By Anna Ingwafa
Oshana Regional Governor Clemens Kashuupulwa says the plight of Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) is not an isolated issue but a national reality that requires converted efforts from all partners involved.
Kashuupulwa was speaking at the hand-over of four scholarships worth N$9 000 to OVC for technical and commercial courses at the Valombola Vocational Training Centre by Project Hope Namibia at Oshakati on Wednesday.
According to the governor, the Namibian research organizations estimate that 180 000 to 200 000 children under the age of 18 have lost one or both parents. Of that total, approximately two-thirds were orphaned due to AIDS-related illnesses.
The number of orphans continues to rise. The Ministry of Health and Social Services anticipates that by 2030, this figure would exceed 250 000.
The research further reveals that violence and abuse of women and orphans and other vulnerable children particularly girls, pose major obstacles to children achieving their potential.
“This dilemma poses a great obstacle in the human skills development of OVC leaving them with limited means of survival,” said Kashuupulwa.
The situation, he said, requires focused and persistent intervention by Government, private and civil sectors.
The governor noted that though the situation is regrettable, the Government in conjunction with international partners such as USAID, UNICEF and local OVC institutions launched the National Plan of Action for Orphans and Vulnerable Children for 2006-2010 late last year.
The National Plan of Action was launched as a result of the long work of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare and intends not only to slow down the rapid growth of the OVC population in Namibia, but to provide much needed humanitarian and social welfare assistance that will enhance their coping abilities.
He is concerned about more adolescents becoming primary caregivers for their young siblings, and who have to learn parenting, household management and how to generate income.
He urges the beneficiaries of the scholarships to put the investment to good use for themselves and community.
To change the plight, Project Hope conducted a baseline survey of 250 OVC and caretakers in both regions to identify priority needs across households responsible for care and support to OVC.
The study is the foundation of its OVC expansion programme focusing on three northern regions – Ohangwena, Omusati and Oshana.
The programme has consulted a significant number of households on not only vocational training but provision for start-up capital that will enable them to start and manage their own small businesses.
The four beneficiaries are Kefas Elias studying plumbing and pipe fitting, Natangwe Lazarus and Maria Mwalundilange studying electrical general and Klaudia Reinhold who is doing a hospitality course.
The four scholarships cover registration and tuition fees, accommodation over the academic period and a monthly allowance.
The project budgeted about N$60 000 to help others in future.