The project on the provision of essential care and support to orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) in selected communities in four (4) target Local Government Areas (LGAs of Enugu State, Nigeria was successfully executed by the African Centre for Rural Development & Environment (ACERDEN). Implementation period or timeframe for this project spanned from January to December, 2015 (12 calendar months). The project was executed with funding from the World Bank under the HPDP HAF II and managed by NACA through the Enugu State Agency on AIDS (ENSACA).
The overall goal of this project is to promote access of HIV exposed and infected children as well as orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) to essential care and support services for improved standard of living and development. This is predicated on the premise that the population of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS has been on a steady increase in the South East Zone of Nigeria including Enugu State. Specifically, the primary objective of this project is to provide care and support services for three hundred and sixty-four (364) OVCs in terms of home based care as well as educational, health and nutritional support in eight (8) target communities within four (4) Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Enugu State.
Specific project interventions to address these objectives were community mapping, advocacy to community leaders, community dialogue and recruitment and capacity training of community volunteers (CVs). Other strategies include baseline/needs assessment of the target communities, pre-enrollment and enrollment of the OVCs, provision of health, nutritional and educational materials as well as monthly review meetings with the CVs, home visits for care and support by CVs, monitoring and evaluation of project activities and report production, distribution and uploading overall, ACERDEN achieved more than her targeted 364 OVCs by an additional five (5) OVCs that benefited from all the care and support services provided during project implementation.
A major success story is that there is a clarion call from neighbouring communities/LGAs for ACERDEN to intervene with OVC activities in their areas. Secondly, action plans were developed by the Igwe-in-Council/Town Unions of target communities to guarantee the sustainability of the project. Identified critical challenges/constraints associated with the project include the preponderance of out-of-school or an enrolled OVCs in these communities, Limited communication using mobile phone with some of the communities especially in Isi-Uzo LGA as well as poverty and food insecurity among the OVC households which promoted increased drop-out rates in schools and persistent health problems with the OVCs. In addition, most of the OVCA households are located in hard-to-reach areas that were inaccessible as well-because of bad terrain.
Major recommendations include the conduct of a baseline study to generate a comprehensive data base of OVCs with need assessment of the OVCs in Enugu State. Secondly, future OVC interventions should integrate both the in-school and at-of-school (un-enrolled) OVCs to promote equity and fairness. Finally, there is the need to scale-up OVC interventions to give opportunity to other children in both benefitting and non-benefitting communities in the 17 LGAs of Enugu State.