Orphaned and Vulnerable Children
The AIDS pandemic in Mozambique has left a generation of orphans and heightened children’s vulnerability to proportions never seen before. The loss of a mother is devastating to a child’s health and wellbeing. Maternal orphans under five years of age are more likely to be chronically malnourished and in poorer health than the general child population.
The Government is committed to caring for its growing ranks of children orphaned and made vulnerable (OVC) by the AIDS pandemic. The Ministry for Women and Social Action, in partnership with UNICEF and other partners has been actively building a multi-sectoral national and local response to the OVC crisis.
The Ministry of Justice adopted a National Plan of Birth Registration in August 2003, following a collaborative process with UNICEF, the Ministry of Women and Social Action and NGO partners. To date, 70,000 children have received birth certificates in two provinces, and the programme will be scaled up in 2005. Birth certificates are of crucial importance especially to orphaned and vulnerable children to claim their inheritance rights and to have access to a poverty certificate which will exempt them from school and other fees.
UNICEF is planning to scale up its support to the government’s OVC programme. This includes the provision of material and logistical support to provincial and district officials in order to reach more children with birth certificates.
The main focus of all support activities for orphaned and vulnerable children is on facilitating their access to social services such as education and health. In order to achieve this, UNICEF is also working with NGOs, faith-based and community-based organizations as well as PLWHA associations. They help identify vulnerable families and children, organise home-based care, enroll or re-integrate children in school, provide them with education material. They also help communities set up support committees to assist vulnerable families and orphaned children. (link to brief on HelpAge) As part of this UNICEF is supporting community based organizations in opening and running day-care centres which look after children six years or younger. These centres help ease the burden of childcare on older siblings and caregivers.