Jamra primary scholl for children affected by HIV/AIDS, drugs or poverty, Senegal (c) Nell Freeman/Alliance Participants in the Photovioce project, Ecuador © Marcela Nievas for the Alliance
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Of Spices and Silk: sharing stories of technical support to Global Fund grants in Asia


Cover: Of Spices and Silk

Over the past three years, the Alliance’s regional Technical Support Hubs have provided over 12,000 days of support to Alliance Linking Organisations and other civil society organisations. Twenty-five percent of this has been for Global Fund grant support.

Over the past decade the portfolio of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has increased dramatically, now spanning 151 countries and equating to US22.9 billion in global commitments† . With this, the need for technical support has increased too. The significant amount of funding, coupled with the heightened need to demonstrate impact and value for money, has meant more complex requirements for recipients have become essential. Technical support has been vital in supporting and strengthening recipients’ ability to manage, implement and report on Global Fund grants.


A ‘writeshop’ in August 2012 was the culmination of an eight month capacity development initiative, delivered to a cohort of Hub consultants who provide Global Fund support for the Alliance’s South Asia and South East Asia and Pacific Hubs. The writeshop is a creative story-telling process, which brings colour to a complex process by highlighting the real life challenges and successes from working in the region.

Of Spices and Silk is a collection of case stories, primarily aimed at other technical support providers.

The writeshop formed part of a comprehensive process that included distance learning and face-to-face training, and was supported financially by the German BACKUP Initiative and AusAID. Having a pool of skilled local and regional consultants is critical in a Global Fund landscape of changing grant architecture, and one in which increasing importance is placed on risk management and robust reporting systems.


The expert cohort received training in the Global Fund grant cycle, consulting skills, organisational change, facilitation skills and the role of the consultant as a change agent. During the process some consultants were matched to Global Fund technical support assignments where they could practise their expanded skills, and were given mentoring support from a more experienced consultant.


The 11 case stories are grouped into the following four areas:

1. ‘Grinding the seeds’: Grant negotiation and implementation challenges

This chapter includes the story ‘The Frontline’ about how one consultant looked to the community to start finding solutions when faced with a seemingly impossible situation: A sub-recipient’s cut in funds has filtered down to a CBO, which has had to reduce its number of outreach workers. The remaining outreach workers now face increased work and less pay. Clean needles and syringes are no longer reaching the same number of clients who are angry with the outreach workers, saying: “You teach us not to re-use, but you don’t give us any new needles.” The consultant doesn’t have all the answers, but puts some control back with the community in dealing with the very real challenges.

2. ‘Finding the right fit’: Supporting capacity development among Global Fund grantee key population groups

This chapter includes the story ‘Sister (and brothers) doing it for themselves – with a little help from their friends’. When faced with the objective of training 30 ‘lively transgenders and men who have sex with men’ on strategic planning in one day, it tells how the ‘impossible is made possible’ by calling on the Alliance Hub for support and making the training as lively as its participants.

3. ‘Smoothing the silk’: Experiences within the risk management arena

This chapter includes the story ‘Let the Flower Blossom’. When a consultant is tasked to finalise a CBO’s financial management manuals, and asks to see last year’s records, he is asked: “Why do you need old documents like that? We don’t keep those!” Increasingly frustrated but ultimately inspired by the CBOs work with marginalised populations the consultant becomes determined to help the CBO carry on doing what they do best.

4. ‘Counting the chillies’: Monitoring and evaluation (M&E)

This chapter includes the story ‘Green Light’. A consultant’s carefully planned training on the Global Fund’s M&E tool is about to fly out the window as the sub-recipient struggles to understand even the basics. Switching to a participatory approach they initially want to know why they’ve been asked to do all the talking, but then change begins to happen.

You can download the PDF or read the full collection of stories below.

Find out more about the Hubs, including locations and contact details here.

The shortfall between commitments and actual investment led to the Global Fund’s crisis, and the Global Fund’s grant architecture has recently changed as a result. We’re urging global leaders to fully fund the Global Fund.


For more information, contact:

Ann Noon
Media Manager