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2002 Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Workshop on Children affected by HIV/AIDS

'Implementing the UNGASS goals for orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS'

25 - 29 November 2002

Windhoek, Namibia

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Some 250 delegates attended the 2002 Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Workshop on Children Affected by HIV/AIDS in Windhoek, Namibia, from 25-29 November 2002. This was the most recent in a series of bi-annual regional workshops, the previous workshop being held in Lusaka in November 2000.

In general the purpose of these workshops has been to bring together stakeholders to reinforce awareness of the impact of HIV/AIDS on children and their caregivers, and to build commitment to action — particularly at government level.

The theme of the Windhoek workshop was “Implementing the UNGASS goals for orphans and other children made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS” (see panel). The overall goal of this workshop was to support the scaling up of action for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) at country level.

The specific objectives were:

  • To review progress towards the achievement of the UNGASS goals at country level, and toward the commitments made by countries at the Lusaka OVC Workshop in 2000;
  • To explore good practice in implementing large-scale action to achieve the UNGASS goals;
  • To develop a clear vision of the way forward, and make commitments to action, at country and regional level.
The workshop was convened by the UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office with technical and financial support from the USAID, SIDA, NORAD, the International Save the Children Alliance, UNAIDS, Family Health International and the Government of Namibia. As with the previous workshops a steering committee comprising of the cosponsors was established to plan and oversee the meeting.

The countries invited to attend were Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Each country was invited to send a team of seven members representing government, national NGOs, UNICEF and other OVC stakeholders. A request to include young people in the teams was withdrawn when it emerged that the workshop would clash with school examinations in many countries.

In addition to these country teams, a number of delegates were invited in a supporting role — for example as technical experts, moderators or rapporteurs — but it was emphasised that non-country delegates should not dominate the discussions. On the whole this was successful.

The main output of the workshop was the country action plans — a list of commitments which each country team made to accelerate and focus action in their respective countries in order to achieve the UNGASS goals in their own countries.

Some countries participated in a similar exercise at the Lusaka workshop, two years earlier, and this represented an opportunity to revisit and update their action plans. The workshop adopted a “building blocks” approach to support country teams in drawing up these action plans, including:

  • Asking each country team before the workshop to produce a brief report outlining progress in their country towards the UNGASS goals;
  • An opportunity to hear presentations by all the other participating countries on their progress toward the UNGASS goals;
  • A 'Sokoni' or market-place where each country could display and “sell ” their OVC interventions to other delegates, who could decide what to “buy ” for adaptation and use in their own countries, so providing an informal means of information exchange on experiences and practices;
  • A series of five theme groups focussing on one or more of the UNGASS goals, each beginning with a panel discussion on good practice before moving to breakaway groups to discuss critical actions for rapid, effective, large-scale action in that thematic area. The themes were: access to education; access to health services and nutrition; provision of psycho-social support to OVC; access to social services and getting resources to community level; and protection of children's rights and combating stigma;
  • A series of satellite sessions on technical issues, including: monitoring and evaluation of OVC programmes; alternative care arrangements for orphans without family support; the role of faith-based organisations in the care and support of orphans; the cost of OVC interventions; and children living with HIV/AIDS.
The working group sessions were punctuated by plenary sessions which allowed delegates to hear feedback from the working groups they were unable to attend, and presentations by technical experts and dignitaries.

The country teams developed country action plans on day four, and were given a matrix to support this process. On the final morning they were asked to present their action plan to other countries for peerreview. In parallel, an evaluation committee designed a questionnaire and conducted 29 single and group interviews with delegates to assess whether the workshop had achieved its goals, and seek advice on how similar workshops could be improved in future.

This report does not attempt to cover the individual country presentations, nor those made by technical experts in the theme groups and satellite sessions. However, most of these presentations are available on the attached CD-ROM.

Instead, this report aims to cover the main points which emerged from each plenary, theme group and satellite session, to provide an overview of the depth and content of the discussions, the nature of the challenges being faced by children throughout the region, and examples of how individual countries are responding.

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