ONLY a few corporate companies have successfully designed partnerships that build sustainable community environments.

ONLY a few corporate companies have successfully designed partnerships that build sustainable community environments.

One such successful programme is Xstrata Alloys' private partnership mix that has seen the company build sound and credible relationships in the communities in which they conduct their business.

So profound has the Xstrata programme been that it fell in the category described by PEPFAR's Celicia Serenata when she noted: "Many companies in the private sector are unwilling to move beyond their own employees and into the community. They do not see the community as their own issue or responsibility. It can also be quite tough for business to make the case to work with the community because it is about sourcing workers for the future, rather than looking at the immediate needs for the business.

"A good private partnership mix relies on a company finding a partner that can take the company resources and marry this with their corporate responsibility."

The South African government outlined its position on Aids treatment and access with the publication of its strategic plan in 2007 (called the HIV and Aids and STI National Strategic Plan for South Africa, 2007 - 2011, or the NSP). The Plan emphasises the need to strengthen health systems within South Africa. In 2006, the government's position changed.

The year 2006 was when we, as a company, decided to meet the challenge of HIV and TB and started our PPM. We realised that only offering medicines to our employees and their spouses would have a limited effect if they were returning to a community environment where HIV and TB were not being managed.

The added complexity of these socio-economic issues encouraged us to adopt an integrated approach to tackling HIV and TB - a view which also considers food security, housing and income for families.

Our decision to start the PPM made sense from both a business and humanitarian perspective - in South Africa, the disease burden is so acute that we believe companies need to play a role in the communities to curb the spread of infection. However, this also raises some key questions: if a company steps outside of its workplace, does it provide services that only governments should offer?

Also, how could we, as a mining company, help by offering our skills and expertise without having to become experts in health and development?

Our international operations have also committed to global standards on Corporate Responsibility, including the United Nations Global Compact which includes human rights principles. The PPM is a demonstration of how we have translated international and national commitments into "on the ground" action and innovative solutions.

The human scale approach

One of the core aims of the PPM is to make the partnership sustainable as well as scalable.

Re-Action!, our implementation partner, introduced the thinking and methodology of a development economist, Manfred Max-Neef, to the PPM. Max-Neef promotes the idea of human scale development, which focuses on satisfying people's "fundamental human needs." This "needs" approach enables people to become self-reliant and to participate in society.

We fully support the human scale approach to development.

The socio-economic context

The socio-economic and demographic statistics give some insight into understanding the full impact of HIV and Aids on the SA economy, education and health system.

Evidence also shows that poverty and other social factors contribute to the spread of HIV. The reduction of poverty and social inequality is a key objective of the South African government. Other factors that impact on the spread of HIV include:

l Food security, which includes stable food availability and individual access to food. Anyone on ART needs a sustainable source of food as lack of food security leads to under-nourishment;

l Access to safe water, sanitation and healthcare;

l School attendance and education; gender-based violence, which puts women at the risk of exposure to HIV infection, and

l Lack of economic support, particularly among women.

The PPM does not look at HIV in isolation but tries to address these other socio-economic factors that lead to multiple deprivation and the spread of HIV. We do this by applying an integrated approach.