Created coalition of organisations – This Initiative achieved a major goal for which it was established: to create a critical mass of community and faith-based organisations on the grassroots level.
Training – A number of trainings were organised for implementing partners’ staff and our grant manager's staff in the last three years. The trainings were based on needs and gaps identified in organisational capacity assessments. Partner organisations and our grant manager's staff benefitted from these tailored and high-quality trainings.
Mentoring – Our grant manager's Ethiopia programme, finance and M&E staff (GGI-ETH) worked to address cited capacity gaps following the assessment results of sub-partners. This process of mentoring and skills transfer was between our grant manager's Ethiopia staff and sub-partners’ project officers, M&E officers and financial officers responsible for this programme. In the one-on-one coaching, our grant manager's Ethiopia staff interacted with the appropriate line staff of the sub-partner organisations. The mentoring and coaching played a great role in ensuring that programme and finance officers continued to have outstanding performance in project implementation.
Consultative meetings – Our grant manager's Ethiopia staff organised a series of consultative meetings with respective programme coordinators over the three years. The meetings aimed to review their quarterly implementation processes, as well as the project’s progress, challenges, and lessons. It further clarified the programme shift, minimum standards and programme packages in line with the PEPFAR Next Generation Indicators. The meeting also re-oriented the participants on the reporting formats and associated data collection tools.
Systems improvement – In the third year, our grant manager provided the top performing sub-partners with customised, in-house technical assistance from hired experts to address gaps from capacity assessment in three highly critical organisational management systems: financial resources, monitoring and evaluation, and management and human resources. In a participatory process, the sub-partners’ executive directors and concerned staff periodically met with our grant manager's Ethiopia staff and the hired experts to agree on the priorities for systems improvement and the course of action and to evaluate progress. The sub-partners were ready to graduate after all agreed-upon systems gaps were addressed.
Data quality – Our grant manager spent a great deal of time going back and forth with sub-partners to verify the accuracy of the quarterly programme and financial reports. In terms of programme data, reported figures that did not adhere to PEPFAR’s minimum standards or “best” practices for HIV/ AIDS interventions were not counted. We also constantly looked out for double-counting of beneficiaries. In terms of financial data, US government cost regulations for award administration were strictly followed.
Fast pace – The short quarterly period exacerbated the issues around data verification. USAID required this reporting frequency, and our grant manager still recommends it for better management of a programme with very detailed requirements, such as NPI. But the cyclical work it entailed almost entirely consumed our grant manager's time, not leaving much room for higher-level reflection and discourse.
Number of sub-partners – The programme had a total of 31 sub-partners. With NPI’s fast pace and many detailed requirements, it was very demanding to manage this large portfolio of sub-partners that had had no previous introduction to technical award administration. Additionally, each sub-partner had more than one implementation site and we visited at least two sites per year. Nevertheless, our grant manager's rigorous monitoring and evaluation process eventually culled ten non-performers: six after year one, one after year two, and three more during year three.
Lack of health facilities – Some implementation sites did not have proper medical facilities for necessary referral systems, especially for services such as HIV testing and counselling, antiretroviral therapy (ART), pain treatment, diagnosis and treatment of infections, and infant and maternal health, including prevention of mother-to-child transmission.
Mobility of most-at-risk persons – Provision of the full HIV prevention package to most at-risk persons (street children, traders, truck drivers, commercial sex workers) was limited, due to their mobility. Networking among PEPFAR partners working in the project sites helped track mobile people and also allowed sharing of lessons and experiences.