AFRICAID says it will be suspending its Zvandiri initiative from Zaka, Insiza and Gutu and other six districts for the period October 2018 to September 2019, amidst indications that there has been a 67 percent cut in the level of funding from donors for the period the forthcoming year.
By Michael Gwarisa
The Zvandiri program, run by Africaid, began in Zimbabwe in 2004 as a support group model for adolescents living with HIV. This program provides differentiated care for children, adolescents and young people living with HIV (aged 6–24 years).
In an interview with HealthTimes, Africaid Deputy Director, Mr Kuda Madzeke said Africaid was solely a donor funded not-for-profit organisation whose scale of reach is solely dependent upon donor support from multiple streams.
“We are maintaining our presence in Chivi and Mwenezi with funding support from Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) and UNICEF Child Protection Fund (CPF) respectively to implement the Zvandiri programme in those districts.
“There was however a drop in our funding level from our other donors which has necessitated our scaling back of implementation initiatives organisation-wise and also the closure of the Zaka, Insiza and Gutu offices in line with the limited funding from our development partners for the year October 2018 – September 2019,” said Madzeke.
He added that discussions were underway with potential funding partners to ensure they revive the program in the affected districts in the not so distant future.
“Nevertheless, we are currently having discussions with the National AIDS Council (NAC) and CIFF pursuing the possibilities of them financially supporting Zaka and other affected districts outside Masvingo province for continued implementation of the Zvandiri programme.
“We have made considerable ground in this regard and have this far relied on realigned funds from one other donor, The Alliance, to support the CATS in the affected districts with stipends which we anticipate to last until November 2018.”
He also said any change in priority by donor organisation will always have a bearing on their operations since they rely highly on donor funding.
“To contend with this drop in funding levels and in close consultation with our funding partners, Africaid had to cut back the number of districts in its programmes for which Zaka, Insiza and Gutu were a part of.
“On the whole, amongst the 23 districts that were in Africaid’s portfolio in the last financial year ending September 2018, 9 district were eliminated for the aforementioned forthcoming year.
“Africaid relies squarely on donor funding and as such, changes in donor priorities and levels of funding globally and nationally cascades down to the extent of programme coverage for Africaid.
“However, we keep looking out for funding opportunities so to fully implement programmes covering our strategic niche for children, adolescents and young people living with HIV (CAYPLHIV),” said Madzeke.
He however said they have done considerably a lot in supporting Children, Adolescents and Young People Living with HIV (CAYPLHIV) 0-24 years in Masvingo province and nationally. He however maintained there was still a lot to be done as the country moves toward epidemic control of HIV in Zimbabwe and said they anticipate much more investment and efforts to realise this ambitious goal.
“We are continuing to work with the Government of Zimbabwe through Ministry of Health and Child Care, Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and the Department of Social Services.
“We are present in Masvingo, Chivi, Mwenezi, Zaka and Chiredzi districts of Masvingo province in which equally the same package of services for CAYPLHIV is being offered in order to ensure they cope with their HIV status and are able to live happy, healthy, safe, fulfilled lives.”
Meanwhile, National Aids Council (NAC) Provincial Manager for Masvingo Edgar Muzulu said they were working on modalities to ensure the Zvandiri initiative does not die a natural death in the province owing to the growing HIV burden in children between the ages zero and 14 in the province.
“We are also collaborating with a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) called Zvandiri. Zvandiri is a group of young people, young people living with HIV, these young people are saying I am living with HIV, accept me for what I am. This Zvandiri model has been seen to be very effective especially for the adolescent because it is a peer led intervention.
“Most adolescents are grow up to 14 year without knowing that they are positive, as a result this affects the young people. Research has shown that when young people discover later about their status it will affect them so these young people go into communities to encourage their peers to adhere. The program has been implanted in Zaka, Chivi and Mwenenzi but the NGO which has been operating here is pulling out, leaving a gap but we are not saying there is a problem but as NAC we are going to be providing some funding for the 2019 period ” said Mr Muzulu.
According to the ministry of health and child care (MoHCC) 2015 estimates, a total of 77 000 adolescents are living with HIV in Zimbabwe. However, more than 80 percent of children living with HIV are now on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART).