Highlights from the 2017 Annual Partnership Forum

Posted by Editor on June 16, 2017

Highlights from the 2017 Annual Partnership Forum

On 22 and 23 May, ARASA hosted 94 representatives from 116 ARASA partners during the 2017 Annual Partnership Forum (APF) held in Johannesburg, South Africa. The ninth meeting of its kind, the 2017 APF provided a platform for the staff and trustees of ARASA to update partners on the achievements of the organisation since the previous APF and for partners to network, share lessons learned and explore ways to address HIV and TB-related human rights challenges facing their countries.

As in previous years, partners were invited to identify emerging advocacy issues they would like to discuss during the APF prior to the meeting. These issues, which ranged from access to health services and commodities, sexual and reproductive health and rights, improving the health and rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons and creating enabling legal and policy environments for people who use drugs, guided the thematic sessions of the APF.

Group discussions presented an opportunity for partners to further explore how they could strengthen their advocacy and engage key influencers such as law enforcement officials, judiciary, healthcare workers, media, religious and traditional leaders as well as law and policymakers.

A key discussion centred on how ARASA and its partners are adapting to the changing context in regards to funding and the closing civil society space. Partners suggested that ARASA strengthen its advocacy to protect the rights of civil society to organize and fulfil its watchdog function as well as on funding for civil society organizations working on HIV, TB and human rights advocacy. They also recommended that ARASA consider increasing its role as an intermediary grant-maker and strengthen elements of organizational development in its regional Training of Trainers Programme.

On the second day of the meeting, Uganda was selected as the country for the roll-out of the 2018 HIV, TB and Human Rights Capacity Strengthening and Advocacy Country Programme.

“ We congratulate ARASA on the APF. This is more than an Annual Partnership Forum, but has also allowed for a lot of learning, sharing of lessons and opportunities to network with each other” said Happy Assan from the Tanzania Network of People who use Drugs (TANPUD). 

Reflecting on the value of the ARASA partnership, one partner stated: “[ARASA provides] Capacity building, networking and life skills training for effective advocacy for improved service delivery to the most marginalised populations in communities living with HIV.” Another reflected: “ARASA builds grassroots organisations and transforms us to be strong and vibrant movements.”

For more about the 2017 APF, follow #OurAPF2017 on Facebook and Twitter. View the gallery of photos from the APF here.