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Funding still a major challenge

Lack of funding is still the most pressing challenge faced by civil society organisations in the NACOSA network, with 75% of network survey respondents citing lack of funding, compared to 63% in the 2017 survey. However, organisations have put in place a number of measures in response to these challenges and are fully committed to the networking spirit of collaboration and sharing.

NACOSA is at heart a network, bringing together civil society organisations working in the HIV, AIDS, TB and related fields. Each year, NACOSA surveys organizations within this network to understand their challenges, needs and capacity gaps. The information is used to improve the network but also to share the issues that civil society is facing with the broader community.


The majority of organisations listed Children & Youth as their primary focus area (32%) with the next highest focus area being Health (15%), followed by People Living with HIV (10%). Other focus areas were more evenly spread, with 43% listing People Living with HIV, 43% Children and Youth, 33% Education and Women & Girls and 27% Tuberculosis. Primary focus areas specified under ‘Other’ included: Substance abuse, Vulnerable groups including people with disability, Older people, Inmates, Community home based care, Psychosocial services, Environment and Sexual and reproductive health rights.

The vast majority of organisations described themselves as Non Profit Organisations (70%) with the next highest being Community based organisations at 9% and Community groups at 7%. Government department and mining sector were specified under “Other”. Most respondents were from the Free State (26%), followed by the Western Cape at 25% and Northern Cape at 24%; 9% of respondents were from Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.


Funding and resource issues are by far the biggest challenge facing organisations in the broader NACOSA network. This has increased from last year with 75% of respondents citing Lack of funding, compared to 63% in 2017. The next most significant challenge was Limited access to information (29%), followed by Lack of programmatic or technical skills (29%). Poor relationships with local government or public services were also a challenge (24%), as was Unreliable or inconsistent funding (20%) and Staffing and human resource shortages (22%). Other challenges described included ‘slow filling of vacancies’ and ‘Transport’.

In response to these challenges, 72% had policies and standard operating procedures in place, 60% had developed strategic partnerships with other organisations, government or companies and 56% said they had a monitoring and evaluation framework. Only 26% reported having reserve funds to cover at least six months’ operations.


Unsurprisingly, the majority of organisations (78%) said Networking with other organisations was what they hoped to get out of being part of the network, 76% said Access to funding opportunities and 65% said Capacity building and training opportunities. The reason chosen by least respondents were Influence national planning at 41% and Publicity at 36%. This compares with 67% reporting access to funding opportunities in 2017, 90% Networking with other organisations and 82% Learning and sharing best practice.


When asked which of the Sustainable Development Goals their organisations contributed to, respondents mostly listed Good health and well-being (68%), Gender equality (44%), No poverty and Quality education (both 37%) and 13% said they were not familiar with the Sustainable Development Goals.

In terms of the goals of the National Strategic Plan on HIV, TB and STIs 2017-2022, most organisations said they contributed to Goal 1: Accelerating prevention to reduce new infections (71%), Goal 2: Providing treatment, care and adherence support (55%) and Goal 3: Reaching all key and vulnerable populations (44%). Only 9% said they were not familiar with the goals of the NSP.


Respondents provided a range of constructive suggestions on how NACOSA could improve the network. The most cited suggestion was more communication with the larger network and other common suggestions were better notice of events and more opportunities for training and funding. Many respondents said the network was currently meeting their needs:

“I don’t think there’s anything that Nacosa need to improve as they are communicating well with community stakeholders as a result we are receiving your newsletter almost every month and because of that we have managed to see the call for proposals which we have a big hope that our organisation will get assistance as we have applied.”

Encouragingly, many organisations expressed a clear commitment to the spirit of networking:

“By working closer with each other in a collaborative way. Speaking with one voice, ongoing feedback and consultation is the order of the day.”


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