EHRN Strategy on Information and Technical Support, Knowledge Sharing and Capacity Building (ITS)

The aim of Information and TS provided by EHRN is systematically to build capacities and facilitate knowledge sharing between harm reduction networks, experts and PWID community in CEECA.

EHRN Technical Support and Capacity Building experience

Being a regional organization EHRN provides technical support and conducts a broad range of activities in order to foster skills and information exchange in regional among main regional actors in the struggle against HIV, especially in the key groups of population, and first of all in PWID communities. It supports professional development among harm reduction specialists, activists and organizations of PWID. EHRN also develops, coordinates, and provides technical support needed for the implementation of advocacy campaigns and activities in CEECA countries. EHRN is constantly documenting harm reduction successes but also  the negative consequences of  denying harm reduction approaches. It provides the analysis of best practices and disseminates them, it develops methodological support for harm reduction programs which  help to preserve  health and rights of PWID.

EHRN as regional network has a rich  experience in providing technical support to governmental specialists, members of Country Coordinating Mechanisms, technical partners,    domestic civil society stakeholders and community groups (including domestic networks of people living with the diseases, women’s organizations and key affected populations such as people who inject drugs and sex workers). This support is aimed  to  help  them to identify  priority  areas  in   human  rights protection,  in gender-responsive   programs  development and  in community  systems  strengthening efforts,  as  well  as to identify the needs in long  term  capacity building   that  is crucial for  improvement of  access  to  health services in the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA).

Following  EHRN programs could illustrate its capacity to provide effective technical assistance:

1) Civil Society Action Team

EHRN served as an expertise hub of Civil Society Action Team (CSAT) in EECA. By advocating for the meaningful engagement of civil society actors in the Global Fund processes, bodies and projects, CSAT aimed to ensure that community voices are heard and taken into account in the Global Fund decision making processes at national level through CCMs, and at the global level through the Global Fund Board Delegations. Technical support had been focused on increasing civil society and community representation at CCMs, monitoring of  CCMs complying with Global Fund requirements, enabling civil society and communities to engage with national and international structures of the Global Fund. Examples of technical support provided by CSAT in 2008-2013 include:
Supporting Community Response:

  • In June 2010, EHRN/CSAT brought together civil society actors involved in Round 10 proposal preparation, as well as donors, providers of technical support and the Global Fund representatives, for a seminar “CSS – what does that mean for us?” to explore and identity best practices for CSS Framework to strengthen the Global Fund’s grants.
  • In 2011-2013, CSAT organized 2 regional (EECA countries) and 3 national (Tajikistan, Georgia and Azerbaijan) 3-days seminars for civil society and community organizations involved (as sub-recipients or sub-sub-recipients) in implementation of HIV and TB grants funded by the Global Fund. The seminars aimed to improve knowledge about  national and international structures of the Global Fund, their functioning, possibilities of more active engagement via CCMs, Global Fund Board and about problem solving opportunities and algorithms.

Targeted Country Assistance:

  • In 2011, EHRN/CSAT provided critical technical support to the civil society actors in Kazakhstan  helping to bring the process of elections to Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) in accordance with  the Global Fund standards and to improve the CCM’s governance procedures and functions.
  • Increased representation of the NGO sector in Belarus CCM. With the help of EHRN/CSAT a package of documents regulating the CCM election processes within the NGO sector in Belarus was developed and the election process of new CCM members from NGO sector was completed. 10 new CCM members and 2 alternates representing non-government sector were elected, including representatives from MSM, IDU, CSW and PLWH communities.

2) Harm Reduction Knowledge Hub for Europe and Central Asia (the Knowledge Hub and the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Harm Reduction)

EHRN, in collaboration with WHO Europe, is hosting the Harm Reduction Knowledge Hub for Europe and Central Asia (Knowledge Hub) since 2004. Over the last 9 years, this Knowledge Hub has been providing  different kinds of technical assistance including: trainings, seminars, study tours, development of various tools (including for planning and evaluation, capacity building and collections of best practices.)

EHRN  also participates in  a collaborative effort together with Vilnius Centre for Addictive Disorders in development of  the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre on Harm Reduction (WHO CC), established in 2012 by the initiative of WHO at  Vilnius University Public Health Institute (PHI). It is the first Collaborating Centre on harm reduction.  The key capacity of the WHO CC is  programming  harm reduction and national drug policy. The WHO CC is expanding its capacity in  provision  technical support in EECA region for assuring  sustainability of  state and local funding for harm reduction programs, for supporting  scientific community in areas of harm reduction, for sharing best practices in cost-effective harm reduction and community supported approaches and for development of opportunities of post-graduate certified  training for social and medical professionals and public health managers in the area of   drug policy and harm reduction.

