STOPAIDS and Harm Reduction International welcome DFID’s increased pledge to the Robert Carr Fund. Despite this increase, the Robert Carr Fund still faces a significant funding gap to fully meet the needs of Inadequately Served Populations.
At the International AIDS Conference today in Amsterdam, DFID Minister Alistair Burt pledged £6m to the Robert Carr Fund (RCNF) over the next three years. This pledge represents an increase of 20% compared to DFID’s previous contribution of £5m between 2015- 2018.
In his speech announcing the contribution, Alistair Burt highlighted the importance of funding and political will in the global HIV response. He stated that the UK will continue to fund evidence based interventions and ensure the most marginalised are not left behind. He called on the international community to work together to end stigma and discrimination.
STOPAIDS and Harm Reduction International welcome any increase in funding for the global HIV response. Increased pledges from DFID and other donors, including the Dutch and the US will mean an overall increase in funding for RCNF of approximately 25%, but this will still not be enough to fill the funding gap RCNF faces. RCNF is currently only able to fund just half of the quality proposals it receives. This is one reason we had been calling for DFID to double their contribution to RCNF to £10m.
DFID’s increased contribution to RCNF is a step in the right direction but is dwarfed by the broader global HIV funding gap. UNAIDS estimates that an additional $6bn is needed annually to reach the SDG target of ending AIDS by 2030. To fill this gap all stakeholders will need to increase overall funding by approximately one third.
DFID’s increased contribution to RCNF is a welcome shift from the previous UK global HIV funding trends. Since 2009, DFID has cut funding for its bilateral programmes by 93% from a high of £221m in 2009 to just £16m in 2016. Civil society organisations working to address HIV have been the worst affected by these cuts with funding reduced by 70% since 2011. Despite celebrated increases in UK funding for multilateral organisations like the Global Fund, DFID’s own data shows that their overall funding for HIV has declined by 22% since 2012. Alistair Burt’s announcement today that DFID will increase funding by £1m will unfortunately not fill the gap created by those cuts.
We welcome that Alistair Burt was able to attend the International AIDS Conference and make this pledge in person. Alistair Burt is the first DFID Minister to attend an International AIDS Conference in several years. Alistair Burt’s attendance at the conference demonstrates his personal leadership and commitment to the global HIV response and his constructive approach to working with a broad range of stakeholders. Alistair Burt also included a young person living with HIV in the official UK delegation to the conference demonstrating his acknowledgement of the important role civil society, young people and people living with HIV play in the global HIV response. DFID have also taken steps forward to integrate HIV into their wider development strategies – notably the DFID Strategic Vision for Gender Equality and the DFID Education Strategy. We look forward continuing to work with DFID in the future including during the critical replenishment of the Global Fund in 2019.
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