6 April 2012

Tanzania: Fighting HIV and Aids At Mara Mines


Tarime — THE Lake Zone Health and Economic Development Initiative ( LAZHEDI) is a programme that fights poverty, HIV and AIDS in communities surrounding the North Mara Gold Mine in Tarime District.

The three-year programme is being implemented by Africare, under the sponsorship of African Barrick Gold in joint co-operation with the USAID through the Tanzania Chamber of Minerals and Energy (TCME). The Africare KAYA, Chief of Party, Ms Ranahnah Afriye, granted an exclusive interview with our writer MUGINI JACOB on the role of LAZHEDI in addressing these issues. The following are excerpts from the interview:-

Q: Please tell us something about Africare?

A: Africare is an international NGO based in the United States in Washington DC and has been working in Tanzania since 1994. We cover health, HIV and AIDS issues. In 2009 we implemented a programme called KAYA, a community care initiative. It is a home based care programme funded by Centre for Disease Control (CDC).

Q: What are you doing in Tarime District?

A: Late last year we initiated a new programme called the Lake Zone Health and Economic Development Initiative (LAZHEDI). It is funded by USAID together with African Barrick Gold (ABG). The grantee is the Tanzania Chamber of Minerals and Energy (TCME) and Africare is the sub grantee of that initiative.

Q: What are the major aims of LAZHEDI?

A: Small scale mining communities are particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and this intervention aims at providing health services within communities surrounding North Mara Mine. The intervention aims to reach individuals both at the health facilities as well as in the communities.

Within the health facilities we will provide HIV voluntary counselling and testing services, prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT)services for expectant mothers as well as ensuring that when anyone goes to a health facility they test for HIV and AIDs as well. The major aim of this programme is to contain the high prevalence of HIV and AIDS specifically at sites surrounding the mine as well as managing the high rate of transmission of STIs.

We will be doing community intervention and conduct door to door education prevention that will ensure that people at household levels receive adequate education on HIV/AIDS reduction and on the importance of accessing health services and safe delivery of babies at existing health facilities.

Q: How did Africare end up implementing this new programme?

A: As I said at the beginning, Africare has been working in Tanzania since 1994 and we have a proven strategy on how we engage communities in the work we do. I think TCME were looking for partner that would be able to help them integrate their services.

When TCME approached us they were interested in our work in collaboration with Tarime district council. I think that the fact is our work was already recognised and acknowledged within the community.

Q. What is so unique with LAZHEDI?

A. One thing that is most important is that the programme is a public private partnership, between the US government, African Barrick Gold as private sector partner and Tarime District Council. The US government as well as the government of Tanzania ensured it was a partnership that would deliver sustainable services. From the very beginning we were planned together with Tarime District Council Health Management Team (CHMT) on how this programme could work so as to to address the gaps in communities.

Q: How long will the programme run and what are the expected results when the programme comes to end?

A: This is a three-year programme and we expect to see a number of results. We expect to see more individuals and couples testing for HIV and actually picking up their results. We are also looking at the availability of services for expectant mothers and ensure that more expectant mothers access maternal and child services at health facilities.

We would like to see more people accessing to health services. We want to ensure that household incomes are increased and one of the expected outcomes here is to see people linked to market opportunities in Tarime district and specifically in the seven villages around the Mine.

Q: Briefly explain how LAZHEDI is going to help to increase household income in the villages?

A: As mentioned before, the two major streams of the programme, are the health service implementation as well as health service quality improvement and economic strengthening. The second is economic development.

We will work closely with representatives from District Council to map the markets that are available in the villages . We will liaise with a number of community groups including artisanal mining cooperatives, to as to identify individuals who are willing to engage in economic strengthening activities.

Q: What is your message to communities living near North Mara Gold Mine?

A:Most of all I would like to say is that they should take ownership of the programme. Africare works with the community and I really request both the target population and local government to see LAZHEDI as a programme that covers the needs which have already been identified by the communities themselves.

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