What do you learn from this press release? Anything specific? Anything new? The participants, although no detail is provided about them by Dr Thomas Munthali, are probably tobacco control veterans, with years of activism and funding. Maybe ulterior press releases will tell us a bit more about this meeting and how the Gates Foundation millions are used? Maybe not.
Is it really necessary and useful to move all those people to Harare? What's the cost of such an "annual coordination workshop"? The "rationale"? The workshop aims to equip the sub-grantees with knowledge and skills in ACBF procedures for effective and efficient grant utilization and management. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the tobacco control project advances evidence-based tobacco control policies in Africa.
Visiting the site of the Alliance Congolaise pour le Controle du Tabac (AACT) there is one post devoted to the launch of a smokefree environment campaign (in French) that mentions at the end the planning of an international meeting that would take place in October 7/9 in Kinshasa, financed by the Gates Foundation and involving about 100 people from 22 African countries. Is that really necessary/useful? How much is that going to cost? The front page of the site still has a typo about the French word for 'welcome"...
Revisiting the website of the ACBF we discover this press release from the Gates Foundation dated November 19, 2014 announcing continued support for tobacco control in Africa. BUT, while this text lists the organizations the Foundation is partnering with, it does not provide any $ figure about the budgets awarded to each of them. At the same time, Cynthia Lewis writes: You asked for more transparency in grant making, better role clarity and coordination among partners and grant makers, and direct investment in a strategic African organization that can help build capacity. The problem (as we see it) is that she does not provide any detailed information besides the names of the 'intermediaries". Visiting, for instance, the CTFK site we were unable (as of today) to find any reference to a grant awarded in 2015 to an African country. As for the grant awarded to ACBF, we don't know it's size nor is there much detail about how it is going.
(After some more investigating we found that the ABCF grant seems to be for $8.5M, while the grant for surveys by the CDC Foundation would be $4.6M: that still leaves $18.5M unaccounted for -how much for CTFK? how much for WHO?- and there is very little detail about how all those amounts are going to be used. We should not have to go looking : why isn't all the info given upfront? That would be real transparency).
Cynthia also mentions that: As you know, we are also supporting some social marketing and behavior change work against tobacco use in Africa as a complement to important and ongoing policy work. Well, we don't know about that. What is it about?
The press releaseposted on the ACBF website is below. Details remain very sketchy on how this budget will be managed. There is reference to a communiqué by the Gates Foundationbut we were unable to find it. 12 countries appear to have been selected for funding. What about the rest? How much information will be made public? The the three year and $32 million grant was announced in July 2014 on the ACBF site. ACBF nor the Gates Foundation answered our requests for more details.
ACBF & Gates Foundation partners lay groundwork for next phase of tobacco control
25 Nov, 2014
The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and Campaign for Tobacco Free kids (CTFK) are advancing coordination of the Tobacco Control Project across Africa funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The three Gates Foundation partners met from the 24th-25th of November and agreed that coordination and effective implementation of tobacco control will take a prominent place in the second phase of the project.
During the two day sessions, the partners agreed on an effective mechanism for work at country level, developed a joint reporting tool and agreed to develop a monthly calendar of key activities as well as to hold regular calls to discuss their plans and progress at country and regional levels.
The meeting served as a platform for the partners to gain a better appreciation of each organization's role in tobacco control; share work plans and deliverables as well as priority countries of focus and partners at country and regional levels.
ACBF, as the host of the first coordination meeting, recommended that the partners build their relationship for tobacco control based on trust, transparency and communication. They were also encouraged to build on each other’s comparative advantage and competence. These outcomes will ensure coordination for effective implementation of tobacco control in Africa by avoiding duplication of activities and mismanagement of resources.
Last week, the Gates Foundation officially released a communiqué announcing their commitment of more than US $32 million to support governments and Civil Society Organizations to implement tobacco control policies and programs in order to reduce tobacco use.
Under this funding, ACBF will support strategic grant-making and capacity building of the Centre for Tobacco Control in Africa, the University of Cape Town and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to advance evidence-based Tobacco Control policies in Africa including tobacco taxation, advertising bans, graphic warning labels, and smoke-free environments. The CSOs will be drawn from Uganda, Kenya, Mauritania, Botswana, Ethiopia, Senegal, Nigeria, and Ghana, Niger, Benin, Gabon and the Gambia.
