The Better Governance Project

The better Governance Blog #2

Stories of Stigma.

A project supporting the Somaliland National AIDS/HIV Commission to reduce discrimination in Somaliland

The project ‘Stories of Stigma’ is an innovative collaboration between The Better Governance Project, the Somaliland National AIDS/HIV Commission (SOLNAC) and Media Ink (a Somaliland media training centre), with the goal of strengthening the ability of the Commission to use media to reduce discrimination in Somaliland in the long-term. It has been developed following our 10-step process and is funded by the Swedish Institute.

Why this project?

In Somaliland, stigma and discrimination against People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) is widespread. This is usually due to false perceptions that physical contact leads to infection, and conservative social norms – where HIV is sometimes seen as a punishment for sins. People living with HIV/AIDS are subjected to different types of stigma and discrimination, such as loss of employment or difficulty in accessing healthcare.

Many of the people living with HIV/AIDS are already some of the most marginalised in Somaliland society, for example women from minority clans, migrants or internally displaced populations who are forced into sex work.

SOLNAC is the public institution mandated to lead and coordinate Somaliland’s response to HIV/AIDS, which includes reducing stigma and ¬†discrimination against people living with HIV. It is a well-functioning commission with dedicated and civic minded leaders. However, it has identified its work on anti-discrimination as a key weakness, particularly when it comes to using the media to increase public awareness and empathy for the difficult lives of people living with HIV/AIDS.

What is the goal of the project?

The goal of this project is to strengthen the Somaliland National HIV/AIDS Commission’s ability to work with anti-discrimination in the long-term. It will do this by cooperating on a joint TV and social media campaign that will draw attention to the experiences of stigma and discrimination of people living with HIV.

How will we work ?

With support and advice from Media Ink (a Somaliland media training centre), we will work with SOLNAC to develop a TV and media campaign: ‘Stories of Stigma’. Through cooperating on this project, the Commission will not only have valuable anti-discrimination content that can be used in a variety of settings in the future (e.g. social media, school presentations, conferences) but also gain invaluable knowledge of the process of developing and implementing engaging and effective media campaigns.

Since effective and accountable institutions are central to a functioning democracy, supporting resource-poor institutions in low-income countries is an important part of promoting democracy. Unlike projects that only work with rights-holders to influence duty bearers, this project works directly with supporting the duty-bearers who are responsible for reducing discrimination against PLHIV in Somaliland: SOLNAC.