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Partnership Drives Development
Empowering and creating partnerships with local actors is a longstanding tenet of effective development projects. When those in need rely too heavily on outside influences, regardless of their intentions, they risk losing control of the resources and decision-making best left to those closest to the problem. Partnership with local actors gives development projects the best chance of being effective and sustainable. Here are three examples of how partnership drives development.

Agra

In 2009, the community of Agra, India — home to the iconic Taj Mahal — suffered from a water sanitation crisis. Waste collection and disposal became nonexistent and a large majority of residents practiced open defecation. As waste flowed into the Yamuna river of which locals relied for irrigation and drinking, residents risked exposure to polio, typhoid, dysentery and cholera.

In partnership with the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence, a USAID-supported non-governmental organization (NGO), Agra’s governing municipality constructed a wastewater treatment plant to protect the water source used by the 2,000 community members living in Agra.

The plant employs natural processes requiring minimal power and maintenance; however, the true indicator of the project’s success came in 2017, when Agra’s municipality took over all operations from outside actors and ensured clean drinking water for the people of Agra for years to come.

Malawi

In another example of how partnership drives development, the Human Resources for Health in 2030 (HRH2030) program is partnering with the government of Malawi to recruit and hire 300 medical workers to combat the HIV epidemic. In Malawi, more than 900,000 people currently live with HIV. To add to the problem, the country suffers from a severe shortage of healthcare professionals needed to address this issue.

While the program only started in November 2017, facility managers from the HIV-freighted Lilongwe and Zomba districts have already noted the positive impact of the increase in workers. Furthermore, the local government has signed an agreement to take on financial responsibility for the new workers by 2020, committing to self-reliance and sustainability.

Tanzania

In addition to increasing access to a network of health professionals, the community of Tabora, Tanzania highlights the effectiveness of another way of combating HIV — male circumcision. Studies suggest that male circumcision reduces transmission in heterosexual men by near 60 percent, and is a powerful preventative tool, especially in combination with other approaches.

In an example of how partnership drives development, The USAID-funded Strengthening High-Impact Interventions for an AIDS-free Generation (AIDSFree) project is partnering with the Tabora regional health administration to increase access to voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC). A standard bearer of the cause, traditional healer Albert Cosmas acts as a VMMC ambassador, encouraging other men to have the procedure and thereby helping reduce the HIV footprint in Tabora.

When development agencies make top-down decisions without partnership with local actors, they risk harming the communities they aim to serve. Indeed, “acting in collaborative partnership” is explicitly included in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. These three stories illustrate the powerful impact of a bottom-up approach that empowers local actors with the capacity to carry progress into the future.

– Whiting Tennis
Photo: Flickr

In Kenya, around 1.6 million citizens are currently living with HIV, with around 910,000 of these being women aged 15 and over. Soteni International, a nonprofit organization based out of Cincinnati, Ohio, works within rural Kenya to fight HIV/AIDS. Executive Director Randie Marsh describes the goals of the organization as “to reduce the incidences of HIV/AIDS in rural Kenya and improve the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS.”

Soteni International was founded in 2002 by a group of both American and African volunteers led by Dr. Victoria Wells Wulsin, a physician and epidemiologist. Marsh describes the early mission of the organization as being to “empower orphans of AIDS to lead the fight against AIDS and to prevent another generation from succumbing.”

Villages of Hope

The organization has now developed and works through the “model of Villages of Hope.” This includes doing everything in its power to build up specific communities so that they are sustainable for future HIV/AIDS-free generations. These villages are focused in three main regions in rural Kenya: Mbakalo, Ugunja and Mitunto.

Marsh told The Borgen Project that the organization chose to stay in rural areas because it “felt like there are many organizations working in Nairobi that address the HIV crisis there. These [three regions] are also areas where the communities have given us land to use to further our mission and/or support us in other ways.” Soteni has supported a number of projects in these communities that all work toward the overall betterment of the region.

Community Improvements

In 2009, Soteni worked with other organizations, including the Lake Victoria North Water Services Board, the Gender Sensitive Initiatives organization and the Kenyan Water Services Fund Trust, to bring safe drinking water to Mbakalo. The project included bringing the region 20 hand-pump wells and 20 springwater pipes. The local schools also received 15 three-door latrines and 12 rainwater harvesting tanks. In 2015, the organization also enacted the Improving Access to Family Planning Project in Ujunga to spread sexual health and family planning awareness and provide access to sexual reproductive health services.

Soteni opened a health center in Mbakalo in 2005 and has continued to improve it over the years. The center provides essential medical services through a seven-person staff. 200 to 300 citizens receive treatment here every month that includes antimalarials, antihistamines, antibiotics and some immunizations. The center has no electricity, but in 2008 Soteni installed a solar refrigerator for vaccines and medicines. Plans are currently underway to expand and upgrade the center.

