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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Issue #270

World AIDS Day 2013: Stories of hope

The Farm Radio Weekly team bids you a very warm welcome. In issue #270 we highlight stories of Africans living with, or protecting themselves against, HIV and AIDS.

Women in Cameroon are being targeted in the hairdressing salons across the country. But this story is about protection, not danger. Stylists like Nathalie Kemmogne are showing their clients how to use the female condom, and offering women the chance to take their own safety into their own hands.

Supplies of antiretroviral drugs in Zimbabwe are often limited, and rural people are particularly affected by the shortfalls. Some farmers have responded to this situation by growing a wider variety of vegetables to eat at home, as a way of boosting their immunity.

High levels of dietary protein are regarded as essential for those living with HIV and AIDS. But meat and fish, both excellent sources of protein, are expensive. A community-based project in Liberia has begun to address this situation. A fish farm near Monrovia is providing fresh fish for the tables of those living with HIV, and offering them employment at the same time.

There is a new Farm Radio Resource Pack! Find out more in our Action section below.

We wish you a healthy and happy week,

–             the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Cameroon: A hairdresser teaches young people to protect themselves against HIV (by Anne Mireille Nzouankeu, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Nathalie Kemmogne rubs her client’s scalp vigorously. Once she has rinsed out the shampoo, Ms. Kemmogne walks her client across the salon to sit under the helmet-shaped hair dryer. The hairdresser uses this opportunity to initiate a conversation with her client, Isabelle Pemboura, about the female condom.

Nineteen-year-old Isabelle Pemboura has never heard of the female condom. So Ms. Kemmogne holds up a model of the female genitals and demonstrates how to use the condom. Ms. Pemboura tries to insert the condom into the model herself, without much success. On the third attempt, she manages to fit the condom correctly. With a big smile, she says, “It’s weird to find condoms in a salon, but it is a good initiative … It is easier to pass this message woman to woman.”

The female condom demonstration is conducted in a jovial setting. Some girls volunteer stories of how their partner reacted when first seeing the condom and the comments he made, and the women explode in loud bursts of laughter.

In Cameroon, the prevalence rate for HIV is 5.6 per cent among women and 2.9 per cent among men. Young people between 15 and 24 have the highest rate of infection. Ms. Kemmogne has plastered the walls in her Yaoundè salon with posters designed to raise awareness of HIV among women. One of the posters reads, “AIDS kills: Protect yourself.”

The posters are featured in salons across Cameroon, and are produced by an NGO called l’Association Camerounaise pour le Marketing Social, or ACMS. ACMS works to improve the health of Cameroon’s population, and has been distributing female condoms in the country since 2009.

Sealed in pink packaging, the female condoms are placed prominently among the nail polishes and hair curlers scattered around Ms. Kemmogne’s salon. The 26-year-old hairdresser has been selling the condoms in her salon for four years. When ACMS asked Ms. Kemmogne if she would sell the condoms, she agreed immediately. She explains: “I heard women complaining for a long time [that] they were ashamed to buy condoms at the pharmacy. [This meant that] it was up to the man to choose whether or not to use protection. When the opportunity to sell these female condoms arose, I did not hesitate and subsequently my clients have been delighted.”

The hairdresser does not know exactly how many condoms she sells each month. But she estimates that more than half of her customers buy them. Some say their partner refuses to use them, and others say the condoms make too much noise. But those who are satisfied with the condoms come back for more.

Local authorities hope that making condoms widely available in hair salons will help reduce the transmission rate of HIV.

At the end of her hair appointment, Ms. Pemboura buys a packet of three female condoms for 100 Central African francs (20 US cents), less than the price of a loaf of bread. She says, “It’s cheaper here. It is also more discreet to buy them here instead of going to a pharmacy, where people look at you as if you were an alien.”

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Zimbabwe: Rural communities hit hard by HIV and AIDS (by Vladimir Mzaca, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Sithembile Moyo is a widowed farmer living with AIDS in the Nyamandlovu area of Matabeleland North. Her condition affects her productivity since she spends much of her time travelling to the nearest hospital.

Mrs. Moyo worries about surviving this season. She says: “The hospital is 40 kilometres away, and to make matters worse, antiretrovirals [or ARVs] are in short supply. At times we are told to wait for days for them to arrive from the nearest referral hospital.”

The National AIDS Council of Zimbabwe estimates that only 476,000 or 36 per cent of the 1.3 million Zimbabweans living with HIV receive ARVs. It is often those living in the more rural areas, including farmers, who are least able to get a prescription.

