Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 4

WORKSHOP URBAN MICRO-FARMING AND HIV-AIDS Johannesburg/Cape Town, South Africa 15-26 August 2005


By Godwin Chisenga CATHOLIC AIDS ACTION (CAA) Windhoek, Namibia

July 2005

INTRODUCTION TO CATHOLIC AIDS ACTION AND ITS PROGRAMME Catholic AIDS Action (CAA) was founded in 1998 as Namibias first church-based response to the countrys HIV/AIDS pandemic. Its Mission statement reads as follows: Acting in the Spirit of Christ CAA challenges the AIDS pandemic in Namibia with the courage to fight and the strength to care for the benefit of all. CAA is one of the largest NGOs in Namibia. It has fourteen field offices throughout the country and one national central office in Windhoek. There are five members of the Board of Trustees, presided over by the Most Reverend Liborius Nashenda, Archbishop of Windhoek. There are five senior management staff at national office, and five senior managers in the field for a total of 74 paid staff members. CAA provides services to all people without discrimination of any sort. In pursuing justice and empowerment through holistic spirituality CAA builds on Roman Catholic affiliated groups, other institutions and local communities to inspire and support programs of HIV and AIDS prevention, care and support to adults and children affected by and infected with HIV or AIDS. Within the arena of home based care and community mobilization and support, CAA has over 1,500 active volunteers nation-wide in 9 of the countrys political regions. During 2004, these volunteers gave care to over 4,600 clients living with AIDS or HIV. At the same time, 198 peer educators completed 278 courses reaching 6,011 youth. CAAs registry of orphans currently contains over 17,700 children. Three New Start VCT centres, operated by Catholic AIDS Action provided 3,274 tests during 2004. CAA has used a publication known as Health Eating in a number of local languages as a way of promoting Home gardens, Community gardens and/or institutional gardens. After the first publication Catholic AIDS Action is considering another publication about growing indigenous vegetables in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture specifically to help with kitchen/domestic gardens, and therefore will be useful in urban areas. CAA does not have agricultural expertise; however, it does have access to groups of people for whom food security is a priority. Therefore Catholic AIDS Action tries to focus on partnership work, whereby it links the community/volunteer/caregiver groups to the agricultural experts and other specialised NGOs in the filed. In the last few months, CAA linked one of its volunteer groups with the Ministry of Agriculture STEAR Project (Supporting the Transition of Extension and Research), which has sustainable development as a primary focus and particular funding for income generating projects linked to HIV. In 2004/5 the Ministry decided to simplify the criteria for HIV based IGA proposals and took some of the emphasis away with regard to profitability, business plans etc. They also very significantly allowed for applications to be forwarded to them in local language and ensure that their agricultural officers would assist community-based groups in preparing their proposals. This allowed Catholic AIDS Action to confidently link CAA volunteer groups with the Ministry of Agriculture. However, other barriers in the relationship with STEAR persist: Many agricultural officers do not feel comfortable working in the area of HIV and AIDS, as they did not feel that they were knowledgeable enough. Some community based groups in the area of HIV do not feel comfortable in their links with Ministry of Agriculture as their technical knowledge of agricultural issues was not always that evident.

The Catholic AIDS Action volunteer groups that have shown interest and initiative are from the following regions: North West, North East and Caprivi Regions. The main reasons for these regions to have a keen interest are probably because of the availability of water, which is a very scarce resource in Namibia of which most part is desert.

LESSONS LEARNT CAA volunteer group vegetable garden projects, linked to the Roman Catholic Church that in some cases provided land, have faced many problems, especially lack of fencing (leading to damages by animals or theft) and poor access to water and insufficient watering during hot seasons or other times when people are busy (e.g. ploughing in December). Some vegetable gardens in Caprivi and North West ceased because of water problems (which is an acute problem for whole country). Groups would like to receive more support on how to manage themselves, how to develop rules and procedures, how to develop proposals and business plans, as well as technical guidance on agricultural/food growing issues. Defining group rules is very important. Some groups had major conflicts about how to split profits (whether that is food or money) as some members claimed that others were not putting in adequate effort to the project. Catholic AIDS Action's role is to support the group in its development as a group, assist them in preventing and managing conflict. Regarding the technical issues like irrigation, where to get seed, etc. CAA can not do much since its staff simply has had no training in urban micro-farming. Therefore, Catholic AIDS Actions seeks to link the interested CAA volunteer/community groups with the Ministry of Agriculture and other NGOs who specialise in this kind of business and to support these groups in their development without taking over the management of the farming side of the work. However, recognising the importance of food production in relation to HIV and AIDS and the numerous clients that CAA serve, it is of utmost importance that CAA learns new skills in order that in a few years it can report that groups are productive and clear about how much food goes to: a. Children b. Adults living with HIV c. Volunteers/caregivers. We also hope that the volunteer groups by then would have ensured their own

sustainability in that grants will not be repeated, so that they may need a balance between using profit to continue the project and using food grown to feed a, b and c above. It is for this reason that CAA is sending a representative to this important workshop/tour to learn on how other organisations are dealing with this issue. In the hope that CAA can implement some of the experiences learned at this workshop.