COPE (Community-based Options for Protection and Empowerment (COPE)
COPE is a low-cost community mobilization program designed to moderate the impact of the AIDS pandemic on the lives and welfare of AIDS-affected children and families. Initially, when it started in 1995, COPE’s focus was on problem solving and service provision, but this proved too costly. By 1997, it had developed a new approach that involved mobilizing and building capacity at the community level. COPE started to organize Community AIDS Committees (CACs) to co-ordinate both HIV/AIDS care and prevention activities at the sub-district level and these, in turn, are supported and monitored by the District AIDS Coordinating Committee (DACC). CACs are responsible for the mobilization, monitoring and support of Village AIDS Committees (VACs) in all villages in the CAC catchment area. The VACs:
- Identified orphans, ill people and other vulnerable people;
- Assisted the return and reintegration of orphans to school;
- Trained caregivers in the skills required for home-based care;
- Raised community funds to provide material assistance;
- Started Anti-AIDS clubs;
- Planned and organized recreation activities to address the psychosocial needs of orphans;
- Developed community gardens to produce food and income for the benefit of vulnerable households. Chiefs and well-to-do members of the community donated land for cultivation.
In 1997, COPE expanded from 16 VACs to 208 VACs with 4,420 members. More than 12,600 orphans receive material assistance and food; 735 youth received vocational skills training, more than 11,000 families benefited from agricultural inputs; 449 people were trained in care giving and community-based child care, 807 people received home-based care training, and 6,577 people received HIV/AIDS prevention training. A total of 248,967 people benefited directly or indirectly from the COPE program at an annual cost of $317,000.
The program has been evaluated a number of times and has led to a commitment by USAID to expand the program.