The strides and efforts made by the Ward 4 War Room in fighting HIV and Aids as well as social ills in the community of Lidgetton and surrounding communities through Operation Sukuma Sakhe has once again been noticed. Recently Erva-Jean Stevens who is a strategic information advisor in the UNAIDS office of Jamaica visited the War Room to get first-hand information on how it operates in curtailing social ills and fighting HIV and Aids. Accompanied by Irene Maina, an Institutional Development Advisor in the Office of the Premier in KwaZulu-Natal, Stevens heard first hand and was able to get answers from her questions regarding the functionality of the War Room. Conducting the presentation, Ward Councillor, Sthembiso Nkuna said that his ward was one of the unfortunate victims of a number of  pandemic diseases such as TB, HIV/AIDS, malnutrition amongst young children and also social ills such as drug and high level alcohol abuse. “The Operation Sukuma Sakhe Model has enabled us to collaborate a multi-sectorial approach in fighting the scourge, addressing poverty and giving hope to the community of ward 4,” said Nkuna.

“Community Care Givers (CCG`S), Community Development Worker(CDW), Ward Committee members, and Councillor are a formidable team that works in a combination of efforts with the Civil Society structures, Ward Aids Councils, Community Policing Forums and Government Departments,” added Nkuna He said as a ward champion, he plays an important role in ensuring that the issues of HIV/AIDS and all other related challenges are tackled head on and in an efficient manner.

“One of the key strategies that we use is constant communication.  The team especially Councillor, CCG`S, CDW and traditional healers are in constant communication in ensuring that all community concerns in general and specifically relating to HIV/AIDS are addressed,” said Nkuna. “Meetings are held to discuss urgent findings of the members in their field work as a day to day operational strategy and we have one monthly War Room meeting with the whole team. Thanks to social media, we have even developed an OSS group on Whats-App to ensure that we all share the necessary information with fieldworkers,” added Nkuna.

He said that the War Room team was dedicated to addressing the needs of community and even after hours they attend to concerns. Stevens commended the presentation citing that she has never seen such a model in any of the countries she has visited. She said that in her country they also had a local government system but its focus is on infrastructure. “I will definitely take what I have learnt here today to my country,” she added.

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