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.

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Comment by Laurence Gilliot on November 25, 2009 at 5:54pm
Message from Worku, send by email

We had really a good time at Diredawa, Ethiopia with the Aids Constallation group from Kenya(April, Mark and Hassen from IIRR)

The community at Diredawa are really awared about the danger of HIV/AIDS and already started taking appropriate action although the road infront of them is a bit far.

What interested me most from the home visit is that the account of those living with the problem now understood the consequence of keeping silence. In their acount they stressed the need to expose onself for the sake of preventing further spread through appropriate care and constant awareness creation at most social occassions.

They also reminded us of paying more attention on issues of discrimination which further discourage people from voluntary testing and going public.

Thank you for Worku for sharing! You are very active and enthusiastic :-)
Comment by Laurence Gilliot on November 25, 2009 at 5:51pm
Message from Wondiye.

The trainning event held at diredawa, Ethiopia was very nice and interseting I have lerned a lot of things, to make it specific, the trainning was started by introducing each other and repetedly we have done different types of energisers which helps alot to make our stay very simple and full of loughters. For this I would like to Mark, the colligue from keneya.

The main training sesion were divided in to two parta the field part and the in class lerning part. in the class we have done alot of learnings the core ones are:

1. wheather HIV/AIDS is our concern or not and also if it is the concern of the community from which we were comming. on this we have learnt alot and a reflection from every participant were discused.

2. we have also made apractice on how to apply CMDRR approch by cocidering HIV as hazared. We have also lerned about the impact of belives on behavior and how do we need to behave or shape our behavior while conducting home to home visit, it is all about the SALT approach.

3. we have also conducted home to home visit to leran fom those pople living with HIV aids. In the one of the houses we hvae visited I have seen and learned a lot from her experiance of living with the virus, she is realy very strong have a good dream for her and for her two kids as well. She has expressd that she will not need to be dependant of any one she is working what ever a work that can generate income for her needs and realy i have appreciated the way she used to aware and teach others about the virus and the way she take care of the others and her kids too.From this visit I have leraned alot on how to creat awarness among people about HIV and how to bring different groups of pople togather to discuse on their common concern.

4. we have lernd also about the self assessement to see where we are ,it is realy nice approch to see where we are regarding HIV. After this we have conducted a common discussion with the community by bringing different house holds and concerned groups. From this we have seen where the level of the diredewa prople is in relation to care and protection of HIV.This level of care and protection of HIV should have been practiced in my area of work and other areas as well to stop HIV where it is.

5. we have also prpared an action plan to be performed in our respective organizations and currently we are follwing that action plan to introduce and apply the SALT approach of adressing HIV. THis time we have shared what we have got from the trainning with our staffs and we will continue this with tha community as well.

Thank you for sharing Wondiye!
Comment by Gaston on November 23, 2009 at 8:42am
Zerihun, thank you very much for sharing the insights of the workshop.

We are developing an AIDS Competence Manual for a process in DR-Congo and I was interested in your experiences with this. I have seen your impressive manual of CMDRR. How did facilitators of CMDRR find the manual you developed? I think it's a beautiful and detailed manual. Did it turn out to be practical for them? Did they bring this to the field with them? Did they receive a shorter version as well? Did it allow for their own creativity in the field? What are your experiences with this?

Many thanks,
Gaston
Comment by Rituu B. Nanda on November 20, 2009 at 8:18pm
Dear Zerihun,

Thanks for this detailed sharing. I can picture the SALT visits in the communities and sense the energy through your posting. Wonderful! I particularly liked your illustration of the principle that when people from different backgrounds come together as a whole it can bring out the best in them.

I recently met the facilitation team from the UNDP project 'Community Centered Sustainable Development Programme (CCSDP)' in Tokelau, Samoa, Niue and Cook Islands where communities have taken the lead in disaster management and other community issues through application of Appreciative Inquiry.

