The use of implementation research networks on orphans and vulnerable children to encourage research-driven policies: the case of Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe

SOURCE: Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies
OUTPUT TYPE: Journal Article
TITLE AUTHOR(S): O.Shisana, L.C.Simbayi, K.Magome, D.Skinner, B.Mkabela, S.Mtero-Munyati, J.Mundondo, G.N.Tsheko, T.Matlaku, Southern Africa OVC Care Interventions Project Research Team
DEPARTMENT: Public Health, Societies and Belonging (HSC)
Print: HSRC Library: shelf number 4229
HANDLE: 20.500.11910/6412

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There is a growing need for applied social sciences research to provide scientific evidence for use in both policy and programme development in the health sector to match the strides made in clinical medicine over the past few decades. This article presents an account of the development, implementation and progress as well as lessons learnt to date from a 5-year programme for the care of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe that began in 2002. The project is being conducted by the Social Aspects of HIV/AIDS Research Alliance (SAHARA) under the auspices of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) of South Africa. The main objective of the project is to provide empirical evidence of the effectiveness of various OVC interventions with a view to identifying best practices for scaling-up in the Southern African region, which is most heavily burdened by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. The initiative, which is funded by the WK Kellogg Foundation, brought together six organizations in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, with the blessing of their respective governments' one national implementation grant maker to coordinate the delivery of various child, family and community-centred OVC interventions and one research organization in each country. The project is currently being implemented in various sites in each of the three countries. Some previously existing OVC interventions are being supported in a number of sites in each country, which are receiving process evaluations, while both qualitative and quantitative baseline studies have been completed in two new sites in each country. Newly developed interventions developed or described by the project that are felt to reflect a best practice approach will be implemented in these new sites and will be evaluated, using a summative evaluation approach in the next phase of the project, which is expected to last another 35 years. Although there have been many challenges experienced in the project, some excellent progress has also been accomplished, especially in terms of various research outputs that have been completed to date which lay a strong foundation for the next phase of the project beginning in 2006.