The year 2012 was in general a progressive year for FACT. Several milestones were achieved. Coupled with this was the geographic and programmatic expansion. FACT’s direct geographic boundaries stretched to a new province of Mashonaland West. Much as FACT has over the years worked with organisations from other provinces, 2012 witnessed FACT’s established presence on the ground for implementation purposes.
At programming level, FACT’s former Monitoring and Evaluation department was transformed into a Research and Knowledge Management (RKM) department. It managed to secure both small and large funding to position FACT as a growing research institution. Reference is made to the PMTCT implementation science research, Regional AIDS Training Network and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund grants. Much as the latter is a local grant, the former is an African initiative covering Nigeria and Malawi representing the greater Africa. The participation of FACT has thus further positioned her as a regional and African player in research issues. With these successes was funding increase. Other successes were linked to FACT securing funding under the USAID OVC initiative. Though not new, FACT having intervened and continuing to intervene in OVC, the fund was a significant milestone for the organisation in many respects. When complete, FACT should be positioned on a progressive path to receive direct USAID funding under the USAID Forward initiative. Added to this will be the fund’s influence on strengthening FACT systems and procedures to meet and surpass internationally recognised and accepted NGO management systems and procedures as epitomised by the USAID systems.
2012 progress was somewhat compromised and threatened by a hail storm of challenges. Inadvertently increase in funding exposes an organisation to unforeseen risk and so is the risk incumbent upon geographic, and programmatic expansion. Also, the overall collapse of other NGOs had a bearing both positive and negative on FACT. Increasingly, the organisation came under spotlight as a result of failures by key players in the same industry. FACT was placed under scrutiny; a direct result of fears that were emanating from challenges noted and spurred by failing sister organisations. Fortunately, FACT emerged strong. The overall effect was that FACT in turn attracted the attention of those who now had doubts in the capacity of national NGOs to drive development initiatives.
In the end, FACT’s 2012 was thus characterised by the organisation increasingly consolidating and confirming the long held view that it was one of the progressive and well positioned local NGOs. FACT consolidated its position as a national NGO, ready to take over direct interventions at national level. Though not entirely a new position, FACT’s 2012 was characterised by moving from a national and regional capacity building organisation, to a national NGO ready for direct implementation and grant making.
The same year was characterised by FACT widening and deepening networks and collaborations with academic institutions, international organisations and local emerging organisations. Increasingly and decisively, FACT reduced its regional focus, to concentrate on national interventions. With this came the emphasis on deepening interventions linked to broader health needs. Examples include FACT’s engagement with Palliative Care (PC) programme and the overall response to Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
Other defining developments of 2012 linked to health, research and expansion of direct national interventions include FACT’s direct attempt to define, shape and influence health and social policies. FACT under the Palliative Care (PC) initiative, embarked on interventions linked to NCDs such as cancer. Full emphasis was put on how the documented interventions will be run and evaluated to influence national policies. Indeed, by the end of 2012, FACT through a team of consultancies managed to evaluate and share findings of pioneer PC interventions with local, district, provincial and national health structures. Focus was on influencing change to long established policies which in essence have outlived their lives when it comes to general health provision and PC provision in particular. It is hoped that, come 2013, the studies and evaluations will significantly reshape the status quo pertaining to PC support in Zimbabwe.
A combination of direct interventions and technical support to local NGOs across Zimbabwe has resulted in FACT rolling back its frontiers providing interventions of deeper national outlook. The organisation has thus fully attained status of a national player. At the same time, programming has fully recognised the critical importance of the grassroots population. The aim is to let grassroots interventions and input influence national developments. This has been the case with the PC project, a typical bottom up approach in influencing policy and national events. Research interventions have further compounded the grassroots focus and added to FACT’s bottom up approaches.