The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria was founded in 2002 with the goal of eradicating these diseases as epidemics. It operates as a partnership between governments, civil society, the private sector, and people affected by the diseases, and manages funds totaling US$4 billion a year.1 The Global Fund works according to three main principles, which inform all areas of its activities: partnership, country ownership, and performance-based funding.2 The principle of partnership recognizes the need to ensure that all stakeholders have a role in eradicating these diseases and that government, civil society, people living with the disease (PLWD), and other groups collaborate and cooperate with each other. Country ownership means that countries develop their own programs and solutions to fight the diseases and are responsible for their implementation. Performance-based funding ensures that financing is dependent on successful outcomes and that spending is transparent and properly documented.3 Together, these principles form the basis of the Global Fund’s funding model. The complete Global Fund Strategy for 2012-2016 can be found here.
The Global Fund fully implemented its New Funding Model in 2014. The changes were introduced in order to ensure that Global Fund efforts have a bigger impact on the three diseases. The New Funding Model provides for more predictable funding, rewards ambitious vision, and creates more flexible application windows and a shorter application process.4 In addition, the New Funding Model revises and simplifies the funding process and emphasizes the role of country dialogue at all points of the Global Fund funding process.
Funding Process and Steps5
The national strategic plan provides the foundation for the funding process and development of the concept note. National strategic plans are expected to be developed with the assistance of all interested stakeholders through an inclusive and transparent process.6
The concept note development stage is the second step of the funding process. A concept note is the mechanism to request Global Fund funding and should be based on the national strategic plan. Concept notes must include four sections. The (1) Country Context section analyzes the current health issues and human rights problems as they relate to the disease in the country. This section must also assess the effectiveness of the existing national HIV/AIDS response. The (2) Funding Landscape, Additionality and Sustainability section provides an overview of the current and future funding landscape of the national strategic program during the timeframe of the proposed grant. The (3) Funding Request sets out the applicant’s funding needs, modules, and interventions to the Global Fund. Lastly, the (4) Implementation Arrangements and Risk Assessment lays out how the applicant will ensure sufficient implementation capacity and risk mitigation measures in administration of the grant.7
4The Global Fund New Funding Model. Geneva: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; 2014. 5Id. 6Id. 7Id.
Once the concept note is submitted, the Global Fund Technical Review Panel will review the funding application. The Technical Review Panel is looking for proposals that are strategically focused, technically sound, and that will have the highest impact in a given context. The Technical Review Panel has the option to send a concept note back to an applicant for revision if it feels that the note is not ready to advance to the next stage.8
Once a concept note is approved by the Technical Review Panel, it is forwarded to the Global Fund Grant Approvals Committee. The Grant Approvals Committee will determine the upper ceiling for the budget, taking into consideration the Technical Review Panel’s recommendations, as well as the qualitative factors of the concept note. The upper ceiling for the budget will include financing available from a country’s funding amount and potentially any available incentive funding.9 Incentive funding is given to applications with greatest potential for high impact, in order to encourage ambitious applications.10
In the grant-making stage, the Global Fund Secretariat will work with the Principal Recipient, which is selected by the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) to manage the grant. The organization designated as the Principal Recipient along with the Secretariat country team will develop the concept note into disbursement-ready grants by establishing a Performance Framework, Budget, and Work Plan. Once this has been done, the Grant Approvals Committee will review the grant proposal for a second time and forward it to the Global Fund Board for approval.11
The country dialogue is a key feature of the Global Fund New Funding Model and should be present at all stages of the Global Fund funding process. It coordinates the efforts of governments, donors, technical partners, civil society, and key affected populations, including men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people. Country dialogue should be inclusive and ongoing and inform each step of the Global Fund funding process.12 The country dialogue is one of the main criteria in assessing whether concept notes and applications for funding are robust.13
7Id. 8Id. 9Id. 10A Beginner’s Guide to the Global Fund—3rd Edition. Nairobi: Aidspan; 2013 Jan 31, p. 6. 11The Global Fund New Funding Model. Geneva: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; 2014. 12The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaraia. Funding Process and Steps [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2015May 13]. Available from: http://www.theglobalfund.org/en/fundingmodel/process. 13Engage! Practical tips to ensure the new funding model delivers the impact communities need. Geneva: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; 2014 Apr.
The Global Fund recognizes the need to address key populations affected by the HIV epidemic and the importance of their involvement in the country dialogue process.
In order to prioritize key populations in Global Fund processes, the Global Fund released its “Key Populations Action Plan 2014-17”, which defines the obligations of the Global Fund, technical partners, and other stakeholders to fulfill commitments to key populations.14 The “Key Populations Action Plan 2014-17” also enumerates a number of safeguards put in place by the Global Fund to engage key populations and ensure that interventions targeting these groups are prioritized. These safeguards include Global Fund guidance on human rights, revised requirements regarding representation of key populations in CCMs, the provision of targeted technical assistance to support the engagement of key populations, as well as guidelines for including interventions addressing community, rights, and gender issues.15
In conjunction with the “Key Populations Action Plan 2014-17,” the Global Fund has issued updated guidelines regarding requirements for CCMs. CCMs play a key role in the Global Fund funding process. They are independent entities responsible for developing proposals and carrying out other responsibilities related to the Global Fund.16 CCMs should be made up of representatives from governmental and multilateral agencies, civil society organizations, the private sector, PLWD, and key populations.17
The Global Fund’s six mandatory eligibility requirements for CCMs must be met or funding to CCMs may be withheld or temporarily interrupted.18 These guidelines reinforce the Global Fund’s commitment to key populations and their inclusion in funding processes. A number of the requirements provide key points of advocacy for the increased participation of key populations in CCM processes.
CCMs are now required to develop concept notes using a transparent and documented process that clearly details efforts to engage key populations, as well as other non-CCM stakeholders.19 CCMs must also submit an oversight plan for all Global Fund grants. The oversight plan must involve members of non-governmental constituencies and key populations. In addition, all CCMs must show clear evidence of membership of PLWD, as well as representatives of key populations. This requirement significantly enhances the role of key populations in CCM processes, as no such requirement of membership existed previously.20
14Key Populations Action Plan 2014-17. Geneva: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; 2014, p. 9. 15Id. 16A Beginner’s Guide to the Global Fund—3rd Edition. Nairobi: Aidspan; 2013 Jan 31, p. 7. 17Id. p. 3 18Global Fund Updates CCM Guidelines and Requirements for 2015: New opportunities for key population advocacy. Toronto: ICASO; 2015 Mar, p. 5. 19Id. 20Id.