3) Small Grants Program for developing activism of PWID communities

During few last years EHRN, in coordination with ENPUD (Eurasian Network of People Using Drugs), developed and has been implementing an innovative small grants program “Through Peers’ Efforts.”

  • The first Small grants program "Through Peers' Effort” (financial support of the Robert Carr Civil Society Networks Fund and МАС AIDS Fund) was realized in 2013. In its framework, through a grant competition, several self-organizations and initiative groups of PWID and OST program clients from 10 countries (Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan and Ukraine) received 18 small grants. The aim was to bear witness on PWID human rights violation in former soviet countries. These grants were also a contribution to organizational development of young CBOs and initiative groups.
  • Small grants program for PWUD “Through Peers’ Efforts – 2” implemented in 2014 permitted to 13 organizations from Georgia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Moldova and Tajikistan to receive small grants (financial support of the Global Fund) that were directed to develop PWID community-led human rights advocacy, assessing and monitoring PWID access to harm reduction services and enabling PWID community mobilization.

The small grants programs have played an important role in building the capacity of PWID communities. By helping to protect the lives and health of people, community activists also acquire skills in project management, communication and advocacy. As with many other tools that we develop and use, the small grants program is a model that can be used to expand PWID activism throughout CEECA.

4) Regional Civil Society and Community Support, Communication and Coordination Platform

In April 2015 the GF has taken the decision to support the Regional Civil Society and Community Support, Communication and Coordination Platform (2015-2016). This unique regional coordination mechanism was developed by the consortium of four regional technical support and community support providers:

  • the Regional Technical Support Hub for Eastern Europe and Central Asia of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance in Ukraine;
  • Alliance Ukraine Consultancy
  • The East Europe and Central Asia Union of PLWH  (ECUO).
  • The Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN) in partnership with the Eurasian Network of People Using Drugs (ENPUD)

The aim of the Platform is to support and to strengthen the civil society and community engagement at all levels of the Global Fund processes and in particular, in the areas of Community, Rights and Gender. Its priority focus is to increase the communities’ knowledge and understanding on the Global Fund related programs and technical support in general. The platform is built to serve and is serving as the expertise source in the Global Fund programs on HIV, TB and Malaria more broadly, to be able to serve as the expertise source in the Global Fund programs on HIV, TB and Malaria more broadly. Besides the RP will work on developing a strong communication and cooperation among all players included in the processes: from KAP representatives to Technical Assistance providers, governmental bodies, civil society organisations and donors.

In this Consortium EHRN is responsible for communication with civil society, for needs in technical assistance, for the content of spread information and the content of TA.

At the last coordination meeting of the Regional Communities Network (hold on August 24-26, 2016 and organized by EHRN) its participants specifically stressed the importance of technical assistance being provided by experts from the communities and regional networks on the base of the Regional Platform.

5) Regional Program “Money Can Buy Health if You Budget for It”.

Started in 2016 and previewed for 2016-2018 this program supported by Robert Carr Fund for Civil Society Networks is being realized by a consortium of three regional network organizations:

  • Eastern Europe and Central Asia Union of People Living with HIV (ECUO)
  • Eurasian Coalition on Men’s Health (ECOM)
  • Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (EHRN)

This three-year project will be implemented between 2016 and 2018 in three countries of the EECA region – Armenia, Estonia and Kyrgyzstan.

The goal of the project is to influence the mobilization of resources for effective and sustainable responses to the HIV epidemic by the efforts of key group’s communities: people living with HIV, men who have sex with men, trans* people, and people who use drugs in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA).

To achieve this goal it is necessary to build the capacity of regional networks in EECA in order to advocate for strategic, sufficient and sustainable investments in responses to HIV, which address the affected communities.

During the first year of project’s implementation EHRN provided technical assistance to CBOs and initiative groups of three communities in three countries directed to increase their capacity to conduct quality of existing services and barriers Assessment as a base of further advocacy activities. The main result was the creation of national consortiums including the three communities’ representatives. These consortiums are now working on elaboration of national plans for budget advocacy and monitoring countries’ progress in allocating domestic resources to fight the HIV epidemic among key populations.

Further cooperation between EHRN and local partners will be based on small grants allocation and technical support to these partners to assist them in planning and implementing budget advocacy activities.

The tools and experience developed through this project and its impact on narrative about state investment in HIV services will be applicable to the entire EECA region.