UNDP engages Namibian communities in conversation on HIV/AIDSNov 30, 2009
|Community conversations have proven to be an effective way to combat HIV/AIDS in Namibia (photo: UNDP Namibia)|
This community conversation is one of many that are taking place in nine regions of the country as part of a nationwide programme that engages communities in dialogue on the causes of HIV and AIDS, boosting local responses to the epidemic.
The programme is known as “Community Capacity Enhancement through Community Conversations”. It is being implemented by the Namibian Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, with the support of UNDP in Namibia.
|Community members working with condoms during a community conversation on MCP in Katima Mulilo, Caprivi region. Photo @ UNDP Namibia (Photo: UNDP Namibia)|
“By bringing together men, women and all those affected by HIV and AIDS, this approach gives people the opportunity to make their voices heard, to identify their needs and to be counted when decisions about HIV and AIDS interventions are made,” says the Manager of UNDP’s Community Capacity Enhancement Programme, Immanuel Mwilima.
Community Capacity Enhancement through Community Conversations is a tried and tested methodology to boost the capacity of communities to identify concerns, deliberate on solutions and map out courses of action around HIV and AIDS.
The approach opens up spaces for discussions based on relationships of trust and mutual respect.
To date, communities in 9 regions are conducting community conversations, with impressive results. In the Caprivi region, traditional leaders have lead by example, going for voluntary counselling and testing and breaking the stigma associated with testing. In the words of one leader: “It is shocking that many of our relatives and loved ones have died because of HIV and AIDS. Some of them passed away when they were still searching for Anti-Retroviral Treatments. If this programme had come sooner, our relatives would have been alive today.”
Many challenges still remain in the fight against HIV and AIDS, however. For instance, 17.8% of pregnant women are HIV-positive. “One of the biggest challenges facing rural communities in relation to accessing treatment, care and support services is stigma, discrimination, cultural norms and practices. Community Capacity Enhancement gives communities an opportunity to have an introspection of their cultural practices, norms and values,” says Lebogang Motlana, the Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP in Namibia. While Namibia is among the five countries most affected by HIV around the world, the epidemic is now demonstrating a downward trend after peaking at 22% in 2002. Contact Information For more information, please contact Masoma Sherazi
UNDP Communications Officer
Tel. 264-61-204 6111
Tel. 264-61-204 6366
Fax: 264-61-204 6203