International aid agencies say they have a strategy to go straight to local authorities in their quest to improve the lives of children orphaned by AIDS in Africa.
The United Nations estimates more than 14 million children around the world have lost one or both parents to AIDS. Of these, more than 11 million children under the age of 15 are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Agencies dealing with HIV/AIDS predict the number of AIDS orphans will rise to about 20 million by 2010.
A spokesman for the U.N. Children's Fund says existing methods for helping AIDS orphans are not very effective. Damien Personnaz said the focus of the new strategy is for aid agencies to go directly to the people in local communities who deal with the children. "The government structures are too heavy to be able to be very efficient at the grassroots level. Whereas, at the same time you have a lot of local communities who actually are much more active and much more close to the reality of the field of these places. So, we need to go directly to them rather than to spend a lot time and sometimes to waste a lot of time through official government channels," he said.
Mr. Personnaz says United Nations and international aid agencies will not by-pass official government channels. Rather, he says, they hope to reach agreements with central governments to allow them to go directly to the local providers of assistance.
UNICEF says two-thirds of countries hard-hit by HIV/AIDS do not have strategies to make sure that the children affected by this crisis grow up with even the bare minimum of protection and care.