OVC Foster

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Faith-based organizations as strategic partners for OVC programs : 

Faith-based organizations as strategic partners for OVC programs Dr Geoff Foster, MRCP(Paeds), OBE Founder & Board, Family AIDS Caring Trust, Mutare, Zimbabwe

Prevalence of Faith in Africa: 

Prevalence of Faith in Africa 99.5% of Africa’s 750 million population have a religious allegiance Some 2 million congregations blanket the continent One third of health / education infrastructure is faith-based in many countries

Advantages of FBOs for HIV/AIDS work: 

Advantages of FBOs for HIV/AIDS work Resilience in face of conflict, disaster, oppression and disease Most extensive and best-organized network of community organizations Theological commitment to work with poor, sick, stigmatized and marginalized

Orphans and Religion : 

Orphans and Religion Religions uphold values of respect for life, sacredness of human beings and importance of community Religious texts encourage commitment of resources to support underprivileged, including orphans


Christianity “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless” “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to visit and look after orphans and widows in their distress“ (Psalms 82:3; James 1:27)


Islam “Give orphans the property that belongs to them” “They ask you, Muhammed, what they should spend in charity. Say: ‘whatever wealth you spend, that is good, for the parents and children and orphans and those in want’” (Sura 4:1; 2:215)


Hinduism “He is liberal who gives to anyone who asks for alms, to the homeless, distressed man who seeks food” “O Lord of the home, best furnisher of resources for orphans and vulnerable children are you” (Rig Veda 10:117:1)

An Agency View of FBOs: 

An Agency View of FBOs “The churches are impossible to work with because they have so many agendas that are actively hostile to HIV prevention.” A WHO Regional Director


It is well known that FBOs are extensively involved in HIV/AIDS activities and OVC support . Yet FBOs are overlooked as partners by international HIV/AIDS agencies . In 2002, World Conference of Religions for Peace and UNICEF commissioned a documentation study of FBO OVC responses 1. Background to Study

The study was conducted in 6 countries: 

The study was conducted in 6 countries with the aim of gaining detailed understanding of the responses of FBOs in caring for OVC

2. Sample and Methodology: 

2. Sample and Methodology


Purposive Sample of 690 FBOs


Religious Composition of Sample Nr of FBOs (n=690)

3. Study Findings: 

3. Study Findings

FBO OVC initiatives are widespread: 

FBO OVC initiatives are widespread

FBO initiatives support many children: 

FBO initiatives support many children

Initiatives involve diverse activities: 

Initiatives involve diverse activities Institutional Responses Community-based Responses

FBO responses are proliferating: 

FBO responses are proliferating Date of establishment of OVC initiative

Most small initiatives are newly established Many initiatives support over 100 children: 

Most small initiatives are newly established Many initiatives support over 100 children

FBOs mobilize many motivated volunteers: 

FBOs mobilize many motivated volunteers 230 FBOs involved 9,056 volunteers (39 per FBO)

The cumulative impact: 

The cumulative impact 360 FBOs supported 156,754 OVC (435 per FBO)

Institutional responses are common and still proliferating: 

Institutional responses are common and still proliferating FBO responses 654 23% 77% OVC supported 156,754 14% 86% . Nr of volunteers 9,056 10% 90% Established since 1999 55% 48% 56% Urban 61% 79% 56% Total Institutional Community-based responses responses Faith groups with Pentecostal (26%) Anglican (95%) highest rates for Muslim (26%) SDA (86%) different responses Other Christian (21%) Catholic (81%)


Congregations have strong governance and finance systems but lack financial and technical support A 30-point Capacity Assessment was administered to 192 Congregations, 34 CBOs and a sample of 7 NGOs and 7 RCBs.

4. Conclusions: 

4. Conclusions

Church- and mosque-based OVC responses are widespread: 

Church- and mosque-based OVC responses are widespread Majority are community-based and share common characteristics, with emphasis on material & educational support Few examples of modified institutional responses Responses faith-based, not faith-focused; support to children on basis of need, not creed

Congregation initiatives are largely “unknown” and “unsupported”: 

Congregation initiatives are largely “unknown” and “unsupported” Congregation OVC initiatives usually unknown by RCBs and NGOs Most started by community members without external “mobilization”, “situation analysis”, “planning” or project funding Well organized OVC committees common Limitation on impact of initiatives from lack of external financial and technical support Yet most initiatives had scaled up OVC support

RCBs have potential for scaling up community OVC responses: 

RCBs have potential for scaling up community OVC responses RCBs reach surpasses NGOs (some have 1,000+ congregation partners), comparable to government Kenya has 75,000 congregations and 1.5 m. orphans (= 20 OVC per congregation) When asked “who is best placed to provide you with support?”, congregations named RCBs Some examples of RCB best practice providing OVC support to their congregations but most lack finances, technical skills and capacity

Agencies must understand the FBO sector: 

Agencies must understand the FBO sector Religious leaders recognize they have contributed to stigma creation in the past Little study or documentation of FBO contribution to development RCBs differ in structure, function and size and religious terminology is confusing Agencies should utilize existing religious structures and work with appropriate RCB tier


Understanding FBOs is difficult

Funding implications of Study: 

Funding implications of Study There is need to: fund participatory mapping studies of congregation OVC initiatives through RCBs support small grants funds operated by RCBs to resource activities of congregations. ensure that external funding for OVC initiatives is guided by the experience and capacity of local religious partners


Poster: MoPeE4269 Monday, Hall 3, Track E Study report available from: UNICEF, WCRP or downloadable at www.wcrp.org

With thanks to:: 

With thanks to: Jim Cairns, WCRP, New York Stan Phiri, UNICEF ESARO, Nairobi Tsegaye Chernet, WCRP Regsec, Nairobi Alice Akunga, Principal Investigator (PI), Kenya Dennis Muhangi, PI, Uganda George Mandere, PI, Malawi Liazzat Bonate, PI, Mozambique Dee Dee Yates, PI, Namibia Bongiwe Masilela, PI, Swaziland

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