That's five "big' countries (Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana), two 'medium" Niger and Senegal, 5 small (Mauritania, Botswana, Benin, Gabon).
Coordination for effective Tobacco Control in Africa
The tobacco control partner coordination meeting will be held in Harare at the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) secretariat on 24th to 25th November 2014. Three institutions namely; ACBF, WHO (AFRO and Headquarters) and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) will meet to discuss how to improve coordination for Tobacco Control in Africa under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funding for Africa.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy tells us about a talk delivered by Susan Desnond-Hellman where shew mentions the need for more transparency and listening to feedback. We wish this would not be only wishful thinking as far as the grants awarded by the Gatews Foundation to promote tobacco control in Africa are concerned. but a very small part of the Foundation's activity but why should they be exempt of the transparency requirement?
Visiting the site of the ACBF(African Capacity Building Foundation) that was awarded a 3 year grant (amount not available) one can see that the scope of the interventions has been drastically reduced, focusing on the CTCA and the University of Cape Town. Only six countries are 'targeted': Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda. 0 information about this grant is available on the site of the Gates Foundation (that I could find). The more it changes... It's sad to see such a waste. The prospects don't look much better from the Bloomberg Initiative/CTFK where I have not seen any new grant recently awarded. When there is no clear strategy and no real leadership...
Here is an ad for a communications officer position with the Gates Foundation. How do you think tobacco control could/should be part of this job? What could/should be a global communication strategy to promote tobacco control in Africa? How could tobacco control be part of the African Media Initiative who just got a new CEO, Eric Chinje?
ATCA held a strategic planning workshop in Lomé(Togo) for 3 days (April 2-4). They had the support of an anonymous consultant (but for his first name, Stéphane) from the Canadian consulting firm Universalia, apparently without previous experience in tobacco control. If you can understand what the results were, please tell me (see below the document provided on their site). No financial information is provided, like where is the funding going to come from? From the Gates Foundation again? From ACS?
WHO received in December 2009, $9.994.093 for a 5 year project centered around the creation of a 'hub'. The search for the country where the 'hub' would be installed was organized by the same DC based firm that was put in charge of its design and 'independent' evaluation. The announced budget for the 'hub' was to be about $3.5 million (less than 35% of the global grant) according to the document published in April 2010. The CTCA was inaugurated on... November 1, 2011 (the director had been recruited in September 2011). The 'first phase' of the WHO project is supposed to end, according to this document (at the bottom) in two months, in July 2014. What's next? Is the Gates Foundation going to continue its funding? at what level? for how long?
From The Atlantic, a very touchy subject, especially when you depend on philantropic funding. Does it apply to tobacco control funding in Africa? Does anybody dare expressing any wish for changes, ask for public evaluation and transparency? But of course, speaking out can bring personal negative consequences, as explained in this opinionin Chronicle of Philanthropy.
As you can see from the most recent posts I have started to look at what happened in the past, especially since 2007/2008 when philanthropists Bloomberg and Gates provided millions of dollars that changed the face of tobacco control and I am wondering about what's next, especially, very concretely what is the Gates Foundation going to decide as they look for an organization to promote tobacco control in Africa for the next 3 years. I have a feeling of déja vu and fait accompli while at the very same time hoping for a change, a new practice in the process of grant management, engaging the whole community, including potential 'dissenters'. Making this wish I am only taking the word of CEO Jeff Raikes when he described his '3Ts priorities' in the speech he gave in Belfast in June 2012. I have a few ideas about encouraging everybody to pitch in, share their personal evaluation of what happened since 2007/08 and offer suggestions/wishes for the next 3 years. Stay tuned.
Here is the whole text of the conference given by Jeff Raikes on June 5, 2012. Read it all and especially the parts at the end devoted to Transparency and Teamwork. I have reproduced the text below for 'safekeeping' because my experience has been that sometimes links were broken, texts were deleted and the original material was lost. Yes this also happened on the website of the Gates Foundation and for information about the tobacco control grants.
