Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Review of LEFAM Project

The Danish funded project Let’s fight HIV/AIDS in Malawi (LEFAM) has now been running for just over 2 years and it was time for a mid-term review to follow-up on the progress of the implementation and to assess whether any changes should be made in the strategies used to achieve our set goals.

A team of 4 consultants were hired to carry out the review and the team included 1 Ugandan, 2 Danes and 1 Malawian and was carried out over a 2 week period in the month of April 2009. Key members of the project staff and representatives from ADRA Denmark also participated in the review. The review was conducted in 3 of the 5 implementation areas and included Mchinji, Machinga and Chiradzula Districts.

Many different stakeholders participated in focus group discussions during the 2 weeks including government officials from the districts, religious and traditional leaders, members of the targeted communities involved in the project activities like youth groups and farmer groups, project staff and leaders from ADRA Malawi administration.

The main focus of the project is to strengthen the communities through activities of HIV prevention and awareness, mitigation of the impact of HIV/AIDS and finally creating awareness and action on human right issues. The overall strategy is capacity building of both individuals and the communities at large in order for them to be able to act on their problems and create social change in their communities. One of the main methodologies is to use dialogue among individuals and groups to engage them in taking action on improving the situation of the communities.

Thus the review was aimed at assessing whether the project has been able to take its beneficiaries and targeted communities beyond mere awareness into creating social change, e.g. understood as people taking action into changing social norms, advocating for own rights and holding leaders accountable for their responsibilities.

Some of the preliminary findings from the review are that significant positive changes and improvement in health and social life have been made in the project sites and the project has managed to open up spaces for dialogue and discussions in the communities about issues like stigmatisation of HIV positive people and cultural and social norms. The youth has been engaged in rising awareness on HIV/AIDS in their communities and people living with HIV/AIDS have benefitted much from Home Based Care. One of the activities with the greatest success is gathering people in farmer clubs and improving their knowledge on farming methods which has improved the produce of the households and thus the resilience of people in their everyday lives. An area which on the other hand has faced some difficulties is awareness on rights and creating an environment where people know how to act on the problematic issues.

Now, after the review, what remains for the last months of the project is to implement the remaining activities according to the recommendations given by the review team and to develop an exit strategy in order to try to ensure that the communities will continue with their activities when the project staff no longer is there to supervise the activities.

Author: Anja Larsen - ADRA Denmark

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