Housing People of Zimbabwe HIV and Aids Intervention Introduction Housing People of Zimbabwe is a not for profit organisation, which was formed and registered in 1992. The organisation was formed in order to answer the needs of low-income home seekers, who were failing to access decent and affordable shelter for themselves because of a prohibitive legislative, political, social and economic environment. The organisation realised that as long as low income home seekers were working as individuals it would be difficult for them to access products that would enable them to access land, finance and housing. The situation for this group was further worsened by the fact that government had no products in place to cater for the needs of the majority of its population who were poor, and left housing development to private developers who offered expensive options, which were way out of the reach of many. Housing People of Zimbabwe in collaboration with low income home seekers put in place community based initiatives, that would promote shelter provision at low cost. Rapid success was noted in the formative years of the organisation till 1998 as evidenced by the construction of over 2 000 Housing units, by cooperatives working with Housing People of Zimbabwe. After 1998, the environment because less conducive, with hyper inflation, political unrest, loss of employment, price increases of basic foodstuffs, increase in prices of building materials, social challenges such as the impact of HIV and AIDS on low income groups, and this saw less and less houses being constructed. What are the key issues relating to the HIV and AIDS program? The Housing People of Zimbabwe/ housing cooperatives HIV and AIDS intervention program aims at prioritising the issue of the disease, whilst at the same time meeting low income groups basic human needs, gender equality and human rights issues by exploring how housing co-operatives in Zimbabwe could address not just their human settlements concerns but also the HIV and AIDS dimension. The priority is to developing a multi-faceted and holistic programme on HIV and AIDS, and linking it to the overall organisational strategic objectives which relate to:- advocacy, shelter, HIV and AIDS, gender, human rights and child protection within Zimbabwe generally and specifically in relation to housing cooperatives. Key objectives To Facilitate action around HIV and AIDS, in order to assist the infected cooperative members. To provide awareness on the rights of women and children in cooperatives to access housing. To provide psycho social support for People Living with HIV and AIDS at cooperative level. Destigmatization of the HIV and AIDS issues through education, awareness raising, talking about HIV and AIDS, and creating a facilitative environment by which People Living with AIDS could access shelter through housing cooperative means. Strategic Framework for a national response to HIV and AIDS The Zimbabwe national strategic framework does not address HIV and AIDS as a development issue, but would rather focus on the health dimension of the disease. The Human Development report of 2003, has clearly noted that the national strategy has failed to take a holistic and multi sectoral approach, and has left out other sectors such as housing. A multi sectoral approach is needed in addressing, HIV and AIDS issues, especially as they relate to issues to do with human settlements. In terms of budgetary allocations, housing is not ranked as a priority in Zimbabwe, and there is no social housing to talk of. The government has failed to provide decent shelter for the victims of its operation clean up which destroyed homes and livelihoods for at least 700 000 people (UN Report July 2005). The effects of HIV and AIDS further increases vulnerability of cooperative members and affected communities still living in the open in makeshift shelters, 9 months after the clean up campaign. These groups are struggling daily to survive and live with dignity. Social and economic security The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Survey (2004) revealed that 72% of the urban population were living below the poverty line and the number of food insecure people in the urban areas as of 2005 was at 2.4 million with the highest numbers recorded in informal settlements and peri-urban areas. At least 2 million people, in the low income to non earning groups are in need of shelter in Zimbabwe. The country has HIV infection of 24.6, ranked among the highest in the world. Critical Issues include How to provide home based care without a home Access to Proper sanitation and water facilities. How do you take medical regimens when there is no decent place to live. (The ability to take medical regimens is made easier when there is a decent place to live.) Orphans and rising number of street children who will have been made homeless by the death of one or both parents HIV and Aids trends in housing coops An impact assessment was conducted on 10 housing cooperatives in 2002, and it revealed that housing cooperatives were failing to cope with the impact of AIDS. They did not realise the link between shelter provision, and AIDS issues. There were no support structures to help orphans, women, and People infected by AIDS. There were no coping mechanisms at cooperative level to assist the infected and affected members. The program was designed to ensure that cooperatives needed to have activities cantered around HIV and AIDS. HIV/Aids Trends in housing coops HIV and AIDS infection- Gender dimensions The majority of membership in housing cooperatives in male whilst