The Ghana-West Africa Program to Combat AIDS & STI (WAPCAS) is legally registered with the Registrar General’s Department and the Social Welfare as a non-profit, non-governmental organization. It has a five-member Advisory Board and one co-opted member from the KP community. WAPCAS operations are guided by its constitution. Members of the Board have backgrounds ranging from Academia, Social Sciences, Health, Legal and the KP constituent. WAPCAS started operation in Ghana in 1996 as part of a regional project funded by CIDA but registered as a local organization in 2006. WAPCAS can best be described as a national NGO with its physical presence in several districts in Ghana. We are the first NGO in Ghana to have initiated and implemented a comprehensive HIV/AIDS intervention program for KPs. It must be noted that we are also the first organization to conduct an exploratory study into the MSM community (the Pandora box), which opened the community up for HIV programming.
Primarily, the vision of WAPCAS is to become an umbrella organization for KP programme in Ghana and beyond with a mission to spearhead the reduction of new HIV and STI infections among key populations as well as the transmission of those infections to the general population through the provision of preventive and curative services based on peer-group interventions in partnership with public and private sector. This we seek to achieve through community empowerment and social mitigation activities, creating an enabling environment that addresses human rights barriers, helping increasing gender equity and improving access to services.
It must be noted that WAPCAS has an in-house expertise for capacity building. We have since inception, built the capacities of several individuals and NGOs in developing and implementing KP interventions including training of project staff and volunteers. We have also supported some NGOs technically and financially. WAPCAS had an oversight responsibility for 3 MSM NGOs under the Global Fund Round 8 and NFM I project (started in 2010) and 2 FSW CBOs under the PEPFAR support (started in 2012). We have also received several local and foreign students for attachment or visits e.g University of Cincinnati, School of Public Health (SPH) and Department of Sociology, all of the University of Ghana Legon, etc. Our facility was used as a practical site for participants of the Ghana HIV/AIDS M&E programme (GHAME) which was organized through the collaborative efforts of GAC, University of California, San Francisco and SPH.
WAPCAS has over the years demonstrated its ability to manage multiple donor projects with intervention periods between 2-10 years and financial support ranging from US$ 130,000 to US$ 5.7million per grant without any challenges. For the past 7 years, WAPCAS has implemented the following projects; Global Fund Round 8 and NFM 1 project for KPs, USAID/Ghana SHAPS, USAID/Ghana RISK project, USAID/Ghana-SHARPER and LINKAGES projects, USAID Strengthening the Care Continuum Project, Empowerment and Social Protection Program for FSW (with funding from Government of Ghana through GAC). We have for 2 consecutive times received funding directly from USAID Ghana (USAID SHAPS and USAID RISK projects).
With our current status as a Principal Recipient under the Global Fund NFM II project, WAPCAS is managing the Key Populations (KP), Human Rights (HR) and the Community System Strengthening (CSS) grant. We are therefore collaborating with 3 SRs for the implementation for these interventions.
Aside the HIV intervention, WAPCAS has a social intervention and community empowerment program for FSW. Some FSW have been trained in baking, bead making and events decoration some of which have established themselves.
For effective program management, WAPCAS has a very robust financial and M&E management system which has seen us undergo several financial and data reviews, and audits without any challenges. For our financial management system, we are currently using the Quick Book Accounting Software and Sage Accounting software. We have our own Financial and Accounting Manual, Procurement/ Supply Management and Assets Management Guides. Aside these, we also respect specific donor financial management policies/guidelines. For M&E capacities, we have qualified staffs who have contributed immensely to the development and/or revision of national M&E tools and documents. We have put systems in place to support effective planning, data analysis, reports generation, data quality assurance, targeting and forecasting including assessment and evaluation. WAPCAS has received several visits from GAC internal and external auditors, Local Funding Agency (LFA) for Global Fund, and Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of USAID and the Global Fund.
We have representations on various national technical working groups and sub-committees which include the Programmes Committee of GAC, KP Sub Committee, KP technical working group (KPTWG), Committees on Communication, Stigma and Discrimination, Legal, and Research Monitoring & Evaluation, USAID HPNO Knowledge Management Network, USAID HPNO M&E Community of Practice and USAID HPNO COPs. WAPCAS has also been prominent in various operational research studies (Integrated Bio Behavioural Surveillance Studies (IBBSS) among FSW and MSM, Key Population Implementation Science (KPIS), and in the development and review of relevant national HIV documents including National KP strategy and operational plan; KP Standard Operating Procedures (KP SOP) and National HIV Strategic Plan (2016-2020).
In the year 2012, WAPCAS was awarded the best local Civil Society Organization during the commemoration of the 10th anniversary of GAC. Also, in 2018, WAPCAS was given an award by PEPFAR for the outstanding contribution and leadership in the FSW space during the 15th anniversary of PEPFAR’s work in Ghana.