Social contracting focus of south-south learning

6 July 2019

There are several financing mechanisms to support community-based approaches in the AIDS response. Once such mechanism, called “social contracting”, has proven to be an effective method to ensure targeted interventions reach individuals and communities most vulnerable or affected by HIV.

Social contracting is a term used to describe an institutionalized approach of funding civil society organizations from government funds through grants.

The Government of India has been using social contracting mechanisms in its AIDS response for many years, with targeted interventions aimed at HIV prevention among key populations, that is sex workers, gay men and other men who have sex with men, people who inject drugs and transgender people, with proven effectiveness in partnership with non-governmental and community-based organizations.

In order to Fast-Track the achievement of the HIV prevention and treatment targets of the Political Declaration on Ending AIDS, governments are significantly scaling up high-quality implementation through partnering with civil society.

In a climate of diminishing donor funds as well as declining economies in many countries, more sustainable options such as social contracting are being explored in order not to lose the gains made in community-based service delivery and in reaching key and vulnerable populations.

From 1 to 5 July 2019, Namibia embarked on a study tour to India to learn about India’s successful financial mechanisms to support community-based approaches in the HIV response. The visit was undertaken in the spirit of south-south learning and under the overall Indo-Africa partnership umbrella.

Namibia has made significant progress in its HIV response by achieving the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets in 2018 and is currently focusing discussions and strategies on a sustainable HIV response. Social contracting mechanisms assist in a long-term solution to reaching out to communities.

The overall purpose of the visit was to learn from India’s experience of using social contracting in its targeted interventions and other programmes to help Namibia design, establish, and monitor its own social contracting mechanisms to scale up HIV service delivery in partnership with community-based organizations. A ten-person delegation from Namibia comprised of government representatives, UNAIDS and civil society met with India’s National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), their regional and district counterparts, as well as civil society organizations engaged in social contracting.

“We are delighted to partner with the Government of Namibia and UNAIDS in our common endeavor to address HIV.  This programme provides a useful template of how we can strengthen our health sector cooperation and learn and benefit from each other’s experiences,” said Prashant Agrawal, High Commission of India in Namibia.

In the coming months, Namibia will use the lessons learned from the visit to inform the HIV sustainability framework which is under development as well as the policies to guide social contracting mechanisms in the HIV response.

“I believe that this successful visit to India is the beginning of a new chapter in a long-term partnership between India and Namibia and indeed, Africa, through the recently signed India-Africa Partnership to collaborate in the area of public health, health technology and transfer of technology,” said Bilali Camara, UNAIDS Country Director for India.