Thirty four Executive Directors from Alliance Linking Organisations attended the meeting hosted by Alliance Nationale Contre le SIDA (ANCS) in Senegal. Representatives from the international secretariat were also in attendance, as well as three international trustees, Jens Van Rhoey, Zhen Li and Fatimata Sy.
There were three thematic blocs: the implications of the new strategy, HIV, health and rights: sustaining community action 2013-2020; policy positioning around the decriminalisation of key populations; and the Alliance’s technical support architecture (the regional Hubs).
Alvaro Bermejo, executive director of the Alliance, gave his annual ‘state of the union’ address in which he shared the ‘first cut’ of our 2012 annual data report (full results will be released in our 2012 annual review in June). He announced that ANCS (Senegal) is number one for number of people reached and our first Linking Organisation to pass the one million mark. It was perfect that the meeting was hosted in Senegal in the year it passed this significant milestone.
As ever, the debates and discussions were lively and full of surprises.
In the new strategy discussions, a new way of segmenting linking organisations (by results, by burden of epidemic, by contribution to national targets and by income) was introduced. There was interest and consensus that this really offered a way forward to ensure that technical and financial engagement by the secretariat is well targeted and that individual support needs are recognised. Lydia Saloucou, Executive Director of IPC in Burkina Faso commented ‘We need to change, we need to learn how not to work in silos.’
As one might expect, the debates on decriminalisation brought differing views – dependent on the diverse contexts in which linking organisations operate. Participants heard loud, passionate testimony from a group of Senegalese MSM leaders. There was applause from those in the room, but others expressed concern about the Alliance having an explicit decriminalisation agenda. However, the good news was that there was support for developing a consensus paper on the universal rights of all people, which will also reflect the language in the new Charter and Linking Agreement which is more explicit on this issue.
Awo Ablo, director of external relations, reflected after attending her first Directors Meeting: “The Alliance is an impressive diversity of people and linking organisations. We take our responsibilities seriously, but we can also enjoy our time together. I hope we can truly represent the discussions and decisions made here when we return to our individual organisations. That way we will all be fully aware what the state of our union is and strengthen it to deliver greatest impact.”