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Coalition to build Momentum, Power, Activism, Strategy & Solidarity (COMPASS) Africa

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What is COMPASS Africa?

COMPASS Africa is an innovative, data-informed and audacious North-South collaboration of civil society organizations working in the global North, and in East and Southern Africa. The project is anchored and led by civil society-led coalitions in Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe: the Civil Society Advocacy Forum in Malawi, the Advocacy Core Team in Zimbabwe, and via the DSD-UT coalition in Tanzania. Under COMPASS, these three country coalitions work with partners in the global North to gather, analyze and use evidence and data to shape strategic activist and advocacy campaigns. The project builds on pre-existing collaborations, is designed to bring in new partners, and is focused on building power—as all of the groups involved have demonstrated capacity in their areas of expertise.

COMPASS works via four areas:

  • Building the strength and influence of Africa-focused civil society coalitions.
  • Using data, information and analytics to advocate for comprehensive, effective treatment and primary prevention programs that lead to epidemic control.
  • Defining priority issues and ambitious change agendas. Differentiated service delivery, combination prevention, human resources for health, sexual and reproductive health and rights, key and vulnerable populations and more.
  • Strategic innovation: Advancing ambitious advocacy agendas via “business unusual”.

Who is COMPASS Africa?

COMPASS Africa brings together organizations working in multiple geographies and with varied, complementary skills and resources to develop shared approaches to defining and tackling subnational, national, regional and global barriers to effective, comprehensive national responses to HIV. COMPASS Africa will intentionally expand its partner network and areas of strategic focus over the next three years.

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Why is COMPASS Africa needed?

The problem: Decision-makers including governments, funders and private-sector partners and philanthropies use various types of data to guide spending, policy and program choices. Sometimes the data are high quality and the decisions are high impact; as often, the data are incomplete, the decision reflects un- or under-acknowledged realities like stagnating funding and lack of dynamism in policy arenas. Civil society has uneven and incomplete access to and ability to engage with these data.

The path to an effective epidemic response depends on building advocates’ shared strengths in this arena, and using it to drive smart, ambitious spending, program design and policy at the precise moment when bold action can have a game-changing impact on rates of new HIV infections and deaths.

The solution: COMPASS Africa invigorates and expands existing Africa-centered civil society efforts to reduce HIV incidence via combination prevention and ensure that PLHIV have access to ART on demand and via high-quality programs. These key strategies are not yet implemented consistently at scale in all the places they are needed. High-impact campaigns led by people living with and most impacted by HIV, including young women and men and key and vulnerable populations, can help transform the HIV response at a moment when significant progress is possible—but not guaranteed.

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What is COMPASS working on—and how?

Led by country-level coalitions, COMPASS works within a framework of accountability: holding country governments, funders, implementers and each other accountable for allocating resources so that they meet the needs of people living with and most affected by HIV—and via programs and policies that support human rights and health equity. COMPASS works by looking at context and asking questions about:

  • Gaps in the policy landscape supporting access to ART for all people living with HIV.
  • Gaps in implementation of combination prevention.
  • The human rights environment in which programs are designed and implemented.
  • The global and national resource envelope for HIV/AIDS and related issues.

Country by country, coalitions identify key issues such as gaps related to differentiated service delivery, legal frameworks, national-level investments, allocations for primary prevention and more. They work collaboratively to take action, develop tactics, refine approaches and reset the objectives over the course of the project.

What will COMPASS Africa achieve?


At the end of three years, our work on:

  • Strengthened coalitions advocating for data-informed policy and program approaches to strengthen a comprehensive HIV response in Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
  • Increased use of evidence and policy analysis/ideas by decision-makers to guide resource allocation and design, implementation and evaluation of programs in Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.
  • Increased advocacy capacity among key influencers in support of HIV and health-sector financing in Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Will lead to:

  • Increased adoption of policy and program approaches that strengthen combination prevention, differentiated service delivery and other components of a sustainable, comprehensive and integrated HIV response in Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe; and
  • Thriving coalitions with tactics, approaches and structures that can be shared and expanded within countries, regionally and globally and adapted for other related issues.