Budget Advocacy in Transition to Other Sources of Harm Reduction Funding: Challenges, Current Situation, Opportunities

20 February 2017

The cuts in external funding of harm reduction services in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia countries (CEECA) have necessitated the search for other sustainable funding sources, first of all, domestic state budgets. In the effort to facilitate equitable access to harm reduction and HIV prevention services in the region EHRN sets out to support budget advocacy in transition to domestic funding in the CEECA countries.

Building on the three years of the Regional Program "Harm Reduction Works – Fund it!" EHRN with East Europe and Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV (ECUO) runs a regional workshop "Budget Advocacy in Transition to Domestic Funding". More than 80 civil society representatives from Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Moldova, Tadjikistan, Uzbekistan have gathered on 20-22 February 2017 in Batumi (Georgia) to establish a foundation for budget advocacy in each country and in the region as a whole.

Budget advocacy is a process enabling civil society organizations and communities to monitor and influence decisions on the allocation of public funds. It should help ensure their fair and effective distribution in the interests of the public in general and vulnerable populations in particular. Therefore, the regional workshop aims to cover the following first priority areas: potential analysis (the problems likely to arise in the transition process and already existing approaches to budget advocacy); and partnerships for budget advocacy, complete with working plans.

“The countries in our region are at different stages of transition to domestic funding. Therefore, our workshop has two main goals: on the one hand, we want to bring together the various practices and experience gained in each of the countries, on the other hand, develop custom-made budget advocacy plans not only for individual countries but even for separate groups and communities," –  says Lela Serebryakova, Program Manager of Global Fund funded Program “Harm Reduction Works – Fund it!”.

The workshop participants from consortiums of community organizations under the program "Partnership for Equitable Access to HIV Care Coninuum in the EECA region" run by ECUO. They will participate in a separate initial meeting to coordinate their activities, renew working plans and share best practices in budget advocacy run jointly with the NGOs under the program "Harm Reduction Works – Fund it!". 

"An important stage in the regional Program "Partnership for Equitable Access to the HIV Care Continuum" is about to start: early 2017 the country consortiums were selected, now it´s time to sign contracts. The workshop in Batumi is a significant milestone, the participants will get together to discuss their working plans in detail and draft the contracts to be signed.  A crucial goal of the meeting is to discuss the interaction mechanisms for the consortium members and agree on the rules for dealing with difficult situations. Joint advocacy by different communities and mutual respect for each other´s needs represent a new and important development stage for the EECA communities." – says Daniel Kashnitsky, Sustainability and Transition Team manager of EHRN.