Child activists in Kabarole district are demanding for the implementation of the Orphans and other Vulnerable Children-OVC policy. In 2012, Kabarole District Local Government passed the five year plan estimated to cost 3 billion shillings, with an annual budget of 550 million shillings.
The plan was aimed at improving the lives of the OVCs through engaging them in apprenticeship, provision of basic needs like food, medical care and training them to use improved farming technologies. The district would also set up 36 demonstration gardens for rice and bananas. However, with a year left, nothing has been put in place hence affecting the lives of OVCs.
A recent survey by the district shows that there are about 78,404 OVC in Kabarole. Most of the OVCs lost their parents to HIV/AIDs while others are under the care of their guardians who are too old and can\'t provide them with the necessities. In some parts of the district particularly in urban centers, several children aged 10-15 years loiter on the streets begging for money and food in restaurants.
Some of them are engaged in casual work and at times, they are not paid or are paid meager wages. Enock Musinguzi, the programme officer of Child Concern, a Non-Governmental Organization in Rwenzori region wants the district to address the plight of the OVCs or else they will pose a threat to the community. Musinguzi says if they plan had been implemented, income generating activities would have occupied the children and dissuade them from engaging criminal activities.
//Cue in: â€œthe problem with OVCsâ€¦â€
Cue out: â€œâ€¦bad habits are common.â€//
Patrick Magezi, an administrator at Rwimi Orphanage home says that there is an urgent need to help the vulnerable children to improve their living conditions. He adds that OVCs who are in schools are faced with many challenges that include failure to meet basic scholastic materials and as a result most of them drop out of school.
Magezi adds that there has been a significant absence of the OVCs from the HIV and AIDS programs. However Shamillah Kakungulu, the Senior Kabarole District Probation Officer says the plan was abandoned due to the fact that the district failed to raise money to implement the policy.
She adds that the department has written to the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development requesting for funds to support OVC activities. Kakungulu says households with vulnerable children will in the next financial year benefit from the Luwero-Rwenzori programme.
//Cue in: â€œnot addressing the issue...
Cue out: â€œâ€¦problem is minimized.â€//
According to Children of Uganda, an international NGO dealing with plight of vulnerable children, Uganda has the largest orphan population per capita compared to any other country in the world. There are 8 million orphans and vulnerable children whose families have been devastated by HIV/AIDS or extreme poverty.