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I visited three cities in DR-Congo the last 3 weeks. In each city, the AIDS Competence Process, called l’approche SALT’ here has been implemented for 9 months with impressive results.

For example, I was in Matadi in the province Bas-Congo. Facilitators and members of the communities shared beautiful changes in their community. Discrimination went down, people now talked about sexuality and HIV in their family, PLHIV came out in public, large groups went for testing and a general increase in community’s confidence to deal with HIV and other issues. In another city, I heard SALT being mentioned in almost every video that talked about the progress. Thanks to SALT, this happened. Thanks to SALT, that happened…..

One thing worries me. Many attributed all these results to the SALT approach. SALT was amazing and changed their life. One facilitator even said: “This SALT approach is divine”! Why does this worry me? Because people should not get attached to the approach or the acronym.The Buddha would say: SALT is empty. SALT is just ONE way for communities to make progress in terms of their concerns. It’s a means to an end. We should never ‘worship’ the means to an end. We use SALT as a little boat that we can use to cross the river of the HIV challenge. We are happy to be at the other side, but should not get attached to the little boat that brought us there. Certain religions and spiritual paths already do this enough and it’s not beneficial.

The SALT approach is only the 4th run of a ladder. If we think that this is the top, we are wrong. But to move upwards, we should not be afraid to let go the ideas linked to the 4th run. For me, SALT is certainly not divine. The results of SALT (or another approach) are divine: compassion, inclusion, care, confidence.

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Comment by Gaston on December 20, 2010 at 12:55pm

Excellent reflection TaReva. Thanks. Your last para summarizes it well.

BTW, I'll be back in Chiang mai on the 16 of Jan. So looking forward!

Comment by TaReva Warrick-Stone on December 20, 2010 at 5:04am



Thank you for more of your critical thoughts on development! Your comments help me be more mindful of the role of process and how important it is to focus on empowerment through a variety of approaches, without inseparable attachment to one or a particular "brand".


I share your concern. The positive and sustainable changes in peoples lives are human-powered not SALT-powered (or NGO-powered) and communities must remember to appreciate themselves and value their commitment and effort. However, the process, the means, particularly the quality of the process, is still critically important. I agree that it should not be worshiped, but it should be recognized, because it gives more weight to, and reminds us of, the outcomes that are not end results - the skills acquired along the way.


To use your metaphor, we use the boat to cross the river and we successfully get to the other side, we reach our goal. While on the boat, however, we learn to row and can use that valuable skill to cross another river in the future. While walking, with the river behind us, we may forget that we can row, but when we see a boat, even on land, it reminds us of what we can do. It may also inspire us to use a related skill, such as learning to ride a bicycle, to overcome challenges of a different nature.


My emphasis on skills is not so different from your identification of compassion, inclusion, care, and confidence as results of SALT, just an alternative focus. If a "brand" can remind communities of what they are capable of, then it is serving a purpose.

Comment by wiwin winarni on November 27, 2010 at 2:55pm
Dear Gaston,

Once again you share very critical view point about SALT after "no branding" idea of attaching achievement of such a progress or project to certain institution.

Previously I thought that it would be very nice if we testify that SALT help us solving our HIV or ARH issues, but then when it come to such a divine status this would then unhealthy.

Yes again you are right that the four so called compassion, inclusion, care, confidence are divine. I m going to share another three: honesty, sacrifice and freedom also divine to this approach.

wiwin from west kalimantan :)

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