females make up 30% of the total membership. Women as a whole in Zimbabwe, are disenfranchised, have no access to economic resources and still depend primarily on a patriarchal system as a a means of survival. Social relations are defined on who has and who has not, and hence the majority of women still depend on men for survival. The patriarchal system is premised on cultural systems and beliefs, norms and values that prefer men to have dominance in socio economic issues, whilst women are in the position of dependency. Strategies Provision of Decent and affordable shelter Provision of low income housing has been rendered unworkable due to high inflation, increase in building materials and the inability of low income housing groups to survive the current challenges that they are facing. The economic status of the housing cooperative membership makes them highly susceptible to the ever changing and deteriorating macroeconomic environment. “Operation Restore Order/ Drive out the rubbish”, which was initiated by the government in 2005, has increased the number of vulnerable households and exposure to social, economic and political machinations. The humanitarian crisis unleashed by the “Operation” exacerbates an already precarious situation Key strategies Advocacy as a strategy: Housing People of Zimbabwe believes in the rights of all vulnerable groups to access decent and affordable shelter. The Plight of people living with HIV and AIDS visa viz access to shelter has been severely compromised because of government policies which are not pro poor. Housing People of Zimbabwe will continue to lobby government, parliament, and local authority bodies for improved access and concessions that relate to low income housing issues. The advocacy work is also cantered around, creation of a conducive legislative framework, which allows low income housing groups, and vulnerable communities to access decent and affordable shelter. Currently lobbying initiatives have been focusing on incremental development, which would allow poor communities to develop their own shelter at their own pace. It this vein, the project educates communities on their rights, working in partnership with different organisations including AIDS Service Organisations. Networking/ synergies Networking with different local organisations and stakeholders. The networks include organisations of people living with HIV and AIDS, local DAACS, AIDS Service Organisation’s, etc. As part of strengthening organisational capacity on HIV and AIDS issues, HPZ is participating in Zimbabwe AIDS Network forums. Recently their was an annual general meeting, and aids service organisations and organisations involved in AIDS work participated in the forum. HPZ is also utilising organisations working with Phi's, and other referral systems to support people living with AIDS. Cooperative members participate at HIV and Aids awareness workshop Information and Education and Psycho social support Provision of information relating to referral systems, so that People Living with HIV could be able to have information about were to get help, treatment, and relevant support. To provide pyscho social support for People Living with HIV and AIDS at cooperative level, welfare desks were formed at each cooperative level, and this has been the point of contact for Housing People of Zimbabwe. Housing People works with the different desks, providing them with skill and capacity, and the skill will be passed on to the cooperative membership. The desks are also a point of contact for provision of information, and the desk members use this education to build the capacity of the rest of the membership. The desk coordinates activities at cooperative level. Enhancing food security Provision of nutritional information and support for herbal and nutrition gardens. This concept is premised on the fact that People Living with AIDS, need nutritional meals, and sometimes they fail to access these meals due to spiralling costs. As a result Housing People of Zimbabwe believes in promotion of city farming as an alternative of enhancing food security for People Living with AIDS. City farming enhances food security for cooperative members Livelihood and capacity building programs (Shelter related) One of Housing People’s strategic objectives looks at provision of livelihood capacity, in order to enhance sustainable informal activities to a majority of low income group membership that is struggling to make ends meet because of challenging economic environment Focus is on Business and entrepreneurial development skills, to enhance the informal and small businesses of most cooperative members. Self help training: the training focuses on provision of skills to cooperative members in order to allow them to conduct construction activities on their own housing units. This allows them to cut costs. Communities employ the skills in the construction of their units Capacity building- HIV and AIDS Capacity Building workshops The main focus for the capacity building workshops in 2005 has been:Support for community awareness raising and mobilisation for People Living with HIV and AIDS Support for meaningful involvement of People Living with HIV and AIDS in housing, and for them to access information on treatment and care interventions. Provision of psycho social training to HIV and AIDS desks, Community involvement and practical approaches for reduction of poverty and improved health Greater Involvement of people Living with HIV and AIDS. (GIPA Strategy) HPZ believes that the housing cooperative is an effective platform for support of People Living with