In 2004, a number of organizations agreed a global strategic framework to guide responses to issues facing orphans and other vulnerable children. These organizations included UNICEF, UNAIDS and USAID. This shared framework is intended mainly for senior policy-makers. It also provides valuable guidance to those working children at different levels, for example, those working with local communities. The framework also has a more recent companion paper Enhanced Protection for Children Affected by AIDS , which discusses the protection issues facing children globally, outlining the priority actions needed to reduce their vulnerability.
Key principles for running a programme are clearly explained in the global strategic framework which was introduced in 2004. These include:
- Ensuring that all activities are consistent with human rights principles as laid out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Five key strategies (see below) to guide and direct responses to the needs of orphans and other vulnerable children.
- Seven elements of programming guidance (see below) intended for those carrying out specific local programmes.
- A monitoring and evaluation framework, including an agreed set of core national-level indicators.
- Strengthen the capacity of families to protect and care for orphans and other vulnerable children by prolonging the lives of parents and providing economic, psychosocial and other support. This may be done in a number of ways including through social protection, economic strengthening, providing psychosocial support, supporting carers, supporting succession planning, prolonging the lives of HIV positive parents and strengthening young people's own life skills.
- Mobilize and support community-based responses. This strategy outlines key elements of community mobilization including engaging local leaders, enabling local communities to talk more openly about HIV and AIDS, organising and supporting cooperative activities and providing and supporting community care for children and young people without any family support.
- Ensure access for vulnerable children to essential services, including education, health care, birth registration and others. Key services for vulnerable children include education, birth registration, health, nutrition, water and sanitation, judicial protection and placement services for children and young people without family care.
- Ensure that governments protect the most vulnerable children through improved policy and legislation and by channelling resources to communities. This strategy includes a wide range of provisions. These include ensuring that governments develop policies, strategies and action plans to guide national responses, enhancing government capacity, ensuring that resources reach local communities, ensuring that each country has a supportive legal framework and establishing mechanisms to ensure information exchange.
- Raise awareness to create a supportive environment for children affected by HIVand AIDS. This strategy includes conducting a situation analysis, tackling stigma, silence and discrimination and strengthening and supporting community mobilisation efforts at community level.
Elements of programming guidance
- Focus on the most vulnerable children and communities, not only children orphaned by AIDS. Programmes which target only those orphaned by AIDS may increase stigma and discrimination. Care is also needed when using terms to refer to children within a particular project. People from within a particular community are best able to identify those children in greatest need.
- Define community-specific problems and vulnerabilities at the outset and pursue locally determined intervention strategies. When a new programme starts in a particular community, it should be designed particularly to meet the needs of orphans and other vulnerable children in that community. This will involve identifying orphans and other vulnerable children and analysing the local situation facing them. Community members should play a central role in all these processes.
- Involve children and young people as active participants in the response. Children and young people should not be seen as a passive, powerless group who need to be given help. They need to be allowed to actively participate in all aspects of activities which affect them.
- Give particular attention to the role of boys and girls, men and women and address gender discrimination. For example, much of the burden of caring for vulnerable children and sick adults falls on women. Also, vulnerable girls are more likely to drop out of school than boys. Women are particularly vulnerable to HIV infection and are often excluded from owning or inheriting land.
- Strengthen partnerships and mobilise collaborative action. Working with other organisations can be a very good way of improving the activities being carried out.
- Link HIV and AIDS prevention activities and care and support for people living with HIV and AIDS with support for vulnerable children. Such activities include home-based care for people who are ill and HIV/AIDS prevention. Greater linkages with development activities in general avoid over-identification with HIV/AIDS and a risk of increasing stigma and discrimination.
- Use external support to strengthen community initiative and motivation. External support should strengthen and build on existing community initiative and motivation. Great care should be taken to avoid undermining or replacing community initiatives.