According to the Technical Review Panel (TRP), incentive funding recommendations for components submitted in Window 4 were reduced because the Secretariat “saw no other option to cover gaps for countries with shortened grant durations”. The gaps refer to the period between the end of the shortened grants and December 2017, after which funding from the next replenishment should become available.
The TRP made this comment in an update provided to the Board for its meeting in Geneva that also touched on concerns raised by the TRP related to prioritization, sustainability and delinking treatment and prevention activities.
The shortened grant duration policy gives the Secretariat some flexibility in instances where components received less than the formula-driven allocation amount, or demonstrated the capacity for scaling up programs. The TRP has reiterated that the Board appears to have failed to consider the operational consequences of this policy, one of which is that the Global Fund is unlikely to have additional resources available to finance other applicants that have unfunded quality demand.
Cutting incentive funding awards across the board for Window 4 applicants “does no justice to the careful process of prioritization of incentive funding by the TRP, and it creates additional inequities in access to incentive funding”. More importantly, the TRP said, “it highlights the risks and liabilities stemming from the allocation formula and minimum required level of funding”.
The TRP that the Board should have considered “less complex ways” to increase allocations to countries that did not receive enough money to cover essential services previously covered by the Fund.
Criticism was also leveled against the Fund for not doing more to assess the strategic value of government contributions made to satisfy the counterpart financing requirements. “There is repeated evidence of sub-optimal government allocation of resources, which undermines the Global Fund’s focus on investment for impact,” the TRP said. In the short-term, there should be a stronger push for advocacy on improved investments of domestic resources; similarly, a longer-term objective should be the adaptation of the counterpart financing policy to encourage domestic interventions in high impact interventions or services.
Criticism during the Board meeting session on 1 April was not running only in one direction, however. There were concerns expressed by a number of constituencies about an over-reaching in the mandate of the TRP, which has caused no small amount of confusion at the country level, and about a number of recommendations that emerge in TRP reviews that do not seem to be predicated on a strong evidence base. Sustainability and prioritization of interventions are two areas where, Board constituencies noted, there have been a number of disagreements between countries and the TRP that have taken time and energy to resolve, causing delays in a country's ability to proceed to grantmaking. A review of the TRP mandate and terms of reference is anticipated although there has been no timeline set.
The TRP also said that the focus of proposal requirements in the Fund’s eligibility policy appears to discourage domestic funding for key populations in countries close to transitioning from Global Fund financing. Under the policy, lower-middle-income countries must focus at least 50% of their proposed interventions – and upper-middle-income countries 100% – on under-served and most-at-risk populations or on highest impact interventions. Aidspan understands that the TRP fears that the requirement that upper-middle-income countries focus 100% on key populations gives governments in these countries an excuse not to invest in these populations. The TRP recommended that the focus of proposal requirements be adjusted to encourage domestic funding for key populations in transitioning countries.
The “Update from the Technical Review Panel” should be available shortly here. (Look for Board Document GF-B33-10.)