National Standards and Guidelines for Care for Vulnerable Children, Lesotho

Evidence and experience from African countries that have been severely affected by the HIV and AIDS epidemic have shown that the loss of a productive family member exerts a financial burden on the household and can have serious consequences for a child’s access to basic needs such as: shelter, food, clothing, health and education. This lack of income puts extra pressures on a household and particularly on orphaned children to contribute financially to the household, in some cases driving them to the streets to work, beg, or seek food.

The extended family is an important feature of the Basotho culture as a mutual support system, but has been severely strained by decades of migrant labour, poverty and disease burden. As the HIV and AIDS epidemic and poverty continue to strain already under-resourced and over-stretched systems in the country, it becomes imperative to support households, extended families and communities to ensure that increasing numbers of children do not fall out of this crucial safety net. Hence, the overarching principle of the national response is - strengthening the families and communities.

These standards were developed by Lesotho's Ministry of Social Development with support from USAID and PEPFAR implementing partners, including Management Sciences for Health. The purpose and scope of these quality standards for the minimum package of services is to cover the needs and services that are absolutely essential for children’s and youth’s optimum development and well-being. The emphasis is aligned with the SADC minimum package of services recognizing that most of the targeted children and youth are likely to require a combination of services. Establishment of minimum standards shall focus on what services can be provided as determined by available resources, existing capacity and feasibility, with equal attention to services which allow children and youth to realise and apply their human potential and capabilities.

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