“Advance cooperation and solidarity for health equity within and beyond aid”

For many countries and societies struggling with access to health and health equity, aid is still a challenging reality, and this reality needs to be examined and acted on: What’s wrong with “health aid” and its actors, structures, paradigms and policies, methods and processes, and how can the failures and shortcomings of aid be addressed? All in all, how to achieve cooperation and solidarity within and beyond “aid”?

The Kampala Initiative is a democratic civil society space and structure (alliance, community) of independent, critical-thinking activists and organizations across Southern and Northern boundaries.

Within this space, the critique of aid shall lead to formulating, promoting, disseminating and seeking political traction for a new, broadly shared civil society narrative on cooperation and solidarity within and beyond aid.

The concrete activities of the Kampala Initiative will be focused on an (open) set of thematic fields that need particular civil society attention and on a related set of critical, concrete and catalytic cases as entry points for joint interventions.

Kampala Initiative Report 2019-2020


This report is intended to provide a summary of activities and outcomes from the first year of the Kampala Initiative and to inform ideas for the future of the Initiative. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor to evaluate the Kampala Initiative and its initial progress. Nevertheless, as well as using the report for our upcoming strategic planning, we will also use it to bring the Kampala Initiative to the attention of a broader audience. Thanks to all who have contributed to bringing forward what we started in November 2019 with the “Kampala workshop on cooperation and solidarity within and beyond aid”. More to come!

Download PDF: Kampala Initiative – Report 2019-2020

Kampala Initiative Task groups

Kampala Initiative at a glance

Thematic fields

The initial list of four thematic fields covered by the Kampala Initiative is a starting point for joint action on particular cases within these fields, and not a final or authoritative “map” of the biggest challenges in the field of aid.

Aid stabilizing or overcoming an unfair global trade regime?

The dominant postcolonial narrative of “rich donors aiding poor/fragile states” needs to be challenged, as it distracts attention (and action) from addressing the core of an unfair global trade/tax/tariff/finance regime in which the health inequity between and within countries is rooted.  Critical civil society voices have called for “honest accounts” to address the incoherence of donor country policies and multilateral institutions that work against the normative values of aid in the sense of global solidarity.

Aid and its actors distorting/supporting national health policies, systems, processes

Aid and powerful international actors (from Global Health Initiatives to bilateral agencies and NGOs) have the potential to support or distort national health policies, systems, political processes. The call for alignment of aid with national policies and systems (Paris Declaration) has never led to more than lip service, and the dominant “multi-stakeholder” approach in international health partnerships perhaps contributes to a growing influence of commercial actors and their interests and political agenda and to a further reduction of the space, role and power of both national governments and people, communities and civil society.

Representation and voice(s) of civil society in global fora and processes

Civil society representation in global processes, actors and fora related to health cooperation is unequal and faces governance challenges. These need to be addressed by related institutions (in particular: Global Health Initiatives), but also by civil society: We need to sort things out among ourselves, addressing governance and power issues, moving civil society engagement beyond lip service and token representation, based on the opportunities provided by the fact that, for the legitimacy of these global processes, actors and fora, “they need us”. And if there is an agreement on the need to address these issues, how to do it concretely?  How can broader civil society make its multiple voices heard, when the dominant narrative is defined by large NGOs – southern and northern – funded by institutions in the global North?

From aid to “global solidarity beyond aid”

Global solidarity can be easily called for, but what should it look like, and how can it be achieved? Some potential questions to explore could be: What does global solidarity mean to us? Is it important? What does it look like in practice? How could organisations in the Global South and North best work together? How can we achieve this? What are the barriers to achieving this? What examples are there to inspire us? Is language/framing an important part of this? What could a new narrative look like that encompasses our understanding of global solidarity?

Kampala Declaration

The “Kampala Declaration on cooperation and solidarity for health equity within and beyond aid” was released on 27 January 2020, as a reference document for the Kampala Initiative, and as a means to reach out to others: Institutions and individuals are welcome to join the Kampala Initiative by endorsing the Declaration.

  • Read the Kampala Declaration here
    (with list of signatories)
  • Sign the Kampala Declaration here
    (online form)

Kampala Initiative: Contact

Challenging realities of “aid”: Series of public webinars

In 2020, our series of Kampala Initiative webinars is continued. Start thinking about what case you would like to see featured in a next webinar, and learn more about how to do this.

Kampala Initiative as a community

The Kampala Initiative (KI) is set up and defined as “a democratic civil society space and structure (alliance, community) of independent, critical-thinking activists and organizations across Southern and Northern boundaries. A set of basic community tools of the Kampala Initiative shall help to keep this civil society space and community at the same time vivid, democratic, and relevant.

Community page with “Beyond aid” mailing list

Launch of the Kampala Initiative

The “Kampala Initiative” was launched in October and November 2019 with a series of four public webinars, each of them focusing on a challenging aspect of aid and on a related case that needs or deserves particular civil society attention. The conversation on these topics was continued in a civil society workshop in Kampala that concluded with with the unanimous assessment by all participants to sustain and expand the Initiative.

The Kampala Initiative was launched by:

  • African Centre for Global Health and Social Transformation (ACHEST)
  • CEHURD – Center for Health Human Rights & Development
  • Country Minders for Peoples Development (CMPD), Malawi
  • Foundation for Integrated Rural Development (FIRD) , Uganda
  • Health Poverty Action, UK
  • Human Rights Research Documentation Center (HURIC), Uganda
  • Initiative for good governance and transparency in Tanzania
  • Medicus Mundi International – Network Health for All (MMI)
  • Nigerian Women Agro Allied Farmers
  • People’s Health Movement (PHM) with PHM Kenya and PHM Uganda
  • Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI), Uganda
  • Wemos

Since January 2020, many more organizations and individuals have joined the Kampala Initiative by endorsing the Kampala Declaration (see the lists of signatories there).