Longitudinal Orphans and Vulnerable Children Study in Zambia

Project Description

In sub-Saharan Africa alone, around 14 million children have lost one or both parents to HIV (UNAIDS, 2008). The majority of these orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) are cared for by extended families. There are 1.6 million OVC in Zambia, accounting for nearly 30% of all children under the age of 18 years. The Zambian government, in collaboration with development partners, has established policy and strategic measures to address the OVC situation. Despite a significant global investment of resources in OVC programming in recent years, and growing numbers of OVC support programs, there are few robust program evaluations and little scientific research to support OVC policy and program design. One of the most significant gaps in the literature is a paucity of longitudinal OVC cohort data.

The CGHD collaborated with Family Health International (FHI) to evaluate its multi-country, 5-year, community based OVC support program. The findings from this evaluation showed little difference in wellbeing between children who participated in the program and those in the general community. However, because we have no baseline wellbeing data, we cannot confidently say the children enrolled in the project were elevated to the wellbeing standards of the community comparison group. Although little difference in wellbeing was seen, findings did show alarmingly high rates of vulnerability in both groups.

Over the next year, we will continue to follow these two groups of children in Zambia — children enrolled the OVC support program, and the comparison children from the general community — to identify and better understand the disparities and vulnerabilities of the children and their households over time. This exploratory study examines child health and household status, and is one of the only studies that explores child and household wellbeing in the context of OVC programming. Findings will generate evidence to inform future OVC programming and guide international policy and resource allocation.

Project Details

Principal Investigator Jonathon Simon
Boston University Co-Investigators Nancy Scott, Katherine Semrau
  • Thomas Mugala, Family Health International Zambia
  • Joseph Kamanga, Family Health International Zambia
Country(ies) Zambia
Dates of Research 2010-2011