In 2009 a short case study was conducted over five days to look at the nature of institutional support that the AIDSPortal Initiative provides to partners, and how the AIDSPortal Initiative works to help them meet their objectives in knowledge sharing and management. This case study feeds into a longer evaluation study, by suggesting appropriate indicators of success.
This case study describes the development of the AIDSPortal Initiative from its inception, and the learning acquired along the way. It draws upon the collective knowledge and understanding of those working in partnership with the AIDSPortal Initiative, its staff, and of others working in the broader environment of knowledge-sharing and management in the health and development sector.
The AIDSPortal Initiative is seen as largely successful at responding to its partners’ needs for technological solutions to knowledge-sharing challenges. The KANCO and International HIV/AIDS Alliance partnerships demonstrate that when the AIDSPortal Initiative designs solutions that work tightly with partners’ strategies, partners have a sense of ownership and can rapidly integrate the technology into their work. The partnership with the AIDS Consortium in South Africa shows how a more top-down approach blocks momentum, and struggles to generate the commitment needed for success. Balancing the desire for ownership with the central objectives of open knowledge-sharing is the AIDSPortal Initiative’s key challenge. This requires that the project refine its approach to partnership, by developing criteria that can guide it to work with the most effective networks. It also demands a more rigorous approach to setting indicators for success.
The AIDSPortal Initiative would benefit from taking the following actions:
1. Consolidate its partnership criteria, along the lines of the implicit consensus that currently exists. These should include:
• Synergy: partners should be already established networks of organisations (national, regional and global thematic) that are already engaged in knowledge-sharing and networking activities in HIV.
• Committed to sharing: partners should demonstrate commitment to working with others on joint information-related initiatives that add further value
• Capacity: partners should be able to integrate the project into existing plans and programmes, and sufficient capacity in terms of information communications, technology, and infrastructure.
• Diversity: partners should be committed to working with diverse views, and ensure that the information gathered, organised and disseminated is from the most appropriate local coalition of organisations and is not dominated by any one perspective.
• Regional/national balance: the AIDSPortal Initiative should seek a portfolio of regional partners, where it can foresee rapid scale-up of joint achievements and strong national network partners to demonstrate benefit for community-level users.
2. Develop core indicators - The AIDSPortal Initiative should be assessed on:
• how well it aligns itself with the strategies of its partners
• how responsive it is to the priorities of its partners
• how successfully it chooses its partners according to agreed criteria
• its ability to restrict its activities to those that will have greatest chance of scale up, either at the local level or regionally
• the way it balances the demands for ownership and for knowledge-sharing
3. Develop partner-specific indicators to which it can be held accountable, in line with partners’ strategies and objectives
To read the full AIDSPortal Initiative Case Study click here.