Mrs. Moyo’s husband, Lethukuthula, died of meningitis in 2006, the same year that she learned of her HIV status. She is worried that her days, too, are numbered. If Mrs. Moyo cannot plant her crops, she will have nothing to harvest, and nothing to eat. She will also not earn any money, which means she will not be able to pay school fees for her daughter.

She says, “I would die earlier because the life-prolonging drugs are scarce and [harvesting] food depends on my ability to plant. I can’t take the tablets on an empty stomach.”

Mrs. Moyo’s daughter is her only remaining family member. The widow wants to see her daughter go to university. But she is afraid her failing health will make that dream impossible. She explains: “My health is deteriorating and so I am finding it hard to pay for my child’s school fees. I fear that she will be forced to drop out so that she can take care of me.”

Mehluli Sibanda is an ex-teacher who took up small-scale farming after he retired. He, too, is living with HIV. Based in a rural area, he also finds it more difficult to access healthcare. But he has designed a survival strategy.

He says: “I now have a garden that gives me supplementary foods. I have bananas, apples and vegetables such as tomatoes. Even if I run out of tablets, I can at least keep my immunity under check.” One downside of his endeavour is that, by growing fruits and vegetables, he has less time to devote to growing cash crops.

Mr. Sibanda worries that HIV and AIDS are affecting general farm productivity. The prevalence of the disease is higher in poorer farming communities. A high proportion of the workforce is either infected with, or affected by, HIV and AIDS. Rural people living with HIV must dedicate a lot of time to coping with their condition at a time when NGOs and the Zimbabwean government are unable to assist people on a large scale.

Agriculture in Zimbabwe is being seriously affected by the HIV and AIDS epidemic. As they become infected and fall ill, and lack reliable access to anti-retroviral drugs and a balanced diet, farmers are unable to produce enough food for themselves, let alone the rest of the community.

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Liberia: How fish farming can help people living with HIV in Liberia (The Guardian)

Moses King had one major problem. Though the 48-year-old subsistence farmer living with HIV has coped with the stigma of his disease, and was able to access antiretroviral medication, Mr. King and his family of six children could not get the right food to eat.

Mr. King grows vegetables and buys rice. But meat and fish, which are good sources of protein, are expensive in Liberia.

He says: “Subsistence farming allowed us to survive, but we had so many problems. We could not get any protein, and we were not getting the nutrients we needed to sustain ourselves.”

Good nutrition is particularly important for people with HIV. Research shows they need a much higher than average level of protein to prevent their health from deteriorating. Good nutrition is critical when taking antiretroviral drugs. But food in Liberia is very expensive. Rice is often imported and costly, and most people cannot afford fish and meat.

An estimated 50,000 people in Liberia are living with HIV. Sixty per cent are women or girls. The disease is still surrounded by stigma and discrimination. Half of those living with HIV in Liberia are not receiving treatment for the infection.

Pate Chon is a counsellor who works with people who live with HIV. She has been living with HIV since 1992. After watching a documentary about a fish farm in Thailand, she decided to set up a project in Liberia to employ people living with HIV and give them access to a reliable source of protein.

Ms. Chon says: “Many of the people I work with don’t have the means to have a balanced protein diet, and fish is such a clean source of protein … it is something we can farm.”

Ms. Chon met a man named John Sheehy who had studied aquaculture, and they decided to establish a fish farm. He raised money to build a non-profit fish farm near Monrovia, Liberia’s capital.

The project has grown into the Grow2Feed Liberia Fish Farm. The farm has 12 tanks, each of which raises 5,000 fish per cycle when fully stocked. The farm can produce up to 200,000 fish per year. After harvest, the water and waste from the tanks is used to irrigate crops, which also provide food and income for the workers.

Mr. King and his family are part of a community of 1,200 people who benefit from the scheme. Most of the people in the community live with HIV. Mr. Sheehy says, “Members of the community live near the farm, and have agreed to be part of the co-operative. Many work on the farm, or tend the crops, and what they get in return is fish.”

Community members can eat the fish themselves, or sell fish to buy staple goods. The fish farm allows people in the community to reintegrate into society through weekly bartering and trading with other townsfolk in the markets.

Fish farming experts say the practice has huge potential in Africa. Much of the fish on the African market is imported frozen from China, and some is low quality.

The project has attracted the interest of the Liberian government and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, which has worked with Grow2Feed to provide training.

