Coast Development Authority (CDA) implemented the “Kenya UN Joint Programme of Support on HIV and AIDS” project in the Kwale site in partership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO- Kenya office. The project funds were provided by FAO and were in two phases for the old and new groups after signing the Letter of Agreement (LoA). For the old groups (Phase I), CDA was allocated USD 40,000 (exchange rate of USD 1 : Ksh 75) and a top up of 20,000 (exchange rate of USD 1 : Ksh 80) was provided for the new / Phase II when there was increased demand for support from the community translating to a total of Ksh 4,600,000.00.
In seeking food based interventions to fighting HIV/AIDS the project utilized the sustainable and practicable group approach known as ‘Farmer Field and Life School’ (FFLS) and ‘Junior Farmer Field and Life School’ (JFFLS) approach. Whereas FFS focuses on farmers to empower the community by helping them to identify their own problems and implementable solutions in the farming sector with or without help from outside the FFLS and JFFLS go beyond that and include human ecology and thus farmers’ overall livelihoods. In the FFS, farmers analyse the root causes of their problems through Agro-Eco System Analysis (AESA) while in J/FFLS, they analyse the factors in life and the inter relations among the factors referred to as Human-Eco System Analysis (HESA). They combine both practical agriculture and promote life skills in order to diversify livelihoods in the context of HIV/AIDS so as to prevent new HIV infections and mitigate the socio-economic impacts of AIDS through discovery based learning and active problem-solving. In the FFLS and JFFLS the participants are sensitised on HIV/AIDS, gender issues, nutrition and IGAs while combining both agricultural and life skills.
A total of 35 groups (20 old, 15 new) distributed in the larger Kwale, have been participating in the project through the JFFLS and FFLS approach of technology transfer (disagregated as 12 old & 8 new JFFLS; 8 old & 7 new FFLS) with an average membership of 40 members (youths or adults) per group. The major goal of the JFFLS (youths focused approach) is to empower vulnerable youths with gender equal attitudes while giving them livelihood options and long term food security but also by developing their capacity to critically assess relationships and links to understand risks and resources so as to minimize their vulnerability to destitution and risky coping strategies within their community (Djeddah et al. 2008).
This project was expected to achieve 4 outputs namely:
- Farmers Field and Life Schools and Junior Farmers Field and Life Schools established and fully functioning;
- Awareness and knowledge of basic livelihoods, agricultural and life skills with particular focus on HIV/AIDS transmission and prevention; sound nutrition practices, life skills; gender vulnerabilities among the target beneficiaries increased;
- Ability to engage in and effectively manage income generating activities and sustainable livelihoods (entrepreneurship, small-business management skills) through FFLS improved;
- Coordination and documentation of HIV/AIDS activities improved.
Among the activities implemented include direct supprot to the groups in form of farm inputs (for an enterprise of choice), a grant and technical expertise through collaborations. A Training Of Facilitators was conducted followed by refresher courses so as to ensure the outputs are achieved. Trainings of group participants in basic HIV/AIDS knowledge, nutrition, labour saving technologies, leadership and conflict resolution skills and enterprenuership skills were organised by the group facilitators on weekly basis with backstopping from CDA. Field /Health Action Days were organised by the J/FFLS where the participants passed the knowledge and skills learned to the wider community.
A pool of 30 trained facilitators was created in the region for sustainability of the programme. A total of 35 (J/FFLS) composed of the vulnerable, youths or adults as well as PLWHA are operational. Exchange visits were promoted so that participants learn from one another. The participants grasped the agricultural and life skills and this was evident when each of the groups conducted a Field / Health Action Day and. By the end of the learning cycle, most of the participating children in the JFFLS who were initially withdrawn and timid start to open up, were openely interacting with the facilitators and other children after increasingly building confidence and self esteem. A total of 424 participants disaggregated as shown in the table below accessed the VCT services during the FHAD held. This was a great breakthrough for this project against the monster of stigma and silence on AIDS matters in the community.