A push against the spread of HIV in Informal Settlement communities

Various NGOs, Stakeholders and Diepsloot community members turned out at Diepsloot Youth Centre as Witkoppen Health and Welfare Clinic hosted a research dissemination event on 15 February.

Witkoppen is a non-profit organization providing comprehensive primary health care and social services to mostly impoverished residents informal settlements in the northern parts of Johannesburg. It has been part of the DREAMS Innovation Challenge (DREAMS IC) to bring change in poor societies.

The aim of the event was to engage the Diepsloot community and share with them the results of the research intervention of HIV self test, Linkage to care of their sexual partners, said the Witkoppen Research Data Manager Lilian Ngwako.

“The intervention was successful in delivering the HIV self test kits,” she said. “It was also successful in getting men to test. HIV self test can be a way of reaching men who have not tested and also achieving the 90- 90-90 goals.”

90-90-90 goals is a concept introduced by United Nations’ programme on HIV/AIDS in 2013. The idea is that by 2020, 90% of the people who are HIV positive will be diagnosed, 90% of people who are diagnosed will be on  antiretroviral treatment , and 90% of those who receive antiretroviral treatment will be virally suppressed.

“The research has demonstrated that men have poorer health seeking behaviors as compared to their female counterparts,” Ngwako said. “So the aim was to link and retain them through the male-friendly clinic. We also aimed to educate and mentor HIV negative adolescent girls and young women such that they felt determined to stay HIV free.”

Ngwako added that they are still offering HIV testing in the community and people should look out for their gazebos.

Happy Feet Day Care officially launches

Happy Feet Day Care has secured more than 35 spots for children in Cosmo City’s extension 0, aiming to teach ages two to five under the early childhood development curriculum.

MySchool MyVillage MyPlanet partnered with GROW with Educare Centres to officially launch the pre-school on 13 February. Their project aims to establish 21 high quality early childhood development ECD) centres in under-resourced communities of Cape Town and Gauteng over the next two years.

 “With funding of almost R5 million,” said the General Manager of MySchoolMyVillageMyPlanet Pieter Twine, “this is one of our biggest commitments to a single project to date”.

“ We welcome the opportunities to partner with GROW and see 21 new high quality GROW Educare Centres get off the ground over 2019 and 2020,” Twine said.  “This is a project that brings together vital education and child care, as well as entrepreneurship, employment and sustainability.”

Twine added that his organization will continue partnering with various stakeholders to bring quality in ECD.

When they identify the potential beneficiaries of their programme, Twine said they make sure that children are learning in a good environment and teachers receive proper training.

 Happy Feet Day Care principal Maria Tabana said she was happy for the pre-school to be considered for the educational programme.

“I am happy that the preschool is now officially launched,” Tabana said. “I think it is a positive move which will benefit the community. Children will get better education and get themselves ready to move to big schools. We teach them a lot of things including how to write using pencils and how to identify colours.”

 Worldwide, delivering quality ECD has been identified as a key strategy to break entrenched cycles of poverty and inequality. GROW uses a tool developed by the World Bank (the MELQO – Measuring Early Learning Quality Outcomes) to evaluate whether children in GROW schools are achieving internationally benchmarked milestones of development.

According to GROW, under-resourced pre-school centres in Gauteng and Cape Town will be transformed and brought into the thriving GROW brand community. GROW will ensure the upgrading of facilities to meet mandatory ECD standards; leadership, business and education training for the micro-franchisee; educational training for child caregivers; provision of outstanding educational resources through GROW Learning; a healthy, balanced nutrition programme, ongoing monitoring and evaluation, as well as active mentoring, and parent and community outreach. Each school will also start the process of registration with the Department of Social Development. C

DA and City of Johhanesburg react to ANC over Ward Councillors’ suspension and dismissal

Democratic Alliance (DA) City of Johannesburg has blasted ANC in Johannesburg for its series of actions against Ward Councillors, calling up on the ruling party to play open cards with the residents of Johannesburg and explain why they are disciplining Ward Councillors in the dark.

Some the ANC Ward Councillors are facing pressure from their party members to step down.Ward 100 ANC Councillor Mapula Mosito is facing a similar situation.

 The ANC in Johannesburg recently released a press statement on the weekend of 16 February, indicating that they had removed Ward 50 Councillor Zulu for associating with another political party. According to DA Caucus, ANC Diepsloot Ward Councillor Mabuke has been suspended with no clear reason given.

Johhanesburg Mayor Hemman Mashaba  released a media statement stating that he has been approached by ANC Ward Councillors who have been dismissed or suspended by the ANC in Johannesburg.

“What is curious about these moves is that while the ANC in Johannesburg is taking actions against its Ward Councillors there remains little transparency as to its real reasons. We are informed that another three ANC Ward Councillors are due to face disciplinary action,” the mayor said.

The removal or suspension of a Ward Councillor in the City of Johannesburg is not a matter to be taken lightly, he said, given that Ward Councillors are democratically elected.

Most troubling, the mayor said, is that the ANC talks about ‘Caretaker Ward Councillors’ to assume responsibility which undermines the democratic process.

“It poses the question of who elects these ‘Caretaker Ward Councillors? ’It is worth noting that while the ANC continues to fail to implement any steps against its senior leadership in Johannesburg, implicated by forensic investigations, it appears happy to act against elected Ward Councillors without transparency or public scrutiny.”

According to the Mayor, a lot of politicians never received serious disciplinary after committing offences.

“ Former Mayor Parks Tau and former MMC of Finance Geoff Makhubo remain untouched for their alleged party, personal or family benefits derived from the contract with Regiments Capital. Former MMCs Dan Bovu, MatshidisoMfikoe and Mally Mokoena remain undealt with over similar forensic investigations that are before the City’s Ethics Committee.” 

“It would appear that ANC Councillors in leadership positions are immune from actions for enriching themselves, using state resources to pay for party events, employing family members and selling City owned land to vulnerable people. What could these ANC Ward Councillors have done that was worse than any of these offences which have received no attention?” concluded the Mayor. � Pt� �

Mixed feelings over sewer upgrade

Cosmo City residents expressed mixed feelings over sewer upgrade amid local authorities’ response to the persistent sewage crisis.

 Since last year, Cosmo City residents have been attending a series of meetings alongside representatives from the City of Joburg Water, Building Control, Pikitup, Johannesburg Metro Police Department and other stakeholders, as an attempt to address the deteriorating situation.

In January 2019, Ward 100 Councillor Mapula Mosito confirmed that the Department of Environment had given the City of Johannesburg a go ahead with the sewer project which has since started. The aim of the upgrade, according to local authorities, is to permanently end the sewer problems, which have been of much concern in the community.

“We understand the project has gotten underway,” said a resident Malusi Mkhize. “We hope if they upgrade the main sewer pipe there will be an increase in the flow of the sewage. It is a good move. Let us see if this will permanently stop the sewer problems in Cosmo City.”

While some residents are happy with the proceedings, others are not.

“To me, there is no sign that there is any progress,” said Melinda Matlou of extension6. “In our extension, things are still the same. We are always inhaling bad air in that area, and it seems to be deteriorating.”

The sewage spills have corroded South Africa Road, Matlou added, causing bumper to bumper traffic. According to local authorities, in order to upgrade the pipes, there is need to block some of the pipes, and this has deepened the crisis especially in extension6.

 The main sewer pipe, which has been frequently bursting in extension 6, is expected to be upgraded from 330 mm to 400mm.

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