Stakeholders in the Children, Communities, and Care (PC3) Program in Ethiopia recognized that the program would have a significant and sustainable impact only if its activities strengthened the ongoing capacities of AIDS-affected families and communities to protect and care for children. The starting point for creating effective responses to the impacts of HIV & AIDS on children2 is recognizing that extended family and communities are the principal, albeit informal, safety nets for these children. Children and adolescents not only depend on the support of their families, they also contribute to the economic capacity of their households. The illness and loss of productive adults often means that, as a matter of survival, children engage in additional income-earning activities or take over the majority of work in the family field—shifting their roles from important economic contributors to that of premature heads of household (who also try to care for younger siblings and incapacitated adult relatives). The difficulty of this role is compounded by significant psychosocial distress, which is caused by losing one or both parents and/or relatives.
In light of the above, the PC3 Program aimed to: (i) increase the availability, quality, and consistency of community-based support services for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and families affected by HIV & AIDS; (ii) improve the capacity of Ethiopian civil society organizations (CSO) to plan, implement, monitor, evaluate, manage, and report on OVC programs and services; and (iii) create a more supportive environment for OVC and their households through strengthened coordination, networking, and advocacy. The program has sought to ensure that a range of core services are provided across community OVC programs, while maximizing other services that meet the needs of OVC and build their capacity. One of the “fixed menus” for OVC care and support services is livelihood support.
The program has employed a tiered approach to capacity building. A consortium of international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)—Tier I partners—provide ongoing skills building and technical guidance, while local NGOs (Tier II, or “mentor,” organizations) support direct programming through frontline community implementers (Tier III) at the grassroots level. Tier I partners provide sub-grants to their Tier II partners, who in turn work with community groups to implement programs that improve the well-being of OVC and families affected by HIV & AIDS.