By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Nearly 40 percent of households in the six northern and north-eastern regions of the country are considered acutely vulnerable. These regions are Oshana, Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshikoto, Kavango and the Caprivi. These latest findings are contained in the recently-launched Community and Household Surveillance survey conducted by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP ). The survey, which was carried out in July this year, further reveals that 17 percent of the sampled households were found to be asset-poor. Presenting the outcome of the survey last week Thursday, WFP Representative, Eric Kenefick, said that for households hosting orphans the number of orphans per household was as high as nine, with an average of two orphans per household. “The number of children in the survey who are receiving food assistance was 829 or 32 percent, an average of 2,5 beneficiary children per household with a maximum of seven per household,” he explained. The initial objective for the joint Community and Household Surveillance exercise is to assess the food security and livelihood of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) in the six northern regions of Oshana, Ohangwena, Omusati, Oshikoto, Kavango and Caprivi. The survey covered 636 households altogether, and collected information on 2ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 575 children up to 18 years of age. It was found that of these 636 children (26 percent) had lost one parent while 189 (7 percent) had lost both parents to-AIDS-related illnesses. Currently, only 9 percent of households are receiving a cash grant. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare is also providing grants to 53ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 929 children throughout the country. In view of this, Kenefick said OVC households receiving food assistance spent 38 percent of their monthly income on food, while OVC households that did not receive food assistance spent an average of 45 percent on food. However, the good news is that the prevalence of child-headed households, especially those headed by children under 18 years, is extremely low in this study: less than 1 percent. In light of this, Acting Minister for the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, said it was encouraging to see this positive trend in the study’s findings. “This tells us that our communities are caring for these children. However, we have to take note that the elderly continue to be the ones most taking care of OVC,” said Ndaitwah. The line ministry, together with WFP, launched the programme for aid to provide food assistance to 111ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 000 OVC in the country’s six northern and north-eastern regions. The programme, which started on April 24, this year is expected to end in December 2007 and offers temporary relief to these children before they can be absorbed into the government’s safety net system, called the Grant System.