To develop strategic and scientific approaches in tackling the root causes of direct & structured violence that result in the creation of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. AREA is also involved in practical approaches to Refugee & IDP situations in Nigeria & Africa as whole.
Our emphasis will focus on amongst other activities, Peace Education, Artistic Presentations, Community Participatory Initiatives and Publications aimed at promoting and developing local integration.
Our Facilitating Development initiative seeks to amongst other aims
Find solutions to challenges, without a per-established influencing agenda, Develop a process whereby an ability to recruit local or locally experienced volunteers and staff, knowledgeable about specific community development initiatives in the Health, Education and Welfare spheres is apparent.There is an urgent need to look at a range of possible ways of using development assistance funds that reduce their harmful impacts on country institutions and explore fresh avenues for constructive engagement. In this context, it seems important that there must exist, a new breed of development support organizations that are geared to addressing challenges of these sorts in order to reach a common goal. That goal is what we are presenting here today.
It is too early to expect robust evaluation results that would allow us to judge how much of an impact this initiative will have but we are confident that current trends globally seek to reinforce its efficacy. It was thought initially that a feature of the core model might be an ability to recruit local or locally experienced staff on long-term contracts. Effective facilitation work can be done, it seems, by very different sorts of people, and the particular knowledge and skills that count seem to be activity-specific and quite diverse. We have simplified the format for Community based Organizations, local development agencies and small grass root enthusiasts to be part of this movement.
Millions of people throughout Africa remain the victims of protracted crisis, limited resources, social exclusion and broken infrastructures, limiting their possibilities of achieving self reliance. Thus it is imperative that durable solutions be achieved, through developing the capacities of individuals, communities, local organizations, institutions and governments. Only in this way can people truly benefit from humanitarian protection and assistance.
To this end, AHA runs a broad range of capacity development programs, addressing the varying needs of diverse groups of people across Africa. Be it training community health workers in Ethiopia, rehabilitating dams in Sudan or initiating agro-forestry programs in Namibia AHA works to strengthen the capacities of affected populations, promoting self reliance in order to realise effective and long lasting change.
The task cannot be achieved alone and requires engaged and enthusiastic community participation and leadership, along with strong and effective partnerships. For this reason each of our programs is unique to its community, designed, implemented and owned by the people it seeks to empower. Activities build upon
the strengths of a population and are integrated, as far as possible, into existing community infrastructures.
In order to empower a population to realize its own potential AHA seeks to deliver information, education and communication (IEC), hand in hand with practical assistance. Our IEC program is far reaching and socially inclusive, providing information, offering educational opportunities/training, and raising awareness/sensitizing people to important issues. Activities see us working together with both the young and old, disempowered and powerful, running workshops, training sessions, campaigning, supporting action/support groups and establishing new ones where required.
AHA’s services extend beyond the provision of just advice and training, to guiding individuals and organizations through all of the necessary steps to achieve sustainable results. Drawing on the skills and abilities of affected populations, AHA recruits 99% of our staff from the communities in which we work. In this way our programs benefit from essential local knowledge and understanding, whilst the gains of increased employment, opportunity and professional development are ploughed back into a community.
Complementary to AHA’s IEC programs is our work in practically assisting affected populations; ensuring communities have the necessary tools and resources to sustain healthy living. We can often be found rehabilitating and constructing schools, health centers, vocational training centers, dams, irrigation systems, nurseries and agricultural facilities. Micro-loans are provided, following training programs, to those wishing to develop their economic capacities and start up small businesses. Common enterprises include cooking, gardening, tailoring, knitting, soap-making and hairdressing, amongst other things.
