civil society to get together to share experiences, constraints and opportunities for meaningful engagement in the GFF processes in their countries.
On Friday 21st, the Civil Society Coordination Group on GFF hosted a high-level panel on CSO engagement in the GFF. In his opening remarks, Aminu Magashi Garba, the Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN) coordinator and CSO representative on the IG, encouraged a frank and open discussion so that we could learn from each other and identify ways to work more effectively.
Each of the panelists shared insights of how Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are engaging in the GFF processes:
- In Liberia, Marion Subah from Jhpiego noted that CSOs were instrumental in ensuring that the voices of communities are reflected in the investment case. Moving forward to implementation, civil society are trying to align behind 5 key technical messages, so that they can demonstrate what they can do to contribute to Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCAH) outcomes. This has been particularly helpful for grass roots CSOs as well as those who do not typically work in RMNCAH.
- Kaosar Afsana from BRAC noted that in Bangladesh, a second wave GFF country, civil society is still in the process of forming a coalition on the GFF. Recognising the benefit of building on existing structures, Kaosar highlighted the benefit of building on the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement. Also a multi-sectoral mechanism, SUN provides a structured approach for coordinating civil society, including about 150 grass roots organisations.
- Francis Ukwuije, GFF focal point from the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria, explained that the various structures are now in place to support coordination; the country platform built on the Health Financing Working Group which was already in place and there is a CSO core group which met with before coming to DC. Francis also shared his support for the scorecard that AHBN is in the process of developing to track implementation of GFF processes including the multi-stakeholder platform.
- Victor Lansana Koroma of Health Alert in Sierra Leone, noted the importance of forging strong relationships with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to contribute to maternal and child health outcomes. Victor emphasised that in Sierra Leone, one of the newest countries to be approved for GFF support, CSOs need better access to information from the global level to effectively engage authorities.
Dianne Stewart, the focal point for civil society at the GFF Secretariat, shared some updates and things that civil society might want to keep an eye out for:
- The GFF Secretariat is currently recruiting coordination focal points in the 16 GFF countries to facilitate multi-stakeholder engagement in the GFF. The TOR as well of the names and details of these people will be shared publically.
- A number of investment cases are close to completion and will be available on the GFF website in the coming weeks (currently only 5 are available – Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Tanzania and Cameroon).
- The CSO Engagement Strategy, which outlines the different ways that civil society can engage in GFF processes, has been shared for approval by the IG next week.
- The IG will also discuss how to support grassroots organisations to engage in the GFF, recognising that they are often left out of discussions, despite often having the closest connections to marginalised communities.
Angela Mutunga, of AFP/Jpiego and the other CS representative on the IG, closed the meeting with an impassioned appeal to fellow CSOs to speak with one voice and for all stakeholders including civil society, the GFF secretariat and national governments to work together to achieve better health outcomes for women and children.
This blog was written by Sarah Fox, E4A-MamaYe health financing specialist.