Managing Money: Tanzania Rapidly Funds Innovative HIV/AIDS Projects

Around the world, millions of dollars have been allocated to fight HIV/AIDS. National programs need sound financial management skills to efficiently disburse these funds, while organizations implementing programs need to access funds, use them appropriately, and promptly demonstrate results.

Just two years ago in Tanzania, hundreds of civil society organizations struggled to access funding for urgent HIV/AIDS activities. As the long-term strategy to fight AIDS was launched, the national government and international donors recognized the need for a faster way to fund short-term HIV/AIDS projects as longer-term efforts were organized.

Donors and government talked for a long time, but we needed short-cuts to [move] funds. What more can you talk about when people just want to stay alive?

Bilateral Donor, Tanzania

MSH works worldwide to help programs design financial management and cost-recovery systems to strengthen capacity to implement new HIV/AIDS programs. Under the leadership of the Tanzanian Commission for AIDS and with support from eight bilateral donors, MSH helped to create an innovative mechanism called the Rapid Funding Envelope (RFE)—a paperless grants-management system providing local organizations grants for urgent HIV/AIDS activities. Implemented in partnership with Deloitte & Touche, this low-cost, paperless mechanism is funding innovative HIV/AIDS projects and improving local capacity to manage resources.

Since its creation, the RFE has provided 23 organizations with $3.5 million for projects that fill critical health service gaps; expand coverage of prevention information; and build on best practices across the continuum of HIV prevention, care, and support. From opening new counseling and testing sites and scaling-up a national AIDS hotline to nutritional support for people living with AIDS and community theater to educate youth, the RFE's fast turnaround ensures a comprehensive response to the AIDS epidemic while encouraging innovation. As Tanzania prepares to absorb even more funding for HIV/AIDS, it is better placed than ever to manage resources efficiently. The RFE is a model for what happens when local governance, multi-sectoral collaboration, and multi-donor partnerships come together. Most importantly, the RFE demonstrates to Tanzanians living with AIDS that their government-and the world-cares: “[We] are now living in hope and much better than before.

[RFE grant beneficiary]