Community capacity enhancement in Namibia
UNDP Namibia introduced Community Capacity Enhancement through community conversations (CCE-CC) in 9 regions of the country to increase community dialogue and participation in HIV & AIDS prevention, treatment care and support efforts. This is an internationally proven approach that contributes to increased community involvement in the response to HIV and AIDS as well as development efforts. The approach enhances the ability of communities to engage in dialogue that helps them identify their vulnerability to HIV infections and decide on mitigation actions.
Implementation of Community Capacity Enhancement (CCE) starts off with relationship building and moves on to concern identification, exploration, decision making and finally action. In Namibia, 9 regional councils and 10 local Authorities recognized the need to involve community members in the response to HIV and AIDS. 29 communities in 9 regions have been implementing CCE since 2007. Through Concern Identification, Key Drivers of the epidemic were documented in 29 communities. Common among all the drivers, was idleness due to unemployment, excessive alcohol intake leading to unprotected sex. Transactional sex due to poverty and unemployment, unbalanced power relations between men and women leading to gender based violence, lack of safe sex negotiation skills due to cultural norms and practices.
Through this dialogue communities realized that the best way to deal with structural drivers of the epidemic such as poverty is to come up with income generating projects. These projects are fore foreseen to address community concerns. Communities are convinced that, implementation of these projects will go a long way in addressing the impacts of HIV and AIDS and reduce vulnerability of communities to new infections especially among rural women and girls. The conversations further empowered communities to boldly demand for services from Local authorities and regional councils such as enforcement of laws.
Through MDG-F funding from the Spanish Co-operation, UNDP supported 15 income generating projects in 9 regions. This initiative is economically empowering rural women and girls and providing them with the opportunity to reduce their vulnerability to transactional sex. The country is now at the implementation stage of these projects in Caprivi, Oshana, Omusati Karas, Erongo, Ohangwena, Kavango, Kunene and Omaheke regions.
In Caprivi Region: Community members have organized themselves into community based action groups and decided to come up with a vegetable garden in rural Sangwali and a hammer mill project in rural Bukalo. These projects are financially empowering participating rural communities to take care of the basic needs of their families.
In Oshana Region community members have organized themselves into a community action group and developed a constitution governing execution of their activities. They are implementing a vegetable garden with support from the local authority. The yield from the garden is benefiting vulnerable people living with HIV and Disability. The Oshakati Local authority and the Oshana regional council are providing technical and financial support to the community.
In Kunene Region community members are engaged in community conversations within traditional authorities. The income generating project is empowering marginalized sects of the Ovahimba community to speak out on issues of HIV prevention, condom use and women empowerment. This community is engaged in a cattle trade project with technical support from the Kunene regional council.
In Erongo Region, two women groups are engaged in sewing projects. As they gather to work on their projects, they share information on HIV and AIDS.
In Karas Region, community members are engaged in chicken farming. In support of community efforts, the Local Authority donated a chicken house while the regional council provides technical support through Ministry of Agriculture. The products of this project will be sold in the local market and among community members. The project is enhancing food security for the local community members while providing income to project members.
In Omusati Region two income generating projects are under implementation. These are brick making projects. The community intends to make bricks required for building projects within the town council.
In Kavango Region, a cross boarder initiative to provide transportation through a boat between Namibia and Angola was initiated. The project is directly benefiting a marginalized community of San People. The community has been resettled in the Nkurenkuru informal settlement as a result they are made vulnerable to HIV transmission due to excessive alcohol in-take, lack of information on HIV prevention and limited access to condoms. The town council is supporting the community to get the boat project off the ground. Income generated from this initiative will empower the households of San people and improve access to basic services. HIV awareness materials will be distributed on the boat while transporting passengers.
In Ohangwena Region a vegetable garden and a chicken rearing projects are under implementation.. These projects will benefit the marginalize San communities in Onamathadiva and Oholamo.
In Omaheke Region, two projects; bread making and goat rearing projects are under implementation. The projects are benefiting rural community members in Leonardville and Gobabis. The region is continuing with CCE for increased community participation in regional develops and HIV prevention efforts. Due to increased capacity of the national UN Volunteer, she has been absorbed in the regional council in another line ministry.
CCE has greatly contributed to capacity building, increased community participation and raised the voice of the voiceless through community dialogue for inclusion and participation in the national HIV response.