HIV and AIDS. Since the inception of the HIV and AIDS program great strides have been made in providing a forum by which AIDS issues are discussed at housing cooperative level. There have been a great number of people coming out in the open and declaring their status, especially in Bulawayo, Chitungwiza, Masvingo and Mutare. Because of issues of privacy in disclosure, we promote that People Living with HIV and AIDS be open to declare their status to their leadership (at primary society level), but do not have to expose themselves to the greater audience due to issues of stigma and discrimination. People Living with HIV and AIDS are receiving a lot of support from other cooperative members, including social support. To a large extent there has been a breaking down of barriers, myths and misconceptions about the modes of transmission of HIV and AIDS. People Living with HIV and AIDS, are also involved in issues of planning, decision making, and various activities. The organisation promotes the issue of involving communities at all levels, including evaluation, and People Living with HIV and AIDS are no exception Promotion of use of herbal remedies There has been a greater emphasis on alternative remedies, and promotion of the use of herbal remedies. Training has been conducted for all the areas. Nutrition workshops and herbal information has been provided to a large scale. Direct subsidies for nutrition and herbal remedies activities. Currently, cooperatives in Chitungwiza and Mutare support group are now engaging in perma-culture activities (farming small herb gardens). Herbs are well known for their nutritional value and in boosting the immune system. The low income groups are unable to afford decent and nutritious meals, especially to meet the needs of People with AIDS. Herbs therefore, help in meeting some of the nutritional requirements that People with AIDS need for their bodies Challenges Failure to access resources for HIV and AIDS programs Housing People of Zimbabwe has not been able to mobilise resources for an increased HIV and AIDS program, because of failure by partners to understand and see the linkages between HIV and AIDS issues and housing. Need for capacity at organisational level The HIV and AIDS program is a recent initiative, and hence staff need more skills and capacity Engagement / Involvement of Youth as a strategy An HIV and AIDS program has been designed to make sure that the youth participate at the levels in: Peer Education and counselling Youth volunteer programs:- these are in relation to how the youth can assist People Living with AIDS, on a volunteer capacity, and make a mark in the community they live in. The youth volunteer programs also are targeted at involving the youth in construction projects, and fundraising activities. Life skills and capacity building oriented toward self help and livelihood skills. This is in consideration of the fact that most youth in Zimbabwe are unemployed, and might resort to crime, if there are no intervention programs that would enable them to participate in livelihood activities. Challenges Housing Construction processes are very long and difficult. This then makes it difficult for housing groups, to construct houses for themselves. In the meantime, members continue to live in overcrowded conditions, without proper sanitation and water facilities. This compromises health outcomes for People Living with HIV and AIDS, who end up succumbing to opportunistic infections, and compromised immune systems. Because of shortage of housing for People Living with HIV and AIDS, most housing groups have been forced to rely on rental housing/ lodging which is very expensive, and currently has limited housing stock available due to the demolitions that took place in 2005. Without a roof over their heads, it is a challenge for People Living with HIV and AIDS to: Take medical regimens without a decent place to live. How is it possible to provide care and support when there is no home? Challenges Failure to access treatment for People Living with HIV and AIDS. Although great strides have been made in the provision of Anti Retroviral Treatment at national level, more still needs to be done, in order for more people to access treatment. Housing cooperative members who were affected by operation clean up, are failing to access treatment because of the following factors: There is no public health to talk of, as most government hospitals are run down due to mismanagement and limited resources. The situation has reached a point were hospitals are running out drugs and are failing to provide decent health care facilities. Failure by people on drugs to access treatment regimens due to government failure to allocate and access foreign currency to access treatment. Coop members that were relocated in the governments clean up campaign, now have to travel great distances in order to access medical supplies including ART Conclusion Housing is a neccessity for everyone, and a right of every citizen including People Living with HIV and AIDS. Inadequate housing continues to be a major problem, for large numbers of people living with HIV and AIDS, many of whom are living in costly and unsanitary rooms, at times with a large number of people. For a person living with AIDS, homelessness, or even the threat can lead to unnessesary illness or even death. For many people Living with HIV and AIDS, permanent housing is the difference in having access to medication, to stability, to dignity and re-entry into the informal and formal markets. Housing equals health care and health for people living with HIV and AIDS.