This period is conductive to the writing of funding request and other concept notes but there is an important step to reach before that: “National Dialogue” or “Dialogue Pays”. In this process, the communities infected and affected by the three diseases HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria are consulted in the process I will describe as “Community Conversations”. Community conversations is a process where the civil society organisations together with the Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) get to communities infected and affected to get their fears, expectations and priority needs which will influence the contents of the concept note for Cameroon.
This conversation with communities started in December 2019 with the creation of a think tank called the Core group made up ofCCM CSO Delegation members, Vice President Oversight Committee, Member Oversight Committee/ Key Population Representativein the CCM, Technical Secretary CCM, and a GF Principal Recipient. Strategies were developed and time frame put in place to align with the NFM3 road map of Cameroon. The core group had as guiding documents that were reviewed, the National Strategic Plan for Health (HIV, TB and Malaria) and the Global Fund NFM3 Allocation Letter for Cameroon. The strategies adopted included creation of a group of resource persons coming from civil society actors who have expertise in diverse fields of the three diseases, community works, representative of the three diseases and key population, program development and implementation. Together with the core group, they will contribute enormously to the community conversation process and in the concept note development processes.
Another group of facilitators were equally put in place. The facilitators are those who to facilitate the community conversation processes in all the communities nationwide. They are CSO representatives coming from the 10 Regions of Cameroon and representing the different communities (HIV, TB, Malaria, Persons infected and affected by the three diseases, key population, youths etc.
The fourth group put in place are focal persons in all the communities nationwide who are responsible to mobilize the different target groups within their different regions.
Beginning of 2020 the processes has been accelerated with planning meetings, workshop with resource persons, core group and some key leaders of the NFM3 Coordination team for better orientation and strategy alignment. Another workshop was held with resource persons, core group and facilitators to review the community conversation tools developed, test the tools and adopt them. National territorial mapping, planning, strategies was adopted in preparedness for the field visits. 4 themes were adopted to be captured during the community conversations, 18 target groups were adopted Persons infected/affected with HIV, Persons infected/affected with malaria, TB contact, AGYW/youths, men, women, drug users, MSM, transgender, commercial sex workers, clients of commercial sex workers, internally displaced persons, refugees, prisoners, street children, miners, economic operators and the handicap. These target groups are to be identified in the 12 regions and community conversations held with them. After mobilizing the communities, the field work was effected from January 20-30 2020. Each Region had supervisors, facilitators and focal persons who have to reach out to the 18 target groups within their Region. A total of 252 community conversations were held.
A workshop involving the core group, supervisors and facilitators to consolidate the inputs from the field has been held. What is the outcome? The consolidated inputs is the focus of the next workshops to adopt the report from the field and also to prioritize the needs from the communities.
(A part two of this article can be written when the priorities have been validated. As of now, it is only after next week that we can clearly see the issues that have emerged)
Next steps include a wider workshop to share and adopt the consolidation report and thereafter another more inclusive workshop to prioritize the needs from the communities and align them to the NSP and GF allocation letter. This will be followed by a national validation workshop of the priority needs coming from the communities. With the national validation and CCM validation, the needs will be used to guide the concept note development and March 25, 2020 is Cameroon’s window for submission.