Tuesday, August 30, 2005

City AIDS in Atlanta

In June 2005, I have had the chance to facilitate a workshop in Atlanta where 20 cities from South America, Central America, Caribbean and North America shared and discussed their experiences re HIV/AIDS. The City of Durban from South Africa also participated. The workshop was organized by CIFAL Atlanta with support of UNITAR and UNAIDS. There was an active participation and in spite of the huge difference between North American cities and others, the exchanges were extremely valuable and people enjoyed the discussions and the exchange of ideas.
Some highlights and lessons:
  1. The approach is perfectly applicable to cities at different stages of development (HIV/AIDS budget of San Francisco is almost ten time of the National HIV/AIDS budget of Haïti..). However we need to ensure that, during the discussions, participants are able to capture the principles of an intervention from a well-developed city, more than its coverage and magnitude (related often with funding).
  2. Distance coaching for the preparation of cities representation should be replaced by a real face-to-face coaching. A facilitator who is familiar with the AIDS Competence approach and particularly with the Self-Assessment tool and has the necessary facilitation skills needs to be identified or trained in advance. It will avoid to have city delegations to be ill-prepared or not coming with a proper Selfassessmentt prior to the workshop.
  3. People are coming to exchanges ideas, good practices and their successes. Therefore we need to focus the workshop on round tables (Peer-Assist) and development of Knowledge Assets. The presentation of the approach (ACP) should be side-lined and we should avoidtheoreticall presentations on Knowledge Management and even on ACP itself. The approachwouldd "speak" through the facilitators themselves and the methodology used during the various exercises of the workshop.
  4. The mix between technical people (those who really own the experience) and political representatives (in that case the Mayors) must be well designed. One option for their interaction could be to invite political representatives at the end of the workshop (Open day) to endorse the work (city Action Plan) or the recommendations. We should be verycarefull when inviting political representatives to participate directly in the exercises as they can influence the openness of the debates. The facilitation issue is key.
  5. We got support from Emory University students whose functions were: to facilitate and note during the peer-assists, and to translate as we had at least 4 languages Englishh,Spanishh,Portuguesee andFrenchh). It was a very efficient voluntary collaboration and students were also learning a lot during all the sessions; their comments and remarks were very valuable during thedebriefings. We should ensure a better preparation for them (in term of facilitation skills) before the workshop, but their dedication was extremely motivating.
  6. For the organization of future workshops, we need to separate the logistic team from the facilitation team: various and nice events were organized for the participants, mainly on evening. Because of that, many facilitators'debriefings were shortened. In addition, this team needs to be able to take the necessary decisions affecting the internal organization of the workshop (equipment, workshop settings, calling speakers...) and to be sure that these decisions are effective. Finally, in term of facilitation - it is common sense but not common practice - the speaker of a given session cannot be the facilitator of that session!

Most of the cities represented in Atlanta are willing to continue the exchanges between themselves and beyond. Already during the workshop, some cities like Mexico and Denver have committed to further collaborate on specific issues. Port-au-Spain and Curitiba offered their support to San Pedro Sula (Honduras) and Quito (Ecuador) to mobilize resources and plan for future interventions. However, there is now an issue for the City-AIDS project to be able to follow through these next steps. CIFAL Atlanta (as the other CIFAL all around the world) should play the role of the "dating agency" facilitating further collaboration and exchange. This role is expected by participant cities as they were requesting training of facilitators, support for the documentation of good practices, support to measure impact of their interventions and of Knowledge sharing and support to networking. The latter includes development of ews and Website so that cities stay in touch on particular issues.

As CIFAL Atlanta does not have the capacity and the resources, currently, to provide all these services, they will certainly need to partner with entities like the Constellation for AIDS Competence. Director of CIFAL Atlanta is willing to develop such follow up programe and he certainly has the possibility to raise part of the necessary resources; American cities and institutions may be interested in developing such decentralized cooperation. UNITAR & UNAIDS will play the role of brokers, and beside technical support to the program, can facilitate resource mobilization with institutional donors.

After the first workshops of the City-AIDS project, Curitiba (August 2003) and Lyon I (October 2003), the Atlanta workshop has shown the interest of cities to develop partnerships and extensive exchanges on HIV/AIDS and other development issues. The challenge for the CIFALs would be to keep up with such momentum without falling in the "trap of financial and technical assistance"! They need to clarify their role with regard to facilitation, networking services, quality assurance and monitoring of learning activities. Even if they are formally "training centers" CIFALs do not have that capacity and need to develop/create/strengthen partnerships with appropriate institutions.

