otal HIV funding for the Caribbean has declined over the past five (5) years. This trend is expected to continue as global donor funding dwindles. In an effort to have Key Population (KP) groups and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) working within the HIV response improve their advocacy efforts for more local funding to bridge this gap, the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) hosted a virtual Budget Advocacy Training workshop. The workshop spanned 3 days starting June 29, 2021 and engaged stakeholders in Guyana.
The Budget Advocacy Training served as an introduction to budget processes and analysis and lobbying strategies, in a bid to access and influence budgetary decisions. The sessions were designed to build the capacity of CSOs in areas such as: the Principle of Budget Advocacy, Budget Analysis, Potential advocacy strategies for the different stages in the budget process, and Monitoring the implementation of national budget in relation to the health component.
CVC Technical Programme Officer Marlon Thompson says the workshop came at a critical time. “The training was timely as it provided participants with strategies and tools to impact their national budget process to increase domestic investment for social contracting of CSOs in the HIV/AIDS response in order to sustain their progress in achieving the 90-90-90 targets. CSOs have been greatly impacted by the decline in donor funding for HIV/AIDS programmes to the region. This is mainly due to their major reliance on these sources of financial support to carry out the critical work they do. CVC recognised this and therefore designed the training to highlight the importance of understanding Budget Advocacy and how it can help organizations better serve their communities. Budget Advocacy serves as a means of enabling organizations to get involved in how government resources are allocated and spent, and how these allocations address the needs of different population groups.” he said.
During the three (3) day workshop, a mixture of sharing theoretical concepts and a practical hands-on approach were applied. These were based on successful strategies and global best practices for influencing budgetary decisions and increasing budgetary allocation for HIV response.
Meanwhile Guyana Equality Forum’s Coordinator Quincy Richards agreed, “The Budget Advocacy training was timely and indeed very useful. Further, it taught me such things like the national budgeting process, how to better understand allocations and the timeline from commencement of the planning stages through to implementation and monitoring and how I could help to influence some decisions for budget allocations.”
In the meantime, ASPIRE Youth Network Guyana’s Acting Document Team Lead Abina Baveghems who also participated in the workshop found the sessions informative. “I learnt a great deal within such a small span of time. The information provided, I believe is very necessary and should be a staple in anyone’s knowledge of their country.”
This Budget Advocacy Training was carried out under the CARICOM-PANCAP/CVC/COIN Multi-country Caribbean Regional Global Fund Project.