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Ministry of Local Government (MLG)
Orphan and Vulnerable Children Services Standardize (OVC)
17/10/16
Orphan and Vulnerable Children Services Standardize (OVC)    The Government of Botswana has an obligation and endeavors to improve the general welfare support of the Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) in the country. Hence she has moved swiftly to review the services it currently renders them through the Botswana National Plan of Action (NPA) 2010- 2016 for Orphans and Vulnerable Children.

Orphan and Vulnerable Children Services Standardize (OVC)   

The Government of Botswana has an obligation and endeavors to improve the general welfare support of the Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) in the country. Hence she has moved swiftly to review the services it currently renders them through the Botswana National Plan of Action (NPA) 2010- 2016 for Orphans and Vulnerable Children.

At an earlier consultative workshop convened by the Department of Social Protection, various stakeholders in attendance committed to ensuring that these children’s welfare, needs and upkeep are well taken care of. The workshop was characterized by Chief Social & Community Development officers, Programme Officers, Economic Planners, Development Partners - OVC Specialists, Officers from UNICEF & US Government/USAID, Peace Corps, NACA, UNAIDS, and MOH-Nutritionists with one mission- Children’s welfare.

WHY THE NEED TO STANDARDISE

Since most of the OVC services are administered at Local Authorities, the dissemination of the National Plan of Action allowed stakeholders to question its implementation. Numerous complaints have been raised before to the effect that provision of critical services is not entirely the same especially at the implementation level. “This was said to be attributable to the fact that due to recession, when funding declined, Local Authorities struggled to provide for such vulnerable population. This therefore resulted in authorities having to come up with strategies to manage the situation at their respective districts.

In view of the above, it was therefore normal that rationalizations were done at Local levels, as it was not only uniform or standard across all councils but had also severely deviated from the initial National Program provisions. Even when the budget issues were addressed and later reviewed or increased, provision of services to OVC still continued to be varied at implementation level.

A number of meetings held prior had always pointed to the need to thoroughly look at the support given to malnourished children and children living with disabilities. These children often need services and support beyond that of an average OVC. It was thus agreed that guided by the National Plan of Action, these children should not be left behind. The need for these vulnerable groups to have access to quality services as per their varied needs associated with their varied vulnerabilities is thus paramount.

From the discussions held, the need for standardization of services was discussed with Chief Social and Community Development officers and their heads at Sub-Districts from all Councils. It was then unanimously supported that there be a standardization of services at national level to guide the implementation of OVC services. “There is no doubt that this will be a huge step change for the implementation of OVCs and to transform the centres and showcase them as the best in class residential facilities for the care and protection of orphan and vulnerable children in Botswana”.

Mpule Kwelagobe Centre in Jwaneng is one example of such facilities. The Centre, a government initiative that was established in the year 2000 as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) has a total of 46 children, 23 boys and 23 girls, with ages ranging between 12 months and 18 years. These children are drawn from all over the country and under the care of experienced social workers that continue to provide direction and guidance to a team of 24 “house mothers” aged between 35 and 55 years who are responsible for the general welfare and upkeep of these children.

The Centre does not only offer basic necessities such as shelter, food and clothing, but also provides the children with access to education and healthcare services. It further provides residential care, support and protection to OVCs in a residential environment.

As provided for in the Children’s Act, Government continues to provide a safe and enabling environment for children to reach their full potential through strong family support and ensure vulnerable children are empowered, protected and most importantly their rights are respected.

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