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VZCZCWEO0928 UNCLASSIFIED PAGE 01 STATE 00089700 150116Z O R 150116Z JUN 13 FM SECSTATE WASHDC TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE INFO DEPT OF AGRICULTURE USD FAS WASHINGTON DC BT UNCLAS STATE 089700 E.O. 13526: N/A TAGS: STAG, KHIV SUBJECT: INVOLVING CIVIL SOCIETY AS PART OF COUNTRY-LEVEL PLANNING FOR HIV/AIDS PROGRAMMING 1. This is an information cable. All posts may draw upon background information provided when briefing officials and other country stakeholders. 2. SUMMARY: In November 2012, the Obama Administration released the PEPFAR Blueprint: Creating an AIDS-free Generation (Blueprint). This document presents four roadmaps for how the U.S. government will work to help achieve an AIDS-free generation. One of the major goals outlined in the document is to increase civil society involvement in HIV/AIDS planning and implementation, both for the U.S. government and its partner countries. This cable provides some initial information for Chiefs of Mission (COMs) on how to involve civil society groups, with more detailed guidance to be released as part of PEPFAR's Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 Country Operational Plan (COP) guidance. END SUMMARY BACKGROUND ON CIVIL SOCIETY INVOLVEMENT 3. Our progress to date in the fight against AIDS, both globally and domestically is due in no small part to the active involvement of the communities living with and affected by HIV. Persons living with HIV (PLHIV), their families, and their friends are critical as partners in creating an AIDS-free generation. Recipients of PEPFAR and country services must be empowered to play a meaningful role to advocate for, design, and implement local HIV prevention, treatment, and care services for greatest impact. In many countries where PEPFAR operates, PLHIV are often providers of HIV/AIDS services. Yet too often, individuals face stigma and discrimination when they try to get involved. Many times, the experiences of people living with HIV and key populations are ignored by governments and the medical profession as they design HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment programs and activities targeted to meet the needs of this population. 4. As part of implementing the Blueprint, PEPFAR is emphasizing the importance of PLHIV, health service users, and civil society involvement in its communication to partner countries. PEPFAR is particularly concerned about the ability of these groups to influence the planning, designing, and implementation of HIV programming. Using various channels, PEPFAR has worked to support civil society groups, ranging from groups of PLHIV to key populations to women's groups to faith-based organizations. As part of the Blueprint, PEPFAR is working to expand involvement of civil society groups, particularly those of PLHIV, key populations, and others who use our services. Through the upcoming Local Capacity Initiative (LCI), PEPFAR funding will support civil society organizations in various countries at national, district, and local levels to build their capacity as advocates and service providers. PEPFAR is also a major supporter of the Robert Carr Civil Society Networks Fund, a collaborative multilateral mechanism for delivering technical and capacity-building support to civil society networks at the global, regional, and national levels. INCREASING PEPFAR ENGAGEMENT WITH CIVIL SOCIETY: 5. PEPFAR's vision of country ownership is one that ensures civil society voices, particularly those of people living with HIV, key populations, and those who use health services, are represented in conversations with partner governments, and integrated as partners in the country-level AIDS response. PEPFAR cannot mandate this involvement, but it can work to expand its own engagement with civil society as a way to spur greater civil society engagement by partner-country governments, and is adding civil society engagement as an explicit component within the COP process. This expanded engagement is particularly important in countries where civil society may be marginalized or heavily restricted in the activities it is able to undertake, and will require COMs to champion the benefits of civil society in discussions with country counterparts. 6. There are three steps that each country team should take while preparing its COP to expand civil society engagement. In some cases, PEPFAR country teams may need, as a precondition of expansion of engagement, to hold a meeting with a wide range of civil society groups and solicit their input as to how best they can be represented in the process. More information on these steps will be forthcoming in the FY 2014 COP guidance. 7. First, PEPFAR teams should hold a pre-COP submission meeting, early in the planning process, with civil society, including both PEPFAR implementing organizations and organizations representing communities living with and affected by HIV. At this meeting, teams should outline the proposed goals and priorities of PEPFAR for the upcoming year, particularly regarding how they support country HIV/AIDS plans and align with WHO guidelines and epidemic needs. They should also highlight changes to the program proposed as part of the COP submission, and the expected impact on users of the program. As part of this meeting, country teams should also solicit written comments from civil society representatives on these priorities and plans. Country teams should also consider reaching out to civil society later in the COP development process if specific inputs or feedback would help to enhance the COP submission. 8. Second, PEPFAR teams should submit the COP to headquarters with a section documenting how civil society has been involved, the comments raised by civil society, and the way in which the COP has taken into account these comments. 9. Finally, following completion of the COP process, PEPFAR should provide a formal written response to civil society, documenting the way in which comments were considered in the process and, if not included, the reasons for their exclusion. 10. This overall process should be viewed as an ongoing dialogue that supports a relationship extending beyond the COP period. The goal of this outreach is not to abdicate responsibility for program decisions and oversight, but to ensure that our programs are designed based upon meaningful input from PLHIV, key populations, and other civil society groups. It is PEPFAR's obligation to both listen and respond to concerns and suggestions from those who use our services. 11. Given PEPFAR's commitment to supporting country ownership, to the greatest extent possible in each country context, this engagement should take place through existing, representative mechanisms for civil society engagement at the country level. ROLE OF COUNTRIES AND OTHER PARTNERS: 12. Ultimately, the responsibility of civil society engagement lies with the country government, which should ensure that it is involving its citizens within planning processes. However, many of the key populations affected by HIV, such as PLHIV, men who have sex with men, people who use drugs, and sex workers, are often marginalized and left out of host-government dialogues. Partner governments should involve civil society in the development of national strategies and implementation of programs to enable more effective, sustainable and self-correcting HIV efforts. They should also be held accountable by civil society for achieving goals and ensuring that marginalized populations have equal access to HIV services. PEPFAR's COP planning process, as noted above, is one place for engagement with civil society, but is not the only mechanism that should be used. As part of diplomatic dialogue, the U.S. government should encourage country counterparts to involve civil society, particularly PLHIV, key populations, and those who use services, in planning for HIV/AIDS programs. In addition, PEPFAR should work through other mechanisms to involve local civil society, such as the Global Fund's Country Coordinating Mechanisms or other existing representative consultative bodies at country level. 13. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: More detailed guidance to be released as part of PEPFAR's FY 2014 Country Operational Plan (COP) guidance. Kerry UNCLASSIFIED
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