In a nutshell
The Zero Tolerance Village Alliance focuses on sexual and gender-based violence, child abuse and HIV/AIDS-based stigma. It is based on a holistic approach to the eradication of gender & child based crime, this strategy targets all elements of “hot-spot” villages, to ensure that everyone in the community is empowered on their rights and responsibilities.
What we do
The Zero Tolerance Village Alliance is an alliance of villages that have taken full ownership of the social ills that beset their communities, specifically relating to sexual and gender-based violence, child abuse and HIV/AIDS-based stigma, and have pledged not to tolerate incidents of such nature occurring in their villages. It was developed in response to the fact that knowing one’s rights does not necessarily translate to the claiming of those rights. One of the primary reasons for women to stay in abusive relationships, for example, is evidently the sense of isolation and failure and the fear of negative responses from their family and peers.
To address this, a project was developed that would holistically incorporate all sectors of the community, so as to create “safe villages” in which victims of abuse would have the confidence and agency to take assertive and remedial action, knowing that they will be supported. Villages wanting to join the alliance have to meet a list of criteria, with guidance, technical assistance and resources initially provided by TVEP.
Forming part of the criteria is the requirement that a minimum of 1,200 men and women must participate in TVEP’s 4-day rights bases workshops, covering sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and HIV&AIDS. Over-arching all these workshops is the principle of accountability monitoring – thus participants do not only learn their rights, they are encouraged to take responsibility for ensuring that such rights are realised, and to act appropriately against any person or service point that may be denying them those rights.
The intervention culminates in a ceremony at which the village is awarded ZTVA status and the men – led by their Traditional, Church and Civic Leaders - take a public pledge, in the presence of a magistrate, not to tolerate any form of violence against women or children, or the stigmatisation of PLWHA, in their communities. Subsequently they are awarded a “badge of honour” and sign a “roll of honour”, from which they can be publically struck off as a “name and shame” gesture; the hypothesis being that women and children witnessing the pledge-taking will feel sufficiently confident to report any incidents of abuse to which they may have been, or are being, subjected.
TVEP’s database, in which all incidents of abuse reported to them are recorded, is used to identify villages in most need of assistance. After the initial “ground breaking”, villagers elect a Stakeholder Forum which will take responsibility for driving the project. This forum consists of traditional, church, civic, educational and other community leaders, and critical to the sustainability of the project is their willingness to take ownership of it; “buy-in” infers granting permission for the project to be implemented in their village by someone else, which is not acceptable.
How we do it
The programme's methodology incorporates lessons learned over 8 years of piloting the ZTVA project, during which various approaches were tested. TVEP first tried to implement the ZTVA strategy in 8 villages with high domestic violence and sexual assault incidents and prevalence that had been identified through their database. This proved to be an unrealistic number for piloting, and subsequently a partnership was entered into with the Population Council and Raising Voices, which ended in October 2011. Subsequently the intervention was externally evaluated and found to effect positive changes in behaviour. A copy of the evaluation is available on TVEP’s website.
To ensure sustainability and full ownership, community members in the respective villages are involved and participate in the planning and implementation of the intervention. Past experience revealed that “buy-in” is insufficient, as it is then considered to be a TVEP project which has simply been endorsed by the village leaders, when in actual fact, the ZTVA is a community driven project aimed at addressing problems identified by the community in their own respective localities.
Our activities comprise of:
- Holding Community Campaigns & Dialogues
- Training and establishing Stakeholder Forums, Sign MoAs,
- Identify, Train & Contract Peer Educators (aka Community Activists)
- Conduct of Baseline Study
- Develop Monitoring & Evaluation Tools
- Hold community workshops & Dialogues.
- Assist Stakeholders Forum to Meet ZTVA Criteria
- Pledge-Taking Ceremony & Awarding of ZTVA Membership
- Alliance Identification
What we have achieved
Four Vhembe villages are currently members of the Alliance, with many others waiting for resources to become available. One of Venda’s paramount chiefs has asked for the project to be implemented in all 70 of his villages, and the District Dept. of Social Development has facilitated funding for local CBOs to be trained in the methodology. A partner has submitted a proposal for the model to be implemented in 12 villages in the Eastern Cape, and recently a member of the Provincial Legislature recommended at a symposium on SGBV that the model should be rolled out “country wide”. In 2013 TVEP were invited to present on the model at the SVRI conference in Thailand, and next year TVEP’s training team will capacitate an NGO in Uganda, for roll out of the model in refugee settings.
What we have learned
- “Buy-in” is not sustainable; villages must take full ownership of the project;
- The biggest challenge we face lies in building agency amongst women raised in patriarchal settings so that they may claim their rights;
- Democratic process is not well understood in rural, patriarchal areas;
- Service delivery will not improve until the average citizen has the agency and capacity to hold providers accountable to their delivery mandates in an efficient, non-violent manner.