Mr. Sheehy says, “We operate 100 per cent non-profit, and we will never lose our social justice aspect.”

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Notes to broadcasters: HIV and AIDS

December 1 is the United Nations World AIDS Day. For more information and materials related to the Day, please go to the UNAIDS website through this link: http://www.unaids.org/en/. Further information is available through the World Health Organization website: http://www.who.int/hiv/en/

To read the original article on which one of this week’s stories is based, Why fish farming can help people living with HIV in Liberia, please visit the Guardian’s website: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/sep/17/fish-farming-help-liberia-hiv-positive

More information about HIV can be found though the MedicinePlus page, which is a service of the US Library of Medicine: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000602.htm. The relationship between religion and HIV/AIDS is complicated, and often fraught with controversy. There is a Wikipedia page dedicated to how some religions deal with the subject: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_and_HIV/AIDS

The UN produces some useful factsheets on HIV and AIDS, for example:

http://www.unfpa.org/hiv/docs/factsheet_transmission.pdf (on preventing mother to child transmission)

This site provides lots of information on HIV and AIDS in Africa: http://www.avert.org/hiv-aids-africa.htm.

In a previous Resource section, FRW highlighted a manual for reporting on HIV and AIDS in Africa: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/05/10/telling-the-hiv-story-a-practical-manual-on-hiv-prevention/.

Here you will find a link to a radio drama for young people on HIV prevention, available in English and French: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/10/05/can-tru-love-withstand-the-test-%E2%80%93-a-radio-drama-on-hiv-prevention/.

Farm Radio Weekly has published these stories related to HIV:

HIV-positive widow raises pigs to improve income and health: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/07/22/uganda-hiv-positive-widow-raises-pigs-to-improve-income-and-health-by-geoffrey-ojok-for-farm-radio-weekly/

Local food and its usefulness for HIV positive people:   http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/01/26/africa-local-food-essential-for-hiv-positive-people-un-integrated-regional-information-networks/

HIV positive women grow mushrooms: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/03/02/2-uganda-mulago-positive-women%E2%80%99s-network-discovers-potential-of-mushroom-cultivation-written-by-joshua-kyalimpa-for-farm-radio-weekly-in-kampala-uganda/

Farm Radio International has produced a number of scripts on HIV and AIDS. Topics covered include gender, youth, prevention, and good nutrition. You can start by reading through FRRP #73, HIV/AIDS and Food Security, available here: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-73-hivaids-and-food-security. There are many more scripts available through this link: http://www.farmradio.org/archived-radio-scripts/?scriptcat=health

In spite of vigorous campaigns to contain the epidemic, HIV continues to spread. FRRP #93 contains the script AIDS support group gives positive people a new lease on life! which can be found here: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-93-healthy-communities/aids-support-group-gives-positive-people-a-new-lease-on-life/

Quiz show: Questions and Answers About HIV/AIDS (FRRP #62, script #3, January 2002) may prove to be an interesting way to get basic facts about HIV and AIDS to your listeners. Read it here: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-62-hivaids/quiz-show-questions-and-answers-about-hivaids/

There are Notes to broadcasters on HIV and AIDS and nutrition (FRW #169, August 2011) available here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2011/08/22/notes-to-broadcasters-on-hiv-and-aids-and-nutrition/ )

World AIDS Day may inspire broadcasters to produce programs or hold activities to mark the day. We would love to hear about your events, and will share them in Farm Radio Weekly. Meanwhile, the following section provides advice and ideas on creating programs that deal with HIV and AIDS, and important messages that your programs can pass on:

Program Planning
Involve people living with HIV and AIDS in your broadcasts. Encourage them to tell their stories on the radio. Withhold their identity if they prefer to remain anonymous.

Remember that media itself can stigmatize people living with HIV and AIDS, and try to avoid this pitfall. For example, radio has a responsibility to notify the public that HIV and AIDS is not a punishment for bad behaviour!

Work with health professionals when preparing programs about the health aspects of HIV and AIDS. You need reliable sources in order to disseminate useful broadcasts and to avoid spreading misinformation.

Work with NGOs to amplify their work and yours. In particular, identify and work with traditional theatre and other groups that use effective ways to reach local people. Dramatizations are most effective when they are followed by a discussion or a call-in show.

Get support from upper management. Explain to supervisors that radio programming can save people’s lives, that there has never been a challenge like HIV before, and that no country can afford to ignore it.

