Three Pak NGOs win WB grants for AIDS projects -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Three Pak NGOs win WB grants for AIDS projects

ISLAMABAD – Three civil society organisations from Pakistan won grants worth US $ 40,000 each from the World Bank’s South Asia Development Marketplace (DM) to implement projects aimed at reducing stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS.

“Overall, twenty-six proposals from across South Asia won grants from a US $ 1 million award pool,” according to the bank statement issued here on Tuesday.

Titled “Tackling HIV and AIDS Stigma and Discrimination: From Insights to Action,” the competition was designed to identify innovative ideas on reducing stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and AIDS. It drew nearly 1,000 applications from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, and through a vigorous assessment process, the applicants were narrowed down to 75 finalists, who showcased their ideas last week in Mumbai.

“Recognition of these kinds of grassroots organisations is very important,” said Shabana Azmi, actress and social activist, while presenting the awards. “We have to make sure they are empowered, strengthened, and financed so they can carry out their work. This initiative is a small but very important step in the fight against stigma and discrimination,” she said.

Creating HIV youth fora at universities, training and empowering vulnerable groups, and educating and sensitising journalists about HIV were the winning ideas from Pakistan. Using DM funds, they will now have up to 18 months to carry out their projects and bring concrete benefits on how to change the attitudes and practices that undermine effective HIV and AIDS programmes.

Many of the winning projects are designed to reach and empower vulnerable groups at high risk, such as injecting drug users, sex workers and men having sex with men (MSM). DM award winner Anser Bhatti from the New Light Aids Control Society in Pakistan aims to reach out to MSMs, which are frequently marginalized in their own communities. “In this project we will educate and train MSMs and create an enabling environment where they can go freely to HIV testing centres and receive treatment,” said Bhatti.

India was the most represented country among winners, with 12 out of 26 winning proposals. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan followed with three winning projects each. Two winning proposals came from Sri Lanka.

“The innovative, home-grown solutions to fight stigma and discrimination that was presented here have a huge potential to make a difference in their communities,” said Praful Patel, World Bank Vice-President for South Asia who served as a juror during the competition.

“I heard from all the participants that stigma is a huge constraint to fight the disease. Now is the time to move from knowledge to concrete actions. We hope these ideas will be implemented, scaled up, and incorporated into the national AIDS programs,” Patel added.

The South Asia Regional Development Marketplace is sponsored by the government of Norway, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), 1UNAIDS, UNICEF and the World Bank Group, including the International Financing Corporation (IFC).

The Development Marketplace is a competitive grant program that uses a transparent process to identify and support grassroots initiatives with innovative approaches to solving challenging development issues. The program has awarded nearly $34 million to roughly 800 small-scale projects over the last seven years.
Source: The Nation