Combating HIV/AIDS


Pictures Courtesy of The African Cultural Heritage Trust (ACHT) / Zindala Zombili.

Program Summary:

The Ubuntu Institute HIV/AIDS programme is focused on HIV/AIDS prevention with the specific goal of lowering/reducing HIV/AIDS incidence levels in Southern Africa. Our focus is in working with traditional and cultural leaders to address socio-cultural aspects of HIV/AIDS. Traditional and cultural leaders have a comparative advantage in dealing with socio-cultural norms and values that underlie sexual and related behaviors. If significant behavior change is needed, the active support of Traditional and cultural leaders will be important to address parallel changes in norms and values.

Inspired by a recent four country HIV/AIDS research study the Ubuntu  Institute conducted, the Ubuntu Institute seeks to work with cultural institutions, traditional leaders, African religious groups (who have a lot of influence in many parts of rural Southern Africa) to address the following issues:

    • Addressing the Vulnerability of young women and girls to HIV/AIDS
    • Promoting the role of men in HIV/AIDS prevention
    • Promoting Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) education
    • Discouraging Multiple Concurrent Partnerships (MCP)
    • Reducing Gender based Violence
    • Addressing Intergenerational and transactional sex
    • Promoting Life skills education, self efficacy and negotiation skills
    • Fighting stigma and denial of HIV/AIDS


Using a cultural and values based approach to address HIV/AIDS prevention in Southern Africa.
 Working with a broad range of cultural and traditional leadership structures, we seek to drive behavior change at three different levels: (a) community- social norms and contexts (b) individual- knowledge, behaviors and attitudes (c) structural factors- leadership, policy, infrastructure.


Driven by our strategy, Ubuntu will carry out the following specific activities:

Strategy 1.1: Coordinating regional Traditional leaders and cultural organizations to deal with structural issues (particular to customary law) and drive community change through education and advocacy campaigns.  

Strategy 1.2: Capacity Building –supporting traditional and cultural institutions with materials and toolkits to lead advocacy and educational awareness programmes. Systems of governance, operations, financial management and measurement and evaluation systems will also be put in place to sustain the activities of our programming and outcomes-based frameworks to be emphasized.

Strategy 1.3: Education and Awareness- Community dialogues (inter-personal) will be held in the communities to deepen the discussions over a longer period of time (6-12 months). Issues to be discussed include addressing the vulnerability of young women and girls to HIV/AIDS, the role of men in fighting HIV/AIDS, Sexual Reproductive Health education, reversing gender based violence, self-efficacy issues, etc.  Traditional leaders would lead such discussions.

Strategy 1.4: Advocacy-leveraging on the power and influence of traditional leaders, Ubuntu Institute will work closely with traditional and cultural leaders to drive behaviour change campaigns targeted at individual behavior change. Traditional Leaders are key opinion leaders in their communities and are sometimes referred to as “levers of change” in rural communities where most mass-media HIV/AIDS campaigns do not reach.

Strategy 1.5: Research- Ongoing research for measurement and evaluation of programmes will be conducted periodically and further research will be conducted on customary law, the role of culture in HIV/AIDS prevention, with the vision of creating further evidence-based solutions for the future.