AYISE’s broad approach to HIV and AIDS is to build community competence in response to the epidemic in Malawi.
"Building community competence" is an approach which is unique to AYISE and the methodology is used when addressing issues of HIV and AIDS, its impacts and social concerns. The approach was designed by AYISE in response to community attitudes towards HIV/AIDS work.
When evaluating a social survey that AYISE conducted in Bangwe Township, it was discovered that community participation in HIV/AIDS work had dropped drastically. This was largely because the communities felt the pandemic was the responsibility of Government and participating NGOs, and not that of the communities themselves.
This state of affairs led to potentially dangerous conclusion whereby AYISE felt that if communities continued with the deep-rooted culture of only looking to the Government and NGOs for solutions, then most of the programmes developed by those bodies would be unsustainable. In the long term this would lead to significant wastage of investment in programmes through unachievable objectives and minimal impact.
The proposed and agreed solution was to create and work through community structures. AYISE would facilitate the implementation of the structures and training, while the direct implementation would be carried out by the community itself. Some of these community structures are Community AIDS Committees, Women Action Groups Against AIDS (WAGAA), Youth Peer Educators Groups, Youth Entrepreneurial Group and so on. All of the initiatives are sustainable as they are grounded in the community and not in AYISE. When AYISE’s project in that particular district comes to a close, the work of the community structures in place continues.
This concept became the framework for AYISE’s Building Community Competence Intervention