Author: Warren Feek, August 14 2014 - All of us worry all of the time about both strategy and money! So the more we can share experiences and analysis the better for all. Some ideas and questions follow. Please do respond by logging in and commenting.

I was struck by the analysis and, quite frankly, the pleading, in this open letter from Mark Heywood to the Melbourne International AIDS Conference : "Does anybody remember AIDS?". Mark is a member of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) Board of Directors in South Africa. I do not agree with all that he writes or the way he makes his case. There are some really good funders, for example. But he does make 3 major points that resonated for HIV/AIDS and all other development issues. I think we should all both consider and develop joint strategies to make progress on these issues. 

1. That there should be a renewed strategic and programming emphasis on rights - an emphasis that has reduced as the priority strategies have focussed on, for example, medical supplies in recent years. That medical approach is where the vast levels of funding are allocated and spent. The rights side of development has struggled to both be at the centre of the strategies and to receive the required financial support. How can we begin to redress that balance? 

2. That programming, for example on HIV/AIDS and sexual and reproductive health issues, is increasingly technical in nature - that we are losing the "social movement", people-focused style of work that was so vitally important for effective action. It was striking to me that even TAC, a major foundation stone of the HIV/AIDS response and action, has major funding issues. We know that many of the socially-focused, engage-people style of organisations also share some big funding concerns as the technical expertise approach takes a greater slice of the funding revenue. Again, is there anything we can collectively do to increase the centrality - strategy and funds - for the vitally important social and community action, debate and dialogue, social and behavioural change work that is so vitally important?  

3. That the process of holding major decision-makers accountable for their policy, strategy, and funding decisions needs higher priority and major rejuvenation - Of course, TAC was part of a major story and milestone for this strategic approach during the recent "AIDS denial" era. Their approach demonstrated, as have so many other organisations, how important is the process of accountability. There are many sensitive issues in all fields of development. How can we collectively advance the process of accountability, including increased funding, for this style of work?

I would be very interested and most grateful if you could share your strategic and funding experiences on these three questions. Perhaps I have this completely wrong. If so, please do let me know where you see the major strategic and funding challenges.

Thanks for taking 10 to 15 minutes to engage and share on these very important issues - Warren

Warren Feek
Executive Director
The Communication Initiative