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The EC invests 10 million euros to improve the lives of orphans and vulnerable children in Zimbabwe

Programme expected to reach over 400, 000 children

HARARE, 14 December 2007- The European Commission (EC) today donated €10 million to UNICEF Zimbabwe to improve the plight of orphans and vulnerable children. The funds come at a critical time when one in four children in Zimbabwe has lost one or both parents, the vast majority - 1.3 million - as a result of AIDS.

This single largest donation ever from the EC to UNICEF in Zimbabwe promises substantial relief and assistance to close to 400 000 Zimbabwean children who are presently at risk of  being deprived of an education and good health.

“Today children in Zimbabwe are hardest hit by the socio-economic challenges and the impact of HIV/AIDS,” said EC Head of Delegation, Ambassador Xavier Marchal. “The communities are struggling. Through these funds we hope to support the efforts of parents and communities across this country.”

As part of Zimbabwe’s National Action Plan (NAP) for orphans and vulnerable children, UNICEF is embarking on a programme of support to improve the health, education, protection and nutrition of such children. The programme is rolled out through a core group of 27 non-governmental organizations and 150 smaller community based organizations under the coordination of a government-run secretariat.

The funds from the EC will go towards:
• Increasing school enrolment of orphans and vulnerable children
• Family and community support
• School nutrition programmes
• Increasing the number of children with birth certificates
• Increasing access to food, health services, water and sanitation

“We are grateful to the EC for their continued support of UNICEF’s work,” said UNICEF Country Representative to Zimbabwe Dr F. Kavishe. “These funds will make possible programmes critical to the health and well being of a growing population of children left on their own in Zimbabwe.”

The Programme of Support has established a mechanism for donors to pool their funding and finance interventions for orphans and other vulnerable children, with UNICEF serving as the manager of the funds and civil society as implementing partners, under the overall coordination of the Government.

Extending to 2010, the Programme of Support is structured to mobilize increased and more predictable funding for orphans and vulnerable children so that programmes can make a lasting difference. Several donors are already contributing and the EC now joins this basket with a contribution of € 10 million.

“This bold and pioneering initiative has demonstrated in the past year how working together with a unity of purpose, can dramatically scale up efforts to reach more children in need and we are proud to have joined this initiative,” said EC Head of Delegation, Ambassador Xavier Marchal. “By affirming that the care and protection of Zimbabwe’s most vulnerable children is a collective responsibility, the Programme of Support creates an unprecedented possibility for real progress to improve the living conditions of hundreds of thousands of children.”

The contribution from the EC will add to funds from other key donors such as the UK’s Department for International Development, the German Government, Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and the New Zealand Government in implementing Zimbabwe’s National Action Plan for OVC.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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 further information, please contact:
Tsitsi Singizi , UNICEF Communications , Tel: 263-4-703941/2; Mobile: 263-91-2 943 915




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