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The Community-led HIV/AIDS Prevention Project, Kenya

We partnered with SOTENI Kenya to promote prevention of mother-to-child transmission services in the Nyanza province of Kenya.

Lessons learned

  • A project run by the community, for the community truly makes a difference! For a project such as ours to be effective and sustainable, the people running it and those working on the ground need to have a deep and personal knowledge-base about the social issues at play, and the ability to foster mutual trust and respect.

“This project is led by the community. The way that we built this project is we started by putting together the project steering committee, the 4 teams means the people from the medical background, and we have 4 nurses, we have 7 Aids Bare Foot Doctors, four prevention administrators, and I have the local management committee of SOTENI and then I have a project coordinator on the ground. So these four different teams represent the team of five and in this team of five is the project steering committee and they meet once every 2 months to discuss the focus of the project. And we invite them to make key decisions as long as they are in line with the project profile and I think that has made it easy to keep the project moving forward; they critique each other, they make decisions that can move the project forward and I feel happy that they ask the community, the people on the ground, they have taken charge of this project and I’m sure there are good results and I’m sure they can continue way after the project ends.”

- Edward Wanyonyi, SOTENI

The project steering committee... we invite them to make key decisions as long as they are in line with the project profile, and I think that has made it easy to keep the project moving forward; they critique each other, they make decisions that can move the project forward and I feel happy that they ask the community, the people on the ground, they have taken charge of this project.

Edward Wanyonyi, SOTENI
  • Stigma still exists and we need male involvement to help change that. Some people think that by definition women are the audience for a programme designed to reduce MTCT, but we’ve found that it’s equally important to educate men as male involvement provides the opportunity for couple counselling and allows women to feel comfortable attending health facilities.. This is especially true in patriarchal societies where sexual-based violence may be particularly high. 

“There is still some stigma and I can talk about this specific community I am working in that really, many parts of Africa - those are patriarchal societies, so while we talk to women about ANC services and they want to go to them, we still have a problem like it’s not easy to get their men involved in this. My experience is that we need to involve men and for me, have an example of getting the men during the public gathering, the chiefs and other people.”

- Edward Wanyonyi, SOTENI

  • There can be challenges around meeting community needs while also adhering to government policy. Often the goal is the same, in this case ensuring the health and well-being of women and their children, but sometimes the realities warrant a tailored approach that may not be reflected in a broad policy statement.

“There is still some stigma and I can talk about this specific community I am working in that really, many parts of Africa - those are patriarchal societies, so while we talk to women about ANC services and they want to go to them, we still have a problem like it’s not easy to get their men involved in this. My experience is that we need to involve men and for me, have an example of getting the men during the public gathering, the chiefs and other people.”

- Edward Wanyonyi, SOTENI 

A large part of PMTCT relies on traditional birth attendants but the challenge today is the Kenyan government, the minister of health has discouraged it.don’t want to go against the government policy but again the earth on the ground is a little bit different to that policy.

Edward Wanyonyi, SOTENI

Key Facts

Project Name:
Community-led HIV/AIDS Prevention Programme (CHAPP)

Run by:
SOTENI Kenya

Region:
Nyanza Province, Kenya

Populations:
PLWHA; women of child bearing age; all sexually active men and women

Challenges:
Cultural norms; lack of understanding about the importance of local health services and how to access them

Activities:
Educating the community via sessions at local gatherings, support groups, in-home visits and promotional materials; Providing in-home care services; Building networks with other community-based organisations and local health facilities; Creating synergies with our AIDS Barefoot Doctors (ABDs) Programme and working with our ABDs to deliver educational information and care, and increase referrals to local health services