Kenya Provides Support to Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Laikipia

01/07/2011 - Kenya's government has confirmed support for the families of orphans and vulnerable children for the 2011/2012 financial year.

Kenya’s Children’s Department has awarded families the equivalent of CAN$263,402 to care for orphaned children in the Laikipia County during the fiscal year ending today. The programme’s beneficiaries are the guardians of orphaned, disabled or impoverished children.

On Wednesday, 600 families from the country’s eastern and northern districts travelled to the town of Nanyuki to receive their grants. Each household caring for an orphaned or vulnerable child was awarded the equivalent of a little over $16 per month.

The new fiscal year in Kenya begins today, July 1st. Three Laikipia districts will receive about $266,694 to help support vulnerable households over the year 2011/2012.

Enock Manwa is the District Children’s Officer. “The funds are meant to support health and education for the children,” he said.

Given this aim, the grant comes with certain conditions attached. All children who are to benefit from these funds must be in school. Those who are not of school age (children under the age of five) must attend immunisation clinics.

The department is urging the beneficiaries to begin their own income-generating projects to help supplement their existing incomes. One suggestion offered by Mr. Manwa included rearing chickens to sell the eggs as secondary agricultural products.

HIV prevalence in Kenya is 6.3 per cent among adults. The prevalence rate has come down and stabilized since the mid-1990s, but an estimated 80,000 people have died of AIDS-related illnesses, leaving 1.2 million children orphaned. Roughly 46 per cent of the country’s entire population of orphans have lost one or both of their parents to the disease.

According to social protection and support statistics produced by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), spending from public and international sources on orphans and vulnerable children has increased in recent years. Spending per AIDS orphan has also risen since 2007.

As of 2009, orphans and non-orphans attend school at almost equal rates. But, while Kenya is on-track to meet the education-related Millennium Development Goals, it will only be able to meet the HIV-related targets by making some key changes in its approach.

Among the HIV-related targets is ensuring that needy populations have access to the anti-retroviral therapies (ART) that prolong the length of time it takes to prevent HIV from progressing into AIDS. ART increases HIV patients’ healthy lifespan and is crucial to ensuring that children grow up with parental care.

Over the past five years, AIDS-related deaths have declined as the number of people receiving ART has grown. Spending on ART in Kenya was more than US$207 million in 2009, financed mostly by international donors. Infant infections have also declined since 2004, as more pregnant women are receiving ART. In 2009, spending on the prevention of mother-to-child-transmission was almost US$30 million.