One of the unique features of the Asia Pacific Alliance (APA) is that it brings together reproductive health (RH), family planning (FP), development and environment nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). We in the movement know that all of our activities are linked and mutually reinforcing, but a platform such as APA holds our feet to the fire in terms of active and meaningful collaboration.
Another aspect of APA is that official development assistance (ODA) agencies and other donors, such as private foundations, are invited to the table as members. APA aims to provide an environment for donors whereby they can learn from one another both best practices and lessons learned — from the Australian Government’s overseas aid program (AusAID), to Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency (TICA), Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), New Zealand’s International Aid & Development Agency (NZAID), the newly merged Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), along with U.S. foundations such as The David & Lucile Packard Foundation, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Additionally, APA hopes to provide a forum for NGOs and civil society to engage with the ODAs/donors investing in their region, to improve communication and understanding of the important role played by the other.
To further this mission, APA hosted a donor dialogue at the close of
the first day of the conference. Oying Ramon from Gates, Sono Aibe of
Packard, and Sandra Jordan with USAID each shared recent news from
their respective agencies, with a focus on their grant making and
programmatic interests in the Asia Pacific region. I was asked to host
this dialogue, and I gladly accepted; as a former foundation program
officer myself (at the Wallace Global Fund in the late
90′s), I understand the hunger for dialogue between donors and
potential grant recipients — particularly those who are working in
remote areas, with marginalized communities. These NGOs often feel the
deepest need for resources, and yet they frequently feel the most
distant from decision-making about strategic investments.
True to form, APA’s donor dialogue was an equal exchange; a chance
(rare for some) to ask questions directly of our philanthropic
colleagues. Oying, Sono and Sandra came to the table — literally, as
chairs had been arranged on the stage around a coffee table, as if we
were having a fireside chat in the cool, rainy season climate of Chiang
Mai — ready to share, challenge, answer questions, provide examples,
and, lastly, express their appreciation for the amazing work taking
place in the region.
Rose Koenders, the newly appointed Regional Coordinator for APA who had
been on the job only three weeks prior to the start of the annual
meeting, had the microphone for the final question of the session. She
pointed out APA’s uniqueness in the region as a platform for
collaborative advocacy, and suggested a $1 million capacity building
grant — only to prepare regional advocates for the “big ask” that will
take advocates forward over the next 10 years… to achieving the
International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD)’s
Programme of Action to meeting
the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) challenge, to surpassing all currently
identified RH/FP needs for women and their families in the Asia Pacific
The question was both rhetorical and symbolic. We were unable to secure
a commitment from our donor colleagues on the spot, but it was a bold
statement from a newly appointed and energized coordinator, and it
hints at the potential this alliance possesses. Watch APA closely, my
friends. This is a network with bold energy and still untapped
potential. PAI is proud to be a partner as APA spreads its wings in the
months and years to come.