Building a favorable environment for the people of West Africa, based on a universal approach to human rights

date Published: 04/03/2024

Decades of experience have shown that social facilitators, such as legislators and religious leaders, who contribute to a rights-based approach and a protective, supportive environment, play their part in reducing vulnerability to HIV. They support efforts to ensure access to HIV prevention, treatment and care services for those most at risk, and enable affected communities to participate in the planning and implementation of effective interventions. The media have also played a crucial role in the response to the HIV epidemic, influencing populations in both positive and negative ways. Other social facilitators, such as local opinion leaders, traditional chiefs and other allies in the HIV response, have had a considerable impact and need not only to be re-engaged for some, but genuinely reintegrated for those who have been insufficiently involved in national and/or regional arrangements.

In collaboration with FHI 360, funded by USAID through the Key Populations Investment Fund (KPIF) and as part of the Meeting targets and Achieving Epidemic Control (EpiC) project, the CSIH-WCA and its host ENDA Santé coordinated and deployed technical assistance in six countries: Burkina Faso, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Senegal and Togo.

The partnership has helped to develop the regional advocacy capacities of civil society organizations, in favor of stronger commitment and leadership in national dialogues to improve HIV prevention and care policies and services, through the mobilization of various social facilitators. 

Under the leadership of its national partners in Ghana, Liberia and Togo, the CSIH-WCA organized three national follow-up workshops to the regional Rethinking the Response to HIV meeting held in Abidjan in 2021, bringing together key stakeholders in the response. In the same countries, national training sessions on Human Rights and HIV targeted journalists, media and media organizations.

In the same spirit of re-engaging and reintegrating social facilitators, workshops were held in these countries with traditional chiefs, justice officials and parliamentarians. 

The webinars and various national workshops were a step forward, following on from the strategic meetings in Dakar, Praia and Abidjan, in bringing together the direct and indirect players in the response to reintegrate them into the relevant HIV response strategies.

Thanks to this partnership, CSIH-WCA has organized regional webinars on the theme of community-based HIV monitoring, providing a forum for sharing the diverse experiences of civil society organizations in the West and Central Africa (WCA) region and beyond.