¿o te la hacen?
Colleagues and friends,
We are writing to update you on some urgent and serious developments here at Harm Reduction International.
From 2006—2012, Harm Reduction International benefitted from a generous core funding grant from the UK Department for International Development (DFID). This core funding was instrumental in building IHRA from a conference organising NGO into a global leader in harm reduction, HIV and human rights research, policy and advocacy, while helping emerging harm reduction networks to grow and maintaining our role as the host of the international harm reduction conference. In short, it enabled our evolution from the International Harm Reduction Association of ten years ago to Harm Reduction International as we know it today.
The generous support of DFID over the past 6 years enabled us to make significant contributions to the global harm reduction movement, including:
As of 2013, the bilateral DFID funding that had previously supported HRI and other UK based global civil society organisations is being on-granted via the new Robert Carr Civil Society Networks Fund (RCNF). As a result, HRI and other global networks that had been receiving DFID funding directly had to instead compete for core funding through this new donor mechanism.
Unfortunately, for reasons that have yet to be communicated by the fund management agency, the RCNF has rejected our bid outright and in its entirety. Others in our sector have also been badly affected though this process, including some of the networks HRI helped establish under the DFID grant. However, this decision will have a disproportionate impact on HRI versus organisations approaching the RCNF for new funding, as it represents a massive drop in our existing budgeted income.
To put this in perspective, this represents the loss of almost the entirety of our HIV research, policy and advocacy funding, almost all funding to support the strengthening of civil society and the development of new harm reduction networks and drug user organisations, and almost all of our core funding to support key management, administrative, IT and overhead costs.
Fortunately, for those planning to attend and take part in the International Harm Reduction Conference in Vilnius in June 2013, the conference will not be affected, as this runs on an entirely separate budget to the rest of our operations. The conference has received nearly 1,000 abstracts, and is attracting strong donor support and sponsorship, and commitments from high level speakers. We expect the event to sell out and be a major success for ourselves and our partner, the Eurasian Harm Reduction Network.
Our human rights team also remains fully funded through the Open Society Foundations, and we will continue to advocate for harm reduction through that programme of work. We also continue to receive project funding from various sources, including the European Commission and the Community Action for Harm Reduction (CAHR) project.
However, while our conference and these other projects are not affected, this funding gap will have a serious impact on our public health and networking programmes, our research and advocacy on financing for HIV and harm reduction programmes for people who use drugs and on key core operations. Unless we are able to quickly attract new sources of funding in the coming months to fill these gaps, the consequences will include:
It may also include redundancies and/or cuts to pay or hours of work for some staff, including the Executive Director and Deputy Director.
In the immediate term, we will be reconsidering our proposed research and advocacy plans for 2013, as well as assessing what support we can continue to offer our partners. For those of you working with our public health team, or who benefit from support from us via partnerships on various activities, please contact us about our joint work so we can manage the fallout of this decision as best we can.
We are optimistic that we can work to repair the damage to our organisation and continue our contribution to the broader harm reduction sector. We are reaching out to new donors, in particular to ensure that the Global State of Harm Reduction project can continue.
We ask you to please bear with us in the coming months as we adjust to this change in our circumstances.
For our friends and supporters wishing to support our organisation through this challenging time, we welcome with much gratitude new memberships, renewal of old memberships and contributions (www.ihra.net/members/payment). We would also like to thank our existing funders for their ongoing support.
We look forward to seeing you all in Vilnius in June 2013.
John Peter Kools
Prof Pat O’Hare