Orphans and Vulnerable Children-Comprehensive Action Research (OVC-CARE) Program

Program Description

In July 2008, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded the Orphans and Vulnerable Children-Comprehensive Action Research (OVC-CARE) Project to Boston University’s (BU) Center for Global Health & Development (CGHD). The Project was designed to achieve three main objectives: Fill critical gaps in the OVC research evidence base in order to guide cost-effective programming of OVC resources; guide alignment of OVC programs to complement national-level responses, frameworks and plans of action for OVC; and, identify strategies and approaches that can improve the coverage, quality, effectiveness, and impact of OVC programming.

During the Project’s four years of implementation, 24 research studies were conducted evaluating the impact of programs funded by the President’s Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in all of the so-called 6+1 OVC technical areas (food and nutrition, health support, educational support and vocational training, psychosocial support, shelter and care, child protection, and household economic strengthening). The different stages of development of programming, local country characteristics, and decisions made at program design, necessitated a variety of research designs with a strong focus on mixed qualitative and quantitative methodologies.

The Project’s results have been well received in the research community, and have made significant contributions to the knowledge base about OVC programming.  Nine studies were presented at international conferences, including the Global AIDS conference in 2010 and 2012, the OVC Africa conference in South Africa in 2010, and the American Public Health Association in 2011 and 2012. Eight peer reviewed journal articles have been published and another dozen manuscripts are still in various stages of development and submission. This is important, because the multidimensional nature of programs serving OVC requires long timelines and covers multiple outcomes. This fact makes evaluating such programs substantially more complex than evaluating other targeted HIV/AIDS programs such as the provision of antiretroviral therapy. This difference is reflected in the relative paucity of peer-reviewed literature on the evaluation of orphans and vulnerable children.

In addition to improving the knowledge base, this Project was able to influence many aspects of OVC programming at both global and local levels. Project studies contributed to both the Household Economic Strengthening (HES) and educational recommendations in the Guidance for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Programming published by PEPFAR in July 2012. The Project was also a contributor to the new OVC evaluation framework following our work with the CSI. At the local level, individual country programs have been modified on the basis of Project findings, notably in Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Vietnam, and Zambia.

Projects under OVC-CARE include:

Additional research under OVC-Care includes:

Literature Reviews

Needs Assessments

Costing Studies

Qualitative Studies

Mixed Methods Studies

OVC-CARE is an activity of the CGHD’s Project SEARCH (Supporting Evaluation and Research to Combat HIV/AIDS).

Program Details

Principal Investigator Jonathon Simon
Boston University Co-Investigators Malcolm Bryant, OVC-CARE Deputy Project Director
Refer to links above for project-specific co-investigators.
  • Health and Development Africa (HDA)
  • Centre for Strategic Research and Development, Tanzania
  • Health Development Africa, South Africa
  • Christian Aid, Kenya
  • Makerere University, Uganda
  • Centre for Social Research, Malawi
  • PharmAccess, Namibia
  • Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
  • Sigma Research & Consulting, India
Country(ies) Global
Dates of Research 2008–2011