a child friendly society

Household Economic Strengthening & Social Protection

What is economic strengthening?

Household Economic strengthening (HES) comprises a portfolio of interventions to reduce the economic vulnerability of families and empower them to provide for the essential needs of the children they care for, rather than relying on external assistance (PEPFAR working definition, 2011). Livelihoods are wider than economic strengthening and includes food security which is considered under the technical area of nutrition and food security.

Recent reviews of household economic strengthening programs identified 3 complementary and/or competing approaches (PEPFAR, 2011)

1. Household Economic Strengthening: Project interventions that target the family as the beneficiary and are led by projects or NGO’s that do not prioritize long-term sustainability and aim for sustainable impact on shorter-term outcomes (how families get and spend money). Examples of these interventions include: savings, credit, income-generating activities (IGAs) and jobs.

Household economic strengthening programs should consider a family’s level of readiness and capacity to succeed when determining whether a particular economic strengthening activity is appropriate.

2. Social Protection: Systemic interventions targeting the family as beneficiary, led by governments that prioritize sustainable interventions and aim for a sustainable impact on longer-term outcomes such as behavior change or human capital outcomes. Examples include cash transfers and access to services.

3. Other Economic Approaches: Interventions targeting entities other than families as direct beneficiaries (e.g., older children, service providers, CBOs and NGOs that aim for various sustainability strategies. Examples include youth livelihoods, school financing and CBO financing.

Why is economic strengthening support important?

Poverty fuels the HIV and AIDS epidemic, and HIV and AIDS can lead to increased poverty at both the micro and macro level. The economic impact of HIV can be seen at multiple levels, including the National/Government level, the community level and the family level:

  • National and      regional – HIV and AIDS increases poverty at national level. This is seen      in falling gross domestic product (GDP) and slower rises in human      development index (HDI).
  • Community – HIV      and AIDS fuels community poverty and severely strains community safety      nets and community coping mechanisms.
  • Family and      household- Households affected by HIV and AIDS may have increased expenses      for health care, caring for the sick, and caring for additional orphaned      and vulnerable children. Increased expenses and reduced time for economic      activities, such as farming and trading, may deplete the family’s income      and assets.
  • Private sector      – HIV and AIDS can affect private companies by affecting the most      productive workers and reducing the workforce. Health insurance, increased      rates of absenteeism, and costs of training new staff all increase private      sector costs.
  • Savings schemes      may be one of the most critical elements of helping families out of      poverty and empowering them to care for their own needs through diverse      livelihood strategies.
  • Savings and      credit schemes can strengthen financial safety nets and help families with      issues of cash flow, supporting families to develop more profitable or      diverse income sources to better cope with the loss of an income earner.
  • Training and      capacity building may help families develop skills such as money      management, savings self-reliance, improved self-esteem and increased      status in the community.
  • Economic      strengthening activities generate money that helps families care for their      children by increasing food security, access to school and access to      essential health services.

How should economic strengthening support be delivered?

Economic Strengthening Support should:

  • Use a      multi-sectoral integrated approach. A range      of different skills and sectoral expertise is required for sustainable      economic strengthening. Engage partners with economic strengthening      expertise from the beginning of a program.
  • Weigh benefits      and risks of targeting. Activities may focus on specific      populations or vulnerable households. Groups formed for one purpose, such      as a self-help HIV support group, may not be the best groups for a loan      scheme. Some of the most successful targeted programs depend on members of      communities identifying beneficiaries.
  • Base program      design on sound market analysis. Projects are      sometimes set up without conducting a market assessment and without clear      evidence that specific training will lead to employment. In the past,      carpentry and hair-braiding were typical training activities, though they      offered minimal opportunities for future employment or poverty reduction.      Programs should aim to form partnerships with employers who have indicated      a clear need to employ certain skilled professionals in areas such as      computer programming, mobile technology and other market-driven sectors.
  • Use a child      lens. While economic strengthening activities      often focus on caregivers, it is important not to overlook the ability and      need for older children and youth to have access to economic activities.      Youth are often not included in economic strengthening activities that      could help protect them from increased risk for HIV/AIDS, increase their      access to education and allow them to stay in school.
  • Ensure gender      mainstreaming in strategies and program approaches.      Girls and women are at greater risk for HIV and AIDS and activities should      target the specific vulnerabilities, risks and needs of girls and women,      including mothers with children.
  • Develop strong      indicators and map the impact of interventions, particularly on children and households affected by HIV.

Key links for economic strengthening support

  • The CYES Network and Learning      Platform were established to build a network of      professionals dedicated to improving the lives of children through      effective economic strengthening programming.
  • The SEEP Network connects microenterprise practitioners in a global learning      community. They host a community of practise on Microenterprise & HIV.      The HIV & AIDS and Microenterprise Development (HAMED) Working Group      seeks to help SEEP members.
  • CGAP is an independent policy and research centre dedicated to      advancing financial access for the world’s poor. It is supported by over      30 development agencies and private foundations who share a common mission      to alleviate poverty. Housed at the World Bank, CGAP provides research,      guidelines, funding information & donor policies www.cgap.org and      their  Microfinance Gateway offers a comprehensive online resource      for global micro-finance community.
  • The Centre for Micro Finance (CMF) was established in 2005 .The mission of the Centre is      to improve the accessibility and quality of financial services for the      poor through rigorous research, knowledge dissemination and evidence-based      policy for MFIs.
  • XIX      International AIDS Conference in Washington, DC (July, 2012). Track D.      Social Science, Human Rights and Political Science http://www.aids2012.org/default.aspx?pageId=475
  • MicroSave  has a good online library of available toolkits on      micro-finance
  • Care. http://www.care.org/campaigns/accessafrica/index.asp
  • The AIDSPortal has a      specific section on economic strengthening