For development to be effective, strengthening the structures, services and programs of local institutions, organisations and governments is critical. Towards this end AHA supports communities in developing good governance, popular participation, equality, accountability, peer reviewing and effective management, leading to better service provision, stronger coping mechanisms and increased opportunity. In doing so we seek to reinforce existing structures, integrate new improved services and support innovative measures. In this way communities are empowered to achieve their own developmental goals, sustain improved living and further
Addressing Physical, Mental and Social Well being
Health is increasingly seen as a key aspect of human security, as diseases linked to poverty accelerate societal breakdown. The World Health Organization states that “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”
AHA places special emphasis on investing in health to reduce poverty through addressing the physical, mental and social wellbeing of vulnerable populations. At the heart of our work is community based healthcare, where assisted populations are both partners in and beneficiaries of the services we deliver. We not only care for affected populations but also seek to empower them, by supporting individual health needs and providing training and employment to community health workers. We recruit local doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff and train community members to deliver education and support services. Through building the capacity of a community to serve its own needs, we enable people to achieve self reliance and sustainable outcomes.
AHA also plays an active role in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Global Health Cluster, working at both international and country levels as part of the Cluster Leadership Approach, with WHO as the lead agency.
In providing the following services AHA seeks to deliver holistic care to those who need it and make lasting improvements to devastated healthcare systems:
Primary Healthcare: AHA provides basic preventative and curative services, with a focus on the most vulnerable: children, women, and the elderly.
Mental Healthcare: Affected populations can undergo highly traumatic experiences as a result of crisis, having an adverse effect on their mental health at varying levels. It is established that an average of more than 50% of refugees present mental health problems ranging from chronic mental disorders to trauma, distress, and a great deal of suffering. Thus AHA has integrated mental health care throughout our services, identifying and treating mental health problems and providing psychological support services.
Maternal and Child Healthcare: Maternal and child healthcare is integral to AHA health services, positively impacting on child and maternal morbidity and mortality rate, lessening the impact of disease and contributing to poverty alleviation. As such, AHA provides mass immunizations, well-child clinics, prevention of mother to child transmission and training for midwives and traditional birth attendants to reduce maternal and child mortality.
Reproductive Healthcare: It is the right of every man and woman to be informed about and have access to appropriate reproductive healthcare services and to h
ave a responsible and safe sex life, healthy pregnancy, and safe childbirth. Therefore AHA delivers a full range of services, to promote better reproductive health, awareness, and understanding. Services include but are not limited to: information, education and communication; distribution of contraceptives; health clinics; births attended by skilled health personnel; testing HIV/AIDS mother-to-child transmission; sexually transmitted diseases and community support services.
Nutrition Services: Working closely with the World Food Programs, AHA provides vulnerable populations with the necessary food and non-food items, nutritional and growth monitoring education, supplementary and therapeutic feeding programs, counselling services and home visits for the vulnerable.
HIV/AIDS: Sub-Saharan Africa has just over 10% of the world’s population; but is home to more than 65% of all people living with HIV, with about 32.9 million cases. Recognising the huge effects of HIV on individuals as well as society as a whole, AHA provides communities with a broad spectrum of medical support and care services, along with information, communication, and education. Our services include: diagnosis, treatment and prevention of sexually transmitted infections and opportunistic infections, as well as training for HIV/AIDS car
etakers, distribution of appropriate drug therapies, and public education.
Malaria: This disease continues to exert a heavy toll on African populations, particularly children under the age of five years and pregnant women. AHA works to ensure that affected populations have access to preventive and curative interventions by providing mosquito nets, treatment, education, sensitization, and monitoring.
Sexual and Gender-based Violence (SGBV): AHA’s programme for SGBV aims at reducing the incidence of SGBV and ensuring the well-being of SGBV survivors. Our services target women and girls who have been subject to or who are vulnerable to SGBV. We work across the board with different communities including, refugees, IDPs, returnees and local populations, applying a multi-sectoral approach to the many challenges SGBV presents, increasing awareness, and establishing treatment protocols.
Safe Water and Sanitation: AHA works to promote the quality and quantity of water in communities, along with good hygiene and a clean and healthy environment. Activities include sensitization, education, monitoring, management, rehabilitation, and construction of water and sanitation facilities.
