Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) in Nigeria
According to UNICEF, there were an estimated 13.8 million children and adolescents (0-18 years) worldwide who have lost one or both parents to AIDS as of 2019, 80% of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa. In Nigeria, there are an estimated 2.5 million orphans and vulnerable children due to HIV/AIDS. UNICEF estimates each day 880 children become infected with HIV.
For many years, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has focused attention and devoted significant resources to addressing this key population. Currently, there are 22 countries that have PEPFAR supported OVC programs including Nigeria.
In late 2019, the Society for Family Health (SFH), a Nigerian-based NGO, in partnership with American International Health Alliance (AIHA), Save the Children Federation (SCF), and the AIHA established Nigerian organization Twinning for Health Support Initiative (THSI-N) received a five year award from USAID entitled the Integrated Child Health and Social Services Award (ICHSSA 3) Program with the goal to integrate evidence-informed strategies to enhance OVC services, strengthen social services to OVC, and strengthen the OVC systems’ services and support in Kano, Nigeria. Specifically, the objective of the ICHSSA 3 Program is “to ensure that OVC are cared for and protected by their households, communities, local and state government” through civil society and partnerships. Nigeria was selected because of a significant risk among adult populations not on HIV/AIDS treatment (40%) and low use of ART among HIV-positive pregnant women (30%) – indicating a significant at-risk population that could benefit from pre-OVC and OVC services as part of HIV prevention and treatment programs. ART coverage for Children Living with HIV (CLHIV) aged <15yrs was estimated at 37% as of September 2022. PEPFAR Nigeria aims to improve ART coverage in this age sub population to 54% in 2023. Improving HIV case finding among pediatrics and adolescents is critical to bridging the ART coverage gap in this sub population. PEPFAR Nigeria will utilize the OVC and community structures to strengthen the pediatric ART program.
AIHA and our partner organization THSI-N have been working to deliver a full package of technical assistance activities to ensure that local and state governments have sufficient, high performing human resources to protect and care for OVC.
One of the first project activities was conducting a baseline capacity gap assessment of social workers and community case management in Kano State. The Social Welfare Workforce Mapping and Assessment 2019 Toolkit from Global Social Service Workforce Alliance was adapted to a 3-part ecological questionnaire specific to ICHSSA 3 program goals. The three parts sought information to establish a baseline regarding: (1) social welfare workforce planning, (2) social welfare workforce development and training, and (3) social welfare workforce support. This baseline assessment has guided subsequent phases of institutional social welfare workforce curriculum development.
Government agencies and traditional leaders to champion OVC services include:
- Kano State Assembly
- Kano State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS (KSACA)
- Primary Health Care Development Agency (PHCDA)
- Hospital Management Board
- Ministry of Education
Click here or on the image below to expand and read more about the OVC project.
Key Accomplishments To Date:
- Stakeholder Meeting for Strengthening and Repositioning the Social Welfare Workforce in Kano State included: KSACA, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Local Government.
- State team conducted an extensive baseline capacity gap assessment of social workers and community case management workers in Kano State. Social Welfare Workforce Mapping and Assessment Toolkit Global Social Service Workforce Alliance 2019 was adapted into a 3-part ecological questionnaire.
- The Auxiliary Social Work (ASW) curriculum has been included into the Kano State Polytechnic curriculum. 74 students will graduate in May 2023.
- ICHSSA-3 project through AIHA formed 171 cohorts of 20 caregivers and 20 adolescents who completed 14 weeks training sessions of Nagari na Kowa (Sinivoyo) parenting and adolescent modules which represent 4651 caregivers and 4651 adolescents’ beneficiaries.
- AIHA successfully achieved 76% of birth registration and certification of children enrolled in the project.
- AIHA established a total of 149 Community Child protection Committees (CCPC) across the project states.
- AIHA established 342 Kids/adolescents clubs with over 56,456 children in attendance across the states.
- 68,342 (95%) of children enrolled in the project) demonstrated excellent attendance to school; 77% performed credibly well in the last exams.
The project has successfully institutionalized the Auxiliary Social Work (ASW) into Kano State Polytechnic. This has strengthened local and state governments’ human resources to protect and care for OVC. 74 students have recently completed the 3 months’ practicum and resumed the final semester in April 2023 for the 5 weeks’ session before graduation and certification in May 2023. To sustain the ASW program, the project is currently mobilizing students for enrollment for the second batch of the program, including more from the Government than had been previously envisioned.
