Sustainable Extension: Going Local, Going Native

Beneath a banner of “With the communities, let’s make a difference in the response to HIV/AIDS,” Alliance – recently reborn as an Ivorian linking organization – is helping to extend the reach of HIV/AIDS prevention, care, and treatment access to local lev

With a generalized HIV/AIDS epidemic in a country torn in two by war, Cote d’Ivoire’s need for a decentralized response reaching to the community level was evident and urgent.

Ramping up in record time, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance combined Emergency Plan funding, expertise from sister affiliates in Senegal and Burkina Faso, and transparent good-governance procedures to support and reinforce the scattered efforts of struggling indigenous organizations to mitigate the effects of the epidemic. Within 18 months, Alliance awarded 73 sub-grants of about $5,000-$40,000 each to 53 community-based organizations in 12 of the country’s 19 regions, including in nongovernment-controlled zones in the North and West. In FY 2006, its grants supported HIV counseling and testing for 30,000 people at 22 sites as well as prevention and care services for 18,000 people living with HIV/AIDS and 15,000 orphans and vulnerable children.

In the process, Alliance not only went local, it also went native. In October, Alliance completed its transformation from a country office of an international NGO to an Ivorian linking organization called the Alliance Nationale Contre le SIDA en Côte d’Ivoire (ANS-CI).

“As a new national organization, we’re going to help build a truly national response to the epidemic,” said incoming executive director Dr. Sosthene Dougrou. “With our strategy of building local capacity around a solid core of HIV testing, we’re going to make a difference in every corner of Cote d’Ivoire.”

While developing its own organizational and technical capacities, ANS-CI is partnering with national networks of PLWHA and of HIV/AIDS NGOs to strengthen the capacity of local community- and faith-based organizations to increase HIV/AIDS prevention, counseling and testing (CT), and care services and improve access to anti-retroviral treatment. Its characteristic approach to CT scale-up emphasizes a community-based model that combines external support with local contributions and ownership.