Feature story

Jamaica’s new HIV strategy: “Making Human Rights Real”

06 August 2012

Dane Richardson (left), Programme Development Manager, and Kandasi Levermore, Executive Director of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) discuss the use of the Human Rights Costing Tool while participating in the pilot project.

Jamaica’s new National HIV Strategic Plan (NSP) 2012-2017 focuses on an enabling environment and human rights. The plan was developed in 2011 through a highly consultative process involving the government, private sector, faith-based organizations, youth, people living with HIV and international development partners. 

The Jamaica NSP makes human rights real. NSPs often include human rights as guiding principles or cross-cutting priorities. However, the Jamaica NSP includes concrete and costed programmatic actions to support human rights, reduce stigma and create an enabling legal environment for the HIV response. This was made possible with the use of the new UNAIDS Human Rights Costing Tool (HRCT).

The costing of the NSP was undertaken by the National HIV/STI Programme (NHP) with the technical support of UNAIDS and involved the use of UNAIDS financial tools including the National AIDS Spending Assessment (NASA), Resource Needs Model (RNM) and the HRCT.

According to Dr. Pierre Somse, UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Belize: “The Human Rights Costing Tool is a powerful connector which brings together all stakeholders working on human rights and facilitates effective dialogue among them while providing measurable targets. It allows people to see what the human-rights-based approach is in reality. It therefore makes it a tangible component of strategic planning while better articulating what the human-rights-based campaign is.”

The Human Rights Costing Tool was included in the process of costing of the NSP for three reasons: to estimate both spending and the resource needs on human rights more precisely so as to inform the Resource Needs Model (RNM); to promote the use of the tool by the civil society and stakeholders working on human right; and to facilitate the participation of civil society and stakeholders working on Human Rights in the development of the NSP.

The Human Rights Costing Tool is a powerful connector which brings together all stakeholders working on human rights and facilitates effective dialogue among them while providing measurable targets

Dr. Pierre Somse, UNAIDS Country Coordinator for Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Belize

The process to cost human rights activities involved several stages. Two workshops were organized, the first one with a core group of technicians and the second one with a broader group of stakeholders including representatives from civil society, international NGOs, members of the UN Joint Team, members of the academic sector, leaders of networks of people living with HIV & AIDS, representatives of Key Populations, and the directors of the National HIV/STI Programme. These workshops provided an opportunity for discussion around the process for the incorporation of the tool into the national HIV response, to seek buy-in and to streamline its application to the human rights component of the Jamaica National HIV Strategic Plan 2012-2017. Participating institutions found the tool useful and user-friendly and made the commitment to streamline the use of the tool so as to have a real estimate of the level of human rights spending in their own organizations and also as part of a collective effort to estimate the level of human rights spending and resource needs in the Jamaican response generally.

Some challenges were however encountered in the application of the tool. These included the limited number of programmes and activities available for input within the tool. Although the composition of the programmes and activities is customizable, the restriction to 7 Programmes and 6 Activities per programme was found to be a hindrance in some instances as simply reformulating the title of the programme or activity did not always successfully encapsulate the scope of the institution’s programme or its corresponding activities. To overcome this, entities were encouraged to modify the ‘List Menu’ as much as possible so as to find the best fit for their respective Programmes and Activities and this is believed to have been the way to overcome this challenge.

Use of the HRCT also proved beneficial to the NASA process as well as the RNM process. It served as an incredibly useful data collection tool for the human rights costs of the response and facilitated the identification of significant gaps in resource estimates as well as informed the updates that were made to the NASA 2010-2011.

The HRCT was originally designed for use by individual organizations in the estimation of the cost of their human rights programmes. However, the stakeholders in Jamaica decided to adapt the tool to estimate costs of human rights activities at the national level by making a composite of costs. This was very useful in the NSP development process. Moving forward, there has been significant buy-in for the implementation of the tool for use by civil society stakeholders. This will involve the collection of data which will be aggregated and used to update the costing of the NSP. This process will culminate in a national validation meeting where the results will be shared and consensus will be reached on the national figure for costing human rights.