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NAMIBIA: Policy aims to assist OVC

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

©  WFP/Richard Lee

Government hopes to ensure access to education for growing number of orphans

WINDHOEK, 10 February (PLUSNEWS) - Namibia has launched a national policy to address the needs of the country's 150,000 orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), developed with the support of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

At the opening of the third conference on OVC on Wednesday, outgoing President Sam Nujoma said the policy would provide a foundation for effective interaction between the government, communities and NGOs, to reduce the vulnerability of OVC and mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS.

"The high rate of new infections of young Namibians between the ages of 10 and 24 ... at 60 percent is alarming, and a clarion call to all of us to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS," Nujoma said.

"Up to now, Namibia did not have national guidelines for dealing with OVC. This policy will harmonise the actions of government, NGOs, faith-based organisations and communities," commented minister of women affairs and child welfare, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah. She said her ministry had recently established an OVC database.

The new policy emphasises the need for orphaned children to grow up with the support of their communities and extended families.

"The family is the best environment for children, and if parents have died, then it is the extended family and guardians [who should take care of them]. Hence, the policy does not promote putting children in institutions," Nandi-Ndaitwah said.

With a prevalence of 23 percent in the age group 15 to 49 years, Namibia is one of five countries in the world most affected by HIV/AIDS. The new policy document noted that there would be 251,055 orphans by 2021.

Namibia's OVC policy is formulated along the guidelines of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires UN member states to develop national programmes of action (NPAs) for children.

The policy stipulates that orphans and other vulnerable children should not be discriminated against, should be cared for by "appropriate adults in family units, through extended family networks, and foster families or adoption". It asserts that vulnerable children have a right to primary and secondary education, even if they cannot afford school fees.

Communities will receive support to cover the school and health-related expenses of OVCs in their care, "including agricultural assistance for increased food production".

The policy further provides for the establishment of community-based early childhood development facilities, registering births and deaths at local level instead of at regional capitals only, and requires the heads of educational institutions to "develop support networks for OVC at each educational institution".

The Namibian government has set up a permanent task force on OVC, and a trust fund to supplement the monthly state grants currently being paid out for 25,000 such children.

Life expectancy in Namibia dropped from 60 years in 1990 to 43 years in 1991, largely due to HIV/AIDS. The last national census in 2001 revealed that there were 156,165 orphans up to 19 years of age in the country.


Recent NAMIBIA Reports
Underage sex-workers have few other options to survive,  24/Oct/05
Growing controversy over teen pregnancy,  20/Oct/05
HIV/AIDS takes sustenance as well as lives,  7/Oct/05
Action plan for local authorities ,  4/Oct/05
Hope for AIDS orphans,  28/Sep/05
Le portail d'informations générales de la Côte d’Ivoire
Sida Info Services
Le Fonds mondial de lutte contre le SIDA, la tuberculose et le paludisme
Le Réseau Afrique 2000

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