Agenda 7: NGO Report
By Erika Castellanos
Thank you, Chair.
The NGO report has given us a scan of the situation communities are facing in the current financial crisis. In many countries communities are in danger of disappearing.
In Latin America and Caribbean it seems that donors have agreed to do a mass exodus of the region, at least that is how it looks from the perspective of communities.
UNAIDS presence is scarce, PEPFAR is leaving many of our countries, countries are transitioning which means that The Global Fund is leaving …. And amidst all this we feel abandoned and betrayed. For a short period there was an intense interest to set up new networks and NGOs and then suddenly we have been abandoned …. It is like they helped us give birth to our networks and then have left us and have not breastfed them to be able to grow and now our communities find themselves in malnutrition and in starvation in the verge of death.
My organization received help to register and have our first 3 or 4 meetings, and then received some funds to implement activities. But since March this year all our staff has transformed into volunteers. Because simply we can’t access any funds for salaries. We continue to do home visits, accompany our peers, monitoring access to services — monitoring and reporting stock outs … even without funds we have continued doing our work … but this does not make it ok.
They don’t have the capacity, it is too technical, they can’t manage funds, it’s too much risk … and on and on and on … this are the excuses we hear so frequently … it is a never ending story and a continuous challenge to be able to prove that we are worth and capable, that we are passionate but also technical … it is time you stop giving us these excuses and put the money where it is needed most and where it is more cost effective …. With communities.
Of course it will appear that we won’t have the capacity if you want to assess small NGOs in the same way international huge NGOs are assessed … its time to make a difference and I urge the Joint Programme to be an example to other donors that funding small communities is possible and highly efficient — I am sure that others will follow with the example.
We appreciate the contributions of Canada but we need to also warn that domestic funding for communities should come with a guarantee not to affect our autonomy. And this does not mean we ignore the responsibility of international donors.
And just in case anyone would like to argue that they don’t know how to get funds directly to communities – just come and talk to us we can give some valuable lessons, after all as communities we always find a way around things and we are able to achieve the unthinkable having a global HIV response is one proof.
Nothing is impossible with passion and will. One just has to genuinely care for people.