The four major faith-based organizations (FBOs) in Ethiopia have entered into a two-year project agreement with the United Nations development Program (UNDP) and the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Office (HAPCO) to intensify their efforts further in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Local news agencies reported on Friday, Aug. 27 that the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC), the Ethiopian Catholic Secretariat (ECS) and the Ethiopian Islamic Affairs Supreme Council (ELASC), the four major FBOs, entered the two-year project agreement, in an attempt to mainstream HIV/AIDS into their spiritual and development endeavors.
According to the UNDP, mainstreaming is one of the important components of the joint HAPCO-UNDP Ethiopia's HIV/AIDS and development program. It conceptually means bringing HIV/AIDS into the very center of every sector's and institution's development agenda by taking an in-depth account to the bi-directional influences and impacts of HIV/AIDS and development in planning, implementing, evaluation and re-designing of programs and actions. Mainstreaming is an invaluable instrument to make the Multi-Sectoral HIV/AIDS response operational. This requires a thorough and systematic review as well as change of institutional policies, strategies, and regulations, methods and tools.
UNDP and HAPCO are currently finalizing the development of a comprehensive mainstreaming handbook for incorporation in all sectors and institutions, including FBOs under the current agreement through a consultative process with relevant stakeholders.
According to the Addis Tribune, the rationale for mainstreaming HIV/AIDS in the FBOs spiritual and other development initiatives is due to four major advantages: “firstly, FBOs have strengths, credibility and are grounded in communities to make a real difference in combating HIV/AIDS. Secondly, they are very important to bring healing and cultivate hopes of the affected people. Thirdly, messages and instructions transmitted through the falth leaders and preachers are trusted and create more commitment by the community. Fourthly, since these four major FBOs cover nearly the entire national population, mainstreaming HIV/AIDS in FBOs and working with them closely is the best and convincing strategy.?E
Ethiopia is one of the countries that UNDP selected to be focus countries for the intensified action against AIDS to be undertaken under the framework of the International Partnership against AIDS in Africa. Being aware of the tremendous threat that AIDS is to a sustainable human development in the country, the Ethiopian Government together with the donor community and the Ethiopian civil society have intensified their efforts to find a response to the epidemic.