South Africa Country Program

Thogomelo Project 

Community caregiver training session

Community caregiver training session (Photo: PATH)

The South African Children’s Act (2005) gives community caregivers a vital role within the community response to vulnerable children. The National Department of Social Development (NDSD) aims to improve the quality of services offered to children by enhancing the psychosocial wellbeing and child protection skills of the community caregivers looking after them.

The Department of Social Development (DSD) initiated the Thogomelo Project with the support of United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in order to pilot the first accredited training for community caregivers in South Africa. Thogomelo is a Venda word meaning ‘to care for’.


To improve the quality of care provided to vulnerable children by enhancing the skills of caregivers.


Managed by PATH, in partnership with its consortium partners – Health and Development Africa (HDA), and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance , the project worked to:

  • develop OVC caregiver training and child protection interventions that are cost-efficient, sustainable, and relevant to the South African context.
  • facilitate entry-level jobs and a career path for caregivers through the implementation of accredited skills development programs (SDPs), working in close collaboration with the South African training standards generating body – the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA).

Project impact

Graduation of Community Caregivers

Graduation of Community Caregivers (Photo: PATH)

The Thogomelo Project’s 5 year contract period ran from September 2008 through September 2013.  During this time the pilot created and tested tools, including curricula and materials, for community caregiver and Training Service Providers (TSP) capacity development in all nine provinces of South Africa.

More than 2700 Community Caregivers (CCG) have been trained and the capacity of 11 sub-contracted TSPs strengthened since the inception of the pilot.

Caregivers have gained the ability to: 

  • understand the concept and practical application of psycho-social support in the personal, social, cultural and organisational context.
  • build community relations for effective referrals and community involvement.
  • identify causes of stress in their own lives and know how to manage this stress.
  • identify, understand and manage the process of grief loss and bereavement.
  • identify and respond to children who have been abused, neglected and exploited.

 Project extension

The project has been extended until September 2016 to ensure scale up and sustainability of the pilot phase achievements.

The extension phase will work towards:

  • Transferring ownership and management of the Thogomelo Project to the NDSD.
  • Scaling up the capacity development of training service providers.
  • Intensifying training implementation in priority districts.
  • Strengthening the knowledge and evidence base to inform better practice and management.
  • Incorporating selected aspects of the second phase of the Khusela Project aimed at building the child protection capacity of social service occupations and professions.