Engaging Community Leaders

Engaging District and Local Leaders

Acknowledging the crucial role that community leaders play in facilitating change, BRIDGE II engaged them in mobilizing their communities for HIV prevention.  BRIDGE II worked with leaders at district level in order to get their buy in and support for the implementation of the project, and to ensure sustainability of activities after project closure. A District Community Mobilization Team (DCMT) was formed in each district, with 10 members participating from the Behavior Change Intervention Sub-Technical Committee (BCI-STC) of the District AIDS Coordinating Committee (DACC). Representatives of this committee come from different government departments and non-governmental organizations doing HIV work in the district; the District AIDS Coordinating Officer is an unofficial member.  The DCMT was trained in community mobilization and then provided guidance on implementation of mobilization activities in the district, through mentoring and coaching of community level structures.

Traditional Leaders Forums

At community level, BRIDGE II worked with Traditional Authorities (TAs) and Group Village Headman (GVH) structures.   BRIDGE II was active in 67 TAs, geographic units within each district, and with 567 GVH). Under each TA there are five to ten GVHs, each responsible for 10 to 15 villages. Traditional Leaders and Group Village Headmen were engaged by BRIDGE II in each TA via a committee called a Traditional Leaders Forum (TLF), comprising all group village heads in a TA plus additional opinion leaders. Twenty to 40 leaders met every quarter to discuss cultural beliefs, norms and traditions that promoted or facilitated the spread of HIV in their communities. Traditional leaders were trained by the DCMT in different topics to prepare them for their role of supporting the project in mobilizing communities for HIV prevention, including basic HIV and AIDS information, gender and HIV, leadership and group dynamics. Traditional leaders then sensitized community members on the dangers of traditional practices and norms that predispose people to acquiring HIV, and set by-laws banning some of the more harmful practices.

Area Development Community Mobilization Teams

To assist the DCMTs with supervising community structures and their activities, BRIDGE II organized formation of Area Development Community Mobilization Teams (ADCMTs) comprised of community extension workers and some members of existing Area Development Committees (ADCs). ADCs are government structures at each TA level responsible for development activities, and comprised of all Group Village Headmen in a TA, all government extension workers in that area and opinion leaders in that community.  From the ADC, three to four members were chosen to form the ADCMTs and assist facilitation of community mobilization activities at community level.  Team members were trained by the DCMT in community mobilization, facilitation, monitoring and evaluation, leadership and group dynamics.