The education of the world’s children is high on the global agenda. In the context of education for all (EFA), all children should receive free, good quality education. The reality is that millions of the world’s children are too poor to benefit from the declaration, unless there are special interventions that target their development. Unfortunately, such children do not form a special social category in poverty eradication intervention programmes. Thus, their inclusion in the achievement of EFA appears to be a hit-or-miss phenomenon. Recognizing the central role of poverty eradication in wider global agenda and acknowledging the need to reach out to the poorest children with the objective to break the poverty cycle for them, VCDF embarked on a programme of education and poverty eradication.
The Project aims at solving the problems hidden by the fact that orphans and vulnerable children are invisible; yet by the very nature of their situation, they are included among those that are classified as disadvantaged and poor in Uganda. Children are subsumed within the poverty categories most often referred to such as households, communities, people – which means that there is a high tendency to focus on adult-related poverty while child problems are ignored, partly because children have little power and influence within a group that contains adults.
Findings reflect that children in abject problems can be recognized by rather elementary (as opposed to sophisticated) criteria. Top on the list is absence of basic necessities such as shelter, food, clothing and water. Equally important is the ‘human condition’ in terms of physical health and parental care and protection. Schooling is high on the list as a critical criterion in determining who is extremely or modestly a vulnerable and disadvantaged child.
While there seems to be national consensus among donors, the public sector and civil society that the government has made commendable progress in implementing PEAP (Poverty Eradication Action Plan) as flexibly as possible, it’s evolving nature, due to the participatory and consultative reviews it undergoes regularly, does not address many of the development challenges Disadvantaged children face today. It would take lobbying and advocacy interventions to ensure that the needs and demands of children in abject poverty are met.
So far we have not received any funds for this project and that’s why we are seeking for funds as a result of supporting orphans and vulnerable children because School-related costs have been the major obstacle for children in abject poverty to access education.
A base line survey was curried out and it was found out that, there is an in death rate with in Kibaale District due to HIV/AIDS and this has led to an increased number of orphans in the District. The survey was made by VCDF members together with the community at large.
In designing and developing of these activities, we used the local community more especially the careers of the orphans and the vulnerable children (OVC) in the District. For this case therefore we created up a questionnaire which we distributed to the OVC careers which drove us to the real information we wanted from them.
The local government (Kibaale District) was involved in this process because we worked hand in hand with the community development officer (CDO) in the creation of a questionnaire and development of the project activities.
Due to increasing deaths of people as a result of HIV/AIDS so many children have been left as orphans with no body to take care of them and giving them support. Most of the children are left with their poor grand parents and some are left homeless hence ending up on streets. Only 11% of urban births and 3.4% of rural births are registered, meaning that the majority of children are denied this basic right. Approximately 96% of the poor, the majority of whom are women, live in rural areas (UBOS, 2000, 2003). A UNICEF project document (2003) on orphans and vulnerable children indicates that approximately 2.1 million children in Uganda are orphaned and, of these, 80% come from poor families.
The child-headed household trend in Uganda is such that rural areas have 79.9%, of which 49.6% are male-headed and 30.3% are female-headed. The trend in urban areas is that of the 20% child-headed households, 10.5% are male-headed whereas 9.6% are female-headed (Uganda Bureau Of Statistics-UBOS, 2000). Children’s vulnerability to poverty, adversity and HIV/AIDS is largely contextual but also indicative of the widespread situation in protecting them.
Uganda currently has over 2 million orphaned children, the majority of whom were orphaned by HIV/AIDS (Uganda Poverty Status Report, 2003). The number is expected to rise in the next decade and this will increase the risk of children turning to the streets, and becoming beggars and thieves.
The rise in the proportion of child-headed households and child laborers means a rise in percentages of the illiterate, early pregnancies, and related consequences such as infant and maternal mortality rates, increased incidence of those who are infected by sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV/AIDS, and drug abuse.
While the Government will continue to increase spending on reproductive health services, it will also be losing valuable human resources. The cycle of child poverty will thus be passed on to next generation and become chronic. It is evident that the HIV/AIDS scourge is increasingly taking its toll on those who should otherwise be enjoying childhood in Uganda.
A large proportion of deprived children have acquired psychopathological behavior, increasingly becoming involved in crime, drug abuse and violence. Many, too, are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS and yet enter the labor market at very young ages, all of which seriously affects their growth and well-being. Children under this category experience extreme poverty, which is compounded household, community and national poverty.
The 2001/2002 participatory poverty assessment by the Uganda Participatory Poverty Assessment Process (UPPAP) and Save the Children UK studies on child poverty confirmed that children are a vulnerable category of the population, and that policy and institutional frameworks are taking longer to cope with changing sources of crisis and adversity. A link between large/polygamous families with poverty, and the high level of household population (six to eight members), increases the difficulty of providing adequate coverage and quality of public services such as education, health and housing for families, especially for children. Poor health reduces the productive capacity of households and limits children’s access to their basic needs.
The magnitude and complexity of the problem of child poverty in Uganda is large and growing, and cannot be ignored when designing national development and poverty reduction strategies. Unfortunately, children and young people continue to be marginalized in spite of interventions, especially where assumptions are made that interventions that address adult and household needs are also good for all children, including boys and girls of school-going and non-school-going ages. This partly explains why child poverty is underrepresented in most studies on poverty in Uganda (Save the Children UK, 2003)
The very low level of education among the whole population of the community which has been attributed to the increasing number of orphans as a result of HIV and AIDS scourge that has hit the village for many years. Subsistence agriculture being the major way of livelihood has made it very difficult for the parents to send their children to school due to the increasing cost of education.
The most affected category is the orphans and the vulnerable children with no proper care and protection, no education, no food, no clothes and medical care. Worst of all, some of the children at an early age as low as 11 years, are heading families taking responsibility of careering for the young brothers and sisters as well as finding away for their education which is very difficult.
In an attempt to do so, most of them especially the ladies end up doing with men as away to earn a living or survival. This has led to an increased rate of HIV/AIDS infections and other sexual transmitted diseases among the orphans and the vulnerable children / youth.
The project is therefore initiated to target the orphans and the vulnerable children so as to empower them through support in education, health and social development and also empowering their guardians through income generating activities so that they can be able to sustain themselves even when the project has phased out.