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The power of information: Can NGOs in Zimbabwe take up the gauntlet and wield this weapon in the war against HIV/AIDS?

Proceedings of the I International Conference on Multidisciplinary Information Sciences and Technologies, InSciT2006
Mérida - SPAIN
October, 25th-28th, 2006


Lazarus Matizirofa1, Gretchen J. Smith1

University of Cape Town, Centre For Information Literacy

SARPN acknowledges Lazarus Matizirofa as the source of this document:
[Download complete version - 361Kb ~ 2 min (6 pages)]     [ Share with a friend  ]


The HIV/AIDS NGO sector in Zimbabwe brings hope to a nation grappling under immense economic problems and citizens succumbing to the ravages of the HIV/AIDS endemic. UNAIDS envisage that information and knowledge management is one of methods that has been tested and is one of the best ways to harness both tacit and explicit information related to all aspects of the epidemic. To test this notion a survey was conducted amongst 64 HIV/AIDS NGOs based in the capital city of Zimbabwe. Data was collected using questionnaires, key informant interviews, observation methods, and correlated with data collected from documentary sources. The study indicates that information and knowledge management is generally not well practised in the HIV/AIDS NGO sector of Zimbabwe. Skills shortage in information services management has had a negative impact on HIV/AIDS information dissemination. It is argued that measures are needed to assist HIV/AIDS scientific interventions. It was established that a sound information management policy and information technology developments were needed to address the information service challenges. In addition, poor networking among NGOs was observed. There was a strong indication that information technology tools (ICTs), and the Internet were not fully utilised despite their availability. Based on the research outcomes, the researcher thus proposes that an information and knowledge management policy should be developed for the HIV/AIDS sector in Zimbabwe. The study recommends development and management of a national web portal and online HIV/AIDS database.

Introduction

HIV/AIDS is the scourge of Africa and Zimbabwe is particularly hard hit with infection statistics escalating unabatedly. It is clear that the pandemic is further depleting an already embargoed economy and the country’s medical system is under particular pressure to cope with the added burden (Zimbabwe, 1999). The greatest area of distress is in Harare, the capital city, and the most densely populated region with the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe.

A number of HIV/AIDS intervention programmes have been implemented with varying success in African countries such as Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania (World Bank, 2000). The utilisation of information obtained from the vast cumulative experience forthcoming from intervention campaigns all over the world, but particularly in Africa, has however not been regarded as a major strategy to fight the disease. We, however, wish to argue that the creation of information systems and databanks that effectively capture, organise and disseminate HIV/AIDS-related information should be regarded as an essential intervention method and given a high priority in any country’s agenda that is fighting the pandemic. A further factor that was considered by the researchers was that NGOs have proven to be prime movers and agents in HIV/AIDS mitigation intervention programmes in Africa, and also in Zimbabwe. They work at grassroots level in various care-giving capacities with the AIDS infected communities and this places them in an ideal situation to gather, organise and disseminate information on the topic. All the factors mentioned above thus motivated us to investigate whether NGOs in Zimbabwe have the capacity to leverage information and use this under-utilised but potentially ‘powerful’ weapon in the fight against HIV/AIDS.


Footnotes:
  1. University of Cape Town, Centre For Information Literacy , PO Rondebosch, 7701, Cape Town, South Africa
    Corresponding Author: Lazarus Matizirofa:


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