Be bold in taking risks and pushing limits. There is a natural shyness when it comes to talking about sexual relations. But it is impossible to deal effectively with HIV and AIDS without discussing sex openly and frankly. You might take a little heat, but remember that what you are doing is saving lives. In too many places, a conspiracy of silence has allowed HIV to infect and kill millions, and impact every aspect of human life.

Involve youth. Young people are one of the hardest groups to reach. No one can communicate with young people better than young people themselves. Give them basic radio production skills and encourage them to develop their own programming. Their programs will be more interesting and attractive to young people.

Involve adults when you develop programs for young people Form an advisory committee of parents and community leaders, including religious leaders. This will reduce the chances of strong opposition to the programs.

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FRW news in brief

Farm Radio Weekly has a new trial resource for you: Farmer news briefs. These are stories from across the continent which have been adapted from print or online sources and are suitable for use in your regular farm radio program. Read them, edit them, broadcast them, localize them, or simply use them as background info. Want more details? Click the link under the story to see the original article.

Please let us know what you think. Do you want to see Farmer news briefs in Farm Radio Weekly on a regular basis? Email us at farmradioweekly@farmradio.org

1- Rwanda: Expectant mothers refused HIV tests

Single mothers in Rwanda are being turned away from antenatal care facilities despite a government directive to reduce mother-to-child HIV transmission.

A nurse at a Kigali hospital said hospital policy is that women must be accompanied by their husbands, so both can be tested at the same time. This flies in the face of the government’s plans to make testing for women easier.

One patient, a teacher, said a nurse called her a prostitute when she explained that her husband wasn’t with her for the testing because he had left her when she became pregnant. Another woman said that after being turned away, she had to return to the clinic with a male friend who claimed to be her husband before she could receive the HIV test.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/Rwanda/News/Concern-as-single-mothers-barred-from-HIV-testing/-/1433218/2084260/-/item/0/-/br97qg/-/index.html

2- United Nations: Diagnostic kits needed to test children for HIV

Early testing for the HIV virus helps prolong children’s lives, according to the United Nations. More than a quarter of a million children are born every year infected by HIV, the virus which causes AIDS. The majority live in sub-Saharan Africa.

A director at the UNAIDS organization is calling for more diagnostic kits to be made available, and for their cost to be reduced. The kits improve HIV detection in children and can be crucial in identifying the virus early.

According to UN statistics, 1.9 million children under the age of 15 require treatment for HIV. Only 650,000, or 34 per cent, of these children received antiretroviral medication for HIV last year, an increase of 14 per cent from the previous year.

To read the full story, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20131120173631-2f791?utm

3- Zimbabwe: Teenagers not comfortable with HIV testing

Zimbabwe’s 2011 demographic health survey found that more than half of young people aged 15 to 24 are educated on AIDS, though this doesn’t lead them to clinics for testing.

The Young People AIDS Network of Zimbabwe says that of 12,500 youth surveyed in Mwenezi district this year, only five per cent admitted to being tested.

The Zimbabwean Ministry of Health has set up mobile testing clinics to visit schools, but many young people believe there are too many adults involved and do not feel comfortable using the clinics.

The UNAIDS organization credits the government of Zimbabwe’s 1990s youth HIV prevention program with bringing down the HIV prevalence rate. Once 24 per cent, one of the highest in the world, the rate was reduced to 15 per cent over a decade.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/11/fear-of-hiv-testing-among-zimbabwes-teens/

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Getting to zero

December 1 is World AIDS Day. The Day is designed to bring together people from around the world to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS, and to demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic.

Between 2011 and 2015, World AIDS Days will have the theme of “Getting to zero. Zero new HIV infections. Zero discrimination. Zero AIDS-related deaths.”

World AIDS Day is an opportunity for public and private partners to spread awareness about the status of the pandemic and encourage progress in HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment and care in high-prevalence countries and around the world.

The focus on “Zero AIDS-related deaths” signifies both a push towards greater access to treatment for all and a call for governments to act now. It is a call for African governments to honour promises such as the Abuja declaration and, at the very least, to hit targets for domestic spending on health and HIV.

Find out more about World AIDS Day through these links: http://www.afro.who.int/en/media-centre/events/details/297-world-aids-day.html (World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa), and http://www.who.int/campaigns/aids-day/2013/en/index.html (WHO World AIDS Day page).

