The right to health

Rights and responsibilities promotion

Strengthening the capacity of marginalised communities’ to take control of their health in sub-Saharan Africa.

Everybody deserves to live a healthy life.  Health is a human right. Poor health affects development by reducing time spent on productive work in a context where the majority is not yet covered by social protection. In Africa where small-holder and subsistence agriculture is the main source of livelihoods, health has a major effect on productivity. Epidemics like HIV and AIDS, cholera, Ebola, and complications related to pregnancy and child-births among others, negatively affect families as many are unable to access basic health care. Women, as care givers and major source of labour in agriculture, are particularly strongly affected.

Although the world has made vaste improvements in health and in the fight against AIDS in the last decades with more people living healthier and longer lives, sub-Saharan Africa still faces serious disease burdens. 

How poor health affects development:

Illness in a household leads to direct loss of productive labour through: 

  • Diversion of time spent on care seeking and giving; 
  • A reduction in crop and livestock yields;
  • An increase in medical costs, therefore reducing the household income; and
  • Changes in family diets and nutrition status as less are spent on buying nutritious foods for consumption.

Our work on health

ACORD’s work in health focuses on making communities take control of their health by understanding the factors that expose them to ill health and identify ways in which to address them. We build communities’  capacity to participate in managing their health services. We work to generate awareness and knowledge of human rights, gender and health issues within local communities, including among traditional and religious leaders. We build the capacity of rights organisations by increasing policy literacy, networking, communication and advocacy and leadership skills. ACORD also works to change socio-cultural norms by supporting women and men to develop visions for change in  gender relations, improved livelihoods and more healthy lives.

Download our right to health capacity statement to read a summary on why we work to promote the right to health; how we work to promote community health; our right to health strategy as well as project and research spotlights.

Our work in health focuses on the following areas:

Sexual and reproductive health

Strengthening communities understanding of gender inequalities affecting sexual and reproductive health and empowering women and girls to access information and make informed and independent decisions on their sexual and reproductive rights, free of coercion and violence.

  1. Radio calls to curb maternal mortality in Ngorongoro
  2. Reaching the Poorly Served
  3. Promoting safe motherhood: a story of the ACORD/UNFPA dignity kits in Nyumanzi Health Centre II, Adjumani District


soldiers holding bananasTackling the effects of HIV and AIDS on marginalised populations in Africa with a focus on preventing the further spread of HIV and AIDS in these communities by addressing both the immediate and root causes; mitigating the economic, social and psychological impacts of the epidemic on communities; promoting equal access to information, services and treatment; and addressing human rights violations by challenging all forms of discrimination and social exclusion. Drawing from the lessons generated in our work, we are currently working on:

- Empowering people living with HIV and AIDS to advocate for testing and treatment services; and

- HIV-related stigma targeting hard-to-reach communities including pastoralists, fishing communities, young people, children, women heads of households, ethnic and sexual minority groups.

  1. `Stop the stigma` song launch!
  2. Community meeting improves the life of woman living with HIV Ending stigma and discrimination
  3. The effect of livelihoods programs on care giving roles in households affected by HIV and AIDS
  4. Attaining to Vulnerability to HIV and AIDS in Food Insecure Settings in Sub-Saharan Africa

Water and sanitation

ACORD supports access and availability to safe water for human and livestock consumptionn as well as agricultural production. We support communities to understand the benefits of clean and safe water and hygienic practices for prevention of disease outbreaks.

  1. Uganda: Promoting Clean Water and Hygiene
  2. Ethiopia: The Power of Collective Action in Dire Dawa

Psychosocial and trauma healing

Supporting communities and individuals exposed to physical and psychological trauma, particularly victims of conflict and violence to access services.

  1. Eliminating sexual and gender-based violence: Moving beyond rhetoric to solid actions
  2. The Community Social Peace and Recovery Model
  3. Protection and Reparation Under Congolese Law for Survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence
  4. Drama and sports as a mode of therapy and awareness for youth and children refugees from the South Sudan conflict 


Building communities’ understanding of the importance of eating well-balanced meals and encouraging regular physical exercise. Moreover, ACORD works with communities to enhance diversified climate resilient agricultural, agro-forestry, pastoral and agro-pastoral production, processing and marketing, water management systems and social safety nets. This strenghtens livelihoods resilience.

  1. Tanzania: Supporting Small-scale Farmers to Build Skills in Food Processing
  2. Towards a food secure African continent - Arusha food experts workshop
  3. Testimonies on the difference safe water supply is making - in the lives of people in a rural area in Mauritania
  4. “From rhetoric to action” – African civil societies ask governments to put small-scale producers first
  5. Improving Livelihoods in Mauritania

Work place wellness and health

Strengthening skills for staff in ACORD’s offices and of partners to identify their health risks and design strategies to address them.

  1. Workplace policies on HIV
  2. Walking the Talk in the Workplace - Tanzania study
  3. Walking the Talk in the Workplace - Uganda study
  4. AIDS Competence in the Workplace ACORD and Concern Experiences in Uganda
  • access to medicines
  • health
  • hiv and aids
  • hiv in the workplace
  • nutrition
  • psychosocial support
  • sanitation
  • sexual and reproductive health
  • stigma
  • trauma healing
  • wash
  • water
  • ACORD 40 years - 1976-2016

    Defending rights. Promoting justice.
    How we work - The ACORD advantage - Where we work - ACORD's impact by the numbers - How ACORD is creating sustainable change

    See 3-page brief in:


    More reading

    Attaining to vulnerability to HIV and AIDS in food insecure settings in Sub-Saharan Africa.
    A synthesis report of Ethiopia, Uganda, Burundi and Mozambique.

    Download synthesis report

    Uganda country report


    Africa can feed itself so what’s going wrong? Watch the video and learn more about CAADP, the continental roadmap to sustainable agriculture
    Read more on ACORD's work in Agriculture and food security.