Health Education and Traning: The provision of health education and training is central to AHA’s delivery of healthcare, as the best means of empowering and supporting affected populations to achieve sustainable solutions to the challenges they face. Therefore we focus on providing technical support, catalysing change, and building sustainable institutional capacity. Activities see us working together with young and old, to provide opportunities to raise awareness, sensitize, educate, share knowledge and skills, develop abilities, and increase employment.
Fighting HIV/AIDS and other contagious disease is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which aim to halve poverty and broadly improve welfare by the year 2015. Yet, this global pandemic has continuously led to as many deaths as those caused by conflict and natural disaster, thereby hampering development.
Currently an estimated 22 million people including about 1.9 million people who were newly infected with HIV in 2007 live with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. In other words, two thirds (67%) of the global total of 32.9 million people with HIV live in this region and three quarters (75%) of all AIDS deaths occur within African continent.
When people are displaced from their country of origin or within the borders of their respective country, their lives are overturned, social norms are disrupted and access to basic needs becomes difficult. This has an enormous effect on their lives and the lives of host communities, often bringing a sense of powerlessness, poverty, and social instability. In such a context the risk of sexually transmitted infection and HIV/AIDS is exacerbated, as people can lack the information, preventatives, treatment, care and support that they need. Moreover, without having a political voice, displaced populations are easily targeted by the virulent prejudice and stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. According to UNHCR, “the ravages of the HIV epidemic in the refugee camps in terms of social and medical consequences and its death toll outweigh those of any other single disease.”
However this situation is avoidable if the right services are put in place and populations sensitised and equipped to battle the disease.
HIV is a biological entity that is responsive to medical interventions, but the epidemic has continued to expand, largely due to the failure to tackle societal conditions that increase HIV risk and vulnerability. Therefore, AHA works towards solving societal factors that affect HIV risk and vulnerability, including gender inequality and the lack of empowerment of women and girls, discrimination, stigma, and social marginalization.
AHA is dedicated to providing the necessary information and services to enable and empower vulnerable communities to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS. Prevention and community mobilization are key to our work and we run many programs to this end. Activities include: information, education and communication campaigns (IEC), awareness raising sessions, anti-AIDS clubs, peer education programs, sensitisation campaigns, youth programs, and condom distribution. To compliment such activities we produce outreach materials, set up resource centres, and host events and support outreach activities such as drama, poetry and music presentations.
As a specialist in healthcare AHA provides communities with a broad spectrum of medical, support and care services, recognizing the physical, social and psychological effects of HIV/AIDS. We promote and deliver voluntary counselling and testing, prevention of mother to child transmission, reproductive health services, necessary STI/HIV/AIDS treatment, medical referrals and home based care. We believe that people with AIDS deserve to live as healthy and positive a life as possible and work with individuals and communities to achieve this goal. We run numerous programs for people living with AIDS, providing training for home based carers (often family members), supporting income generating activities and promoting community awareness and understanding.
The participation of assisted populations and local/community based organizations is essential to AHA, in order to maximise the impact and sustainability of our work. For this reason much time and effort is spent on capacity development; delivering training, strengthening resources, integrating services and advocating for greater opportunity and empowerment.
Bringing African Voices to Humanitarianism
AHA’s breadth of experience, as well as local knowledge and expertise has led us to play an ever increasing role in global advocacy. We regularly take part in international humanitarian meetings, workshops, and conferences; regrettably, more often than not, as the only southern based representative.
We bring an all important African voice to the otherwise northern dominated international humanitarian field. Confident that Africans have what it takes to deal with the challenges facing the continent, we advocate for:
The development of more equitable and mutually beneficial relations between north-south humanitarian actors can only serve to improve humanitarian assistance in Africa. Most importantly it is assisted populations who are set to gain from locally sensitive and better capable indigenous NGOs, with an emphasis on participation, sustainability, and ownership.
This is especially important in the current context, as the international humanitarian community seeks to redefine itself, in order to better serve affected populations. With this in mind, AHA hopes to lay the foundations for an African-based response system, which we believe is essential to establishing efficient relief and sustained development.
