GCBS: Supportive partnerships help local organizations improve their services and reach the most vulnerable

March 1, 2022
Boitumelo Moiloa (MEC), Vincent Spera (Consulate General) and Relebohile Mafokane (DSD North West) gather to see GCBS's work in action. Credit: Jerry Moloutsi/GCBS.

Kgetleng Rivier Carers is a community based nonprofit organization (NPO) providing care and support to the most vulnerable children in its community. Situated in South Africa’s North West (NW) province in the small town of Koster, Kgetleng Rivier Carers is supported by Pact through the Government Capacity Building and Support (GCBS) program, to improve and strengthen support for these children.

In 2013, USAID, through PEPFAR, contracted Pact to implement the GCBS program. The program supports South Africa’s Department of Social Development to strengthen interventions for children and adolescents that focus on reducing incidence of HIV and AIDS, improve service delivery to those infected and affected by HIV, and provide supportive interventions for children exposed to abuse, neglect and exploitation. In Koster, for Kgetleng Rivier Carers, this has meant training of community caregivers, child and youth care workers and social workers to provide prevention and behavior programs, such as YOLO and ChommY. 

Recently, USAID and DSD visited the center to discuss vulnerabilities experienced by children, to engage with staff and the community and to get a sense of the program in action. The high delegation visit included Vincent Spera, USAID Consulate General, Boitumelo Moiloa, MEC for Social Development, Relebohile Mafokane, the Head of Department of Social Development (NW), and Thabo Jacobs, the Mayor of Koster. 

Kgetleng Rivier Carers community caregivers and primary caregivers share their experiences during the event. Credit: Jerry Moloutsi/GCBS.

Catherine Dikgake, a Kgetleng community caregiver, participated in a roundtable discussion at the visit, providing insight into what this partnership has meant for her and the children she cares for. Catherine said that before the GCBS program and the close partnership with DSD, her daily work, planning and note taking was unstructured, but now with their support and new tools, such as Risiha program (case management), she has the tools and forms that help her better plan and prepare to meet the needs of the children to achieve the best outcomes. This ongoing support through GCBS has helped community caregivers to apply structured case management approaches that prioritize risk assessment, with the development and implementation of clear individualized care plans for children. 

Improved linkages to HIV treatment and care

Lindi Mosweunyana, the manager at Kgetleng, echoed the important role this support by USAID and DSD has had in helping them address issues of HIV in children. With Pact’s guidance, they now have a GCBS Health Referral and Linkage Officer, who has created a positive working relationship with the local clinic, which allows them to identify HIV-positive children, support their caregivers in disclosing their status and ensure children access care and remain on treatment. Lindi added that through this positive partnership, they can now confidently talk to caregivers and children about their status and encourage children and caregivers who don’t know their status to test. In 2016, only 8% of children in their district, Bojanala, reported as knowing their HIV status, compared to 99% in 2021. Similarly, in 2016, only 167 HIV-positive children were known to the program, but by 2021, 2,975 children were assisted in DSD service points and NPOs funded by DSD.

The event emphasized the commitment by both USAID and the South African government to work together at all levels to ensure the goal of DSD Risiha program – that mobilized protective resources around children will lead to resilient young adults who are independent, generous, aspirational and healthy.  

GCBS is a partnership between USAID’s PEPFAR program, the South African government’s Department of Social Development, and Pact. GCBS works to improve services for orphans, vulnerable children, adolescents and youth to reduce the spread of HIV, to help them manage their health if they are HIV-positive, to know their status and to be educated about HIV.