Surfing on line on the theme of transparency in relation with the ongoing selection process at the Gates Foundation I found this conference given in June 2012 in Belfast by Jeff Raikes (the soon to be leaving CEO of the Gates Foundation). As often he talks eloquently about the need for transparency and also says:“We need to go beyond grantees and partners, to the critics and dissenters of our approaches.” As a dissenter I cannot agree more but is such an attitude implemented now? What about testing it for real in the decision making of the Foundation of how the promotion of tobacco control in Africa should be organized? See below for a more recent comment by Jeff Raikes from an interview published on Humanosphere.
As it's grey and cold today I have decided to look at the relevant numbers for the grants awarded to promote tobacco control in Africa during the period 2007 to November 2013. I mostly computed the data for the grants awarded by CTFK for the Bloomberg Initiative, comparing them with the grants awarded by the Gates Foundation.
Reading an updated version (9/23/2013) of an interview with the Executive Director of the Alliance Nationale des Consommateurs et de l'Environnement (ANCE), Mr Ebeh Kodjo, who is also Secretary of ATCA, and an FCA board member (until december 31, 2013) the main problem seems to be funding. Nothing new? Except that ANCE has been one of the groups that received significant funding (the last CTFK grant awarded in Dec 2012 was for $152K+ while 54K had been awarded in January 2012) so how much is now needed, what happened to the previous grants, is any detailed budget explaining where the money went-goes available? Those questions are especially important when the Gates Foundation is looking for the next organization to coordinate their tobacco control efforts in Africa and ATCA could be a candidate.
This ad was posted on the site of the Center for Tobacco Control in Africa (based in Kampala). The deadline to apply is today! November 8! What organizations are going to apply? to serve as a strategic grant maker, capacity builder, and effectively coordinate with others working in tobacco control on the continent? Several existing (competing) groups are presently trying to do that. Strangely, once again, despite claiming to engage the whole continent the proposal is in fact much more narrow:The grantee organization will support work in 5-10 countries in Africa .
Another interesting (perplexing?) remark is Africa Tobacco control expertise is preferred but not required as a tobacco control expert could be hired as part of the investment.
What do you think? Is there any chance of a different organizing strategy being funded or are we going to see more of the same?
Duration of grant: 3 years, starting in 2014.
No budget amount if mentioned nor any mention of the capacity to operate in different languages (except English) despite the fact that the lack of French fluency has been, still is a handicap for all leading groups.
In the report about the May 15 meeting in Dakar devoted to the future of tobacco control advocacy in Africa (still only available in French?) there is a presentation by Patrick Musavuli entitled: "Report of the evaluation on the ATCC project by the Gates Consultants and about the future of tobacco control advocacy in Africa", «Compte-rendu de l’évaluation des Consultants de GATES sur le projet ATCC, et sur l’avenir de la lutte antitabac en Afrique ». Unfortunately the summary does not provide any information about this "Gates evaluation", who did it, when nor if it is meant to be shared or kept confidential.
Below is the summary of the presentation of Fabrice EBEH (in French'Rapport Consultation ONG') with our translation (in English) of the main points (in yellow) with our comments (in light blue). Considering the content of Rachel Kitonyo's presentation all does not seem as well as Fabrice's summary seems to imply.
What to retain of Rachel's presentation (as it is summarized below in French -as the report in only available in French for now- with our partial translation in English of what we consider the key points, colored in yellow with our comments in italics and colored in pale blue).
As diplomatic and vague as the presentation is summarized, it does raise a significant number of issues about how the program was/is managed. How can the apparently badly needed changes be implemented?
Or is everything going to remain the same?
Rachel Kitonyo, ATCC's Programs Director, shares this information in an email (see below) received yesterday. It raises (at least for us) a few questions as Rachel had been very instrumental in the creation and management of the Consortium. How will this departure impact the management of ATCC? That remains to be seen as well as the potential changes that could occur following the still mysterious 'evaluation' made by Gates Foundation's advisors as mentioned briefly in the report ( see page 6, only in French for now) about the May 15 meeting "What future for tobacco control in Africa" that took place in Dakar.
Rachel's presentation at this meeting is summarized on page 5 and 6.
There is very little to find on the site of the Gates Foundation, except that the amount awarded has risen by 1 million (probably from the interests) from $7 to $8 million. What has been/is done with the money? Here is the page devoted to the African Tobacco Control Consortium by ACS that says it contributes 'significant financial and human resources to this initiative' but does not provide any number. As we recall, the project managers (including ACS) were supposed to match the funds given by the Gates Foundation (see their LOI, point V). Here is a link to the African Tobacco Control Resource Center.
