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Table 3 Example of experience with civil society engagement in policy dialogue

From: How donors support civil society as government accountability advocates: a review of strategies and implications for transition of donor funding in global health

The Sustainable HIV Financing in Transition (SHIFT) Project [11]
The SHIFT project stands out as a recent effort to support meaningful involvement of CSOs and key populations in HIV financing in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and The Philippines. The two-year Global Fund-supported project aimed to equip civil society with the ability and strategic information necessary to advocate for allocative efficiency, increased domestic HIV spending, and increased fiscal space for CSO HIV programs. SHIFT provided grants to larger organizations in each of the countries, who then worked directly with smaller CSOs in their country and established networks and coalitions. Activities varied: capacity building workshops with CSOs and government officials, establishing CSO accreditation systems, supporting the development of a regional knowledge hub to enable learning across CSOs, holding advocacy events, and more ([11], p. 30). While results varied across contexts, the project generated notable policy achievements, such as a national HIV and AIDS Policy Act in the Philippines, and the participation of CSOs in the development of the national HIV Strategy in Indonesia. Twenty-six new official seats were claimed for CSO and key population representatives in domestic funding mechanisms across three of the countries ([11], p. 3). The connections built by the coalitions are expected to live on beyond the project and continue playing an important role in maintaining civil society’s voice and ability to advocate ([11], p. 49). The motivation toward sustainable financing and exposure to government officials is also likely to continue ([11], p. 4).
While the overall project was deemed successful and replication was recommended, Malaysia saw comparatively less success. The lead grant recipient received most of its funding from the national government, which was viewed by other CSOs in the country as interfering with its independence and ability to openly advocate ([11], p. 24). A key takeaway is that flexibility is needed to properly support advocacy, and donors’ tendencies to request workplans and specific activities at the start of the project negate the very goal of their support ([11], p. 47). Finally, the authors note that as donors transition out, CSOs becoming more reliant on domestic funders makes them no more sustainable because this may jeopardize their independence and ability to advocate, and that sustainability is about “having access to funds that allow CSO to do their work unhindered,” rather than about where the money comes from ([11], p. 6).