AIDS is a major cause of death after malaria, and it is estimated that over 1 million Zambians are living with HIV/ AIDS. The epidemic has had a very devastating effect to the country at family, community and national level.
HIV/AIDS has impacted people’s productivity. Given that the vast majority of Zambians’ livelihoods are through agriculture-related employment, the epidemic has exerted a serious impact on agricultural productivity as those who are infected and bed-ridden are too weak to cultivate crops for consumption and for sale. There is thus food insecurity, nutritional deficiency, and poor income in most households for people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA). Furthermore, those that are affected by the epidemic spend time away from the fields to take care of the AIDS-patients at home or in hospitals.
There has also been an increase in the number of AIDS- orphaned children, with about 1.5 million children having lost either both or one of their parents to the epidemic. Most of these orphans have been absorbed into the extended families upon death of their parents. However, extended families have been stretched to such extremes that they are unable to cater for the daily needs of these orphans. The families are also mostly headed by the aged who do not have the muscle to provide for all the family needs. This leaves the orphans with torn-out hearts and shattered dreams, uncertain of what the future holds for them, as they are mostly unable to fend for their livelihood and educational needs.
Thus, HOPE projects aim to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS through information, education, and counselling programmes. The projects provide support to PLWHA and their families through training in positive living and economic strengthening.
The projects operate in three main lines that include health services, outreach programme, and opinion forming. Through these programme lines, the HOPE projects facilitate voluntary counselling and testing, fight stigma and discrimination, provide food supplements to the chronically ill HIV/AIDS patients, provide direct support to orphans and vulnerable children, and reinforce networking between the local health structures and people who are HIV positive to thereby assist in the treatment of opportunistic infections such as TB.
Through the positive living training, the projects promote nutritional gardening and home hygiene and campaign against gender-based violence.
HOPE projects also strengthen the economies for people living with HIV and AIDS through mobilisation of support groups to engage in various income generating activities. The projects provide pass-on loans of livestock and grants to support the nutritional needs for people living with HIV. TB Treatment Supporters and ART Adherence Supporters are also provided with revolving loans in order to support their livelihood as they provide care to the infected.
Members of the support groups are trained in livestock management and in business entrepreneurship and management in order for them to efficiently run their small businesses and to boost their income.
Besides working with support groups, ART Advocates and TB Treatment Supporters, the projects also work with youths, health centres and civil society organisations in order to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, to involve and raise the capacity of the communities to fight the epidemic and to care for people living with HIV and their families.
The first HOPE project started in Ndola in 1996. HOPE Ndola is now a well-established project where we have gained a lot of experiences in running programmes to assist those living with HIV and to fight the spread of the virus.
The HOPE projects play a critical role in providing support and education regarding HIV/AIDS while facilitating increased access to needed services such as counceling testing and ART.
In 2015 DAPP implemented HOPE projects in Ndola District in Copperbelt Province, Chibombo District in Central Province and Monze District in Southern Province. The projects strengthened capacity at district levels and community structures such as the District and Community AIDS Task Forces, OVC committees and support groups. It trained and mobilized activists to take part in fighting the spread of the epidemic and in caring for those infected and affected by the epidemic.
The project focus was on training HIV positive people in positive living through support clubs by promoting ART adherence, household economic strengthening activities, planting of nutritious gardens, menu planning, improved cooking and feeding practices.
The projects in 2015 worked with 108 support groups reaching a total of 2,449 people living with HIV with services, care and support.
The projects further supported OVC in the target areas through a comprehensive and integrated approach including activities in health and nutrition, education, protection, psychosocial counselling and economic strengthening.
The HOPE project in Ndola was a community based project which fights the spread of HIV and supports communities, families and people infected with or affected by HIV, as well as those keeping Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC). The project carried out HIV prevention and care activities in 2 compounds of Ndola District through 40 support groups and in 30 schools and 2 clinics.
The project activities included counseling and testing using door-to-door approach conducted by community care givers (volunteers), referring and linking those tested positive to treatment and care services, formation of support groups and training of people who tested HIV positive in positive living measures, advocating for male circumcision and condom distribution. The volunteers supported TB/ART patients within the communities in adhering to their treatment in the project operation area. Support to targeted families was also provided through economic empowerment by linking them to micro grants and micro credit programs from financial institutions.
The HOPE Chibombo Project worked with communities to stop the spread of HIV and to give support to people infected and affected by the HIV virus, as well as those keeping Orphans and Vulnerable Children. The project carried out HIV prevention and care activities in the whole of Chibombo district.
Activities conducted include counseling and testing using door-to-door approach. This was conducted by community care givers (volunteers), referring and linking those tested positive to treatment and care services, formation of support groups and training of people who tested HIV positive in positive living measures, advocating for male circumcision and condom distribution. The volunteers supported Tuberculosis and Anti Retro viral Treatment patients within the communities in adhering to their treatment in the project operation area. Support to targeted families was also provided through economic empowerment by supporting them with vegetable and agriculture inputs, and small livestock.
HOPE-Chibombo is working in close cooperation with other stakeholders in the district and communities who are members of the District AIDS Task Forces and spearheads activities within the community.
Hope Monze project was implemented Monze district in Southern Province of Zambia. The project worked with communities to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS and support communities, families and people infected and affected with HIV as well as those keeping Orphans and Vulnerable Children. In 2015, the project worked in 2 wards (Ufwenuka and Chisekesi) reaching out to 1,459 registered Orphans and Vulnerable Children, and 683 People Living with HIV/AIDS.