This program earned a Gold award.
NOAH (Nurturing Orphans of AIDS for Humanity) was established in 2000 as an attempt to respond to the sheer number and problems of AIDS-orphans in South Africa today (estimated at 1.7m at the moment; and predicted to rise to 2.5m by 2015). Because of the massive number of orphans, a programme needed to be established that could realistically be provided to every orphan in the country, which could be provided even in the case of external resource or NGO failure, and which is flexible enough to be adapted to the community needs and resources available.
NOAH is invited by a community to try to assist them in dealing with their orphans; and meetings are then held with the community, where leaders are identified and invited to form a committee. The community then mobilizes volunteers, who receive training, and orphans in the community are identified. Volunteers and NOAH assist children in obtaining birth certificates and accessing childcare grants and carry out home visits, to keep up to date with any problems arising in the orphan’s homes. A satellite office is then set up, staff are employed from the community, and the office starts to provide day-care and after-care facilities, or any necessary services. A fully-fledged Ark is eventually developed, which is intended to involve early childhood development programmes, peer education, structured sports activities (soccer, netball), computer literacy, cultural programmes (dancing, drama), nutrition programmes during aftercare and daycare (children are also actively involved in vegetable gardens at the site), bereavement counseling, and life-skills (on HIV/AIDS, good hygiene etc). Ongoing home visits are carried out to monitor the orphans involved; and monitoring and evaluation research is conducted on a continuous basis.
Although NOAH is heavily involved during the start-up phase, the aim is for each Ark to be able to run independently (ie. If NOAH were to collapse, the Arks would be able to continue providing services). Government departments (eg. Social Development, Education, Health) also now provide funding or grants; and some Arks have been incorporated into the DSD’s respond plan. A number of Arks have now become independent NGOs, and are funded as such.
Innovation: The innovation is in trying to find a way to reach every AIDS orphan in the country, through a model that is easily sustainable and replicable, and encourages local communities to take responsibility for their orphans.
Effectiveness: In 2008, 30 318 children were involved in 101 Ark centres in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal (and one in North West). 7 Arks in KZN and 5 in Gauteng have become completely independent of NOAH, and now receive funding as an independent NGO. Children receive one meal a day at aftercare; and 2 meals a day plus a snack during daycare. The children involved in the project are also educated on different aspects of health and nutrition, and encouraged to share this with their families and communities.
Poverty Impact: The Arks take a load of the orphan’s caregivers, by providing them with support and nutrition. This has a huge impact on their households. Also, the orphans involved in the projects are supported in the long-term, meaning a much higher quality of life than they would have otherwise received.
Sustainability: The projects are intended to be self-sustainable, although they are initially supported and staffed by NOAH. The fact that so many Arks are able to become self-sustaining is a testament to the effectiveness of the system. In 2008, different Arks were able to raise R35.64m in donations. The Lotto and DSD also provide some funding. Thus, the project is financially sustainable. Also, because people from local communities are employed as staff members, the project become sustainable in human resources terms too.
Replication: The projects are also intended to be replicated, and the success of this model can be seen by the fact that there are already 101 Arks. The aim is also that the Arks will be able to continue, even if NOAH itself collapses. Groups could probably start Ark-like initiatives without the support of NOAH, although it would be significantly easier to do with the resources that NOAH provides (including technical expertise, training etc). Similar projects could also be rolled out into any area in the country, as almost all communities are facing the burden of supporting AIDS orphans. The replicability of this model (assisted by strong monitoring and evaluation) is exemplary.