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Change the story: Refugees and migrants speak against gender-based violence

For refugees and migrants in South Africa, accessing services after being victimized by sexual violence can be a difficult and traumatizing experience. All women and girls face problems reporting any kind of violence. Refugees and migrants suffer the added barriers of language, lack of knowledge of local systems and rights, not knowing where to go, few support systems, and xenophobia.

One of the key responses of the South African government to sexual violence has been the establishment of Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCCs) under the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. The TCCs are an innovative one-stop shop that offers comprehensive sexual assault services.

Community Media For Development (CMFD) is a South African consultancy firm specializing in media and communication for development, funded through projects commissioned by international agencies, governments and NGOs.

To help promote awareness, encourage dialogue, and urge migrants and refugees to seek help, CMFD worked with 20 refugees, migrants, and South Africans to develop three mini-dramas and related discussion guides, to be broadcast on radio stations. The dramas were written by the 20 participants, based on their experiences, and then voiced by the participants themselves.

The three mini-dramas, Leaving Home: Facing Sexual Harassment; I have the right: Reporting a Case; and Dangerous Borders: Vulnerable in Transit are available for download through these links:

Leaving Home: Facing Sexual Harassment: http://www.cmfd.org/cmfdaudio/Leaving Home Facing Sexual Harassment.mp3

I have the right: Reporting a Case:   http://www.cmfd.org/cmfdaudio/I%20have%20the%20right%20Reporting%20a%20Case.mp3

Dangerous Borders: Vulnerable in Transit: http://www.cmfd.org/cmfdaudio/Dangerous Borders Vulnerable in Transit.mp3

For more information, follow this link: http://www.cmfd.org/what-we-do/radio-drama/change-the-story-refugees-and-migrants-speak-against-gbv

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Farm Radio Resource Pack #97 is now available for download!

The Pack is entitled: Growing groundnuts. While most of the items talk about farming practices for groundnuts, we also feature a four-part drama that touches on processing and marketing.

The items focus on growing groundnuts in Malawi, but the information will be useful – with appropriate local adaptation – for all groundnut-growing areas in Africa. There is other useful information available in pack #97, from music and mangoes to goats!

We have sent a hard copy of the Pack via mail to many of  FRI’s partner radio stations, but anyone is welcome to read the scripts online, and to use or adapt them for their local audience.

You can find the resource here: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-97-growing-groundnuts/

You are also welcome to download the latest issue of FRI’s Voices newsletter, which accompanies the Resource Pack, though this link: http://farmradio.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/voices_97.pdf

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Occupational and nutritional therapy for people living with HIV and AIDS

Lesotho has the world’s highest HIV prevalence and, because of this, average life expectancy in Lesotho is very low – 37 years.

Many people in the country are now able to get antiretroviral therapy. Treatment and drugs are free and HIV-positive people can live longer and healthier lives. But people living with HIV, especially widows and children, often suffer the dual pain of HIV infection and poverty. In response, they often form support groups to tackle common problems.

The Heso Organic and Integrated Therapeutic Centre is one such support group. It aims to empower families and communities by using a holistic and practical community-based approach to care and support. The Centre caters not only to the needs of people impoverished by HIV, but also the nutritional and occupational needs of nearby communities.

This script is a mini-drama based on an interview with the founder and participants of the Heso Organic and Integrated Therapeutic Centre in October 2010.


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Violence against women and HIV/AIDS

Violence against women includes rape and coerced sex, physical and sexual abuse, and harmful traditional practices such as female genital cutting and forced early marriage. These kinds of violence increase women’s risk of HIV infection both directly through forced sex and indirectly by instilling fear, which limits a woman’s ability to negotiate the circumstances in which sex takes place and the use of condoms. Violence has negative impacts on physical, psychological and social development.

Many women report experiences of violence following disclosure of their HIV status, or even following admission that HIV testing has been sought. This violence may interfere with a woman’s ability to access treatment and care, or to adhere to anti-retroviral drug (ARV) treatments. Some men even help themselves to their partners’ ARV treatments.

Violence against women is extremely prevalent, both in developing and developed countries. In many areas, close to 50% of women report having been the victims of violence.

As this script points out, there is a strong relationship between violence against women and lack of respect for women’s rights, such as the right to education, the right to self-expression, the right to own property, and the right to freedom of movement. Violence against women is fuelled and condoned by values which refuse to grant women these human rights.

To adapt this script for your local audience, you might want to interview representatives of local and national women’s groups on the air, perhaps including a phone-in segment of the program. In 1999, the United Nations designated November 25 as the Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. You might want to have a series of programs connected with this event.


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