Community-Based Support for OVC Project: Our Impact

{Photo credit: Jessica Charles/MSH, Nigeria.}Photo credit: Jessica Charles/MSH, Nigeria.

In Nigeria, 17.5 million children are orphans or vulnerable children; 2.5 million of these children are AIDS orphans. Although it is customary in Nigeria for extended family and community members to care for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), the capacity and resources of these individuals and households have been overextended by the growing number of OVC and the complexity of their needs. "For me, it’s about saving a generation from HIV, and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing," says Obialunamma ("Oby") Onoh, associate director for monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of the Community-Based Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Nigeria (CUBS) project. Funded by PEPFAR through USAID and led by MSH, the CUBS Project has provided care and support to children orphaned by AIDS and vulnerable children in 11 of Nigeria’s 36 states.

{Photo credit: Jessica Charles/MSH, Nigeria.}Photo credit: Jessica Charles/MSH, Nigeria.

Gender-related stereotypes, gender profiling, and inequalities between men and women reduce the impact of public health programs. In Nigeria, for example, many women are excluded from making decisions related to their families’ health and from accessing health services in their communities. These exclusions are due to patriarchal norms, often exacerbated by purdah, a religious and social practice that requires women to cover most parts of their bodies and avoid areas frequented by men.

 {Photo credit: Francis Duru/MSH.}After being widowed in 2008, CUBS helped Bridget Egesi start a pharmacy so she could earn an income to suport her five children.Photo credit: Francis Duru/MSH.

Forty-year-old Bridget Egesi has been the sole caretaker of her five children since her husband’s death in 2008. Until recently, Bridget pieced together an income by washing laundry, cleaning her neighbors’ cars, and working as a security guard.

 {Photo credit: Augustine Igwe/MSH.}Elizabeth Osesi was an orphan, struggling to make ends meet, when CUBS helped her start her own business so she could earn an income to support herself and her brother.Photo credit: Augustine Igwe/MSH.

Elizabeth Osesi’s parents were peasant farmers in Delta State, Nigeria. Watching her mother and father struggle to meet their family’s basic needs, Elizabeth dreamt of finishing secondary school, learning a trade, and earning money to support her family. But, in 1999, Elizabeth’s father died and, five years later, her mother passed away as well.  Elizabeth, just 15 at the time, was left alone to care for herself and her younger brother.  When they could not pay the fees, the siblings were soon forced to leave school. 

 {Photo credit: Adedayo Adeyemo/MSH}CUBS staff explore the mobile application.Photo credit: Adedayo Adeyemo/MSH

By Obialunamma Onoh, Zipporah Kpamor, Ugboga Adaji,Benjamin Akinmoyeje, Hope Ohiembor, Irene Amadu, Steven Shadrack, and Tokara Kabati  HIV & AIDS impacts millions in sub-Saharan Africa, contributing to a steady growth in the population of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). In 2008, data from Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Women Affairs showed that 25 percent of Nigerian children were orphans or considered vulnerable due to unmet needs for nutrition, education, shelter, care, or support.

{Photo credit: Musa Usman/MSH Nigeria}Caregivers sorting by-products during oil production.Photo credit: Musa Usman/MSH Nigeria

Nigeria is home to nearly two million AIDS orphans. Providing for these children is challenging for the nation’s many impoverished residents and communities. Without proper care and support, vulnerable children often face discrimination, neglect, abandonment, malnutrition, abuse, trafficking, and forced labor.

Twelve-year-old "Femi" from Ekiti State, Nigeria, was orphaned in 2010 and is now living with his grandmother. Because his grandmother has no reliable source of income, Femi works at his uncle’s car repair shop after school. He earns a small daily stipend, but it isn’t enough to pay for his school fees and supplies, so Femi often attends school in an old uniform and without the required materials. Looking untidy and malnourished, Femi often feels shy, has difficulty making friends, and struggles to concentrate on his school work.

"Ihemesi" community in Imo State, Nigeria has a single health center that serves nearly 10,000 residents. Malaria, typhoid fever, and malnutrition are common and many caregivers cannot afford to pay for their children to be treated at the health center. Often the health center would turn away children who could not pay.

The Head of the Community Development Department led a group of participants during the International Women’s Day rally in Delta State. {Photo credit: Gilbert Ojiakor/MSH.}

In Nigeria, women and girls carry the bulk of the caregiving burden for those infected with HIV and children left vulnerable or orphaned by AIDS. These responsibilities often prevent girls and women from obtaining an education and developing income-generating skills. Compounding these problems are social norms that inhibit girls and women from accessing HIV & AIDS information and services and severely limit their control over their sexuality, thereby leaving them vulnerable to violence and abuse.

When a parent dies from AIDS, the children left behind often suffer not only the loss of a loved one, but also the loss of financial support, making daily survival a challenge and education a dream. USAID’s Community Based Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CUBS) Project, led by MSH and Africare, is providing assistance to the communities that support these children in 11 Nigerian states.

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