Flex Fund in Russia. Lessons learned.
In 2019 AFEW International together with four other Alliance of the Bridging the Gaps partners (AFEW, MPACT Global, Mainline, and Aidsfonds) started implementing the Bridging the Gaps Flex Fund “Young, wild and… free?” project aimed at sharing and scaling the best practices in reaching youth within the Bridging the Gaps and optimizing HIV/SRHR related services for and engagement of young people in all elements of work.
Within this project, members of Coalition of Harm Reduction NGOs “Outreach”, the AFEW International’s local partner, were introduced to the experience of Lighthouse (Vietnam). Based on the results of acquaintance with the best practices of Lighthouse, Outreach Coalition and its members identified multiple areas of work, among which were:
- Strengthening the LGBTIQ movement
- Development of friendly to the LGBTIQ community and young KP health facilities
- Raising public awareness of gender and sexual diversity
- Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR)
- Online interventions and diversified delivery of services in the field of HIV prevention
These areas were taken up by different Coalition Outreach members and started being implemented at the end of 2020 through small grants projects.
Alexei Lahov, director of Coalition of Harm Reduction NGOs “Outreach”
The most important lesson learned from the activities of Flex Fund in Russia is that if we want to achieve success, we need to be innovative, creative, and open-minded. Especially when it comes to the drugs scene in the EECA region.
For me, the biggest success within the project was the opportunity to distribute mini-grants among members of our coalition. Thanks to this, we were able to undertake several innovative activities, such as promoting sexual and reproductive health among MSM and people who practice chemsex. Also, we had some online activities.
We aim to continue these activities in our coalition, and we will try to get additional funding to launch some more innovative approaches. Russians are good creators, and if they have funding, they will do their best.