On December 11, 2002 a workshop held in Blantyre, Malawi's main commercial
and industrial centre, suggested that civic participation could be effective
in developing a citywide response to the epidemic. As a result, Blantyre
is one of the first cities in the world to embrace the City Consultation
The Blantyre city assembly proposed a city consultation process. It is
expected that the Blantyre example will be replicated in other local governments
in the country and worldwide. The project gives a chance for local governments
to play a crucial role in the mobilisation of their local partners in
the prevention and management of the epidemic.
The first phase of the consultation process included a four-day Training
programme for Transformational Leaders starting from May 27, 2003 in Blantyre.
The training was facilitated by Mr. Jonathan Love, a consultant on Transformational
Leadership for HIV/AIDS from UNDP in New York as well as other partners
from various organizations.
Volunteers representing different key stakeholders from NGOs, CBOs and
the Blantyre City Assembly were trained in appreciative inquiry methodology.
The Appreciative Inquiry methodology is an approach, involving a maximum
number of people who become leaders in the transformation process. The
approach is different from other traditional approaches in that it emphasizes
on exploring and realising the positive side of any situation. In so doing,
the approach rejuvenates in people a spirit of HOPE and OPTIMISM vis-à-vis
The HIV/AIDS City Consultation process follows the four main steps outlined
by the Appreciative Inquiry methodology. The first step of this process
is known as DISCOVERY, people and stakeholders in particular will
identify factors, forces, values and practices that improve their performance
in the prevention and management of HIV/AIDS. The second step is called
DREAM, motivated by their vision of a better future, the stakeholders
are expected to come up with new possibilities. The third step is DESIGN,
using their own innovations, the stakeholders will construct strategies.
The last step is called DESTINY, it drives the group to achieve
their goals in the prevention and management HIV/AIDS. In a nutshell,
all stakeholders in the Blantyre City Initiative on HIV/AIDS consultation
process will go through a transformation process in order to frame a common
Vision, Strategy and Plan of Action to fight the spread of the HIV/AIDS
epidemic in the city.
The trained group will collect data and discuss ideas on how the city
can respond to HIV/AIDS with identified potential stakeholders who hail
from a large variety of fields in order to strengthen partnerships and
make the process as participatory as possible. Thereafter, a stakeholders'
report will be compiled and edited by the local support team. In addition
to this, a City Profile Report will be produced by a local consultant
assigned to conduct a baseline survey of HIV/AIDS and its impacts in Blantyre.
Both reports will be presented as input into the stakeholders' city consultation
The stakeholders will take up different roles and responsibilities in
order to make the current response to HIV/AIDS more effective. In the
long-term, they hope to impact on the growing HIV/AIDS prevalence rate
The Local Support Team (LST) co-ordinated by the City Assembly will facilitate
the process. A Steering Group (SG) comprising of representatives from
Blantyre City Assembly, local governments, NGOs, and organizations involved
in the HIV/AIDS campaign will provide overall guidance.
Everyone has a role to play. LST and SG will lead the implementation
of action plan and the development of evaluation indicators of the city
response transformation to HIV/AIDS. The media will be an integral part
of the transformation process so that the initiative receives the publicity
it deserves and the Blantyre City Assembly is expected to share its experiences
with other municipalities in Malawi.
The City Consultation Methodology is not only an effective approach
for local development, it is also a strategy to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS
by mobilizing the leadership of City Administration in partnership with
community-based organizations, people living with HIV/AIDS, academic research
institutions, and other civil society actors. The process is spearheaded
by UMP with support