Mozambique: Canada supports UNICEF programme

News and Press Release
Originally published
The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), through UNICEF Canada, is supporting the UNICEF programme for orphans and vulnerable children in Mozambique with almost $1.2 million (Cdn). The announcement comes on June 16, Day of the African Child.

"CIDA's generous contribution will benefit about 25,000 children most affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the provinces of Tete, Gaza, Manica, Zambézia and Sofala," said David Agnew, UNICEF Canada President and CEO. "The programme will work to ensure that children are enrolled in school, that they are reached by health services, and have access to safe water and sanitation. It will also help children to obtain a birth certificate - a critical element to protect their legal rights, including the ability for children orphaned by AIDS to claim any inheritance left by their parents."

"Canada has a strong history of support for global efforts to improve the health of the world's citizens, especially the children," said the Honorable Aileen Carroll, Minister of International Cooperation. "By supporting efforts to strengthen the capacity of key government and civil society partners, we can mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS. We know that healthy young people are essential to building a better world for all. Together, we will make a difference."

The main government partner in implementing the programme is Mozambique's Ministry for Women and Social Action. The Ministry's Provincial Directorates will be supported in improving access of orphaned and vulnerable children to basic social services and in identifying foster or adoptive families for those children who cannot stay with relatives or their extended family.

UNICEF is also partnering with non-governmental and community-based organizations operating in Mozambique's provinces, whose workers will visit individual homes to provide health and nutritional guidance as well as psychosocial support to help vulnerable families cope with the trauma and challenges posed by HIV/AIDS. The programme will train approximately 200 community committees.

The programme will support communities to establish day care centres for children up to five years of age removing the burden of caring for young children from their older brothers and sisters, allowing them to attend school.

According to the latest data of Mozambique's National Statistics Institute (INE), around 325,000 children have already lost their mothers, their fathers or both parents due to AIDS. Studies show that orphans, especially those who have lost their mothers, are much more likely to be chronically malnourished than the general child population. They are at greater risk of dropping out of school, because they cannot afford to pay school fees and buy educational materials, because they have to work to make ends meet, or because they have to care for younger siblings. According to the INE, the school attendance rate of orphaned children in lower primary school was eight per cent lower in 2003 than the attendance rate among non-orphaned children.

Another alarming statistic indicates that being deprived of the protection of primary caregivers often means that children, especially girls, are more affected by violence, abuse, and exploitation. Many orphaned children may also be pressured to leave their homes when relatives or neighbours take over their houses and land after their parents' deaths.

UNICEF and key partners like CIDA are working together in an urgent effort to reverse these trends and statistics.

UNICEF is the world's leader for children, working in 157 countries and territories to save, protect and enhance the lives of girls and boys. UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, promotes quality basic education, protects children from violence, exploitation and AIDS, and is the world's largest provider of vaccines for developing nations. A global leader in emergencies with six decades of on-the-ground experience, UNICEF saves and rebuilds children's lives in natural disasters and conflict. Celebrating 50 years in Canada in 2005, UNICEF is funded entirely by voluntary contributions from individuals, businesses, foundations, schools, associations and governments.

The Canadian International Development Agency facilitates the efforts of the people of developing countries to achieve self-sustainable economic and social development in accordance with their needs and environment, by cooperating with them in developing activities; and to provide humanitarian assistance, thereby contributing to Canada's political and economic interests abroad in promoting social justice, international stability and long-term relationships for the benefit of the global community.

For further information, please contact:

Nicole Ireland, National Communications, UNICEF Canada, Telephone: 416-482-4444, extension 831

Michael Klaus, Communication Officer, UNICEF Mozambique, (+258 82 312 8120)

Andrew Graham, Director of Communications, Office of the Minister of International Cooperation, (819) 953-6238

Media Relations Office, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Telephone: (819) 953-6534