Thursday, 29 September 2011 18:13

Zimbabwe's Orphans to Benefit from UN-Backed Cash Grant Programme

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Tens of thousands of Zimbabwean orphans and otherwise vulnerable children will benefit from cash transfers, educational aid and protection services under a new Government programme launched in partnership with the United Nations and international donors.

Donors have mobilized $45 million of the $75 million needed for the Child Protection Fund for the next three years, but the gap needs to be filled to ensure full national coverage of the programme, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in a news release.

“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 realization of children’s rights,” UNICEF’s representative Peter Salama said of the initiative, which was launched yesterday.

The national action plan, led by the Zimbabwean ministry of labour and social services, combines action to help families cope with risks and shocks through three main interventions: cash transfers to the poorest families; basic educational aid; and protection services for child survivors of abuse, violence and exploitation.

It aims to reach more than 80,000 households. With the support from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), at least 25,000 children will benefit from access to quality child protection services.

Child-headed and grandparent-headed households, and those with large numbers of dependents and with chronically ill people or persons living with disabilities, will be cushioned with social cash transfers of up to $25 per month to enable families to meet immediate needs for food and health care.

HIV is a significant contributor to household poverty and child vulnerability in Zimbabwe, resulting in youngsters lacking access to adequate basic social services and being increasingly exposed to violence, abuse and exploitation, UNICEF noted.

There are over a 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.

The international donor community involved comprises the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Commission.

Source: UN News Service

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