A beginner’s guide to the Global Fund’s new funding model

By Laura Lopez Gonzalez
Originally posted on Global Health Posts

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria has just approved US$622 million in funding as part of the first wave of grants to be approved under its new funding model.

Photo: Laura Lopez Gonzalez.

Photo: Laura Lopez Gonzalez.

When the Global Fund adopted guiding principles of the model at an extraordinary mid-September 2012 board meeting in Geneva, the model’s finer details were still in the works.

The model has now moved from theory to practice with three countries – Burma, El Salvador and Zimbabwe – having gone through a very fast trial run of it but remains a work-in-progress. The Fund will continue gathering lessons learned from early experiences with the model in order to adapt it before it’s fully operational in 2014.

In the meantime, here’s a beginner’s guide to the new funding model:

What is the new funding model?

The new funding model moves away from the Fund’s previous Rounds-based system to one that allows countries to apply on a rolling basis. This allows countries to, in theory, apply for money at times better aligned to their own financial and planning cycles. The funding model also includes several other important components:

  • Concept notes: Under the rounds’ based system, countries submitted proposals. Under the new funding model, countries will submit concept notes developed as part of a “country dialogue” process. These concept notes will be reviewed during the drafting process by the Fund’s technical review panel (TRP) to ensure that they are technically sound and to help guide countries. The TRP also provides the final technical approval of the concept note before the grant allocation committee awards countries the final budget, including what if any extra or “incentive funding” the country will get.
  • Country dialogues: Convened by country coordinating mechanisms, or the national bodies charged with coordinating Global Fund grants, these country dialogues should bring together technical partners, government officials as well as civil society and community members to discuss the contents of and contents of concept notes.
  • Indicative and incentive funding streams: Applicants will now apply for a set amount of guaranteed money based on calculations of disease burden, need and ability to pay. This is known as their “indicative” funding and is meant to help increase the funding predictability. Applicants are encouraged to apply for extra funding above this through the “incentive” funding stream, for which they will compete with other applicants. The grant allocation committee awards this extra funding. If the Fund does not have enough money to support quality incentive asks, these will be shelved until new money becomes available although it remains unclear how these demands will be prioritised when this new money does become available.
  • Web-based modular templates: Although the Fund has developed a Word-document template for concept notes, countries will now be asked to submit their proposals, or concept notes, via a web-based system that breaks programming into modules.

What countries are using the new funding model?

Countries and a select number of regional, cross-country proposals will receive money in 2014 as either early or interim applicants for at least one of the three diseases under the Fund’s portfolio.

Six countries and three regional proposals have been classified as “early applicants,” meaning they will test drive the full model, which will include developing concept notes and submitting these to the technical review panel as well as applying for incentive funding.

These countries were selected because the Global Fund believed they were poised to achieve rapid impact, faced essential service interruptions between 2013 and the end of September 2014 or that they were currently receiving less than they would theoretically under the new funding model’s new grant allocation formulas.

Interim applicants will only be using some of the new funding model’s components to reprogramme, renew or extend existing grants. Both early and interim applicants will convene country dialogues.

The following countries and regional proposals have been selected as early applicants. Some have also received separate interim funding under other diseases:

  • Democratic Republic of Congo (HIV)
  • El Salvador (HIV)
  • Kazakhstan (TB)
  • Burma (HIV, TB and Malaria)
  • The Philippines (TB)
  • Zimbabwe (HIV)
  • Regional Artemisinin Resistance Initiative, which covers four Southeast Asian countries (Malaria)
  • Eurasian Harm Reduction Network (HIV)
  • Regional Malaria Elimination Initiative in Mesoamerica and Hispaniola (Malaria)

What’s the latest?

Zimbabwe, Myanmar and El Salvador have already submitted their final concept notes to the Fund’s technical review panel and have been allocated funding by the grant allocation committee. These countries completed the country dialogue process in the shortest amount of time, receiving official invitations to become early applicants in late February or early March with the aim of submitting final concept notes on 1 April.

Preliminary indications are that at least 11 countries, including Mozambique, Sudan and Nigeria are likely to go before the grant approval committee before the end of June. Another six, including Zambia, South Africa and Ivory coast will follow just one month later although timelines are likely to shift. Finally, a remaining five will go before the committee by September.

According to the Fund, a team will be gathering lessons learned from the test run of the model and will submit quarterly reports to the Fund’s Strategy, Investment and Impact Committee (SIIC). Several civil society organisations, including ICASO, the Global Forum on MSM & HIV and the Open Society Foundations, are also conducting research on the rollout.

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