About two weeks ago, the Global Fund Observer, a newsletter that reports on the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, published an article about the Fund’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). The article raised concerns about the process of developing the KPIs, citing a letter written by the 10 country and NGO constituencies on the Global Fund Board that implement grants (the “Implementers Group”) to the chairs of the committee that are developing KPI targets.
As a consultant for the Implementers Group, I drafted the letter for the Board. It was an internal document, but since GFO got permission from the Implementers Group chair to publish it online, here it is.
Asleep yet? The letter is really sexy only to people who geek out about aid agency accountability frameworks, SDGs and the like. But there’s a kernel of what may be a hot idea inside: The Implementers Group letter calls for a kind of global governance revolution. Instead of having donors and UN agencies set global governance indicators at the global level, often based on mathematical models and benchmarks, the letter proposes those targets be aggregated from the ground up.
That ground-up process would draw on the rich data that often exists in community-based organizations, and build up from there to develop national and global targets that are truly owned by countries. That would mean more investment in, and attention to, ethical, community-based data gathering. It’s an idea I’m excited about and would love to see go further, which is why I thought it worthwhile to re-share the letter.
Though I helped to write the letter and suggested the ground-up process for developing Global Fund targets, just to be clear, I didn’t agree with the other concerns cited in the GFO article. I was puzzled that the GFO granted anonymity to the critics it quotes, some of whom seemed to have an axe to grind; and that the article didn’t include a response from the Secretariat to the criticisms. Geneva is a political town, and monitoring and accountability of all types (journalism included) can risk becoming a hall of mirrors.
The Global Fund KPI process isn’t perfect, but it is unique in its ambition, rigor and inclusivity. I don’t believe any aid agency has a system as elaborate, as specific or as transparent. It would only get better if global targets were more deeply rooted in local contexts.