Working to strengthen orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) service provision by building capacity of local Zimbabwean partners

  • Cornman H
  • Smolow J
  • Shumba S
  • et al.
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Program/Project Purpose: The Vana Bantwana (VB) Capacity Building Initiative (CBI) is part of the USAID supported 5-year, World Education/Bantwana project that seeks to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS on Zimbabwe's orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). Working through local partners, VB's approach is rooted in the premise that CBO and NGO service providers must be equipped with the skills, tools, and systems that allow them to sustainably provide meaningful, high-quality services necessary for communities, caregivers, and OVC to thrive. Structure/Method/Design: Since January 2013, with technical assistance from John Snow Inc. (JSI), the VB CBI has worked closely with three levels of Zimbabwean civil society organizations along a capacity building continuum: 1) National level NGOs that have demonstrated technical expertise, influence at the national level, and proven capacity to manage sub-grants; 2) Regional sub-partners with a more localized and targeted reach and a strong record in providing core OVC services; and 3) Local CBOs smaller in size and offer one or two specific services. By the end of the five-year project, the national level NGOs and at least five of the sub-partners will have stronger finance and management systems, be able to offer an expanded basket of comprehensive services and be able to directly access and manage international donor funding. Recognizing that capacity building requires a modification of systems and structures, VB works directly with the sub-partners' leadership team who are key to ensuring the necessary changes for building more robust systems and stronger programming. The CBI team facilitates self-assessments for each partner to identify gaps and develop time-bound actions to address specific challenges using JSI's evidence-based assessment tools. The CBI team supports the partner with targeted technical assistance to complete the specific steps of their action plans. Outcomes & Evaluation: Building on a year of intensive capacity building support, the three National level NGOs underwent a simulated audit, using the USAID Non-US Organization Pre-Award Survey tool that confirmed their readiness to receive direct funding. In July 2014, USAID conducted a formal assessment with the three NGOs, which demonstrated that they met performance milestones and were ready to transition to receive direct USAID funding support. Going Forward: By the end of the second year, results show that the CBI interventions using the VB/JSI model, which actively engages leadership and staff in managing their own progress, is very effective. Participating NGOs demonstrated improved financial, HR, administrative and M&E systems, improved program management, quality standards and more functional boards. The VB Capacity Building process has now been rolled out to five regional sub-partners and has been adjusted for building the capacity of local CBOs.




Cornman, H., Smolow, J., Shumba, S., & Mpungu, A. (2015). Working to strengthen orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) service provision by building capacity of local Zimbabwean partners. Annals of Global Health, 81(1), 143.

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