But why is it important to know the specific costs per unit? For the last few years, national strategic plans have begun to develop that are costly. However, these plans lack the calculation of the costs of the interventions of civil society. Hence, the national accounts are exclusively governmental.
The important of having and applying tools to define these costs can by summarised in: The opportunity to group together the interventions into service packages so that civil society organisations can know the specific actual costs and by this route they can develop projects and adjusted proposals to implement programmes in their role as sub-recipients of the Global Fund.
It is also a resource for political advocacy, it can demonstrate the economic contribution in this sector and it can reclaim a higher investment, based on evidence, in these proven programmes and better access to the vulnerable population.
For example, when a Gay/MSM organisation through a peer intervention deliver a condom to a person on the ground, normally the error lies in financing the cost of only the condom, a leaflet and the time spent by the person who did the peer work.
Behind this activity exists a variety of direct costs (travel expenses, snacks or administration and stock management for the condoms) and indirect costs (expenditures for maintenance of the organisation, training the peer workers and fees for other officials of the organisation.
As a consequence, many times the organisation underestimates the actual final costs in their budget and therefore may confront serious difficulties in meeting the goals set by the Principal Recipient which include covering the budgetary differences from their own coffers.
Starting next year, the first workshop will be organised to adjust and validate a tool which will be distributed to national workshops in a limited number of countries in 2010.
The civil society organisations cannot continue working in situations of semi-exploitation with precarious working conditions and ending up looking for resources from their limited reserves to cover budgetary gaps. This is a topic of greater effectiveness, efficacy and equity which has nothing to do with the commitment of this sector to the national responses.
By Javier Hourcade Bellocq
Key Correspondent Team – Asuncion, 11/12/09