Through capacity development, a once-small Ukrainian NGO leads in HIV services

January 30, 2018

Although Olena Ovsyannikova was the head of a well-established HIV services NGO, she’d never heard of the concept of organizational development before.

It was 2014, and Ovsyannikova’s organization, Vse Mozhlyvo, which is based in Melitopol, Ukraine, and works to improve the lives of people who are HIV-positive, already had many partners, donors and clients. So when Pact’s RESPOND project offered to help Vse Mozhlyvo conduct a self-assessment of its organizational strength – the first step in Pact’s signature organizational capacity development model – Ovsyannikova and her colleagues were confident they’d do well.

“We said ‘Ok, why not!’” Ovsyannikova recalls. “We were sure that definitely we would get a high score and this would increase our self-confidence even more.”

But the results were not what Vse Mozhlyvo expected.

“There was no sustainability, no viability of our organization,” Ovsyannikova recalls. “We were so shocked by the result that definitely something had to be done.”

Through RESPOND, Vse Mozhlyvo received comprehensive technical assistance and capacity development support, namely in the area of strategic planning.

“This was our first reasonable step toward organizational development,” Ovsyannikova says. “Afterward, we described clearly our mission, the categories we would like to deal with, our target populations, and developed a plan for our activities for a period of three years.”

In addition to its internal management, Vse Mozhlyvo dramatically improved its advocacy and external relations, services and reach.

“We used to be a small organization working in Melitopol, and we didn’t even dream about reaching the oblast (province) level,” Ovsyannikova says. Today, Vse Mozhlyvo works across Zaporizhzhia oblast and has expanded its services.

“It turned out that now we can impact decision-making at the regional level. For example, we can lobby for opening new antiretroviral therapy sites, we lobby for the interests of our clients, we introduced new services in the region, and our social workers are present in healthcare facilities.”

Vse Mozhlyvo is now providing training to medical practitioners on HIV testing and counseling – work that is being funded by The Clinton Foundation.

“Now we feel professional and we defend the rights of our patients for access to all possible medical services, including testing, diagnostic, treatment of opportunistic infections, and other services they need,” Ovsyannikova says.

Through capacity development, Vse Mozhlyvo is now making a far bigger difference for the community it serves, says Pact’s Dmytro Mykhaylenko.

“Today,” Mykhaylenko says, “Vse Mozhlyvo is constantly sought out by health care facilities from other districts in Ukraine, with an invitation to expand geographically.”


Lead photo: Olena Ovsyannikova with Kurt MacLeod, Pact's vice president for global country programs.

Funded by USAID, Pact’s RESPOND project worked in Ukraine to improve the quality of HIV and AIDS services targeting key populations and their partners, and to strengthen the capacity of Ukrainian institutions and organizations to deliver quality HIV programs. A five-year project, RESPOND ended in Dec. 2017.