Zimbabwe launches 1st national scale cash grant programme for children and families
National child and social protection mechanisms revitalised…
HARARE, 27 September, 2011 – In a collective move to address the unmet basic and social needs of orphans and other vulnerable children, the Inclusive Government of Zimbabwe, the International Donor Community comprising the Governments of Netherlands, Sweden, United Kingdom, the European Commission and UNICEF, today, unveiled a massive social protection response mechanism for Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable children.
The National Action Plan for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Phase II, 2011-2015, implemented with support from the Child Protection Fund, integrates action to help families cope with risks and shocks through three main interventions: a) cash transfers to the poorest families; b) education assistance through the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) and c) child protection service delivery for children survivors of abuse, violence and exploitation. US$ 45 million of the needed US$75 million for the Child Protection Fund for the next three years has been mobilised from donors. There remains a gap, however, which is required to ensure full national coverage of this prorgamme.
The National Action Plan II, led by the Ministry of Labour and Social Services, aims to reach more than 80,000 households. Furthermore, with the support from NGOs, at least 25,000 children will benefit from access to quality child protection services. Child headed households; grandparent headed households; households with large numbers of dependents and those with chronically ill or persons living with disabilities will be cushioned with social cash transfers of up to US$25 per month, per household, to enable families to meet immediate needs for food and health care.
“Protecting children from poverty, harm and abuse begins with reducing their vulnerabilities; cash transfers are one of the critical components that will contribute to the realisation of children’s rights. This shows the inclusive Government’s strong commitment to addressing equity and reaching the most vulnerable” said UNICEF Representative, Dr. Peter Salama. “The National Action Plan II will ensure that children have equitable access to a range of services, regardless of where they live or the factors which cause their vulnerability.”
HIV is a significant contributor to household poverty and thus, child vulnerability in Zimbabwe, resulting in children lacking access to adequate basic social services and being increasingly exposed to violence, abuse and exploitation. There are over one million orphans in Zimbabwe and only 527,000 of these currently have access to external support. Traditional family and community mechanisms to support orphans have been under considerable financial strain resulting in more children facing difficulties accessing health care, education and other basic amenities.
“This unprecedented social protection mechanism shows how, as the Government of Zimbabwe, we continue to devise meaningful and innovative ways to increase support to orphans and vulnerable children,” said Vice President, Honourable Joice Mujuru. “Through this innovation we are reinforcing and strengthening the traditional role of families and communities in promoting and protecting the wellbeing of children.”
The revised NAP II (2011-2015) builds on the success and lessons of the National Action Plan (NAP I) for OVC, which was launched in 2005 and received funding through the Programme of Support. Under this multi donor pooled fund, US$85million was used to respond to the needs of more than 500 000 children in the areas of education, health, nutrition and social welfare, as well as strengthening the capacity of government to build safety nets for children and their families.
"I have long argued that social protection should be a priority for the Government of Zimbabwe and that it should remain so in the coming fiscal years" said the Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. "I am pleased to note that we are on the road to ensuring that Zimbabwe's children, especially the most vulnerable, will benefit from these critical services".
Building on this success, the Department of Social Services consulted widely with children and families to develop the NAP II with the vision that all children in Zimbabwe live in a safe, secure and supportive environment that is conducive for their growth and development. These critical social protection measures to benefit vulnerable children include making sure that cash is complemented by access to basic social services including health and education, as well as social welfare services and access to justice.
“Combined investment in rebuilding the social services sector remains critical in Zimbabwe,” said Dave Fish, Head of DFID Zimbabwe, speaking on behalf of the European Commission and the Governments of Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom. “I am particularly pleased that as donors we are able to harmonise our resources and align behind a Government of Zimbabwe policy, the NAP II for OVC. Through this collaboration there is opportunity to strengthen social sectors, critical for the full realisation of all children’s rights.”