Action Aid impressed with girls empowerment: Shield against HIV, violence

Action Aid Malawi, one of the principal recipients for the Joint TB/HIV Global Fund, has expressed satisfaction with some of the organisations to which it disburses the Global Fund resources, saying they are implementing programs that really economically empower adolescent girls and young women in the country to reduce their risks of contracting HIV due to poverty.

Erik Schousten, holding the mic, with other members of CCM and Action Aid officials
The girls spoke out during the interface

Family Planning Association of Malawi (FPAM) and Plan International are some of the organisations undertaking one such project in Lilongwe’s Area 25 through Malembo Community Based Organization (CBO).

The project targets adolescent girls and young women aged between 14 and 25 with economic empowerment skills, sexual reproductive health rights services and HIV and AIDS prevention interventions.

Malawi’s HIV prevalence rate is one of the highest in the Sub Saharan region and efforts such as those being implemented by FPAM, Plan International and Malembo CBO, are said to be helping in reducing further spread of the virus in the country, especially among the younger generation.

The Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM)-a local committee of NGO and Government officials charged with oversight checks and balances in the implementation of Global Fund projects, had an interface meeting with Action Aid, FPAM, Plan International, Malembo CBO and community members at Wuliyani village in area 25 and said they were impressed with the adolescent girls and young women project.

In her remarks, Head of Fundraising and Communication at Action Aid Malawi, Tiwonge Kumwenda, expressed happiness that the project is producing the much needed results, saying the development calls for even more impactful interventions.

“This is a cross-cutting project and really empowering to the girls to address the root causes of HIV infections and gender based violence,” she said.

The girls and young women, who belong to 70 clubs operating under Malembo CBO, manufacture door mats, moppers and several other household items that they sell to earn money which they use to buy their basic needs.

The implementers hope to reach out to so many girls and young women with the project, giving them expertise and resources to manage the income generating activities.

One of the girls, Rachel Nali, confessed that the project has really empowered her that she is now able to deny men who want to abuse her.

“I am financially independent. Through the economic activities I do at my club, I earn enough money to buy my basic needs. I no longer rely on my parents or bother anyone else with demands,” said Rachel.

The CCM interface meeting in Wuliyani village was just the beginning of the committee’s tour of Global Fund projects across the country in routine monitoring on the delivery of the projects.

During the tour, CCM will also establish gaps in the implementation of the projects and seek ways of how best these would be improved.

Leader of delegation for the committee, Erik Schousten, said the adolescent girls and young women project in area 25 is a good initiative and promised that they would recommend to Global Fund to increase financial resources to the project.

“However, it is the duty of the community members and beneficiaries to see to it that these funds from Global Fund are being really put to good use as is the case here,” Schousten told the gathering.

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