National ownership pivotal to sustained HIV responses

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National ownership pivotal to sustained HIV responses

02 July 2010

FamilyFamily in Djibouti. Credit: UNAIDS/P. Virot

National ownership is central to sustainable AIDS responses and is beyond doubt a path to improved aid effectiveness. To set the stage for engaged debates on national ownership and actions to realize this, UNAIDS organized a consultation in Geneva on 21 June 2010 that brought together government representatives, civil society, representatives from  regional political bodies, and development partners.

The dialogue resulted in a clear definition of national ownership which is:

“Inclusive multi-sectoral national leadership at all levels in managing the design of effective AIDS policy and strategy, its implementation, monitoring, reporting and sustainable resourcing as part of the national development agenda, and for assuring board result-based mutual accountability mechanisms and national capacities to strengthen the AIDS response”.

Participants also established indicators to measure progress. These indicators cover multi-sectoral AIDS coordination; non-discriminatory laws and regulations; inclusive process in the development of Strategy, work plan, operational plan and review; monitoring and evaluation and mutual accountability system; integration of HIV in national development plans and capacity development plans; sustainable HIV financing; mutual financial accountability mechanisms; alignment and harmonization; and capacity building.
Addressing the forum, Mr Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS, highlighted the need for countries and donors to move from short-term aid commitments to longer term financing that is both predictable and sustainable. According to Mr Sidibé key to achieving this is “understanding the interaction of ownership and external funding” which can happen by focusing on the ways that significant donors actually enable national ownership and empower country partners.

The US Global AIDS Coordinator Ambassador Eric Goosby stressed the importance of “mutual accountability.” He pointed out the imperative that donors “carry out their development work in such a way that engagements with country partners and priorities are mutually beneficial.”

The participants discussed strategic incentives to foster greater country partner ownership of national AIDS policies and programmes and to encourage production and use of evidence. In addition, how national ownership can be enhanced by mobilizing greater domestic resources and investments, and the roles and action that country partners and development partners can employ together to strengthen ownership.

Renewed approach to technical assistance and capacity building

Better and more sustainable articulation of countries’ needs, mentoring countries with counterparts from the North, coupled with the aggressive development of TA in the South and South-South cooperation would result in a renewed approach to technical assistance (TA). This could ensure that it is driven by demand rather than by supply. To strengthen national ownership, the inclusion of capacity building support as an integral part of joint operational planning would strengthen country’s responses. Zambia’s Minister of Health, H.E. Kapembwa Simbao, pointed out that “national ownership refers to the availability of in-country expertise to monitor their programmes.” 

UNAIDS Secretariat, in collaboration with all stakeholders, will continue to foster national ownership so that countries can make evidence-informed decisions and invest funds where they are most needed in order to achieve better outcomes for the AIDS response as well as the countries’ wider health and development goals. UNAIDS also plans to continue to support country and regional consultations that include all constituents.