Our efforts result in close working relationships with numerous local and international partners, as well as participating in numerous global networks, forums, and workshops, including among others:
The African Union:
Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
The Accountability, Learning and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP)
Civil Society Partnership Programme (CSPP)
The International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA)
People in Aid
International NGO Training and Research Center(INTRAC)
The Global Humanitarian Platform
Inter-Agency Standing Committee Global Health Cluster
AHA provides multi-sectoral support in relief and recovery to vulnerable populations throughout Africa; predominantly working with victims of forgotten and protracted crisis. In such a context, communities – in particular women and girls – face numerous challenges to securing a protective environment.
Our work in relief and recovery addresses such challenges, providing emergency assistance and sustainable development to affected populations. AHA programs are broad and varied in order to respond directly to people’s individual and multifaceted needs. In working with refugees, IDPs, and returnees across the continent, AHA can commonly be found, amongst other things, providing the following services:
Healthcare: Large population movements and resettlement can pose an increased risk to people’s health, especially those who are vulnerable. Therefore AHA works hard to provide a high standard of inclusive and easily accessible health care, with clinics, mobile health teams and community health workers servicing the needs of hundreds of thousands of people every year. Find out more about AHA Health Care.
HIV/AIDS: The disease continues to be a major killer throughout Africa, with approximately 6,000 people dying each day and millions more adversely affected. Risks are exacerbated in a refugee/displaced persons setting, where social, community and family norms that govern sexual behavior are disrupted. In response, AHA activities are diverse, holistic, and far reaching; incorporating treatment, care/support and prevention, with a heavy emphasis on the latter. In doing so, we aim to provide the necessary information and services to enable and empower vulnerable communities to mitigate the impact of the disease. Find out more about our work 0n HIV/AIDS.
Food Distribution and Nutrition: Many refugees/IDPs can find themselves forced to settle in areas that are resource scarce and/or lacking the infrastructure for food growth or provision. Therefore, AHA works to ensure all camp residents are provided with essential nutritional support. In addition, our nutrition centers offer supplementary feeding, therapeutic feeding, and basket monitoring activities, as necessary. Looking to the future, we also assist in providing sustainable measures like setting up gardens/nurseries, delivering training, providing necessary equipment, and supporting new industry.
Water and Sanitation: In resource scarce areas a safe and adequate water supply, along with good sanitation, can quite literally mean the difference between life and death, economic success or failure and good or bad community relations. Therefore AHA provides a full range of environmental services, ensuring a clean and accessible water supply and good sanitation facilities. Affected populations are further informed and educated in the practise of good environmental health and fully participate in implementing measures against waterborne and other diseases.
Shelter: When people arrive at Refugee/IDP camps, homeless and in need of assistance, shelter provision is of high priority and can reduce the level of trauma experienced. At AHA sites people are provided with tents upon arrival, and when space becomes available they are supplied with materials and assisted with the construction of their own homes.
Transport and Logistics: A number of camps are located in areas undergoing crisis, placing huge pressure on the organization of transport and logistics. It is not unusual that roads become impassable due to adverse weather conditions and/or violence and necessary items become difficult to secure. However AHA is adept and experienced at ensuring the safe movement of people (arrivals/returnees/repatriates) and necessary supplies, by managing storage and distribution and responding innovatively to challenges that arise.
Protection: This is first and foremost a preventative activity, safeguarding vulnerable populations from imminent harm and averting recurrent harm. It works in conjunction with assistance activities, which seek to help people recover once harm has been done. AHA programs address protection in the widest sense of the term as demonstrated by our relief and recovery activities, but also tackle specific protection issues as exemplified by our work in Sudan.
Community Development: In all AHA activities we employ a participatory approach, assisting populations in recognizing, mobilizing and building upon their resilience, resources, and capacities. Community, self-help and interest based groups are encouraged and supported, along with entertainment and awareness raising events. Camp residents are further supported in developing their own capacities through training, provision of equipment and micro-loans. Founded upon dialogue and partnership, our work aims to reinforce people’s dignity and self esteem, strengthen their self reliance, and empower them to take control of their immediate futures.