Ethiopia: Combating HIV and AIDS Stigma and Discrimination through Grassroots Community-Based Capacity Building
Rift Valley Initiative for Rural Advancement (RIRA), Ethiopia
Research in two rural villages of Fantale districts‟, East Showa, Oromia region in Ethiopia reveals rampant misinformation about HIV and AIDS as well as a prevalence of stigma and discrimination directed towards people living with the virus. Numerous factors including poverty, mobility and inadequate knowledge predispose pastoralist people to the risk of HIV infection. The grassroots community‟s capacity to effectively engage in a sustained fight against HIV, stigma and its effects is underdeveloped considering the lack of support for people living with HIV and AIDS, lack of peer educators and community counsellors. RIRA has developed this project based on a belief of the need to address stigma and discrimination and create an enabling environment. The project will build the capacity of religious and community leaders to engage the communities in fighting stigma and discrimination. Advocacy and lobbying will help reduce the "felt stigma" of the infected, including discrimination within their families and the community. The project will encourage a greater involvement of people living with HIV and AIDS in their communities as stigma decreases and their rights to work, share and interact are upheld. RIRA is a non-profit organisation initially established in 2005 as the Needy Agro Pastoralist Development Association and later registered as an Ethiopian Resident Charity under its present name in 2010. RIRA works on several issues affecting pastoralist communities, including fulfilling the need for community-based HIV and AIDS prevention, support and care.
Mr Abdi Ahmed