CIFAL Lyon is currently preparing a second workshop of that sort, with mainly francophone cities. Lessons from Atlanta will be used to further improve efficiency of the workshop, and in particular the political commitment vis-a-vis city plan of action.

Full report of the Atlanta workshop will be soon available.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

ACP in Uganda

Jennie van de Weerd is working on Aids Competence in Uganda. This week she shared the Uganda experience on the Aids Competence eWorkspace. Please enjoy learning from her contribution below.

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The AIDS Competence Process

Combining learning from local responses to HIV/AIDS with the knowledgemanagement expertise and the experience of human capacity development,the AIDS Competence Process (ACP) has been designed for various groups and organisations to build on their existing strengths to respond.
The ACP was adopted by UAC/NADIC to strengthen explicit learning from local responses both between partners at the same levels, as well as to learn from grassroots experience based on its conviction that groups have the ability to respond and can lead the response themselves.

The AIDS Competence assessment allows groups to self-assess their level of performance in ten practices for AIDS Competence, and then set targets for the improvement of specific practices. Access to comprehensive services for prevention and care are among the practices assessed. By comparing their levels of performance with others', they identify those with whom they might exchange insights from experience. By capturing experience and offering advice this shared knowledge can be reused by others. The AIDS Competence Assessment has so far been used in Uganda by UAC, UNASO, NAFOPHANU, AMICAALL, Concern Worldwide, IRCU and the SCEs for Line Ministries and Media, Culture and Arts. Furthermore, ACP was introduced to the district AIDS Focal Persons ofthe UACP districts and during the local action planning for the GLIA Refugee component.

Why did partners in Uganda use is the tool?

To identify what knowledge we have to share, and what we want to learnfrom others. This will assist a mutual referral and support system.
To generate information that groups can use for planning their(network) activities.
To build partnerships between the different partners in the AIDS response.
To assess our degree of AIDS Competence and set specific targets forimproving practices for AIDS Competence.
To raise awareness.

How was the AIDS Competence Assessment tool used?

In Uganda the tool has been used by community groups, by CSO and PHA networks, by individual organisations, by district teams consisting of PHA, NGO and Local / Municipality Government representatives. Assessments were done covering all Ugandan district as well as several Self Coordinating Entities from the Partnership at the National level.

Jennie van de Weerd
UNAIDS Adviser to the Uganda AIDS Commission Decentralized Response and Knowledge Management

Knowledge is power, but sharing information is progress.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Connecting local responses electronically

This summer we revived the electronic discussion on Aids Competence. Now, more than 200 people, living and working in all continents are connected through the Aids Competence eWorkspace. The group links coaches for aids competence, people who are actively implementing the process and those who want to learn more.
The communication started with a warm introduction round, where members introduced themselves. Then, people suggested topics (burning issues) for discussion rounds. This week we are ending the first round where the exchange is around the Aids Competence Process and tools. We are learning a lot from experiences in countries as Thailand, Norway and Kenya. Also, there are questions about and suggestions for adaptation of the Self Assessment framework.

Everyone striving for Aids Competence in his working place, family, city, country is welcome to join us on ews. You can subscribe through ews.unaids.org or send an email to marlou@aidscompetence.org .


Malaria Competence also electronic
Representatives of 10 countries who participated in the Malaria Competence workshop in Mombasa in July received an invitation to join a Malaria Competence platform on Yahoo upon their return. From the moment they were back at their computers they continued their friendship and the work they had started - now virtually. They share their experiences in implementing the process and support eachothers effort. This week they start refining the knowledge assets they worked on in Mombasa. http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/malariacompetence/

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

From AIDS Competence to Malaria Competence

In some countries accepting deaths from malaria is a fact of life; it is the normal order of things. But it doesn’t have to be. People may soon consider any such death as unacceptable, anywhere, any time. To achieve this turn around requires the powerful articulation of a vision for success, one which comes from recognising and appreciating people’s strengths while responding to their needs.

Twenty-one participants from 10 countries (Benin, Cambodia, Cameroon, DRC, the Gambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda) and 3 partner organisations (Roll Back Malaria partnership, Sanisphere and WHO) came to Mombasa to learn and share their experiences with responses to malaria. The workshop style was markedly different from normal. Rather than learning from experts participants learned from each other and from experience. They operated in a rank free environment, where everyone’s voice was equal and where it was easy to exchange knowledge. The setting was non hierarchical. No titles were allowed, even during personal introductions. Materials generated during the course of the workshop were distributed at the end via a CDrom, rather than as prescribed reading ahead of time.

read the report >> Mombasa Malaria Competence Workshop

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