Annual Report: October 1, 2008 - September 30, 2009
This 41-page document is an annual report on one year of the "Scaling Up Together We Can" programme, which is a 6-year effort to reach more than 1,060,000 youth ages 10 to 24 through interpersonal and participative approaches to relaying HIV prevention messages, community-based "edutainment" events, and mass media-based outreach in Guyana, Haiti, and Tanzania. The programme's primary recipient of funding from the United States (US) President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the American Red Cross (ARC), which is responsible for providing funding and technical assistance to the programme's implementers: the Guyana, Haitian, and Tanzania Red Cross Societies. Peer education, community and social mobilisation, and capacity building for the 3 national Red Cross societies (NRCSs) are the primary strategies used to promote positive behaviour change among youth.
In brief, the project centres around curriculum-based and peer-to-peer outreach and interpersonal community-wide events. The NRCSs are mobilising youth and young adults to deliver HIV prevention messages, offering life skills training, and providing education and support to youth to encourage them to reduce or eliminate risky sexual behaviours. The peer education component is based on the 12- to 15-hour, 17- to 22-activity Together We Can (TWC) curriculum that has been used by the American Red Cross (ARC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IRCS) with over 30 NRCSs in Africa, Central America, and the Caribbean since 1993. The curriculum, which has undergone an intensive adaptation in both Haiti and Tanzania, uses dynamic, participatory techniques to improve youths' knowledge, attitudes, and skills related to HIV and AIDS and unintended pregnancy and parenthood. Prevention messaging emphasises abstinence (including secondary abstinence, whereby those who have been sexually active at one time have decided to abstain), being faithful to one's partner and reducing multiple partners (in particular, overlapping or concurrent multiple partners), and other healthy behaviours including condom use and accessing sexual and reproductive health services. Peer educators (PEs) ask each participant in the TWC workshop to share HIV prevention messages with the same ten peers at different intervals as "take-home assignments".
In addition to working directly with youth, TWC creates an enabling environment for youth behaviour change by actively seeking the participation of parents, teachers, religious leaders, host-country government officials, non-government organisation (NGO) staff, and other community leaders. Promoting parent or trusted adult-youth communication aims to strengthen parents/adults' ability to communicate with their children about sensitive topics such as sexual health and HIV. In addition, edutainment events (also referred to as community-wide events) include concerts, street theatre, film viewings, and sports events. The programme also uses radio shows and public service announcements to share TWC messages.
Another critical strategy - improving NRCSs' ability to manage and expand youth HIV prevention programmes - is accomplished through formal trainings, individual coaching, systems development, and the dissemination of best practices. Focus areas include volunteer management, curriculum adaptation, monitoring and evaluation, interpersonal communication and community mobilisation techniques, and establishing accurate and agile management information systems.
Organisers report that the "Scaling Up Together We Can" project has exceeded its annual objective of numbers of individuals trained and youth reached, meeting 142% of the youth reached objective and 118% of individuals trained. During the annual reporting period (October 1 2008 - September 30 2009), several key accomplishments were identified:
- The project expanded and moved to new areas in both Haiti and Tanzania to fill gaps in youth prevention outreach in high-prevalence areas. In one of the 4 new sites in Shinyanga, Tanzania, the TWC project will comprise the prevention portion of an integrated prevention, care, and support programme for people living with HIV (PLHIV) and orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs).
- Project tools underwent a thorough adaptation - specifically, the TWC curriculum, Adult/Youth curriculum, and the Take Home Brochure in Tanzania. "Testament to a successful process, the adapted Haiti curriculum was selected (along with one other) as a model from which a consortium determining a nationally standardized health curriculum will extract portions for integration into a standardized school curriculum on health."
- With follow-up activities underway in all 3 countries, and now equipped with a follow-up intervention development and content guide, the TWC teams are working on improving their relevance and responsiveness to local needs.
- The TWC programme developed the tools and determined the sites for free condom distribution in Haiti, and distributed its first condoms. The Guyana Red Cross Society (GRCS) also resumed condom distribution.
- The project continued to share expertise - including monitoring and evaluation systems and adaptation tools - among NGO partners, including the GRCS. TWC also offered training and programmatic assistance to an ARC chapter and the Curacao Red Cross to develop and support their programmes. The programme developed and set in motion concrete plans to increase the likelihood of sustaining project activities as well as project-developed resources. To support this, a qualitative end-of-project evaluation (the project is slated to end on June 30 2010) will capture contributions and share lessons learned. This evaluation will employ focus group discussions and key informant interviews.
Youth InfoNet 67, May 3 2010.