Best wishes,
Rituu
Comment by Laurence Gilliot on November 20, 2009 at 2:59pm
Beautiful! Thank you Zerihun and April for sharing the spirit with all of us...
Comment by April Foster on November 19, 2009 at 8:37pm
Zerihun....thank you for these postings about the recent workshop in Dire Dawa. You have captured so well the experience and the key lessons learned as we facilitated together. If you would allow me, I would like to relate your story about when we were checking in at the airport on our way to Dire Dawa. As you approached the check in desk, carrying passports for people from Ethiopia, Kenya, USA and Thailand the woman at the desk asked you 'what could all of these different people have in common and be doing together?' At the start of the week it was a difficult question to answer. But by the end of the week, you expressed so well - What did we have in common? - A shared vision and belief about people. What were we doing together? - facilitating as a team without notice to the different organizations or even countries that we came from. This partnership with IIRR holds so much for us to learn about how to truly integrate approaches - taking what is best to make something stronger. Thank you for the opportunity to do that together over the coming year!
Comment by Onesmus Mutuku on November 19, 2009 at 6:09pm
Dear Zerihun,

With fresh Memories of your visit to Kithituni, this sound Super!

Keep going with the good work.

Onesmus
Comment by Zerihun Lemma Damenu on November 19, 2009 at 6:04pm
During the workshop, the two major learning techniques were home and community visits. For the purpose of home visits, after equipped with the SALT approach, participants were split into four small groups. Each group was expected to visit about two and as a whole about eight households were reached. The workshop participants themselves facilitated the discussions. Reports of the groups indicated that home visits brought them to the heart of the problem; they have learnt new things like children and women also have something to contribute during discussions and in search of solutions to problems; good working relation between households and project experts is an important step to win peoples trust; people in the area are quite open to accept foreigners and discuss on their HIV/AIDS status; and most commented that CMDRR can consider inclusion of home visits in its community related functions.
Then community level discussions had happened. The participants were divided into two groups and carried out two major community discussions. The community discussions were quite inclusive to the elderly, adults and the youth; men and women; people living with and without HIV/AIDS; the better offs and the poor; and people working in government, non government and private sectors. Those contacted during the home to home visits were also participated. The discussion showed that alike issues raised in homes the communities also senses the problems at a similar level. There was openness on the side of the affected to tell their situations and to contribute to their better future as well. Those affected were seen as having visions and they also know what they need to make their visions a reality. Members of the community uphold their visions and it has been observed that they could draw their vision maps on papers.
Participants’ engagement in facilitating on the home and community visits helped build their confidence. They have also seen challenges directly and learned the ways how to deal with them whenever they arise. Thus, the visits were quite essential and helpful mechanisms for learning and working.
Yes the communities that we are going to pilot the projects are within nomadic and semi-nomadic areas. (In our areas we don’t call them nomadic for it is a bit derogatory for them. We rather prefer to call them pastoralist.) In Ethiopia, Borena is a pastoral zone and the surroundings of Dire Dawa are also pastoral and semi pastoral. But the workshop has happened in Dire Dawa which is surrounded by pastoral communities but residents which we included in the home visits and community discussions are sedentary dwellers in the outskirts of the town. The training participants, however, especially those who have come from three organizations, out of the four are DRR field practitioners in pastoral communities. They know the settings, most of them are themselves part of the pastoral communities, and they share the peoples life style. What the trainees actually lack is the skills to facilitate home and community visits as we do with the SALT approach. Thus, in this training, the issue of mobility was not the major concern that we attempted to address but we are quite comfortable that the practitioners could adapt the approach in the pastoral settings by themselves.
As I have mentioned in the previous document, there are a lot in common between SALT and CMDRR approaches. In fact, I would say, SALT is just one major part of CMDRR which is devoted to community immersion, participation, and leadership. But there are more things in SALT which are not fully addressed by CMDRR, Things like beginning with home visits, issues of accompaniment of the outsiders, self evaluation and the like are areas that we can adapt. In my view, SALT also has some to take from CMDRR. The CMDRR conceptual framework which considers Disaster Risk as a function of Hazard multiplied by Vulnerability and divided by Capacity is quite essential to learn around the extent of the HIV/AIDS risk for any individual or in any particular household and in any community. This approach requires careful assessment of Hazard, in this case, HIV/AIDS and assessment of Vulnerability and Capacity of the target groups. CMDRR has the necessary tools and procedures of doing this in a simple but quite participatory fashion. This leads to identification of the right measures and concrete action plans to reverse the situation with concrete community participation and leadership.
Comment by Laurence Gilliot on November 19, 2009 at 4:15pm
Hi Zerihun,

Thank you so much for sharing about the learning event. I would like to know more about the home visits and community visits you have done. Did it work well? Did you have good conversations with people?

The communities you work with are nomadic communities right? How will you deal with the fact that the community is constantly on the road, moving and that it is difficult to build a facilitation team in that case?

In your experience, what is similar and what is different between the AIDS Competence Process and CMDRR?

Thank you,

Laurence

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