UNDP botswana provides US$ 75,000 from UB40 concert to support Civil Society initiatives

Tuesday, 22 June 2004: This month the UNDP Botswana donated funds from a UB40 concert to assist HIV/AIDS organizations to fight the epidemic.

In 2001 the worldwide famous rock group UB40 staged a special concert in their hometown of Birmingham to celebrate their 21st Anniversary. Part of the concert proceeds was intended to benefit HIV/AIDS interventions by civil society organizations.

As a result of an invitation to UB40 to join the United Nations' ongoing campaign to stop the alarming spread of HIV/AIDS, the group has released an amount of US$ 75,000 [seventy-five thousand dollars] from the proceeds of that concert, to UNDP Botswana to disburse to deserving organizations in the area of HIV/AIDS.

During the month of June, the Resident Representative, Mr Bjørn Førde, visited a number of villages and towns to disburse the funds to beneficiary organizations most of which are orphan care givers. In all a total of seven organizations benefited from an amount of US$ 10570.00, each.

"UNDP is committed to working with Civil Society Organizations as development partners", said the UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Bjørn Førde, when disbursing the funds, adding that: "hey are important development agents, especially in confronting social problems. No country can deliver community services efficiently without CSO involvement, hence there is need for governments to form strategic partnership with CSO for the betterment of their people".

He indicated that so many things relating to HIV/AIDS couldn't be handled and tackled by government alone. UNDP believes very strongly in a strong and vibrant civil society, able to attend to problems at grassroots level, he said.

Receiving the cheque in Maun, northwestern Botswana, where the Maun Counseling Center will use the donation to strengthen/support their ongoing community outreach and sensitization programmes, District Commissioner, Mrs Hobona thanked UNDP for "coming directly to the grassroots," and assured the Resident Representative that the money will be put to good use. The Centre also intends to start orphan care programmes in the outlaying areas particularly in Gomare, which is their satellite settlement.

Other beneficiary organizations will use their money to continue with their campaign programmes while others will start income-generating projects such as bakeries and vegetable gardens.

UNDP regards civil society organizations as partners who are complimenting whatever development efforts government provides to its citizenry. They are run by people who deal with problems at grassroots level on a daily basis.

Therefore there is no better placed authority than them to articulate and understand local problems and needs. And there is a need for government to clarify how and how much civil society should be funded from national budgets.

Benefiting organizations were:

Nkaikela Youth Group in Tlokweng
The group is made up of young women from Tlokweng and the neighboring settlements in the outskirts of Gaborone. It started way back in 1998 with a membership of 17 ladies, five of whom later succumbed to HIV/AIDS. Nkaikela is an initiative to get commercial sex workers away from the street and engage them in some income generating activities. Currently the group has a vegetable garden and candle-making projects.

Funds from UNDP/UB40 collaboration will be used to train a youth group in Maruapula and also to embark on a campaign to promote condom use among truck drivers and sex workers in and around Tlokweng. They will also use the funds to train Nkaikela members to further empower them with knowledge and survival skills.

Itoseng Banana in Palapye
The project was formed in April 1999, in order to mobilise young women who frequented bars and were involved in risky behaviour of commercial sex work. The group is involved in poultry, bee keeping, and gardening projects. The produce from the poultry project and gardening are used to support families with Home Based Care patients. This substitutes the families' income and food basket. The group has a strong community education that targets the public at bars and other places were people congregate. They distribute condoms and pamphlets with HIV and AIDS messages.

The objectives of the project are: to provide peer education and support to young people; to develop some income generating activities; to participate in community development projects to improve the status of families and the general community.

Funds from UNDP/UB40 collaboration will be used to purchase bakery equipment to enable them to produce about 300 loaves of bread a day as their maximum. They started the bakery project with assistance from Women's Affairs Department but are now stuck with start up funds for equipment, ingredients and shelter to cover the oven.

House of Hope in Palapye
The center opened officially in 1999 to care for orphans, most of whom were HIV/AIDS victims. Objectives of the center focus on four main interventions of: Information, Education and Communication; Home-based care; Orphan welfare; Income-generating initiatives. The first project undertaken by House of Hope was the establishment of a day care center with an enrolment of 38 orphans. To date the center deals with some sixty (60) orphans at pre-school stage, where they spend the day to be cared for. The Serowe/Palapye District Multi-Sectoral AIDS Committee initiated House of Hope and handed it over to the Palapye community in 2002. In addition to caring for orphans there are some 25 People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) who spend the day at the center and undertake some chores like gardening to keep themselves busy.

Currently House of Hope has in the pipeline plans to build a center for orphans under two years, out-of-school orphans and a support group of PLWHAs where they could be given basic survival skills, spiritual and psychological support. For its day-to-day operations the center depends on community contributions and support.

