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Base de datos de evaluación

Evaluation report

TNZ 1999/803: Participatory Action Research on HIV/AIDS Through Popular Theatre Approach

Author: Tanzania Theatre Centre

Executive summary


Despite the great burden of the disease, people are still reluctant to talk about HIV and the cultural practices and other factors that contribute to the spread of the disease. Thus, traditional research methodologies only tend to scratch the surface of people's real feelings and behaviours. To combat this silence, UNICEF contracted the Tanzania Theatre Centre and Bagamoyo College of Arts to carry out a participatory action research project. The project aimed to use the popular theatre approach to find out the real situation concerning young people, as the basis on which to build a programme for out-ofschool youth.

Purpose / Objective

The overall goal of the participatory action project was to enable youth in rural Tanzania to reduce their risk of HIV infection. This was to be achieved through specific objectives:
- Provide in-depth information on knowledge, attitudes and practices of young people for use in training peer educators, health personnel and other actors at district, ward and community levels
- Train and involve young people in identifying and analysing issues that affect them and finding solutions to these issues
- Equip young people with skills of Art for Development so that they can use them to bring about behaviour change in relation to HIV/AIDS
- Organise a district arts festival around the issues concerning behaviour change, for out-of-school youth
- Generate videos that can be used for training, once child and adolescent centres have been established


The method used was the Popular Theatre process. The process has several stages: familiarisation with the community; data collection involving members of the community; data analysis to sort out major problems and root causes; theatre creation to prioritise issues to be performed and the kind of art forms to be used, performance; post-performance discussion; follow-up; and evaluation.

A resource team employed by Tanzania Theatre Centre carried out the research, with the help of district officials, 37 animators, and village and ward leaders. The animators trained or involved 292 youths in their research. The Arts Festivals are estimated to have attracted 18,500 people.

Key Findings and Conclusions

People do not use condoms because:
- of religious beliefs (especially among Muslims)
- they believe it will reduce sexual pleasure
- they believe condoms cause rashes
- they believe it is a European plot to reduce the number of Africans
- condoms are not available
- partners do not trust one another
- they believe nothing can stop AIDS
- there are no female condoms
- condoms are expensive

Girls start sexual intercourse at age 12 to 13 years, and some even below that age, because of traditional initiations that teach girls they are adults, that they can start practicing sex, that they should earn their own money for soap or dresses through transactional sex; and because of forced marriages or prostitution due to economic hardship.

People have multiple sexual partners because of:
- customs that encourage this among initiates
- pressure to prove manhood and the belief that having only one partner is a sign of impotence
- the custom of women baring breasts during dances, which stimulates sexual desires
- the custom allowing initiation ceremony drummers to have intercourse with whomever women they want
- songs that promote adultery
- the culture that gives prestige to having many sexual partners
- the belief that pleasure comes from having many partners rather than developing a relationship

Improper child rearing and high unemployment among young people lead to alcohol and drug use, and unsafe sexual behaviours, including rape.

Dependency on traditional healers leads to ineffective treatments for sexually-transmitted infections.

Medical personnel do not tell people when they diagnose HIV/AIDS, so people go on infecting others.

Certain cultural traditions include unsafe sexual behaviour, including:
- Widow cleansing through sexual intercourse
- Widow inheritance
- Pressure on circumcised boys to darken the penis by frequent sexual intercourse
- Tolerance for concubines and lovers


Solutions recommended by participants were: campaigns targeted at religious people; produce more sensitive condoms; education on the proper storage and usage of condoms; more education disproving myths; improve distribution; provide female condoms; provide condoms free of charge.

Leaders of initiation rites should be educated and sensitised. Employment of young girls as barmaids should be forbidden. Laws about the legal age of marriage should be enforced.

Solutions recommended by participants were: more sensitisation of initiation rites leaders; law enforcement to stop lewd dancing and ban songs that promote adultery; sensitise artists and drummers of initiation groups to the effects of their behaviour; educate and sensitise adolescents about monogamous relationships and abstinence.

Parents should be encouraged to be strict about behaviour; and there should be counseling for youths. Youth need assistance to start income-generating projects, and to be instilled with self-help spirit. Businesses should be encouraged to invest in rural areas.

Traditional healers should be sensitised and trained, and action should be taken against unsafe practices.

Transparency should be promoted in health centres and hospitals.

People need to be educated and sensitised to the dangers of harmful traditional practices, and encouraged to replace them with safer practices.

Full report in PDF

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Report information





HIV/AIDS - Other



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