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Community Partnerships Against AIDS Programme
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Rural community income-generating activities

An integral part of fighting HIV-AIDS in rural communities

An example: Mbu village project

History / context of the project:

Mbu village is located in the Santa Sub Division in Mezam Division of the North West Province of Cameroon. It has a population of approximately 5000 people and has an on going HIV / AIDS control project, the components of which include education for prevention and behavior change, training of community health volunteers (CHVs), a functional village AIDS Control Centre (VACC), a community solidarity fund (CSF) to fight HIV and AIDS, voluntary counseling and testing (VCT) for HIV, ARV treatment, and support to people living with HIV / AIDs (PLWHAs) and to orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs). The HIV and AIDS control project is spearheaded by the Mbu Cultural and Development Association (MBUDCA) and supervised by COPAAP.

Objectives of the project:

This project is intended to generate income to support the Community Solidarity Fund,  which provides for financial motivation for the CHVs and support to PLWHAs and OVCs, and also to improve the living and nutritional standard of the village population of Mbu.
Present beneficiaries include:
  • Community Health Volunteers, 5 people, through quarterly stipends.
  • People Living with HIV / AIDs (PLWHAs), 315 women and 185 men, through the community solidarity fund and easy accessibility and affordability of nutritious food.
  • Orphans and vulnerable children, 200 children,  through the community fund .
  • Foster parents, 184 families with over 400 children, through improved accessibility to affordable food and products.
  • Inhabitants of Mbu, approximately 5000 people, through easier access to affordable nutritious food and products
  • Employees of the shop, 4 staff.

Mbu Village AIDS Control Centre (VACC)

 

Mbu CHVs in uniform, and COPAAP team (Dr. Achu
Paul, Geraldine Leach, Nkwen Mary-Lily) in front of
the Mbu Village Aids Control Center


The Mbu Community Shop and composite mill for grains

The Mbu community shop project was conceived as a solution to the acute need for a sustainable income generating activity (IGA) to support the community solidarity fund (CSF). The CSF provides some financial motivation for the community health volunteers and is a source of interest free loans for IGAs to support groups of PLWHAs. A soap making support group (Mbu Solidarity Social Club) and a farming support group (Friends of Mbu), are already benefiting from loans from the Mbu solidarity fund. In addition to being a source of income for the CSF, a community shop with a composite mill for grains will also provide nutritional support to PLWHAs (as an integral part of their care and management), as well as improve the overall nutritional and living standard of this village community. In Mbu, nutritious food and supplements (milk, beverages, beef, cooking oil) are expensive and scarce, since they are brought in only occasionally by hawkers.

The shop is now open six days a week. The items stocked include: fish, rice, groundnuts, beans, savon, salt, beverages, and other provisions. There is also a composite mill for both wet and dry grains.



Mbu community shop

Mbu villagers queing up with bags of corn for grinding at the mill



Project funding:

The total cost of the project was 16,486.00$USD and was jointly realised with the contribution of the following:
  • The British High Commission , Cameroon: 9000 $USD
  • VSO: Supervision of VSO volunteer Joyce Naluhuba from Uganda 
  • Community Partnership Against AIDS Program (COPAAP):  5,160 $USD excluding overall supervision
  • The Mbu and the Mbu Cand Community Cultural and Development Association (MBUDCA): 2,326 $USD
  • The Mbu Community - Provided the building.
The project was started in January 2007 and the shop opened its doors for business by the end of April 2007.


Opportunities and challenges:

Our experience has proved that if communities are organized and empowered, they are able to manage projects with little supervision. The Mbu Community Shop Project has shown beyond any reasonable doubt that communities supported with funds from partners can initiate projects for the benefit of individual PLWHAs. In Mbu Village where the Mbu Community Shop project is located, two support groups of people affected by HIV/AIDS have implemented two projects supported with funds from the Community Solidarity Fund. The interest free loans have enabled the groups to start a Soap making project and a Farming project respectively. The initial capital loaned to the soap project from the Community Solidarity Fund was $250, while the farming group obtained $120. The Soap making project has already paid back 50% of their interest free loan to the Community Solidarity Fund, while the Farming group is in the process of repaying the loan. The Community Management Committee oversees compliance to ensure that groups don’t default in the payment of what they borrowed from the Community Solidarity Fund. This kind of arrangement, if strengthened to operate in a rotational manner, can benefit not just the direct participants but the entire community.


Major problems of COPAAP:

The major problems of COPAAP remain how to obtain sustainable funding for our core activities, including:

• Sensitisation and Education of Community Leaders.
A 3 day seminar workshop for the sensitisation and training of community leaders in the fight against HIV and AIDS and in the elaboration of comprehensive HIV and AIDS control programs costs about 5,000 $USD for 30 leaders, usually from 10 village communities. This is the number we will normally handle in one workshop.

• Training of Community Health Volunteers.
The North West Province is composed of about 250 villages, each requiring 10 Community Health Volunteers. COPAAP's plan is to train and support 100 volunteers each year. It normally costs about $50 per volunteer for a block training session of one week. This does not include the on-the-job training and supervision that continues for one year. The Volunteers also require kits for Community and Home Based Care. While the replenishment of these kits should be covered by the Community Solidarity Funds, the initial acquision needs to be funded by external sources.

• Means of transportation for field supervision, training and support of the Community Health Volunteers.
A single 4-wheeled drive vehicle adapted to our bad roads infrastruction costs about 20,000 $USD. COPAAP at the moment, has to rely on hire of expensive, often inappropriate private/public vehicles for its field supervision and training.


AKUM, AWING, NJONG, AND BAMESSING IGAs


The Income Generating Projects to support the HIV and AIDS control programs of Akum, Awing, Njong, and Bamessing Villages, which are to be supported by funding of 8,000 $USD from the Dordretch-Bamenda Foundation and the New Apostolic Church, are still being implemented. They will be reported on when completed.