Management practices to support donor transition: Lessons from Avahan, the India AIDS Initiative

Sara Bennett, Daniela Rodriguez, Sachiko Ozawa, Kriti Singh, Meghan Bohren, Vibha Chhabra, Suneeta Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: During 2009-2012, Avahan, a large donor funded HIV/AIDS prevention program in India was transferred from donor support and operation to government. This transition of approximately 200 targeted interventions (TIs), occurred in three tranches in 2009, 2011 and 2012. This paper reports on the management practices pursued in support of a smooth transition of the program, and addresses the extent to which standard change management practices were employed, and were useful in supporting transition. Results: We conducted structured surveys of a sample of 80 TIs from the 2011 and 2012 rounds of transition. One survey was administered directly before transition and the second survey 12 month after transition. These surveys assessed readiness for transition and practices post-transition. We also conducted 15 case studies of transitioning TIs from all three rounds, and re-visited 4 of these 1-3 years later. Results: Considerable evolution in the nature of relationships between key actors was observed between transition rounds, moving from considerable mistrust and lack of collaboration in 2009 toward a shared vision of transition and mutually respectful relationships between Avahan and government in later transition rounds. Management practices also evolved with the gradual development of clear implementation plans, establishment of the post of "transition manager" at state and national levels, identified budgets to support transition, and a common minimum programme for transition. Staff engagement was important, and was carried out relatively effectively in later rounds. While the change management literature suggests short-term wins are important, this did not appear to be the case for Avahan, instead a difficult first round of transition seemed to signal the seriousness of intentions regarding transition. Conclusions: In the Avahan case a number of management practices supported a smooth transition these included: an extended and sequenced time frame for transition; co-ownership and planning of transition by both donor and government; detailed transition planning and close attention to program alignment, capacity development and communication; engagement of staff in the transition process; engagement of multiple stakeholders post transition to promote program accountability and provide financial support; signaling by actors in charge of transition that they were committed to specified time frames.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number232
JournalBMC health services research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 13 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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