HIV-related philanthropy to Eastern and Southern Africa in 2021:
As a complement to Philanthropic Support to Address HIV and AIDS in 2021, this regional profile provides a new level of data to help inform the advocacy of funders and communities active in the region. Due to the size and complexities of the epidemic in this region, FCAA invited perspectives from both the Love Alliance and the Farm Orphan Support Trust of Zimbabwe (FOST).
THE LOVE ALLIANCE
Eastern and Southern Africa remains the region most heavily affected by HIV. Despite substantial progress in the region, reductions in new HIV infections need to be accelerated to end AIDS. With the rise of conservative parties across Eastern and Southern Africa, the overall AIDS response is challenged. The well-funded anti-gender and anti-rights movement together with growing conservatism became more present than ever in 2023, at the time of this writing. Uganda has passed the draconian anti-LGBTQI+ law that makes homosexual acts punishable by death for people with HIV and imposes up to 20 years in prison for “promoting” homosexuality. In countries where such legislation is active, we see five times as many HIV infections among gay men as in countries without such laws. These developments also have an impact outside Uganda. Similar legislation is also being drafted in Kenya, Tanzania, and Burundi.
In response to the continuously changing landscape, funders need to support community organizations directly with long-term, flexible, and core funding that allows for advocacy and movement building. That is exactly what the Love Alliance does through a commitment to make funding as accessible and relevant for communities as possible.
The Love Alliance was created with an unwavering commitment to protecting, promoting, and fulfilling sexual and reproductive health and rights globally; unifying people who use drugs, sex workers, and LGBTQI+ movements; and amplifying the diversity of voices in these communities. This is incredibly important because despite representing 70% of all new HIV infections globally, key populations and their partners receive only 2% of overall HIV resources. Funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Love Alliance brings together national thought leaders GALZ, SANPUD, and Sisonke; regional grantmakers UHAI EASHRI and ISDAO; the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+); and the Netherlands-based administrative lead Aidsfonds. The Love Alliance is implemented in Burkina Faso, Burundi, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
Since 2021, the Love Alliance has supported 150 community organizations through its participatory grantmaking model to do advocacy, movement building, research, pilots of community-led service models, and litigation. In 2022 alone this funding enabled these organizations to advocate for the acceptance of six policies and strategies that relate to civic space and freedom and to see six harmful policies formally blocked or retracted. In addition, 22 policies and strategies were implemented to meet the needs of the communities. In Uganda, UHAI EASHRI provides emergency support to communities for safe spaces, litigation, implementation of safety and security plans, and access to legal services. In South Africa, the Love Alliance increased funding to sex worker-led organizations and coalitions to accelerate the advocacy for decriminalization of sex work.
The Love Alliance knows that directly supporting communities that are at the highest risk of HIV is the most effective approach. People in these communities know best what they need to remove the barriers to prevention and treatment. Participatory grantmaking provided a mechanism to look critically at our role as funders and to share responsibility with communities so that they were able to decide on our funding decisions. This participatory process is about more than effective grantmaking: It also creates a paradigm shift in how we work alongside communities.
— An activist from Uganda
THE FARM ORPHAN SUPPORT TRUST OF ZIMBABWE (FOST)
While there have been many successes in the response to HIV in Zimbabwe, the epidemic continues to have a significant impact on communities, especially young people and women. There are 550,000 children aged 0-17 in Zimbabwe who have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related causes. In addition, one-third of all new HIV transmissions in Zimbabwe are among young people aged 15-24, and two-thirds of these are among young women.
The Farm Orphan Support Trust of Zimbabwe (FOST) is a community-based organization registered as a private voluntary organization that aims to build the capacities of farming communities to respond to the needs of orphans and vulnerable children. The organization supports children and youth in kinship care from farming communities in the Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland West, and Manicaland provinces of Zimbabwe who have lost parents to HIV- and AIDS-related causes. FOST’s work is guided by three pillars of its strategy: (1) family and community strengthening, (2) child protection, and (3) youth capacity building.
Community-based peer support groups are a backbone of FOST’s programming; they build strong community connections and facilitate peer learning and growth. By bringing together grandmothers or youth who have similar experiences of loss and economic hardship, peer support groups combat isolation and create an environment in which community members find strength in one another.
FOST runs 10 in-school Kids Clubs and more than 15 community-based Kids Clubs. The school clubs are run by teachers, and the community clubs are run by youth who are supported by FOST volunteers. In both cases, FOST has trained the club leaders on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and provided community-based psychosocial support services. Currently 1,230 children and young people participate in FOST-supported clubs. Clubs feature enjoyable, safe spaces for young people to gather, and they provide life skills training, education on SRHR, training on gender equality and children’s rights, and facts about COVID-19 and HIV.
FOST also supports 20 grandmother Self-Help Groups, which contribute to economic empowerment and improved mental health and well-being for older women caring for orphaned children. Due to illness, age-related limitations, and generational gaps, caregivers often experience burnout in trying to provide adequate care and support to orphans and vulnerable children. Self-Help Group members develop individual income-generating activities, participate in savings and lending initiatives, collaborate on economic endeavors together, and discuss social issues.
FOST’s deep and lasting impacts in its community are the result of its programs being rooted in clients’ needs. The work FOST does is community-led, and the strategies we implement are within the capacities of the communities to sustain. We have built a good working relationship with key government stakeholders, which makes it easy for beneficiaries to get support services and for community peer groups to seek support from these government institutions. For FOST to continue to ensure that communities shape their interventions and outcomes, we need access to funding where donors aren’t trying to shape those interventions and outcomes themselves. The Stephen Lewis Foundation is committed to providing FOST with long-term, flexible support that is responsive to changing needs and priorities.