‘The individual is helpless socially, if left to himself…
but if he comes into contact with his neighbour, and they with other neighbours,
there will be an accumulation of social capital which may immediately satisfy his social needs
and which may bear a social potentiality sufficient
to the substantial improvement of living conditions in the whole community.’ - Hanifan, L.J. (1916)
This is the process that we facilitate in a Community Health Club.
The AHEAD Model is a process of development which uses Health Promotion as an entry point into the communities based on the assumption that health is a universal issue which attracts all mothers. The discussion of health issues promoted a ‘common unity’ making it a functional community. After six months, the community start to make positive changes to their hygiene, sanitation and water facilities, which enable most preventable diseases (such a diarrhoea) to be reduced. Creating a demand for sanitation is one of the main challenges of the Millennium Development Goals, which is to halve the number of those without safe water and sanitation worldwide by 2015.
THE CHALLENGE: TWO years to 2015!
The Community Health Club (CHC) Approach, as pionered by Africa AHEAD, is a strategy which, over the past 15 years, has been able to change the behaviour of millions of people in rural and urban communities mainly in Africa, and has succeeded in improving hygiene and sanitation. However, if the MDG targets are to be met, it is time to move on from small projects and scale up to national programmes that can reach the whole population. The CHC methodology is one of the few behaviour change strategies that can be institutionalised and should be taken to scale through the Ministry of Health to improve living conditions in every village in a country as has been demonstrated in Rwanda where 98% of the 15,000 villages in the country have started CHCs.
The AHEAD model was first acknowledged to achieve high levels of behaviour change in 2002, (WSP-2002) and continues to attract attention by a publication by 20 Combined Agencies (2009) where this Zimbabwe Project was highlighted as best practice. The CHCs successfully compete with other development trends such as Social Marketing, and Community Led Total Sanitation (2009) to produce predictable results in positive behaviour change (Whaley & Webster, 2010). AHEAD Programmes adhere to recognised best practice in development, training local NGOs, International Agencies as well as capacity-building Environmental Health Technicians within Government in many developing countries to ensure sustainability.
Community Health Clubs have helped to improve the living conditions of the poorest of the poor in diverse situations: rural and urban communities in Zimbabwe, post conflict resettlements in Sierra Leone, refugee camps in Uganda, remote Moslem villages in Guinea Bissau and informal settlements in urban South Africa.
These projects have involved partnering with many other international organisations such as WaterAid, CARE international, Effective Interventions, Unicef, Mercy Corps, New Zealand Aid and Oxfam as well as international funding agencies, in particular DFID and Danida.
Our programmes aim to achieve good development practice through:
the ancient Eygptian fertility goddess of the Nile
who embodied female creativity and care for the family.
We strive for: