Developed by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), in partnership with the German Development Cooperation (GTZ), Drama for Life aims to build capacity in the area of HIV/AIDS and education through drama and theatre. Launched in 2006, the three-year programme runs in all SADC member states, which include: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The programme plans to stimulate a stronger use of applied drama and theatre practices (drama in education, drama therapy, playback theatre, theatre in education, theatre of the oppressed, community theatre, and theatre for development) in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the region.

Communication Strategies: 

Drama for Life aims to empower young people to take personal responsibility for their own lives.


The project objectives include:

  • promoting personal and interpersonal learning in order to bring about positive behavioural change among youth in the SADC region;
  • empowering teachers and performers to facilitate personal- and interpersonal-centred learning processes in the context of HIV/AIDS;
  • enhancing capacities in arts education management and administration throughout the SADC region;
  • researching and documenting the role and efficacy of applied drama and theatre processes in HIV/AIDS education and counselling; and
  • creating a framework for integrating applied drama and theatre practice into the formal education sector (curricula, teacher's training) as well as in the non-formal education sector (training module for non-governmental organisations (NGOs)/groups).


The SADC Secretariat, HIV/AIDs unit, in Gaborone included Drama for Life - with a focus on non-formal education for out-of-school youth/orphans - in its annual work plan from February 2007 to March 2008. They are also in the process of designing a 15-year SADC Drama for Life programme proposal. GTZ provided funds for an immediate kick-start of the programme through the GTZ-Wits Drama for Life project. Planned project activities for 2007 included:

  • the design of a module for the 9-month training of performers and teachers (Master Trainers) at Wits University;
  • auditioning and selection of candidates from the SADC region for the course, at Wits University; and
  • the establishment of a scholarship fund for course participants.


In 2008, Wits University will run the very first SADC Drama for Life training course for performers and teachers. In 2009, the Master Trainers are obliged to work as multipliers in their own countries, with the governments' and other stakeholders' involvement in the beginning rollout of Drama for Life in the SADC region as an integral part of the envisaged 15-year SADC Drama for Life programme. In 2010, the closely supervised and monitored Drama for Life project will be reviewed at the regional Drama for Life festival/symposium. Depending on results and funds available, it will be launched on a SADC-wide Drama for Life programme with roll-out at national levels.


The programme’s expected outputs include:

  • developing a training course that qualifies practitioners to facilitate groups of people and to train teachers/performers in the use of drama and theatre as a tool in HIV/AIDS education;
  • training national project coordinators in arts education administration/educational drama or project management;
  • setting up a professional SADC HIV/AIDS Theatre in Education production that is a regional response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic;
  • creating training manuals in "Drama in HIV/AIDS education", arts administration/project management, and peer education materials; and
  • establishing a regional network of people with a common interest in applied drama and theatre practice for HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, and rehabilitation.
Development Issues: 

HIV/AIDS, Education.

Key Points: 

Drama for Life was developed by two GTZ consultants experienced in capacity development and a theatre specialist from Wits University, Johannesburg, in consultation with over 100 people from 10 countries in southern Africa, on behalf of the SADC Secretariat.

The coordination of the programme is conducted at three levels: Ministries of Education in all SADC member states act as lead coordinators, supported by a Steering Committee comprising all major players in "Drama for Life". Since SADC is not an implementing agency, the University of Witswatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, acts as the regional implementing agency. SADC and the University formed a strategic partnership based on a memorandum of understanding which defines tasks in programme management and implementation for the University.

Partner Text: 

WITS School of Arts, German Development Cooperation (GTZ), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).


United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) newsletter; and email from Warren Nebe to The Communication Initiative on February 18 2008.