“This is an important and exciting moment,” says Florence Bayoa, Director of Alliance South Sudan. “Over the last 5 years we have contributed to developing a strong and vibrant civil society. We’ve seen the fruits of our labour as networks of people living with HIV are growing in confidence to determine their own futures.”
Florence heads up a dedicated team at Alliance South Sudan who is seen as a key partner of government, international donors and other NGOs. In 2008 Alliance South Sudan supported just 26 partners; this has now grown to 90 partners in just two years.
Alliance South Sudan support community partners working on a number of different issues that include: income generation projects for people living with HIV; projects to reduce stigma and discrimination; supporting networks of people living with HIV to secure their rights; providing technical assistance on preventing the transmission of HIV from mother to child and leading, on behalf of the sector, into the development of national AIDS strategies and responses.
In the early days after the war many of the initial AIDS responses adopted a relief approach but even as far back as 2005 there was a clear need for community participation to be placed at the forefront of the national HIV/AIDS approaches. Over the years the Alliance has led the development of a local community response to the challenge of AIDS.
“Community involvement in issues that directly affect them is so important. It’s critical for building a stable, democratic and productive nation,” says Florence. “For example, in less than five years the South Sudan Positive People’s HIV Network has grown from an informal collection of people afraid to speak out to a lobbying group that is now listened to by the South Sudan government. The Network is now influencing policy and contributing to the building of our country - for all citizens.”
With a county where half the population lives on less than a dollar a day however, the task ahead to build the new nation is huge. Improving healthcare and HIV services will not be done quickly.
The lack of health service infrastructure and the growing population are enormous challenges but there are signs of progress and hope as people create their own solutions and look forward to building their new nation.
Cicilia’s Positive Future
networks of people living with HIV are growing in confidence