In January of 2019 Kyrgyzstan, already facing declining donor funding for the HIV response, had the services of their three community-led, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) put to an end due to the cease of funding from the country’s Global Fund (GF) programme. This sudden change left the community of the most marginalised people who inject drugs and people living with HIV with interrupted access to services and changes in service quality.
In April of 2019, the International Network of People Who Use Drugs (INPUD), with support from the Community Rights and Gender Technical Assistance Programme (CRG), decided to investigate the situation to identify measures that might be taken to ensure access to needed services. On top of that, the investigation also intended to learn any lessons that might be relevant to Kyrgyzstan and other middle-income countries facing similar reductions in donor funding and slow implementation of social contracting.
‘Out in the Cold’ is the result of this work, presenting the findings of an international and local consultant who conducted interviews and focus groups with people who use drugs in Kyrgyzstan to gain an understanding of the situation. The investigation uncovered a number of core lessons from the situation, to which the report provides a number of recommendations:
- There is a dangerous tendency for the reduction in donor funds to outpace the implementation of social contracting.
- Community-led organisations can be disproportionately affected by reductions in donor funds.
- Sudden closing of community-led services built up over years is not cost-effective.
- Community-led organisations may need to find creative ways to reduce costs.
- Communities can appeal for international support to address harmful management of reduced donor funds.