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NETHIPS provides refresher training for Village Savings and Loans Association Facilitators

NETHIPS provides refresher training for Village Savings and Loans Association Facilitators

With funds from the Christian Aid Comic Relief Project, the Network of HIV/AIDS Positives Sierra Leone (NETHIPS) on the 20th and 21st September, 2013 provided refresher training for support groups that are currently implementing the Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLAs) activity, at their headquarter Office, 114 Pademba Road, Freetown.

The training was designed for Savings and Loans facilitators in order to enhance their knowledge on how to manage these groups in their respective communities, and it was an outcome of Outcome Two of the Comic Relief Project that is geared towards strengthening sustainable livelihoods for people living with HIV and their households.

The VSLA project is one of NETHIPS sustainability strategies for support groups in the country.

Individuals with HIV/AIDS, despite the overall improvement in their health, face a critical challenge from public health and economic policies: the vast majority of PLHIV do not have access to quality employment services or a sustainable means of livelihood. This is due, in part, to the history of HIV as an emergent disability that initially results in rapid declines of health and death, leading to a service system response that does not include planning for one’s future. PLHIV have relied, as a result, on default services from already overburdened and underfunded donor funds to respond to their needs.

In poor and rural areas of the country where the HIV/AIDS poses a serious threat, new innovations and approaches can help create jobs, including agriculture, skills development training programmes, economic development like micro-financing initiatives that have been successful in other poor and rural communities to help to address the underlying poverty associated with HIV/AIDS. PLHIVs avoid making use of available support services, fearing that using the service will result in public disclosure of their status.

Thus, the VSLA is a self selected group that saves money. This money forms a source of loan capital for all the members of the community. Communities are able to have savings within their villages which serves as loans when any community member needs money. Members borrow from this source and repay the loan with interest over a period of time and it serves as revolving funds for loans. VSLA are autonomous, self managing and carry out all transactions during meetings in front of the association to ensure transparency and accountability. Cycle of savings and lending is usually time bound. These savings are used for community cumulative needs i.e. water pump repairs, livelihood, education etc.

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