We could not find any detailed and updated financial documents.
ACS + WHO Afro and all the usual main donor organizations have brought together representatives of 22 countries to share their tobacco control experience and expertise. They met for 2 days. What was achieved? At what cost? What was achieved at the various previous similar meetings? Is this the most effective strategy? When will the next meeting take place? At what cost? With what results? Beside a significant budget for travel and hospitality?
After visiting the Bloomberg Initiative's site I decided to visit as well the Gates Foundation's site in case there was anything new. Indeed there was. I had mentioned earlier a grant awarded by GF to the New Venture Fund that mentioned tobacco control in Africa. When revisiting the page devoted to this grant it appears that the amount has significantly increased: it's now $4,163,671 instead of $1,329,671.
All the rest remains identical and I could not find any additional information about what's it's all about. Just millions floating around. Philanthrocapitalism at work. Any reason to complain or be surprised?
This article is about the situation in the US but what about the situation in Africa and more precisely what is the grant makers strategy to raise the visibility and awareness about tobacco control issues in African countries/media? Do they even have one? Shouldn't they have one considering the millions involved? Subsidiary question: who is aware of the most recent grant awarded by the Gates Foundation for innovative programs in Africa? Do you know where to look?
ACS (with Gates Foundation funding) organized two workshops. One for Botswana advocates and one for "emerging researchers". I am not sure about how cost effective they are. Another post on the ACS blog looks at cancer care in Togo: we have nothing.
While staff changes at CTFK occured in 2012, the level of the grants awarded (as of today) has been fairly low: $152.724 for projects in 3 countries: Ghana to promote pictorial warnings, Cameroon and Togo to support the enactment of strict regulations. Compared to the previous levels of funding this is very small. The same probably goes for the American Cancer Society that manages the millions provided by the Gates Foundation but does not provide any detailed budget.
This article explains how US foundations fund journalists. The Gates Foundation is one of them. In 2008 a reflexion was started about how to support journalists willing to report about tobacco control issues in their country. The most effective way would be to directly compensate journalists for the documents they produce. Such contracts could be designed so that the various aspects of the MPOWER strategy are covered. How about giving it a try? The rate? $100 per story (would have to include at least one picture) and a $100 monthly bonus for the best segment. The rythm? one story per month with a precise deadline. Please let us stop the expensive capacity building workshops and let us directly pay the journalists to produce content for everybody to see.
One more supermeeting involving plenty of dignitaries (30 "global tobacco control advocates") coming to Kampala from far away: at what cost and with what impact? Beyond the announcement (below) we have found zero substantial information about this meeting. The CTCA's site does not contain any (yet) nor the others. After this comment was posted we received a pdf document that provides a little more information, but not much. For instance, no detailed financial data are provided. Not that any of the other group is very transparent about their finances, but that would be a step in the right direction as far as transparency and public accountability are concerned.
The Bloomberg Initiative received $375 million from Michael Bloomberg (in 2006 and 2008) and an additional $30 million from the Gates Foundation (as of July 2009). That's a total of (about) $405 million from 2007 to 2011 (5 years). That's about $81 million per year, divided between 5 entities (CTFK, The Union, The World Lung Foundation, the CDC Foundation and The Johns Hopkins School of Public Health).
The new 4 year grant of $220 million represent $55 million per year (without -for now- any additional funding from the Gates Foundation since the $18 million grant that had been mentioned in July 2011 has not been confirmed)
This is an updated version of the first two editions, with a slightly different subtitle and new cover pictures. Available via Blurb.com and as an e-book via Amazon-Kindle. It focuses on the need for public transparency (and accountability) as a condition to get real feedback and to improve the overall performance in the management of the grants awarded by the Gates Foundation and the Bloomberg Initiative to promote tobacco control in Africa.
In a short email message dated December 19, Ebeh Kodjo states that "2012 will not be easy. It will be challenging, annoying, with less money and more demands." Unfortunately he does not provide any hard numbers about ATCA or the Consortium's finances for 2011 or 2012. His apparent pessimism about money seems inconsistent with the information available that seems to point toward increased resources.