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CBOs Empowered To Push HIV/AIDS Out Of Bakossi Landscape 

By Francis Tim Mbom

CameroonPostline.com — Some 75 people drawn from Community Based Organisations, CBOs, working with the WWF Sawa Programme in the conservation of the rich biodiversity of the Bakossi Landscape area ended a one-day training on how to push HIV/AIDS out of their communities.

Learning how to properly use the female condom is vital- ACMS expert says

The training began on June 27 at Nkongsamba where 50 participants representing CBOS drawn from the Nkongsamba vicinity in the Littoral Region, and those from the Nyasoso and Bangem areas were trained. Then, on June 29, the training caravan, led by WWF Sawa Programme Communication Officer, Janet Mukoko, proceeded to Mekom in Konye Subdivision, Southwest Region, where 25 other CBO representatives were schooled on how best they can help their communities to stay free from the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

As to what business WWF has with the HIV/AIDS when conservation of the environment is known to be its main concern, the WWF Communication officer said they have come to discover that the business of conservation cannot effectively succeed when the local people who conserve these rich biodiversity potentials are not themselves healthy.

“The Bakossi Landscape project integrated HIV/AIDS in its Policy, Advocacy and Communication component since 2010,” Janet Mukoko said. “This is not only to observe donor requirements but due to the fact that HIV/AIDS is an important social problem in the Bakossi landscape and adversely affects biodiversity conservation in the area,” she added.

Addressing participants at the opening of the training aimed at acquiring skills in order to become agents of dissemination of the tools and tenets of HIV/AIDS in their communities, Mukoko said: “The HIV/AIDS education in the Bakossi landscape aims to sensitise and support at least 75 percent of the school nature clubs, local communities through the CBOs, on HIV/AIDS and child education issues by 2012,”she maintained.

In order that the CBOs get skills and knowledge that are reliable, Louise Houag Biloa and Martina Moguem, experts from the renowned HIV/AIDS NGO, Association Camerounaise pour le Marketing Social, ACMS, headquartered in Yaounde, were hired to do the training.

Dr Noel Essomba, Coordinator of the HIV& AIDS Control Programme in the Littoral Region, complemented the training exercise with an in-depth knowledge and up-to-date information on the disease. The training facilitators encouraged participants to use condoms, especially the female condom which has faced a lot of resistance.

She reiterated to the women that the female condom was very necessary because it gives the woman the opportunity to be able to take the decision to protect herself, especially from male partners who would not want to use a condom. “It can be inserted even four hours before a sexual contact,” she said. Houag said ACMS will create sales points for all its products in key communities within the Landscape so that people can easily avail themselves of the products.

The participants left the training with packs of condoms and a water purifying product. Given that the participants live in rural areas where water sources are not very healthy, Houag said that the tablets are very vital because they will help to purify any source of water and render it healthy for drinking.

Nineteen-year-old Melvin Eline from Muanyame CIG and a student of GHS Nyasoso was one of the participants in the training promised to carry the knowledge gained back to their school club and community.

“Since the initiation of the fight against HIV/AIDS by WWF in our community, we have also introduced it in our group,” he said. According to Peter Ekiti who was representing the Muandip Bee Farmers CBO from Ndom, he was going to impart the knowledge gained to his fellow members.

On behalf of WWF Coastal Forests Programme, Mukoko was quite satisfied that the participants had gained ample knowledge that they would use to help keep themselves healthy and, consequently, enhance conservation within the landscape. “I am very impressed with the participation. They have come from very far and I am sure that they are taking home quite a lot to share with others in their communities,” she said.

The training, she said is one of the several activities funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), through WWF Sweden, the main donor for the Conservation Based project in the Bakossi landscape

First published in The Post print edition no. 01357

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