Community Life Competence Process as mainstreaming tool?

Mainstreaming. An issue that many of you deal with in some way. As the Constellation, we were asked to provide some inputs on a HIV mainstreaming strategy of a bi-lateral donor. Instead of reverting to the ‘standard’ arguments on how HIV is inherently linked to all kinds of other development issues, I took another stance. For me, the solution to effective mainstreaming can (again) be found in communities that respond.

Think back about the community visits you have done before….. How often did you discover that at the end of the visit a lot of issues seem to be interlinked with each other and that these links were complex and difficult to map out correctly as an outsider? Well, this happened to me many times and I think the expert in mapping this out correctly is the community itself.

Every community already mainstreams naturally. Communities do not think vertically. They own a certain local wisdom that understands the deep relationships between the different issues (e.g. HIV, Malaria, health, infrastructure, education, and agriculture) better than any outsider. A community in Northern India understands the link between road projects and HIV vulnerability. A women’s group in DR-Congo has analyzed the relationship between Gender and Education and has found a creative response to link them. A youth group in Papua New Guinea grasps the important link between Income Generating Activities and risky behavior. Every community has the capacity to link those issues that are relevant to their response.

However, organizations or communities that have mainstreamed certain issues successfully have one thing in common: They have taken ownership of their response, discussed the causes of their challenges and analysed the relationships between various issues. Therefore, if a development organization or a community really wants to reap the potential benefits of mainstreaming, they require (facilitated) discussions. They need to understand the ‘WHY of mainstreaming’ instead of ‘mainstreaming because it’s written somewhere’. So how can we reveal this organization/ community’s capacity to mainstream effectively?

The Community Life Competence Process (CLCP) can be one way. It has naturally evolved from vertical-focused processes, such as the AIDS Competence Process (ACP) or Malaria Competence Process. CLCP acknowledges the capacity of each community to mainstream those issues that are relevant for them and facilitates the discussion around this. This doesn’t mean there is no starting point. HIV can in many cases still be a great key to the door of discussion. However, as we have seen all around the world, the discussion and the resulting response will not be limited to HIV. It’s about Life and it’s about the Community, hence the name for a more generic process.

As these are still initial ideas from my experience, I request all of you to share your views on this.

Gaston

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Comment by Luc Barriere-Constantin on November 3, 2009 at 12:42pm
Laurence,
Allow me to briefly respond to your point. As Gaston has mentioned in his first posting about mainstreaming, AIDS is an entry point for the community. I realize that it is progressively becoming an "historical" entry point, but very much needed as it encompasses all aspects of life. As we work more with that approach we can now realize that it is applicable to any areas or sector of the life of the community and this is why it is becoming a "Life" Competence Approach. Because people are realizing that through honest (facilitated?) discussions they can find solutions, they can better interact with each others and finally they improve their way of living (at least in term of partnerships and mutual relation) then they are ready to use the same approach for "non-AIDS" issues. At the beginning (in 2004) we did not know that we had created a Life Competence Approach! We thought it was only applicable for HIV&AIDS. Rapidly we realized that this could apply to other diseases (Malaria, Diabetis) and then to broader issues. I remember the Director of Roll Back Malaria saying to our dear JLL that we had created a "development instrument". It is true. and this is Life.
Comment by Laurence Gilliot on November 3, 2009 at 8:47am
Dear Gaston,

We had an interesting discussion with Phil and Jean-Louis about the self-assessment. We realized that the first 5 practices of the AIDS Competence self-assessment were related to HIV and the 6 last ones were linked to broader aspects in the community.

When communities respond to HIV it influences their way of being, in many different aspects of life. So, not only is HIV mainstreamed and present in different sectors/aspects of community life, but it also transforms all of those aspects. It will therefore influence the way the community deals with other issues as well. An example: In a village, HIV has challenged the way people interact with each other and discuss common issues. People decide to meet regularly to discuss and understand the situation. When another problem arises, like drug use, the community will be able to use the same strategy to discuss this new issue.

So, when the community mainstreams HIV in different aspects of life, does it also mean that they 'mainstream life competence' ? I'm not so clear about it yet...

Laurence
Comment by Gaston on November 3, 2009 at 8:05am
Ludo and Luc,

Thank you for these very useful comments. It stimulates my further thinking with leaps. I like Luc's explanation of 'comprehensiveness of the response by the community'. And it's true that this will differ from one context to another.

At the moment, I am finalizing a first draft logical framework of our generic approach after days of brainstorming and discussions with JL and others. I took the same format and same categories as UNAIDS. I linked them to the outcome framework and UNGASS indicators. I'll soon share a first draft. I feel we're getting closer. We started with using 'our language'. In a second phase we can mindfully adapt language for traditional program managers and policy-makers.

Will keep you posted on this,
Comment by Luc Barriere-Constantin on November 2, 2009 at 11:43pm
I agree with Ludo (my clone) that mainstreaming is an untranslatable (don't know if it is english...) word and may not ring a bell in people's mind - except for the planning experts. And when taken from a vertical perspective, it is becoming a concept which is difficult to apply to reality. What I called "vertical perspective" is what our organizations are usually doing in term of development: in a given technical area, let's try to relate/link that with HIV&AIDS, Environment or Gender or who knows what... all issues which interfere with our primary purpose.
That's why I tend to agree with Gaston when presenting the CLCP as an approach which embeds mainstreaming. Why? Because I think in our day-to-day life (and this is obviously true for communities) we naturally address any issue and challenge (for our development, growth or survival) in a comprehensive manner. Which means in an horizontal manner. When it comes to achieve a particular goal or objective with regard to our own environment, we are very careful to consider the impact of one given action on the other elements of our environment: this is mainstreaming! This is why, when we go beyond our individual or family circle, there is need for discussions and dialogue in order not to forget the other members of the community.
Now, the recognition of the usefulness of the CLCP as strategy for mainstreaming HIV&AIDS (or other developmental issue) will be a step forward: but we will have to define a clear result (at least for the bi-lateral partner) with indicator and so on (...) to convince the partner. The problem I see is that mainstreaming - that I would translate by comprehensiveness of the response by the community - may be expressed in different manners from one community to another one. And this is where we can have some propblems with the traditional program managers and policy-makers. The day we will have a clear indicator for ownership of the response (let's say applicable in 80% of the communities and groups) then the CLCP will be more widely implemented.
Comment by Joma on November 1, 2009 at 2:47pm
Once, I asked one of my teammates in Aizawl how effective CLCP/ACP is with him. He smile back and said, this process has no ending. The vision is one (COMPETENCE) but have different way to respond loacally and individual he added. The more we face issues/challenges the more we learn how to respond it.

As a team we too use to find issues and challenges in responding it. But those challenges and issues becomes our strength. Because we look for ways how to do it, this is the things which drag the team to move on.

A healthy community/organization more focus on how a human life can bring change to others, but not because you have issues to address. This is how the local team/community organization expands in Mizoram.

With the behaviour of human, isues arise, with the behaviour of human change happen, categorizing a particular issue to respond in different way makes more complicated. we live in a community any issue which comes is not of that particular people but of the community. So, the system/process has to be integrated. Not a community/org. or one group because of an issue.

Joma
Mizoram

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