The project is a USAID partnership with Lifeskills Promoters and its partners, St. Johns’ community Centre and Christian Partnership in Aids in Kenya with an objective of coordinating sustainable care for OVCs in the three counties.
According to the Kenya Aids Indicator Survey (KAIS) 2012, 40 per cent of all orphans who have lost both parents live in Nyanza.
Speaking during the official launch of the project at Agoro Sare primary in Homabay County, USAID/Kenya deputy team leader Tara Simpson noted that providing targeted resources to this high need area was critical for improving the well-being of OVCs in Kenya.
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“Wezesha Project uses a sustainable and family-centred approach to meet the basic needs of orphans and vulnerable children. The project supports community workers to conduct local needs assessment and develop realistic plans for improving household incomes of families that serve as primary caregivers,” said Simpson.
The US government’s emergency plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) has prioritized strategies for OVCs including stabilizing vulnerable households to enable them provide for the needs of their children, linking families to essential services which include education, health services and nutrition.
Other priority areas include building the capacity of government and civil society to ensure a systems based approach to improve the welfare and protection of children.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Security was represented by Ahmed Hussein who is the Director, Children Services.
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Hussein said support for children must have a human face adding that he was delighted to see what county governments were doing towards this end.
“20 community organizations are being empowered to respond to the needs of vulnerable children in this project and this laudable. The national government, through the OVC-Cash Transfer program, is supporting 21,578 families with a Sh 2,000 monthly stipend. Each of these families has 3 to 4 children. We are supporting 75,500 children in Kisii, Homabay and Migori counties which is only 14.8 per cent of the total number,” he added.
The official revealed that there are an estimated 2.4 million orphans in Kenya and Kisii County has 125,786 but only 7,400 are in the OVC cash transfer program.
Executive Committee Member (ECM) in charge of health services Sarah Omache thanked USAID for identifying Kisii County as one of the beneficiaries of the project.
“South Mugirango, Bonchari, Kitutu Chache North, Kitutu Chache South and Nyaribari Chache sub counties will benefit in this project. The county government through the department of culture has set aside funds to help the vulnerable,” she said.
Mrs Omache explained that the high prevalence of HIV in Kisii which stands at 8.9 per cent had led to an increase in the number of orphans