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transfers target vulnerable children
Orphans and vulnerable children in 10 of Zimbabwe's
poorest districts will start benefiting from a government scheme
to help them go to school, have enough to eat and access medical
There are about 100,000 child-headed households
in Zimbabwe and a quarter of all children in the country, about
1.6 million, have lost one or both parents to HIV and other causes.
HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe is one of the world's highest, at 13
The government has started rolling out a cash transfer
programme with the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), under the
National Action Plan (NAP) for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (2011-2015).
The implementation of the plan is supported by the Child Protection
Fund, a multi-donor-pooled funding mechanism managed by UNICEF.
Under the cash transfer programme, extremely poor
households will receive an average of US$20 a month. The payout
will vary depending on the size of the family.
A pilot programme is under way in Goromonzi, about
100km outside the capital Harare, where about 105 households are
receiving payments. This pilot programme is intended to assist the
government in designing a national scheme by December 2013.
Sydney Mhishi, director of social services in the
Ministry of Labour and Social Services, said the full roll-out was
expected to begin in July 2011 to an estimated 23,166 households
in the first year.
Mhishi said community committees would help to determine
which households qualified for financial support.
Beneficiaries are selected after a census of all
households followed by a poverty assessment by an independent agency
in consultation with child protection committees.
The cash transfer scheme has been allocated $4 million
in its first year, covering 10 poorest districts in each of the
10 provinces. In the second year, another 10 districts will be added
using the same criteria, with the goal of reaching 30 districts
by the third year of implementation.
A recent UNICEF report on the status of women and
children in Zimbabwe found that worrying levels of poverty and vulnerability
were limiting women's and children's access to education,
medical care and social protection. The report highlights that endemic
poverty and HIV/AIDS are the major contributors to high levels of
"We know that many orphaned children in child-headed
households are poor and struggle to even access the most basic social
services. As a result, they are sometimes forced to work to meet
their daily needs. In the process they miss out on school and fail
to access life-saving health services," said UNICEF country
representative Peter Salama.
"We have introduced the cash transfer programme
with this in mind. Our intention is to reduce poverty and vulnerability
levels in these households and to ensure that these orphaned children
are not disadvantaged or end up engaging in risky behaviours to
survive," he added.
Developing countries are increasingly relying on
cash transfer programmes to tackle childhood poverty. In 2009, Lesotho
introduced a pilot programme in three districts, while a similar
project in Kenya has reached orphans and vulnerable children in
In South Africa, which has the largest cash transfer
scheme on the continent, studies have shown that children in poor
households who received monthly child support grants were more likely
to be enrolled in school and have better access to food and healthcare.
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