Author: D&J Health & Promotion Services P/L
Chitungwiza Town Council, in collaboration with UNICEF, implemented a community peer education AIDS prevention project among sexually vulnerable groups and the larger community since 1994. At the end of the project, an evaluation was undertaken, to assess the efficiency of the process and, to some extent, the effectiveness of the project.
The evaluation had the following specific objectives:
- To identify the strengths and weaknesses of the peer education project
- To draw lessons for the peer education project for projects of similar nature
- To make recommendations for future programming
The methodology consisted of qualitative and quantitative methods with the peer educators, Chitungwiza health officials and members of the community.
Findings and Conclusions:
Findings from the evaluation showed that the peer educators were known and accepted by the community (90% of interviewed community members). The project had managed to motivate other community members to engage in peer education for HIV prevention. Eighty percent of peer educators felt the project had increased awareness in HIV/AIDS, and communication between males and females had improved. Health-seeking behaviours, especially for STDs, had increased.
The project did not reach high-income communities and it focussed a lot on condom distribution, at the expense of information dissemination, especially on lifeskills. The main lesson from the evaluation was that the use of commercial sex workers as peer educators for the general public was limiting in scope, since their main targets were their clients and they were initially not easily accepted by married women and other community members. The inclusion of other community members, especially youths, was therefore crucial for reaching a wider audience.
In line with this, it was recommended that the project should have been community outreach instead of peer education project and a youth peer education project was initiated by Chitungwiza. Another recommendation was that training of peer educators should have been more than just on HIV/AIDS and condoms.
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HIV/AIDS - Prevention