From 18-20 August 2015, four members of our global ASAP family – Sue Perez (ASAP Director), Martina Clark (ASAP Senior Associate) and Rachel Ong (W4GF Global Coordinator) – traveled to Bangkok, Thailand to participate in the Global Fund Partners Meeting: Engaged Communities, Effective Grants. In addition, our long-time ASAP Senior Associate, Edwige Fortier, brilliantly took on the key role of co-facilitator along with Jennifer Ho, Deputy Director of the Asia Pacific Council of AIDS Service Organisations (APCASO), the host organisation of the meeting.

The meeting brought together over 100 participants of the Global Fund’s Community, Rights and Gender (CRG) Special Initiative (SI), which was launched in 2014. The CRG SI includes three primary components: 1) Technical Assistance program for communities and civil society to support in-country processes, including country dialogue, concept note development and grant-making; 2) Six Regional Coordination and Communication Platforms to enhance information sharing about the Global Fund among communities; and 3) Partnership with the Robert Carr Civil Society Networks Fund (RCNF) for building the capacity of key populations and community networks to engage in Global Fund processes at the country level. Since 2014, ASAP has been providing support to the CRG SI under the Technical Assistance program, and has to date completed assignments for Cameroon, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon and Togo.

Martina Clark, was invited to speak on a panel entitled, “The CRG Special Initiative—What is Working and What Can We do Better.” Martina shared her recent experiences in providing technical assistance to key population representatives on the Togo Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM). Martina highlighted the challenges and realities of ensuring adequate preparation of communities and civil society representatives during the grant-making negotiations. Moreover, she offered insight into how other technical assistance providers can best support effective involvement of key population representatives in these critical deliberations.

Rachel Ong, Global Coordinator of W4GF (a project of ASAP), expertly facilitated a session entitled, “Supporting Community and Gender for More Effective Responses,” that specifically addressed various tools available that would support the work of in-country technical assistance providers to advance gender transformative programmes. The panellists included members of the Global Fund CRG Department, the International Community of Women Living with HIV Eastern Africa (ICW/EA), ATHENA, and New Dimension Consulting in Zimbabwe.

During group work, ASAP Director, Sue Perez, shared her experiences providing technical assistance in the review of draft Cameroon TB/HIV concept notes as well as her expertise in TB.

The combined experience and expertise of the ASAP team contributed to the overall success of the meeting. The experience also provided ASAP an opportunity to gain greater exposure to new tools and information to support the provision of technical assistance in the future. Perhaps most importantly, it provided the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and colleagues, as well as the chance to get to know the many other extraordinary individuals providing support through the CRG Special Initiative.