The impact of international non-governmental organisations on the response of community-based organisations to the HIV/AIDs related orphan and vulnerable children crisis in Zimbabwe: the case of Batsiranai and Danish Association for international cooperation in Manicaland

Madziva, Cathrine (2011) The impact of international non-governmental organisations on the response of community-based organisations to the HIV/AIDs related orphan and vulnerable children crisis in Zimbabwe: the case of Batsiranai and Danish Association for international cooperation in Manicaland. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


This thesis explores the relationship between an international non-governmental organisation (INGO) and a community based organisation (CBO) addressing the HIV/AIDs- related orphan and vulnerable children (OVC) crisis in Zimbabwe. The study engages with how INGOs have emerged as key conduits for development aid, rather than African governments against a backdrop of development strategies being dominated by northern perspectives at the expense of southern knowledge and cultures. However, there is a convergence of global policy view that at the local level, families and community initiatives and CBOs are crucial to addressing the OVC development agenda. In view of this, some critics have questioned the capacity of African families and even the very existence of communities. In spite of the considerable debates about INGOs' role in funding CBOs, this thesis is based on the assumption that external funding will be necessary for the foreseeable future. Against this background, this thesis aims to unravel assumptions and debates about
communities and INGOs. Central is the question what partnership between INGOs and CBOs would entail, whether it is desirable and if so, how it can be promoted. The
case study of Batsiranai, a CBO based in rural Zimbabwe and the Danish Association for International Cooperation in Manicaland (MS), the INGO which partly funds its
work, is used to address this question.
The thesis draws on field work done in Zimbabwe and UK employing in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, participant observation, and documentary analysis. Research participants were selected to include six Batsiranai and two MS staff, seven key informants, HIV-affected six children, and fourteen volunteers.
The study shows the existence of a community as experienced by some residents of Buhera South District and OVC problem ownership in spite of the challenges. Volunteers are the bedrock of Batsiranai's response motivated by traditional cultural capital which operates as a system of solidarity. However, the concepts of "volunteer" and "volunteering" emerged as problematic due to the specific cultural ensemble prevalent in Buhera South District, which places "volunteering" in collectively structured obligations where individual choice is significantly constrained and shaped by the promptings of other community members. Most crucially this study shows that volunteers are poor people bearing the cost of real participation, in a context lacking a welfare system for the poor. Hence the call for an acceptable token. While children receive various forms of support such as food and school fees Batsiranai has a full agenda without meeting their psycho-social needs. Psychosocial support appears a "soft" area of development due to limited resource allocation.
Findings show that partnership between an INGO and CBO is partially possible when power inequalities are honestly acknowledged and recognized as chronically problematic. It is apparent that Batsiranai, despite enormous pressures, is operating as the key front line provider of support and distributor of resources. MS is unusually flexible in comparison with most INGOs in its approach to development and was therefore able to go some way to implementing aspects of partnership: the lines of hierarchy were consequently flatter and links amongst stakeholders were simpler than would be the case with major INGOs. The analysis and experience of partnership between MS and Batsiranai shows that it is a resource demanding process, which requires a long period of time to produce desirable outcomes. However, to great extent, the contextual environment currently prevailing in Zimbabwe played against the partnership. Nhimbe emerges in this study as a traditional cultural resource which can be harnessed for INGOs and CBOs partnerships on OVC in Zimbabwe as a
starting point to remedying the scarcity of southern knowledge and cultures in development. In establishing an INGO and CBO partnership on OVC, the former needs to be flexible from the onset and prioritize the latter's institutional development, harness traditional cultural capital and listen to children's voices.
Volunteers' should be given an acceptable token, and receive due recognition of their contributions. The state should create an enabling policy environment for OVC partnerships. Future OVC INGO- CBO partnerships in Zimbabwe are encouraged to harness Nhimbe as a way of creating a fusion, between northern and southern perspectives that is culturally and context appropriate.
Future studies need to further explore the applicability of the concept of "volunteering" and how participation costs can be mitigated, while preserving a community's resilience. Batsiranai's dependency on external resources calls for an exploration on how Zimbabwean Diaspora communities' resources can be tapped within the context of development aid. Nhimbe remains a subject open to further research.

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