HIV/AIDS technical expert, Fatuma Abafita, describes leadership and management skills as, “A mirror to see myself, change myself, reflect to others, and help others see themselves as leaders.” She and four of her colleagues at the HIV/AIDS at the Oromia Regional Health Bureau (HAPCO) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia participated in a team-based, experiential leadership training program adapted from the Leadership Development Program Plus (LDP+) and facilitated by USAID’s Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Project.
To contribute to effective HIV/AIDS program, Fatuma Abafita draws on a 20-year career that began at a health center at the lower rung of Ethiopia’s health system. Today, she evaluates project proposals and provides feedback on care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS as well as orphans and vulnerable children. But, she’s clear that engaging these audiences and other stakeholders in prevention and mitigation requires more than just health expertise. “HIV is multifaceted, so prevention is better with a multi-sector approach,” Abafita advises.
In the adapted LDP+ training, Fatuma Abafita and the others applied tools like the Fishbone Model and the Challenge Model to analyze and overcome the challenges they were facing, like engaging stakeholders from different sectors. With only five in the group, though, the trainees needed to follow up by sharing the skills and tools they learned with the remaining 13 staff members at the HAPCO bureau.
“The immediate outcome was better teamwork,” said Abafita as she reflected on the impact of her leadership training. “Before, our team did not communicate very well. Our interactions and teamwork were very much improved after the training,” she remarked. She also noticed that she and her colleagues provided better feedback, individuals took more ownership of their responsibilities, and they felt more comfortable and confident in themselves.