Organizational Development: Strengthening the Capacity of Community Groups to Care for Vulnerable Children


Limited Community Capacity

Nigeria is home to 17.5 million children considered vulnerable due to unmet needs for food, shelter, education, protection, or care. Among these children, 2.5 million have lost one or both parents to AIDS. Fortunately, many of Nigeria’s orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) receive assistance from individuals in their community who come together to form support groups, raise funds, and advocate for services. Some of these efforts have led to the formation of civil society organizations (CSOs). However, in recent years, these organizations have been unable to meet the growing needs of those in their communities. In some cases, poverty impedes action, while in others, a lack of knowledge and capacity limits the CSOs’ impact. Without ample resources and skills, CSOs may channel their efforts and funds into interventions that have a limited effect and are unable to sustain and expand. International donors, while eager to engage local residents and groups in development projects are often unable to find CSOs with the capacity needed to make effective use of funding and resources. The result is that some children are reached but millions remain in need. Among those reached, many regress, are lost to follow- up, or are referred for care but never arrive.

Strengthening Community Organizations

In 2009, the Nigerian Government responded to these and other challenges by working with USAID to implement a project that would provide realistic, holistic, long-term solutions for the nation’s OVC. For five years, the PEPFAR-funded Community- Based Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CUBS) project provided food and nutrition advice, shelter, education, protection, health, and care to OVC and strengthened the capacity of 38 CSOs to continue meeting the needs of vulnerable children and their caregivers. Implemented by Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and its sub-contractor, Africare, CUBS helped the CSOs increase community engagement, inspire local ownership, and implement culturally-sensitive, effective OVC programing.