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Strengthening national responses: Southern Africa workshop on orphans and other vulnerable children

Maseru, Lesotho

10–14 November 2003

Unicef

SARPN acknowledges the USAID Development Experience Clearinghouse website (www.dec.org) as the source of this document.
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Executive Summary

The overall goal of the Maseru Workshop was:

To facilitate effective action within participating countries, to substantially improve the situation of orphans and vulnerable children, by enhancing the capacity of those countries to conduct situation analyses, establish national consultative processes, formulate policies, develop national action plans, design coordinating structures and implement strategic initiatives that are properly costed, monitored and evaluated.

The five-day Maseru workshop was a follow on to previous regional meetings on orphans and other vulnerable children (Lusaka 2000, Windhoek 2002) as well as the UNGASS on global HIV/AIDS. Specifically, the workshop was held in response to requests for support in building skills to meet commitments made during UNGASS and the regional meetings.

Ten countries were invited to participate, namely: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Each country was invited to bring a delegation of eight members, made up of senior technocrats from government and civil society. Ninety delegates were registeredi.

The workshop agendaii was divided into five thematic areas: participatory situation analysis; national action plan; monitoring and evaluation; policy and legislative review; and national consultation and coordination. A set of “Technical Briefing Papers”iii on each theme was sent to the country teams before the workshop, to prepare delegates and guide theme-related sessions. Each country was asked to prepare a “Country Report”iv on their progress in each of the five areas.

During the workshop a full day was devoted to each of the first three themes, with the remaining two being covered on the fourth day. Much of the discussion took place in structured small group sessions, including inter-country groups, country-teams and mini-plenaries – a total of 73 sessions excluding the plenaries.

Some of the key issues emerging within each of the five theme areas included:

  • Participatory situation analysis – involving children and youth; defining “participatory”; identifying orphans and vulnerable children; options for coordination; and the challenges of data collection.


  • National action plans – focusing on all vulnerable children (not just orphans, some of whom may not be vulnerable); the movement away from institutional care; and costing national action plans.


  • Monitoring and evaluation – the need for countries to define their own indicators; collecting qualitative and quantitative data; and integrating monitoring and evaluation into national action plans.


  • Policy and legislative review – the difficulties of merging international commitments to children with traditional norms and practices; reconciling outdated colonial polices, legislation, and practices; and free and compulsory schooling.


  • National consultation and coordinating structures – consultation and coordination should not hold up program actions; skills and resources from all sources must be harmonized; communication is a pre-requisite for coordination; coordination does equal representation; and meaningfully involving the community.

Five technical areas that received a lot of attention included:

  • Participation – how do we involve key stakeholders, especially children and people living with HIV? “I think we still have a lot to learn from each other about how to work with children rather than just having children as beneficiaries of our programs.”


  • Ownership of programs was also a big issue – not only ownership by governments and organizations, but by communities and children.


  • Advocacy was also prominent – both on specific issues and in relation to key stakeholders such as government ministries, donors and implementing partners.


  • Financial resources: “How do we see that resources actually reach children, how do we advocate that children's issues are built into proposals submitted to the Global Fund, how do we recommit ourselves to see that children benefit from funding that is coming into the countries?”


  • Process: “Do we have to do the situation analysis first, and after that a national consultation, and then policy and legislative review, and M&E and so forth? We’ve heard that maybe there is no single way.”


A primary output of the workshop was a matrix of “next steps”v which each country team developed during the course of the week to guide their actions on their return home, and to which they committed themselves on the last day of the workshop. These matrices focus on the five thematic areas, but the actions proposed by each country team are specific to their own situation



Footnotes:
  1. Workshop participants list: www.childcarenotes.org/downloads/workshops/maseru/participants.pdf


  2. Workshop agenda: www.childcarenotes.org/downloads/workshops/maseru/shortagenda.pdf


  3. Technical briefing papers: www.childcarenotes.org/downloads/workshops/maseru/techbrief.pdf


  4. Country reports: www.childcarenotes.org/downloads/workshops/maseru/countryreports/index.html (listed by country)


  5. Next-step matrices: www.childcarenotes.org/downloads/workshops/maseru/matrices/index.html (listed by country)




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