The 18th of June 2019 was a day of celebration as the African Palliative Care Association (APCA), together with 16 other cancer-focused NGOs in Kampala, celebrated the completion of a 3-year competency-based organisational development intervention of the American Cancer Society (ACS). APCA was awarded a distinction for having met 99% of the prescribed benchmarks.
The graduation ceremony was a colourful event hosted at the Hotel Africana in Kampala, with a varied programme that included an exhibition by all participating organisations, a panel discussion comprising a cancer survivor and advocate, a government representative, a private medical practitioner, and a representative of international development partners. Music and dance, stand-up comedy, and key note speeches made the occasion engaging and lively.
APCA was represented by the Executive Director, Dr Emmanuel Luyirika, Resources Director, Josephine Kampi Tatyabala, Administration Officer and PA to the Executive Director, Patricia Batanda, and Communications Consultant, Wedzerai Chiyoka. A
The graduating organisations (Cohort 1) undertook an incredible journey withseveral members of staff from each organisation going through relevant modules over a period of 3 years to reach this milestone.
Many Low to Medium Income Countries (LMICs) have a shortage of strong and effective organizations in the fight against cancer, yet such organisations play a crucial role both at grassroots and national levels. Coordination with other like-minded organisations to optimise efforts is also limited. Thus, access to essential life-saving services for cancer patients is compromised. These organisations need to have strong organisational systems for managing their human, financial and other resources, and to run programmes in ways that build credibility and attract relevant support. This is where the ACS stepped in with the SOURCE Programme.
The SOURCE Programme
The ACS SOURCE (Strengthening Organizations for a United Response to the Cancer Epidemic) pilot programme was launched in Uganda and Kenya in 2016. In Uganda the Programme was led by the Mabadiliko Change Makers (MCM). The Board, staff, and volunteers of participating organizations learnt practical skills and best practices in organizational development and were supported and mentored throughout the process. Each cycle is set to run for 3 years, and organisations are grouped into cohorts. Cohort 1 had 17 participating organisations. The journey of each organisation depends on the results of their own assessments and the progress made along the way. Some peer-to-peer learning and networking opportunities enabled participating organisations to develop collaborative relationships that will go beyond the life of the project.
“We are delighted to declare here that APCA has met the requirements for graduation with distinction… and thus demonstrates solid organizational foundations. The staff show dedication and hard work in maintaining their systems and processes as well as implementing the policy development that is the main stay of their work.”
Mabadiliko Change Makers – Extract from the Program Design and Process section of the final report.
The SOURCE program is comprehensive and holistic in nature with three programmatic components: a) assessment and action planning, b) training and c) technical assistance. Training and interventions are designed to improve overall performance of participating organizations, and build a framework in which organizations can support one another beyond the lifespan of the program.
A key component was a practicum experience focused on eight areas of organizational strengthening:
2. Operations and Administration
3. Human Resources Management
4. Financial Management
5. Financial Sustainability
6. Program Management, and
7. External Relations and Partnerships
8. Workplace Effectiveness and Excellence
Currently the programme is focused on Cohort 2 organisations, and the pilot is set to end in 2020, with provisions to make any necessary adjustments to the programme and then replicate the intervention in other LMIC from 2021.
The programme allowed ACS to apply its own organizational experience as a key global player in the fight against cancer and enhanced the ongoing efforts to reduce the burden of cancer in LMICs.
All organisations graduating on this occasion appreciated that they had benefitted greatly from the intervention, and felt they were better placed to mount more effective responses to the cancer burden in their nations.
Special thanks go to Mabadiliko Change Makers who facilitated the training and provided technical assistance consistently to enable the participating organisations to achieve new levels of excellence.