More than Translation: Adapting the Community Conversation Toolkit in Swaziland
C-Change Swaziland and National Emergency Response Council on HIV/AIDS (NERCHA) launched the Community Conversation Toolkit for HIV Prevention in Siswati in October 2011. Designed to mobilize adults ages 20 and older to take action around HIV prevention, the toolkit was adapted for Swaziland from a version originally developed in South Africa.
The toolkit (available on C-Hub) comprises a facilitator's guide and six materials—community mobilizers’ cards, role-play cards, storytelling finger puppets, promotional proverbs and best kept secrets throw boxes, promotional playing cards, and dialogue buttons—that aim to mobilize communities for HIV prevention.
The Siswati version of the toolbit was pretested with intended audiences and in close consultation with NERHCA and local implementing partners. Adaptation included using local Siswati proverbs for the throwboxes; revising artwork to depict the local Swazi context; adding components to the toolkit that address male circumcision and condom use; and integrating existing resources from local partners. Swaziland is the sixth country in southern Africa to adapt the toolkit, which seeks to address key drivers of the epidemic such as concurrency, cross-generational sex, gender-based violence, and alcohol abuse.
Thousands of Young Women Reached at the Annual Reed Dance
Each year, more than 50,000 maidens—young, unmarried, childless women—travel to the Eludzidzini Royal Residence in the Kingdom of Swaziland’s traditional capital to attend the annual Umhlanga Reed Dance. They come from across the kingdom and nearby South African provinces to participate in the ceremony, when they cut new reeds to protect the residence from wind, present them to the Queen Mother, and dance. The traditional eight-day ceremony in late August or early September honors the young women’s chastity, builds solidarity between them, and pays tribute to femininity and the female monarch.
Most of these young women come with minimal resources. Many sleep in camps supervised by male police and security forces, but they remain vulnerable to rape, abuse, and gender-based violence.
Training on gender-based violence and SBCC
C-Change and its local partners, Khulisa Umnftwana and Bantwana, took the opportunity to provide SBCC training for 150 young women attending the Reed Dance. They have been trained as peer educators by one of the partners to increase the negotiation skills of the young attendees and inform them about risk behaviors, including risks associated with early sexual debut.
C-Change also provided training on gender-based violence for 30 male security personnel or Tindvunas, who are stationed at bathing streams, sleeping tents, and camp gates to guard the young women for the duration of the ceremony. It is worth noting that these Tindvunas,chosen in traditional ways, may lack formal training as guardians of the young women.
C-Change and partners also facilitated dialogues with peer educators on gender, gender-based violence, peer pressure, intergenerational sex, sexual abuse, substance abuse, and transactional sex. Ultimately, the goal of all the training and dialogues is to support HIV prevention and change social norms and behaviors around gender-based inequities and violence.
C-Change assisted the Kingdom of Swaziland with its national policy on HIV prevention and national strategy on SBCC, building the capacity of the Ministry of Health and the National Emergency Response Council on HIV/AIDS (NERCHA) to design, implement, and monitor effective and evidence-based SBCC programs and activities that are aligned with national HIV prevention priorities and Swaziland’s National Multisectoral Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS 2009–2014.
C-Change’s capacity strengthening contributed to the strategy's performance monitoring plan and estimations of implementation costs. C-Change also assisted NERCHA to refine the National HIV Prevention Action Plan and reconvene the HIV Prevention Working Group.
- C-Change conducted capacity assessments of more than 20 organizations working in HIV prevention and provided trainings on evidence-based and theory-informed SBCC interventions that are aligned to prevention priorities. In addition to strengthening the SBCC capacity of these organizations, C-Change worked to strengthen systems and procedures that contribute to a sustained, coordinated, and decentralized HIV prevention reponse.
- C-Change also worked to strengthen the role of the media to contribute to the response to HIV and AIDS. C-Change facilitated a media sector review and trained journalists and media managers on minimum standards for stigma-free reporting. C-Change also strengthened the organizational and technical capacity of Lusweti Institute for Health and Development Communication, a local organization known for its mass media campaigns on the risks of concurrent sexual partnerships.