Budget advocacy seminar in Almaty

On November 23-25, 2016, Eurasian Harm Reduction Network and Kazakhstan Union of People Living with HIV conducted a budget advocacy seminar for NGOs in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Goal of the seminar was to increase the capacity of civil society organizations in ensuring the sustainability of harm reduction programs. 

The seminar was led by Maxim Demchenko, Executive Director of Charity Organization "Light of Hope", Poltava, Ukraine, one of the leading experts in the region in advocacy of sustainability of public health issues.

Representatives of the following organizations took part in the seminar: Kazakhstan Union of PLWH, public organizations Answer and Kuat from Ust'-Kamenogorsk, Shapagat from Temirtau, Amelia from Taldygorgan, Aman-Spas from Semei, Forward and My home from Temirtau, and also colleagues from public organization Labris from Bishkek and Kyrgyz Network of PLWH.

In the first two days of the seminar the analysis of the current situation with harm reduction programs funding was conducted, and also the information on how NGOs can participate in the process of development of public health strategies by government bodies was provided. Sholpan Aitenova, expert from the public foundation "Center of economical study, monitoring and evaluation" presented to the seminar participants information on the budget circle and process and described opportunities for the civil society organizations to participate in it. Participants of the seminar together with experts and trainers have found out, where and how in the open sources to search for the neccessary information about different aspects of budget process both on the country and municipal level. Maxim Demchenko also complemented theory with practical cases of ensuring sustainbility of harm reduction programs and other health and social issues from his own practice. 

Last day of the seminar was dedicated to practical exercises and studying communications with government officials. Seminar participants tried to answer the question, what they are waiting for from the officials; draw the government bodies structure of Kazakhstan, and also tried to build interconnections between different government bodies and talked about principles of effective partnerships with officials. As a practice, seminar participants wrote letters to government bodies with a certain request on a real problem, and also made a couple of videos, imitating meeting with a government official, following up the letter. 

According to participants feedback, seminar was extremely useful, first, because of the participants themselves, who either already are in close contact with government bodies, or are going to start contacting and partnering with the officials and are interested to learn more about it; second, because theory in the course of the seminar was constantly supported by real cases, which can be easily adopted to Kazakhstan content, and practical tasks. 

It was already the fourth budget advocacy seminar, conducted in the countries of the Regional Program "Harm Reduction Works - Fund It!", implemented by EHRN on the grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.