13 September 2014

Frequently Asked Questions about RMNCH

Is the Country Engagement process a new program?

No, the Country Engagement process is not a new program. Rather, it builds on the RMNCH plans and initiatives that already exist at country level. It can take many forms, as the starting point varies from country to country. Whenever possible, it piggybacks on other processes (e.g the launch of A Promise Renewed or a health sector review).

2. How does the Country Engagement process work?

The process involves:

  • Multi-stakeholder analysis of the RMNCH landscape, including all the RMNCH-related plans and initiatives in a given country.
  • Prioritization of interventions, across the RMNCH continuum of care.
  • Mapping of the various funding streams against the financing gaps and identifying how these can most strategically be applied to the priorities and gaps. This of course also involves looking at domestic resources and how these can be allocated and/or increased most efficiently.

Countries can request the involvement of a Country Engagement Facilitator for this process.

3. Who leads a Country Engagement process?

The Country Engagement process is led by the Ministry of Health, with the support of in-country development partners.

4. What is the end product of the RMNCH Country Engagement process?

The process results in a prioritized gap analysis, highlighting where the country is in relation to its RMNCH agenda: where the outstanding needs lie; what key interventions are required to ‘bend the curve’; how much this will cost; and the outstanding financing gap (factoring in what is already available at country level through domestic budget and external support). It also reflects efforts to reduce inefficiencies and possible overlap in existing funding.

The various funding streams are then mapped against this priotized gap analysis: development partners indicate what additional resources are potentially available to that country. Additional domestic financing are also considered. All efforts are made to try and harmonize the grant requests and reporting requirements across the various streams.

5. Where can I find a model/template for a Country Engagement process?

There is no template. The starting point for the Country Engagement process can be very different from one country to another, as it draws from existing plans and processes. For example, if a country has just launched A Promise Renewed, then the sharpened plan and gap analysis that come with A Promise Renewed will be the starting point for the Country Engagement process; or if the country has just undergone a health sector review and identified priority gaps related to RMNCH, this could also be the basis of the articulation. To the extent possible, the RMNCH Country Engagement process is linked, synchronized or even merged with other related processes such as the Global Fund’s New Funding Model Country Dialogue.

The RMNCH Strategy and Coordination Team can provide guidance on this process, examples from some countries as well as make Technical Assistance available as necessary.

6. How can Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) take part in the Country Engagement process?

NGOs and CSOs are critical stakeholders to develop an analysis of a country RMNCH landscape. The engagement must happen at country level and all countries are encouraged to be as inclusive as possible throughout this process. The RMNCH Strategy and Coordination Team will make every effort to share contacts in-country, and share updates on ongoing Country Engagement processes on the Every Woman Every Child website to support NGOs and CSOs engagement.

7. Do country have to submit funding proposals as part of the Country Engagement process?

No, there is no funding proposal attached to the Country Engagement process. On the basis of this articulation, mapping and alignment that emanates from the Country Engagement process, countries can proceed with the development of specific documents/proposals/grants needed to release the funding from these identified sources. Indeed, while the overall response will be more strategic and coordinated, each financing stream/institution continues to make its own allocation decisions, according to available resources. The RMNCH Trust Fund can be one possible source of funding amongst others to support this gap.

In addition, the outcome of the process will be shared with the RMNCH Steering Committee to discuss how to further support the country’s alignment and funding efforts.

8. Which countries can take part in the Country Engagement process?

The Country Engagement process is geared towards low income countries that have still significant progress to make to reach either MDG 4 or 5, or both. This includes countries that have multiple overlaps in RMNCH initiatives and funding streams, as well as countries that have to date not received enough attention and support from the global community, but have significant disease burden and needs.

9. How and where is the Country Engagement process progressing?

The Country Engagement process is underway in several countries, including DRC, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Malawi and Senegal, and is about to start in more countries. It takes a different form in each of these countries . The RMNCH Strategy and Coordination Team will document the process in those countries that are more advanced and share the lessons that can be learnt for upcoming RMNCH Country Engagement processes.

10. What is the role of the Country Engagement Facilitators?

Following discussion with countries and global partners, the RMNCH Strategy and Coordination Team has established a pool of Country Engagement Facilitators. These consultants work under the guidance and the leadership of the Ministry of Health and in the agency that is designated as the primary entry point and coordinationation mechanism for all partners to support the Country Engagement process. They are deployed rapidly and flexibly to work with countries, H4+ teams and partners. They are only deployed at the specific request of the Ministry of Health.

11. What is the role of the RMNCH Strategy and Coordination Team?

The RMNCH Strategy and Coordination Team (RMNCH SCT) is a small multi-agency team hosted by UNICEF. The RMNCH SCT has two roles: (1) serving as the Secretariat for the RMNCH Steering Committee, and (2) oversight of the follow-up to the recommendations made by the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities. The RMNCH SCT also manages the RMNCH Trust Fund.

12. What is the RMNCH Trust Fund?

In 2013, UNICEF, the UN Population FUND (UNFPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) agreed to establish a RMNCH Trust Fund, with support from the Government of Norway. UNFPA is the fiduciary agent.
The RMNCH Trust Fund aims to provide catalytic funding to countries to fill priorities gaps in order to accelerate progress towards MDGs 4 & 5, including life-saving commodities. The RMNCH Trust Fund is but one of the funding sources that can be leveraged to match a country funding gap for RMNCH interventions that emanates from the RMNCH Country Engagement process. To date, the Trust Fund has roughly US$50million per year, principally to support country gaps in catalytic investments.

13. What interventions can the RMNCH Trust Fund finance?

The RMNCH Trust Fund is designed to finance high impact, priority catalytic interventions that can bolster a country’s RMNCH plans, but does not fund large-scale service delivery interventions. In 2013, the Trust Fund supported eight country plans with a one year catalytic investment related to the implementation of the recommendations of the UN Commission on Life-Saving Commodities. Going forward, it will be applied against the outcome of the RMNCH Country Engagement process, alongside other sources of funding.

The Trust Fund can also support global or regional efforts (such as the Technical Resource Teams supporting the UN Commission on Lifesaving Commodities for Women and Children) to address bottlenecks that cut across multiple countries.

14. Who can receive funding from the RMNCH Trust Fund?

Because it is managed under the UNDG framework, currently only United Nations agencies can be direct recipients of the RMNCH Trust Fund. However, programs funded from the Trust Fund can be implemented by governments, NGOs or UN agencies. A country must have gone through the ‘RMNCH Country Engagement’ process (or a similar type of exercise that has identified priority gaps accross RMNCH to ‘bend the curve’ and align various resources against those), to request support from the RMNCH Trust Fund.

Because resources are limited, a country intending to prepare a request to the RMNCH Trust Fund should reach out to the H4+ agencies in-country and/or the RMNCH Strategy and Coordination Team so as to manage expctations and clarify the country-specific process.

15. Who makes the funding decisions of the RMNCH Trust Fund?

An Allocation Committee has been established to make decisions on Trust Fund disbursements. The Committee includes the donor(s) to the Trust Fund as well as the UN Partner Organizations: WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA.

Country requested are directed from the Ministry of Health to the RMNCH Strategy and Coordination Team. After a rapid review based on the technical soundness of the request (through H4+ agencies at the global level as well as other relevant technical experts through the Technical Resource Teams) and a financial and managerial review (by the SCT), requests are submitted to the Allocation Committee for approval. The Committee functions either by meeting (conference call or face-to-face) or via e-mail in order to expedite the process.

16. Where can I find more information?

Contact: Bénédicte Walter, Senior Communication Officer, RMNCH Strategy and Coordination Team: bwalter@unicef.org