International Cooperation

Soteni International requires leadership and cooperation in both the United States and Kenya to do its work. The organization has members and locations in both Cincinnati and Nairobi and members make trips back and forth annually. Supporters in the U.S. can donate time through volunteer work or make monetary and material donations.

According to Executive Director Marsh, “the heart of our organization are the people on the ground who work to support the mission.”  The organization and its community work are entirely grassroots, built from the ground up by people who saw a problem and wanted to be a part of the solution. Not only does its work better the lives of Kenyan citizens, but it also inspires citizens from the U.S. and around the globe.

– Megan Burtis

Photo: Flickr

HIV/AIDS in Angola
On Aug. 5, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Fund announced a $30 million grant to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in Angola, as well as improve coverage of therapy and treatment.

In 2014, there were 300,000 people in Angola living with HIV and 26 percent of adults received antiretroviral treatment coverage. The grant for HIV/AIDS seeks to solve challenges like the elimination of mother-to-child transmission, adherence to antiretroviral treatment and prevention for young people.

The grant for HIV/AIDS in Angola will also increase coverage in several areas like antiretroviral therapy, testing and counseling and the promise of long-term treatment. Antiretroviral therapy recently proved itself to be an effective way to suppress the HIV Virus and prevent the disease from progression and transmission to more people.

This course of treatment is particularly effective at reducing death and infections when performed in a regimen.

The grant also seeks to include key populations into its strategy for HIV/AIDS in Angola. The grant has a strong focus on sex and reproductive health education and rights including HIV for adolescents, youth and girls. According to the WHO, the strategy is to increase the amount of “HIV-positive pregnant women on antiretroviral therapy.”

The national strategic plan for key populations in Angola also includes “sex workers and men who have sex with men.” The grant includes funds for a legal environment assessment and will propose steps for strengthening the human rights environment to create a more effective HIV response. According to the UNDP, training is provided for “health workers, prison workers and police to reduce stigma and discrimination” towards these key populations.

The grant for HIV/AIDS in Angola will run from July 2016 to June 2018 with a focus on preventing future spread of the disease within the country and lowering the numbers of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Taameen Mohammad

Photo: UNDP

Gerson Speaks Against Cutting Foreign Aid
The ONE organization, a group that fights global poverty, arranged for former Bush administration speechwriter and current Washington Post columnist, Michael Gerson, to speak in the Old Capital Museum. Gerson’s speech advocated for foreign aid programs and emphasized the dangers of decreased aid funding.

The world has come a long way in terms of reducing global poverty and diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria, however, we may see these positive trends start to reverse if funding is lost. Gerson is concerned that all of the progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goals by 2030 could be compromised with cut funding. With the upcoming budget cuts, Gerson reminds us that not all cuts have the same impact. He explained, “Cuts that are evenly applied aren’t evenly felt. There’s a difference between cutting a highway program and cutting a malaria program.” The former Bush administration staffer has been acclaimed for forming the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a program that worked to provide HIV/AIDS treatment to impoverished people.

Given that foreign aid programs account for such a small percentage of the federal budget, Gerson reminds congress that foreign aid is not to blame for the current deficit. He specifically criticized Rand Paul for his outspokenness against aid. The ONE organization praises Gerson for his foreign aid and HIV/AIDS prevention advocacy and hopes that, with his leadership, Washington will continue to support USAID and other foreign assistance programs.

– Mary Penn

Source: Press-Citizen.com
Photo: ONE

hiv-treatment-malawi.opt
Over the last decade, Malawi has reduced its rate of HIV/AIDS infections by 72 percent, more than any other African country. US agencies that combat the virus hope to build on these successes with a five-year effort to improve HIV/AIDS care in Malawi. The effort is coordinated with Malawi’s government and will target seven districts across the country.

The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, an NGO that focuses its anti-HIV work on mothers and children, is spearheading the effort. Funding is provided by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Centers for US Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

One of the biggest successes to date for HIV/AIDS care in Malawi has been the prevention of virus transmission to at least 7,000 babies. This has been accomplished through lifelong anti-retroviral treatment for all pregnant and breastfeeding women who are HIV-positive. The Foundation’s efforts continue to focus on pediatric preventive care. Its goal to achieve less than a five percent transmission rate from mother to child is well within reach.

Over the next five years, US organizations plan to provide other health care services in addition to HIV/AIDS care in Malawi. One million Malawians will receive counseling, 50,000 adult men and 400,000 pregnant women will receive HIV testing, and lifelong treatment will be provided to at least 25,000 women expected to test positive for the virus.

Despite gains over the last decade, AIDS remains the number one cause of death in Malawi, with about 100 deaths and 30 new infant infections each day. The Malawian minister of health, Catherine Hara, expressed hope that the seven targeted districts will serve as a model for widespread improvements in HIV/AIDS care in Malawi.

– Kat Henrichs

Source: Relief Web
Photo: [email protected]