In September this year, Constellation AIDS and International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) have entered into a partnership agreement for a one and half year period. The project is to pilot integration of the SALT approach of the Constellation AIDS within the Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR) approach of IIRR in to two Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) project sites in Ethiopia: Borena and Dire Dawa. In these locations, among other high prevalent disaster risk threats HIV/AIDS is one.
To kick off this project, from the 2nd to the 6th of November, 2009, a team of five facilitators (April, Sirinate and Mark from Constellation AIDS and Hassan and Zerihun form IIRR) has carried out an orientation workshop in Dire Dawa. Fifteen persons participated. All of the participants were invited from IIRR’s four partner organizations operating on DRR in various locations in Ethiopia. Beginning from the planning process to its execution and the filed practicum, the workshop was quite participatory. All presentations start with getting initial impressions and related experiences of the participants on the subject and build upon that. Individual works, peer discussions, group works and presentations were techniques frequently utilized. These helped to draw wealth of individual and groups capabilities significantly. The classroom deliberations were followed by homes and community visits. The visits helped to concretize information and skills initiated during class works. Within the homes and community visits the workshop participants got the opportunity to try integrating SALT and CMDRR approaches in practice. With an aim to improve performance of the facilitators, during the evening and early morning discussions, relevant comments and suggestions used to be given. In this process, for each participating organization handfuls of good facilitators were seen created.
This collaborative endeavor was a remarkable joint venture for the facilitators’ team who themselves have came from varied backgrounds. The facilitators were quite diverse in their cultural, academic, project approaches and the like. Moreover, people from Constellation were experts in the SALT approach and those from IIRR were proficient in CMDRR but the reverse was not quite true. This being the reality, however, during the actual workshop the facilitators’ team was working in a perfect integration. In our view, this happened as the result of series of participatory planning and monitoring meetings at all important junctures of the process. The integration of the team gave birth to perfect harmony during presentations, discussions and filed works and whose end result was achievement of objectives of the workshop.
This workshop paved the way for a suitable kick start of the pilot projects. Each organization, which took part in this process, is blessed with bunch of well equipped community facilitators. Moreover, each of them has come up with their respective action plans. These action plans, beyond piloting the project, included such key actions as adaptation of the SALT approach in other projects interventions; expressed commitment to carry out self evaluations in the individual organizations; and planned to prepare advertized courses in a fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic through integration of the SALT and CMDRR approaches.
The two organizations have also seen areas for sharing. IIRR has seen the SALT facilitation approaches, the self evaluation procedures and use of the house hold and community visits are worth consideration in its CMDRR interventions. Constellation AIDS also considered the need for Hazard, Vulnerability and Capacity (HVC) assessments to determine the HIV/AIDS risk level for any individual, household and community level interventions. Preparation of current and vision maps within the community and by the community has also been seen an important area for consideration in the SALT approach.