In Uganda children constitute about 57.4% of Uganda’s total population in which 14% 2.5 million children are orphans or vulnerable children; 1.5 million of these children are AIDS orphans . Although it is customary in Uganda for extended family and community members to care for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), the capacity and resources of these individuals and households have been overextended by the growing number of OVC and the complexity of their needs1.
The magnitude of Child Vulnerability in Uganda stands as follows, 51% are either critically or moderately vulnerable • 63% live with caregivers • Currently at least one in every four households has an orphan • 3 million children live below the poverty line
It is found that the magnitude of child vulnerability is a big challenge as it’s widespread in all regions but it’s more severe in post conflict areas most especially northern Uganda.
There are children of all categories all across the country like in Karamoja, with a growing situation of out migrant children who move to neighboring districts grazing cattle and engaging in other forms of child Labour. Child vulnerability reflects the level of socio- economic development in Uganda. Major causes of child vulnerability include poverty, armed conflict, HIV and AIDS and other diseases.
OVC in the context of HIV and AIDS, HIV prevalence in Uganda is at 6.5%, Prevalence in children 0-5 years is 0.7%. HIV infections through mother to child transmission contribute to 22%, The Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) database shows that the % of infants born to HIV- infected mothers stood at 9.9% in 2009
Inadequate community mobilization and education to support pediatric care greatly impacts on care provided to HIV infected children. Stigma is an impediment to ART access for HIV positive children. Children who are sexually active and/or those who suffer from sexual abuse and those subjected to early marriages are at higher risk of HIV infection. The burden of care and poor nutrition further compound the vulnerability of children infected with HIV. The number of facilities providing child friendly and adolescent reproductive health services remains limited.
On the global scale and Africa in particular HIV and AIDS have created humanitarian and developmental crisis of unprecedented scale in the developing world where 132 million people have lost one or both parents due to the AIDS pandemic and 25 million children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS in 2010. More than two decades into the AIDS pandemic, a cure for the disease has not yet been found and the negative impact of adult AIDS mortality on child welfare has been potentially massive. Moreover, the impact of HIV and AIDS on rural livelihoods is insidious. There is fear that OVCs will obtain less education, thereby worsening their own life chances, as well as the long-term economic prospects of their countries. UNICEF indicated that poverty is contributing to low school attendance, low completion rates and low learning outcomes. Similarly, Curley et al., argued that it is difficult to obtain an education if children live in poverty and lack resources and access to opportunities, although education is a key factor to overcoming poverty and AIDS. HIV and AIDS have ushered in the concept of AIDS orphans which is negatively affecting the development and future of African children.
BYIDI has a commitment to achieve better results of children through its programs in health like child immunization, education protection and emergencies, advocacy using strategic approaches including systems strengthening, strategic partnerships, fostering innovations, community mobilization, strengthening data and evidence on children among others.
Byidi promotes Income generating activities for OVCs and their care givers, we use a diverse community integrated approach in empowering OVCs
We understand that OVCs are a result of several underlying factors like HIV/AIDS, post war conflicts, marriage at early tender age due to social economic pressures which has resulted in so many children being left vulnerable.
Beneficiaries are identified by using the OVC community assessment tool/s of need when we visit households to identify and register these children, to determine and provide tailor-made support, OVC households’ assessment is conducted as recommended by the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development (MGLSD).
Byidi offers a package of services including:
- Parenting skills
- Household economic strengthening (HES)
- HIV care and treatment for the infected
- Life skills training
- Psycho-social support, counseling and career guidance and facilitating access to education through provision of scholastic materials
- provision of information on child rights and protection through advocacy
Byidi OVC care and support is integrated into the community were the children are receiving care and support from their care givers that may be in households, orphanage homes, institutions like schools, health coordinating centers. In the community we work hand in hand with the local leaders, religious leaders, village health teams and community volunteers.
For additional OVC services that are not directly provided by Byidi, we make referrals to other services providers. OVC services are offered in different regions across the country in our major catchment areas like Nakaseke, Luwero, Kampala central, Mubende, Arua to mention but a few. We provide key support to heads of households that involve one to one discussions on care giving, survival training sessions that involve life skills training, agricultural training i.e. joining village cooperatives
Byidi has a life skills training programme for OVCs were we look out for young people that are energetic and can make a living by giving them small startup capital to attain working tools and also join vocational skills training programs that make them self-reliant in the long run.
Byidi looks at the emphasis of empowering households to increase on incomes through several approaches so as to attain self-reliance and overcome being counted under the poverty line. This is done through a house hold needs assessment tool that looks at the basics of food, shelter, education and health. All socio-economic interventions focus on creating opportunities for the OVC households for resource mobilization, advocacy and self-sustainability strategies to respond to the unique needs and vulnerabilities guided by fine-tuned household needs assessment.
In addition, OVCs who have dropped out of school and are transitioning into adulthood are identified and placed in training sites for market linked hands on skills development in careers of their choice.
Additionally, we integrate the children’s rights approach to support creation of an enabling environment in which children – especially girl children are valued and cared for, protected from abuse, neglect and exploitation. To ensure a sustainable and comprehensive service response to the needs HIV positive children/adolescents, youths and their families, special emphasis is put on integration of OVC support.
This program calls for support as we call upon well-wishers to donate, contribute to the wellbeing of the children and we advocate for a strong voice in protecting these children’s rights.