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ZIMBABWE: National Plan of Action for OVC in need of resources
June 15, 2005

JOHANNESBURG - Child rights groups in Zimbabwe made a plea on Wednesday for resources to provide much-needed support to more than one million orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) across the country.

The country has 1.3 million orphans, of which more than one million have been orphaned by AIDS, and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that this figure is growing by 435 children every day, or 160,000 each year.

Zimbabwe has one of the world's highest rates of HIV infection - around 25 percent - and recent economic difficulties have further led to a marked deterioration in social services, with far-reaching negative consequences for children.

Currently the National Plan of Action for OVC requires around US $22 million, but with plans to assist more children in 2006, US $55 million is needed.

Dr Festo Kavishe, UNICEF's Country Representative in Zimbabwe, said in statement: "Although these seem like enormous sums, the NPA for OVC is costed and includes a clear monitoring and evaluation plan ... the cost per child is considerably less than many other countries in the region - it really is the ultimate investment in Zimbabwe."

The NPA for OVC, which is already being implemented, co-ordinates the work of a multitude of ministries, NGOs and churches.

"No one is denying the scope of the problem we face - there are more than one million children who have lost a parent in this country due to AIDS - that's one million children who may well lose their education, health and endure the trauma of seeing their parent die," said the National OVC secretariat coordinator, Nellie Dhlembeu. "These are the challenges we face, but this NPA for OVC has the answers. We now just need funding."

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