BLC Project Legacy Document 3: Strengthening and expanding capacity to deliver needs-based services for orphans and vulnerable children
The challenge in southern Africa
The HIV epidemic has contributed to a large number of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in southern Africa, particularly in Lesotho and Namibia as a result of their high HIV prevalence rates. One in every three children in Lesotho is an OVC, and nearly half (45%) of all households are caring for at least one orphan. In Namibia, one out of every five children is an OVC.
Vulnerable children are more susceptible to factors contributing to HIV infection, such as extreme poverty and physical and psychological abuse. These factors can have a detrimental effect on a child’s development, limiting access to quality education, services, and opportunities. Moreover, a child’s survival and success are largely dependent on a nurturing environment. However, national responses to the needs of OVC in the southern African region have not been well coordinated or evidence-based, with activities frequently implemented in the absence of appropriate standards.
Early childhood care and development (ECCD) has a significant impact on a child’s future educational performance by ensuring a smooth transition to primary education. It has been shown that effective ECCD programs result in physically and emotionally healthier children, encourage greater social equity, and benefit caregivers as well as children. However, the quality of ECCD in the region is variable, with limited evidence from which programs can draw expertise and guidance. In addition, these programs are rarely integrated with other essential interventions, such as HIV testing and nutritional screening and support.
A regional response: the BLC project
The Building Local Capacity for Delivery of HIV Services in Southern Africa Project (BLC), implemented by Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is responding to these challenges in its work to support the response to OVC, in collaboration with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), has focused on the countries of Lesotho and Namibia to:
- Strengthen the coordination of structures and interventions for improved OVC services (including enhanced access, quality, and sustainability).
- Use evidence to inform programming and become more responsive to emerging data as well as national, regional, and international priorities and guidelines.
- Provide organizational and technical capacity development to civil society organizations (CSOs) providing services to OVC and their caregivers. This includes improving monitoring and reporting by CSOs and other agencies to track and report on services provided, guide service delivery, and share promising practices and lessons learned.
A systems approach: working at all levels
BLC’s technical approach is characterized by capacity improvement and technical assistance at multiple levels to strengthen the various sectors that comprise the system of care, and promote linkages and coordination among them.
Read more about BLC’s approach, services, results, lessons learned, recommendations and tools in this publication.