Capacity building can empower individuals, communities, and local and national organizations and governments by equipping them with the knowledge, skills, technology and competencies necessary to take an active role in disease prevention. BRIDGE II focused on building the capacity of Malawian institutions, local communities and individuals to assure the sustainability of its HIV prevention strategies. Capacity building was one of the projects’ strategic approaches and it remained crucial and cross cutting in all project activities at all levels.
At the community level, BRIDGE II worked with community based organizations (CBOs) to strengthen their overall capacity to plan and implement strategic behavior change communication (SBCC) programs and conduct community mobilization around HIV and AIDS prevention and related issues; the project also created opportunities for strengthening networking and linkages across CBOs. At the district level, BRIDGE II helped to strengthen the capacity of the District AIDS Coordinating Committee (DACC) in both community mobilization and SBCC. Nationally, BRIDGE II enhanced the capacity of government, NGOs and private sector partners through formal educational workshops, active participation in Technical Working Group meetings and providing opportunities for “learning by doing” through the development of campaigns, radio programs, toolkits and other materials. For example, BRIDGE II implemented CCP’s flagship Leadership in Strategic Health Communication workshop for participants from the Malawi Ministry of Health, NGOs and others and provided opportunities for Malawian media institutions to improve their ability to produce quality reality radio programs through collaboration on the National Dialogues campaigns addressing HIV and AIDS and gender related issues.
Overall, BRIDGE II’s capacity efforts have had a significant impact on the capacity of Malawian institutions and individuals to develop and implement health communication programs.
- Built the capacity of 13 media institutions in reality programming through National Dialogue Media Campaigns, and these radio stations are now able to produce National Dialogue programs on their own.
- Distributed 23 Laptops and 53 recorders to 13 media houses to support their work in producing HIV- and AIDS-focused reality radio programs.
- Following BRIDGE II capacity building initiatives, some community volunteers whom BRIDGE II engaged with secured full time jobs with other development partners (radio stations, African Parks Majete). Others were nominated by their communities to compete for parliamentary and council ward seats during the 2014 tripartite elections as a way of involving them.
- Strengthened the capacity of 67 CBO networks, which are now leading implementation of HIV prevention activities including advocating with higher government authorities for improved health services (e.g., HIV counseling and testing, voluntary medical male circumcision) to be brought to their communities.
- Conducted a Leadership in Strategic Health Communication workshop to strengthen the SBCC skills of communicators, health educators and program managers working in HIV-related behavior change programs in Malawi. Over 50 participants drawn from the Malawi government, local and national NGOs, and faith-based organizations attended the training.
- Facilitated the formation of a Leadership in Strategic Health Communication Alumni group in collaboration with CCP’s other USAID-funded project in Malawi, SSDI-Communication, creating an opportunity for continued sharing of knowledge, skills and expertise among health communicators in the country.