Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Mara Diocese Set to Tackle Gender Based Violence

THE Serengeti "We Can Live Without HIV/AIDS and Gender Based Violence and Female Genital Mutilation," is a new programme that aims to reduce gender based violence and HIV/AIDS in 12 villages in Serengeti District, Mara Region.

The project is under the Anglican Church, Mara Diocese and will tackle harmful traditional practices such as Female Genital Mutilation.

Early this week, the Programme Manager, Ms Rhobi Samweli granted an interview to the 'Daily News' and spoke to our writer Mugini Jacob and explained what the programme is all about and expected outcomes. Below are excerpts from the interview:-

Kindly share with us the background of your programme?

Our programme was initiated a year ago by the Anglican Church under Mara Diocese. This is the first project run by the Diocese that is addressing gender based violence in addition to HIV and AIDs. Gender based violence is still a big problem in Serengeti district especially in rural areas.

Girls and women undergo Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and there are still

cases of woman to woman marriages. Unfortunately the FGM practice accompanied by big celebrations in the targeted villages.

What is the major aim of the programme?

Our major aim is to sensitise the population and help them understand the dangers of gender based violence in a bid to reduce it and in the long term wipe it out. We also want to create awareness on HIV and AIDs. The project aims at empowering women income generating activities. Men are eqaully encouraged to join these groups as the focus is gender balance.

We will start with three wards namely, Kenyamonta, Nyambureti and Ringw'ani. Our target is to reach 15,000 people of all walks of life in the 12 villages of these wards. These villages include; Mununa, Gusuhi, Maburi, Hekwe, Mesaga, Kenyamonta, Nyambureti, Majimoto, Ringw'ani, Nyamitita, Masinki and Kenyana.

How do you expect to achieve the programme objectives?

We will hold meetings for community leaders in every village, conduct road shows featuring traditional dances such as Ritungu, Rilandi and Kiborogwe to convey our messages on the effects of gender based violence and HIV and AIDs. We want the people to understand some of the cultures that increase the risk of HIV infections as well as violate the human rights of girls and women.

We will also run radio programmes that will educate listeners at the same time allowing them to give us feedback. We intend to distribute posters and booklets and conduct workshops for peer educators from every village who learn about human rights issues. Every peer educator develop a work plan and they will be required to give monthly reports. Their performance will be closely monitored by the project staff.

How will the programme be funded?

The funds are from the Rapid Fund Envelop (RFE) which falls under USAID. Q: Are there any other stakeholders? A: We will involve the community and leaders. So far we have introduced the programme to the Serengeti District Council and the District HIV/AIDS Control Committee.

From your own observation do you face any resistance from leaders in Serengeti?

Leaders in Serengeti have welcomed this project with open arms. For too long the focus of many projects has been on the effects of HIV/ AIDS without addressing gender based violence which is one of the main causes of the spread of HIV and AIDS.

What do you hope to achieve at the end of the project?

We want traditional elders, religious leaders and commuity leaders to be aware of the effects of gender based violence and we hope they will eventually be in frontline to oppose the violence. We would like to see a sharp decline in gender based violence.

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