Setting the Scene to Include Community Engagement in the GARPR Indicators 2017-2021 and the High-Level Meeting (HLM) on HIV and AIDS 2016
Jeffry Acaba, Asia Pacific Delegate
Focal person for the IWG of the Measurements Working Group
NGO Delegation to the UNAIDS PCB
The Global AIDS Response Progress Reporting (GARPR) is a system of standardized indicator sets that covers key epidemiological, programmatic, and policy elements of a comprehensive HIV response. These global progress indicator sets are reported and updated annually by Member States to the United Nations Secretary General as part of the commitments agreed at the UN High Level Meetings on HIV and AIDS. The development of these global indicators varies based on the review and experience of reporting countries, evolving HIV epidemic and response, and country needs and priorities of partners. UNAIDS, as the Secretariat of the Joint Programme on HIV and AIDS, together with the Monitoring and Evaluation Reference Group (MERG) through the Indicator Working Group (IWG), reviews and agrees on this global set of indicators, which will be cascaded to countries in the next five years or so.
The UNAIDS Strategy 2016-2021 sets the frame for the global priorities or targets at the upcoming High Level Meeting on HIV and AIDS this June 2016. Aligned with five relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being; Goal 5: Gender Equality; Goal10: Reduced Inequalities; Goal 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions; and, Goal 17:Global Partnerships, these 10 UNAIDS Targets enshrine the continuing vision of the Zero Strategy with granular targets that address issues relating to location and population. Prerequisite in achieving these targets is the development of what UNAIDS calls as the five core aspects of the response: information, investment, inclusion, integration, and innovation. This is where the Joint Programme seeks to strengthen its partnership with civil society including key population organizations and opening the space to allow them to engage in the response.
The 10 targets of the UNAIDS Strategy, however, lack a target that measures CSO engagement in the HIV response and/or a measure of support being given to civil society-led initiatives. The UNAIDS Fast Track Reference Document estimates that resources for community mobilization will increase from 1% in 2014 (US$216 million) to 3.6% in 2020 and 4% in 2030. Without a target that measures this progress, UNAIDS will not be able to monitor this need. More so, governments can ignore or refuse support to civil society organizations.
At the Indicator Working Group (IWG) Meeting that took place in Geneva, Switzerland from January 20-23, 2016, the NGO Delegation successfully pushed for the inclusion of two targets that will measure civil society engagement in the HIV response:
- A disaggregation under Target 9 (AIDS Spending) to include percentage of the national HIV budget being spent to NGOs
- A new target that measures the number of key populations accessing prevention, treatment, care and support programs through NGOs.
The reception from the members of the IWG was varied. Some of the burning issues raised were on the need to measure civil society engagement at the global level, how this will be measured, and which data source would be used. , However, we asserted that at the PCB level, the NGO Delegation would be interested to know how this new set of indicators will be measured, given that we have been calling Member States and the Joint Programme for an increased involvement of communities in the HIV response. Some IWG members were supportive and noted that the proposed indicators are revolutionary and historic, and to quote, “finally being able to measure civil society engagement which we have not done before.”
While these two indicators were included in a pre-approved framework, the work is not yet done. We need to make sure that these indicators will be developed into something more measurable, with progress reporting in the next five years, and that the proposed indicator, particularly on access to NGO-led responses, will also measure prevention, treatment, care, and support programs.
The NGO Delegation will continue to work closely with the MERG-IWG to ensure that we will not lose these two indicators in the process. It was indeed a good fight at the IWG Meeting, and having these two indicators means that we already have both feet on the door.
With regards to the HLM, we, as civil society and communities, must advocate with Member States to fully commit to support civil society and community-led responses and frame it as a global commitment if we want to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
 The GARPR includes the National Commitments and Policy Instrument (NCPI), the National Funding Matrix/National AIDS Spending Assessment (NASA); however, recent reviews on the NCPI shows that NCPI process is an exercise of partnership and not an indicator that measures progress, unlike GARPR. Likewise, NCPI data is not being utilized as much as GARPR
 These global commitments have evolved through time: from the landmark United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on HIV/AIDS in 2001 to the commitment towards “universal access” to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support in 2006, to the now called GARPR indicators from the 2011 UN High Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS.