On Tuesday, I traveled with the Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) Officer at St. Francis, Paul, to a meeting at the District Headquarters in Buikwe. It was the driver, Paul, and myself riding together on a motorcycle. The ride took about 40 min over paved and then semi-flattened dirt roads. Something I don’t really wish to repeat after getting beaten up on my backside from the bumps.
The purpose of the meeting was to introduce a project that was being implemented by a local NGO called Program for Accessible health, Communication and Education, or PACE. The NGO is actually an affiliate to Population Services International (PSI) which is a US-based NGO. Along with St. Francis, there were two other Community-based Organizations (CBOs) present, as well as representatives from the District office. The program they wanted to implement is a District-wide, community-based effort to target the Most At Risk Populations (MARPS). The goal they want to achieve is to “reduce the incidence rate of HIV by 40% by 2012”. The area they are targeting covers three sub-counties and the target population is about 80,000 people. To accomplish this, they are desiring to work with the three CBOs present to conduct various activities in the community including: mass condom distribution, HIV couple counseling, male circumcision, female condoms delivered to sex workers, child/school education, and HIV+ people receiving a basic care package (BCP) which contains: mosquito nets, household water treatment solution, water filter, condoms, and health info on HIV transmission prevention. The program technically started in January 2011 but they only received the funding just this month! The project is scheduled to end next June as well!
I have some reservations about achieving such a huge goal in such a short time. Changing the behaviors of an entire area population in a year cannot be easy. I was told later that the other two CBOs have very small staffs – one has only six people! I am wondering how this very aggressive effort can be pulled off since many things still need to occur before work can begin. For instance, the Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) have not been signed, nor has the staff training begun, nor has the funding been arranged! In addition, the funding and reports are to move through the District offices for coordination for the first time. This is something new which could add some bureaucratic issues and delays. I do understand the theory though since previously, many NGOs would be funded directly with or without the knowledge of the District offices.