In 2011, Fondation RUSH held an Innovation Workshop in Kenya with ActionAid. Five of ActionAid’s country teams joined force with several of Nairobi’s artists, entrepreneurs and media personalities.
The objective of the Innovation Workshop was to encourage out-of-the-box thinking about HIV provision, and to generate ideas for innovative initiatives aimed at breaking new ground in the provision of services and opportunities for those infected and affected by HIV.
Since the Innovation Workshop, RUSH has worked closely with its partners, ActionAid Uganda and KAFOPHAN (Kalangala AIDS Forum of People Living with HIV/AIDS Network), to develop their ambitious grant proposal to a level ready for investment.
The Kalangala Boat Project aims to respond to the major HIV need among the transient fishing communities on the Kalangala islands in Lake Victoria, while also creating income for KAFOPHAN from meeting local transport needs.
Kalangala consists of 84 islands, about 43 of them populated, in a 9,066.8 km region, with a population of around 60,000. The islands, which attract itinerant fishers, have significant gender inequalities.
Challenges include dwindling fishing income, a poor savings culture, HIV prevalence of around 27-30%, poor infrastructure, and low retention of civil servants, including health centre staff. Kalangala is the poorest district in Uganda for HIV-related services.
Factors that contribute to the high HIV/AIDS prevalence are a traditional belief that a man’s reward for the dangerous work of fishing is to drink and have sex on return; low income for women adversely affect their ability to negotiate for safe sex; commercial sex relationships between men and girls; HIV positive widows and widowers moving in from the mainland. Poor transport links make it especially difficult for HIV positive people to visit clinics when needed.
This project will see two large, new boats constructed – one clinic boat and one transport boat carrying passengers and cargo. The transport boat’s primary function is to establish a profitable business with a reliable customer base whose profits will help to fund the outreach HIV services. The transport boat has a crucial secondary objective of awareness-raising. The clinic boat will enable outreach health visits to be held on remote islands in Kalangala District.
ActionAid Uganda and KAFOPHAN have commissioned a baseline health study in the Kalangala islands, and have established both HIV and business objectives.
In 2014, after several years of workshops and collaborations to improve the business model, RUSH greenlighted the project. The first vessel — the transport boat — is expected to be built and operating by the end of 2014.