To further strengthen the ASW certificate, the project is currently in discussions with the office of the State Head Service to create a space and/or have the ASW certificate imbedded in the State scheme of services.
AIHA plays the leading role in implementing in other areas of social services such as positive parenting, education, child protection, mental health counseling, obtaining birth registration and certification, and establishing kids/ adolescent clubs, Caregivers Forum and Community Child Protection Committees.
Below are some major achievements recorded in these areas:
Caregivers adopt appropriate parenting practices Nagari na Kowa (Sinivoyo):
ICHSSA-3 project through AIHA formed 171 cohorts of 20 caregivers and 20 adolescents who completed 14 weeks training sessions of Nagari na Kowa (Sinivoyo) parenting and adolescent modules which represent 4651 caregivers and 4651 adolescents’ beneficiaries.
The methodology and approach were designed by Clowns Without Borders who trained ICHSSA-3 facilitators. Through this approach the project built the capacity of caregivers and adolescents on parenting styles, family budgeting, discipline, conflict resolution, praising each other, anger management, and spending quality time as a family.
The module is aimed at strengthening family relationships and building a happy home through positive parenting in line with global best practices.
Below: Nagari na Kowa (Sinivoyo) sessions
Birth Registration and Certification:
A 2020 UNICEF report notes that one in three children’s births worldwide are not officially registered. As part of social and legal protection component of the ICHSSA-3 program, AIHA successfully achieved 76% birth registration and certification rates of children enrolled in the project. This was achieved through collaboration and partnership with National Population Commission (NPopC) and other health facilities within the project states.
AIHA also established a total of 149 Community Child protection Committees (CCPC) across the project states. A key responsibility of these Committees is to follow-up and ensure all children are protected against all forms of abuse and exploitation to attain their full potential in life. The Committees reported and followed up on 321 cases of abuse and 56 prosecutions in collaboration with the security agents and Legal Aid Council.
ICHSSA-3 through AIHA reached out and assessed a total of 71,935 in-school children on school performance, attendance, retention and psychosocial wellbeing. The children school performance national tool was used to perform the assessment that revealed the following: (see graph below) 69,456 children attended school regularly without missing 2 days of regular academic class in a month. 66,432 children showed steady performance in the last 3 sessions. 68,342 resumed school early and never missed out of school and 55,432 performed credibly well in the last exams. This assessment is a routine procedure to monitor children’s school activities through school and home visits. In addition to school assessment AIHA also mobilized scholastic materials for 37,621 across Kano and Niger states most vulnerable children with support from the community, private sector, and local government.
Click here or on the image below to expand and read more about the OVC project’s outcomes.
Caregivers support OVC to access age-appropriate educational development, health, and protection services:
The project also formed 231 caregivers comprised of both males and females who directly provide care for enrolled children in the project. The platform meets monthly and was purposely set up to strengthen caregivers’ capacity, provide an opportunity to discuss challenges, and to share best practices.
Kids/Adolescent Club activities:
Kids Clubs create an opportunity for children to collectively find ways of coping, mobilizing community support and developing life skills such as conflict management, seeking help, self-expression (through drama, poetry, play, etc.) and taking care of others. The project had so far established 342 Kids/Adolescents clubs with over 56,456 children in attendance across the states.
Click here to read the interview with AIHA’s Abdullahi Abubakar, ICHSSA 3 Project Social Work Advisor.
Children in kids/adolescent club and children during kids club recreational activities
Plans for Next Year:
AIHA will continue advancing opportunities for OVCs in 5 states under this project in 2024. To ensure sustainability of positive changes, AIHA and SFH will continue working on the following:
- Provide information related to the international models of Auxiliary Social Work training, including specific information and lessons learned from the consortium partner’s AIHA ASW model.
- SFH-ICHSSA-3 will advocate to all 5 project State offices of the Head of Service, Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development and Ministry for Local Government to ensure volunteers and unskilled social work officers are supported to undergo a mandatory certificate course in Auxiliary Social work in the Polytechnic for proficiency.
- SFH-ICHSSA-3 will also work with other development partners and civil society organizations to ensure staff and volunteers working in the humanitarian field without the formal pre-requisite qualifications are able to undergo the certificate course in Auxiliary Social work in the Polytechnic to acquire the needed skills.
- Collaborate closely with the Nigerian Association of Social Workers (NASOW) to enroll ASW grandaunts as members of the Social Welfare Workforce in Nigeria.