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Massive injection for Zimbabwe’s orphans and vulnerable children

A joint UNICEF & Ministry of Public Services, Labour and Social Welfare media release

HARARE, 15 February 2007 – An historic national partnership was sealed today when 21 non-governmental organizations signed agreements with the Zimbabwean Government and UNICEF to advance a National Action Plan that will improve the living conditions of 350,000 Zimbabwean orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in 2007.

The agreement – backed by more than US$70 million from donors over five years – enables the 21 NGOs to fund and support a further 150 community-based organizations. As a result, Zimbabwe’s flagship National Action Plan for OVC will massively scale-up its interventions in communities.

Almost one in four children in Zimbabwe, 1.1 million, are now orphaned by AIDS and this number is growing. HIV and AIDS have dramatically increased children’s vulnerability in recent years. Amid this, economic hardships have added stress on Zimbabwean families who continue to absorb the vast majority of the country’s orphans.

“Let me say congratulations to the 21 organisations whose proposals were approved,” said the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Mr. L Museka. “OVC programming is a collective responsibility, which is achieved when we work with all stakeholders, as displayed today.”

As most of Zimbabwe’s orphans and vulnerable children remain with their larger family, today’s agreement will ensure that the 171 NGOs and community-based organizations:
1.  Strengthen the capacity of families to protect and care for orphans and vulnerable children;
2. Mobilise and support community-based responses;
3. Ensure access for orphans and vulnerable children to essential services, including education, health care and birth registration.

“In a complex and difficult environment this is an outstanding agreement between a diverse group of key institutions,” said UNICEF’s Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr. Festo Kavishe. “Here we have donors funding the United Nations to support community groups who will execute a Government coordinated National Action Plan. Combined we are reaching out to hundreds of thousands of orphans across the country, and we are doing it effectively and cost-efficiently.”

Specifically, today’s agreement binds the NGOs and community-based organizations to:
- Increase school enrolment of orphans and vulnerable children
- Boost school nutrition programmes
- Increase the number of children with birth certificates
- Greatly improve access to food, health services, water and sanitation
- And protect children from abuse, violence and exploitation

The agreement is powered by the joint financial efforts of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), New Zealand AID, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the German Government. In all, US$250 million is required for the five year programme.

Following the successful process of inviting more than 130 organisations to submit concept papers, develop project proposals and the subsequent review by a technical review committee, Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and UNICEF formalised the Tripartite Agreements with the 21 organizations whose project proposals were approved. Additional agreements will be signed later in 2007 to further scale-up the response.

UNICEF is on the ground  in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:
James Elder, Communications Officer, UNICEF Zimbabwe: Tel + 263 4 703941/42 Mobile: 263 91 276120 Email: jelder@unicef.org




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