More than thirty civil society organisations help orphans and vulnerable children in the programme area. With little information about each other or the communities they wish to serve, these groups have struggled to ensure a fair distribution of resources to needy families. The district government structures have also found it difficult to coordinate their own activities with those of civil society.
“For lack of coordination, we have lost resources as a district,” explained a Coordinator for the Kabwata OVC Project.
Alliance Zambia is responding by building the capacity of government structures to take a pivotal role in coordination at community and district level. This approach aims to ensure that civil society organisations avoid duplicating work and are able to distribute limited resources fairly, including to more remote, rural communities.
Since the Alliance signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Ministry in June 2008, four coordination meetings have taken place, organised and facilitated by the District Social Welfare Offices.
These meetings revealed that the government has been unable to provide proper guidance around child protection policies due to a lack of information about civil society groups supporting children. Of the twenty-eight community organisations that took part in the meetings, only one had known of and used the National Child Protection Policy to guide its work. The government department is now ensuring that the national policy is being shared with all interested stakeholders in these communities.
The coordination meetings also revealed that community organisations have tended to concentrate resources in or around urban centres, leaving more remote areas unassisted. Many have been supporting families near the main roads due to their limited resources for transport. In addition, these groups have mainly focused on educational support, and meetings have identified clear gaps such as psychosocial and nutritional support.
It is planned that the coordination process will generate a central database of community and government information from which all interested stakeholders can draw lessons, share experiences and plan more effective programmes.
“This partnership is welcome,” said the District Coordinator for CARE International. “It is rekindling what had almost died.”