Funds from UNDP/UB40 collaboration will be used to assist House of Hope in their empowerment programmes. They will use the funds to train People Living with HIV/AIDS to give them life skills so that they graduate from the centre to set up their own income-generating ventures.

Maun Couseling Centre in Maun
Maun Counseling Day Care Center was established in 1999 as a means to support orphans and their extended families that are in desperate circumstances. The children are provided with food, care and support in their physical, mental, moral, emotional and social development while still remaining part of their extended families. Regular visits from the day care center workers will support extended families in caring for orphans through counseling, food and clothing assistance. The extended family will be involved in the center's childcare through regular meetings and discussions. The Centre is part of Botswana Christian AIDS Intervention Programme (BOCAIP).

The centre's main objectives are: To provide care for children in need who are suffering from a lack of nutrition, care and attention; To enhance the physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual development of the child through daily care; To develop close links with the orphans extended family and provide support through counseling and material assistance.

Presently there are 50 children attending the Maun Counseling Center Day Care Center, of ages 2-6 years. These kids are predominantly HIV/AIDS orphans. But the center also cares for other vulnerable children who need psychosocial support. In addition to caring for orphans the Maun Counseling Centre has a programme for assisting and counseling People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHWAs). These people visit the centtre about three times in a week.

The money from this donation will be used to strengthen/support their ongoing community outreach and sensitization programmes. They would also like to start orphan care programmes in the outlaying areas particularly in Gumare which is their satellite settlement.

Gantsi Craft in Gantsi
Gantsi Craft Trust exists to assist San communities to secure a brighter future through creating income and employment opportunities in the settlements where they reside. Gantsi Craft promotes the cultural identity of the producers through raising public awareness of San culture and upholding the San Craft sector through capacity building, technical training & awareness building strategies. Gantsi Craft seeks to contribute to the empowerment of San communities to take charge of their own development. Gantsi Craft was established in 1983.  It was the first NGO of its kind, promoting craft marketing for the benefit of craft producers in the remote, rural settlements of the Gantsi District.

Today, Gantsi Craft serves 15 settlements within the Ghanzi and Kalahari Districts. Within each Gantsi Craft facilitates producer training workshops, thus assisting the producers with quality, product development, marketing, and logistics to wholesale the craft to retailers. Importantly, craft development is not our only focus. Gantsi Craft utilises the opportunity to engage with the producers, to educate and talk with them about issues of concern, HIV/AIDS most importantly. Gantsi Craft sets aside significant time within our workshop structure to discuss with and, therefore, raise participant awareness and understanding of HIV/AIDS. By doing so we seek to empower the San Communities to take control of their own development, their own lives and their own destiny.

With a view to achieving the highest possible standard and to ensure our participants gain the optimum from our presence with them in their communities, Gantsi Craft staff regularly attend HIV/AIDS training workshops and information sessions. This allows them to not only extend on their knowledge regarding the virus/disease, but also assists them to facilitate and educate with greater effectiveness.

They will use funds from this donation to sustain their outreach programme to the outlaying areas of Ghanzi. They will continue to raise awareness and levels of education regarding HIV/AIDS, the way it is transmitted, how to avoid it and means of living with the virus/disease.

Gantsi Christian AIDS Committee
Ghanzi Christian AIDS Committee (GCAC) is a committee comprising of various churches in Ghanzi who is also a member of Ghanzi DMSAC. The committee was formed in conjunction with Ghanzi DMSAC to organize the large number of churches in the area into one body to work together in HIV/AIDS activities. The committee is seen as very viable and sustainable as well. Their initiative is to offer couselling not only for HIV/AIDS but for other problems that are associated with HIV/AIDS.

The money from this donation will be used to purchase a caravan/portacamp to be used as a shelter where they will provide counseling services. The Committee intends to ultimately set up a counseling center along the same lines as the Maun Counseling Centre. This will empower committee members to use their counseling and leadership skills within the community to reach a greater number of people.

Tshireletso AIDS Awareness Center
Tshireletso AIDS Awareness Center is a voluntary community based organization that exists to provide multipurpose responses to orphans and other children in need in the community. It does this in partnership with all stakeholders by mobilizing the community around orphanhood. It aims to develop its capacity so as to deliver a broad based education and prevention programme in the community and to provide quality services to orphans in the following areas: spiritual and psycho-social couselling and support; nutrition and feeding; fostering an appreciation for formal education by providing a pre-school and sponsoring other children for further education; practical life skills and income generation opportunities through its environmental and horticultural activities, bakery and other handicrafts; sporting and recreational activities that take children away from the streets.

Funds from UNDP/UB40 collaboration will be used to strengthen their income-generating projects such as arts and crafts and gardening. They will also wish to use part of the funds to record their repertoire of songs so that they can sell CDs for the dual purpose of generating income as well as disseminating information on HIV/AIDS. They will also use these funds for their administrative work.

For more information contact Marx Garekwe