“When the Alliance first started providing technical support, in the early days of the organisation, a technical support team was set up at the UK-based secretariat because it was felt that there was a need to build up a critical mass of people with cutting edge technical knowledge and skills,” said Alvaro Bermejo, executive director of the Alliance.
“Over time the Alliance family has grown, both in size and capacity, and the donor environment has changed to one where donors prefer to give their money directly at country level. The Alliance decided to decentralise its technical support function, building on the capacity available in national civil society organizations, and the hubs are now hosted within Alliance linking organisations (LOs).”
Over 1,800 days of technical support
Between January and September 2009, the hubs provided over 1,800 days of technical support and the volume of work and client base is increasing. The most common areas of technical support are:
- HIV prevention programming
- Strategic planning and assessment
- Research and evaluation
- Community based HIV treatment, care and support programming
- And, Global Fund grant management.
There have been a number of successful technical support assignments including training 51 healthcare workers in South Sudan in Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) and a situational assessment of men who have sex with men in the South and Southeast Asia region.
An inspiring relationship
The hubs use a mix of Alliance LO staff and freelance consultants as technical support providers. The aim is to strengthen the pool of local technical support capacity through training and twinning the less experienced technical support providers with more senior ones.
In the Southeast Asia hub, for example, an LO staff member with financial management expertise was partnered with a senior consultant for an assignment to another Alliance LO in the region. Both of them reported back that it was an inspiring relationship, and the ‘trainee‘ technical support provider is now more confident to be deployed as a consultant on his own.
So where do we want to be in five years time? Alvaro explains: “I hope that the Alliance will be seen as the first organisation to really understand the needs of civil society organisations and that can construct an infrastructure that meets these needs.
“I’d like to see that the hubs are driven by the needs of civil society organisations and used by the donor community,” he concludes.
The hubs build on the capacity in national civil society organisations