Collaboration Improves Social Services in Lesotho
Social workers in Lesotho have traditionally faced challenges related to isolation and poor coordination at all levels. Leadership and management capacity at the national and district level needs improvement to bolster the profession’s credibility in the eyes of service users. As a result, social work has been generally perceived as an after-thought rather than an integral part of public service. The Department of Social Welfare (DSW) needed to improve leadership, communication, and management skills in order to deliver well-coordinated services to orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Lesotho.
USAID, working with Management Sciences for Health (MSH), provided leadership development training for senior staff from the DSW. The training focused on teaching staff to identify service priorities and develop coordinated responses to the needs of OVC and their caregivers. The training also introduced the Challenge Model, an MSH-designed tool that helps participants create a shared vision and action plan to address identified challenges. Following the training, DSW senior staff and their teams determined priorities for service delivery within their districts and set measurable targets for the next quarter.
The Mafeteng District social welfare team set a target to reach an additional 250 orphans and vulnerable children from rural areas with monthly public assistance grants. The team relied on data and information generated through a complementary program of the EU and UNICEF, the Child Grants Program. This sister project had identified children in need of assistance through an assessment process. The Mafeteng team filled the service gap by verifying each client’s need and placing them on monthly grants. The team’s strategy of utilizing existing data and sharing resources with a complementary project helped them meet and exceed their quarterly target, reaching 319 new clients within two months. The services provided to newly reached OVCs include:
- Monthly cash grant of $15 (USD) for OVC households, from both the Government of Lesotho and the EU-UNICEF child grants program
- Nutritional supplements for under five-OVC
- Psychosocial care through counseling
- Legal protection for abused children through referrals by taking them away from the abusive environment to safe places while investigations are carried out.
To provide these services, care and support for orphans has been integrated into different sectors, including health, education, and agriculture. In Lesotho, social welfare and social services are coordinated and directed by the Department of Social Welfare (DSW), an integral part of the Ministry of Health Social Welfare. While the ‘Health’ component of the Ministry provides clinical and community based health services, the ‘Social Welfare’ component provides social services to these clients, ensuring a continuum of holistic care.
With support from MSH, the DSW leadership and management capacity has improved, and the department is effectively coordinating inter-ministerial coordination of OVC services. USAID and MSH continue to work with DSW staff in all ten of Lesotho’s districts as they implement their identified goals.