Partnering with the International Network of People
who Use Drugs
(Article for UNAIDS Website on INPUD as illustration of good practice for UNAIDS Networking / Civil Society Support)
Two years ago, INPUD (www.inpud.net) started a journey of organisational development against the backdrop of the financial crisis which the World Bank has estimated has led to a 40% drop in funding for NGOs in the HIV sector. People who use drugs have not previously sustained an international network and the drug users movement had in recent years organised alongside the harm reduction movement and its conferences. As such, INPUD was coming to the HIV policy arena with limited knowledge about the structures, few resources and a history of struggling to secure meaningful participation in the drug policy and practice sectors.
The GIPA principles have been hard fought for by PLHIV and advocates of key populations.
These principles describe the meaningful participation of people living with HIV and more recently also of the key populations affected by HIV in global HIV policy and planning. INPUD therefore entered a policy environment that was welcoming and desiring to meaningfully engage people who use drugs. INPUD started out on its development journey with a commitment in 2007 from the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA) of £20,000 annual core funding under its programme of financial support for harm reduction networking, a programme made possible by a grant from the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID).
INPUD’s new leadership team met key partners at a donors conference on HIV hosted by the Dutch Government in January 2009. INPUD’s Board Member, Vito Georgievski spoke on one of the panels at the event and Mat Southwell, INPUD’s Project Manager was able to meet and sound out potential donors. One of the outcomes of the event was an agreement that INPUD needed to be properly resourced. However, when it came to the pledging stage of the meeting and the need to fund INPUD was raised, there was an expectant hush across the room and no donors came forward. Vito remembers “it was very disappointing after the positive atmosphere of the meeting but just as we were giving up hope, Kate Thomson from UNAIDS stood up and pledged UNAIDS support”. A small grant of US$23,000 allowed the INPUD Board to appoint a paid organisational consultant and INPUD member to lead the rest of the development period. This was critical in sustaining the hard fought for early development phase, which had been led delivered on a voluntary basis.
Since this time UNAIDS has offered INPUD four small grants that have carried the organisation through this two year period of organisational development. This has given capacity to the organisation and confidence to other donors. Jude Byrne, INPUD’s Chair notes “the UNAIDS funding was a practical illustration that our contribution was valued. Importantly it allowed us to focus on developing our organisation, strategy and communication systems rather than too quickly being expected to undertake project work.” This strategy has been successful and INPUD is now now recognised as a credible and effective advocacy organisation by key global partners. (link to WAC report)
INPUD has now produced a three year strategy (link) and is entering a 6 month period of intensive resource mobilisation. Importantly, given the backdrop of the financial crisis, INPUD is being actively backed by its existing donors, key global NGOs, and partners in the UN system.
At recent OSI hosted Resource Mobilisation Breakfast held alongside the International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Kate Thomson confirmed that “INPUD has provided exceptionally good value for money for our investment, has established itself as a credible partner in the UN system and has had positive impact.” This and similarly positive feedback from INPUD’s other existing donors will be critical to securing investment from the wider donor community.
The final part of INPUD’s engagement with the UN system has been INPUD’s successful application to join the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board NGO Delegation. Joining the delegation allowed INPUD to meet key players in the UN system and to develop relationships with UNAIDS, the co-sponsors, country missions, donors, and the wider NGO community. Mat Southwell, INPUD’s delegate, states that “on one hand it has been a very demanding role that has called on our limited capacity. However, on the other hand it has been a rapid education about the UN system and given us the opportunity to illustrate how people who use drugs can be effective, positive and robust partners in intergovernmental policy fora.”
Importantly this has led to a decision point committing UNAIDS and the co-sponsors specifically to the meaningful participation of people who use drugs and their associations. So two years on people who use drugs are better organised, actively engaged in the UN system, and poised ready to secure the resources required to be meaningful and sustained partners in international policy discussions relating to public health, drug treatment, drug policy and human rights.
GIPA Principles: quote from…
Governments, international agencies and civil society must:
set, implement and monitor minimum targets for the participation of people living with HIV, including
women, young people and marginalized populations, in decision-making bodies.
“As persons living with HIV/AIDS we have a specific responsibility to be at decisionmaking
tables and make sure that our issues are brought to the public eye so that
appropriate actions are taken accordingly. GIPA means the greater involvement of
people living with HIV/AIDS, including those most marginalized or coming from the
most marginalized and vulnerable communities. As persons living with HIV/AIDS,
individually and as a community, we have a pivotal and strategic role in constantly
reminding to our leaders, policy-makers and other stakeholders, to keep their promises
and listen to all segments, groups and communities of persons living with HIV/AIDS”.