MALAWI: New child welfare plan gives stakeholders common platform
The NPA aims to assist Malawi's estimated one million orphans
Lilongwe, 21 June 2005 (IRIN) - Malawi has launched a comprehensive welfare plan to mitigate the impact of poverty and HIV/AIDS on its estimated one million orphans.
The National Plan of Action (NPA) for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC), launched by President wa Mutharika last Thursday, provides a common platform for the government, NGOs and donors to address the myriad problems facing children.
"HIV/AIDS and chronic poverty are the major challenges facing children in Malawi. [These have] been exacerbated by the recurring food crisis," the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) project officer for OVC, Mayke Huijbregts, told IRIN.
According to UNICEF, the number of OVC is likely to increase by 50 percent by 2010.
Crop estimates indicate that Malawi's harvest could drop by around 25 percent this season, with the number of people in need of food aid climbing beyond last year's 1.3 million.
Huijbregts noted that the NPA aimed to increase access by OVC to essential services, such as education, health, nutrition, water, sanitation and birth registration.
The plan was also geared to strengthen the capacity of families and communities to care for OVC by providing support to improve their economic and social security.
Observers have noted that Malawi has a number of policy documents aimed at improving child welfare, but there is a serious lack of implementation.
"Government is under pressure from donors to implement the plan, and UNICEF will provide technical support," said Huijbregts.
So far about US $20 million has been sourced to cover implementation for two years, but the project is to run until 2009.
Health & Nutrition,
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]