Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC)

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I. Description of the target

The issue of support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in the context of HIV / AIDS has long been made public in Cameroon. Indeed, because of socio-cultural values that make the education and supervision of a child a community and social concern, the issue of orphans being a specific category of children was not easy to admit in the Cameroonian society.
Faced with the havoc caused by HIV, especially in a context of poverty characterized by dwindling resources and the erosion of solidarity, it is unfortunately evident that orphans are a separate group, a group that should be given some attention and that requires specific and individual actions. Thus, in the early 2000s, on the occasion of the adoption of the first strategic plans against HIV and AIDS in Cameroon, specific areas of action were identified and planned targeting particularly Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC). Profile estimates of HIV in Cameroon prepared by the NAC in 2010 came up with 1,203,918 as the number of orphans in Cameroon, including 25.3% of children orphaned by HIV. Projections show that there will be 1,291,474 orphans in 2015, with 350,644 children orphaned by HIV, or 27.2%.
If during the first years, the catering for Orphans and Vulnerable Children in Cameroon was primarily supported or focused on orphans directly affected by HIV / AIDS, OVC can be defined today as any child under 18 years, who finds themselves in one of the following situations: the death of one or both parents or legal guardian, and the HIV infection of one or both parents or legal guardian, the infection by HIV of the child, the HIV infection of a sibling, the abandonment by parents or the community, the poverty of parents (biological ones, reception families, sponsors, host structures).
The consideration of OVC thus goes beyond mere direct link with HIV / AIDS to cover a broader set of children deprived of family care and being found in a precarious situation.
The groups of children below are also part of the category of OVC:

•    orphans of one or both parents or legal guardian;
•    children living with parents or guardians with chronic diseases;
•    Street children and / or children in the street;
•    Child victims of early marriage before age 18;
•    Victims of child abuse (physical, psychological, sexual) and neglect;
•    Abandoned children;
•    Children heads of families
•    Child victims of trafficking, trade or exploitation
•    Child beggars;
•    Children in conflict with the law and / or victims of crime
•    Children of indigenous peoples;
•    Children from poor families;
•    Children with chronic illnesses;
•    Children infected or affected by HIV (illness or loss of one or both parents to HIV);
•    Disabled children or disabled relatives born poor or needy;
•    Socially maladjusted children;
•    Children who do not have decent housing;
•    Malnourished children;
•    Children of separated and / or divorced parents;
•    Children victims of accidents or disasters.

II.    Experienced problems and needs

The main feature of vulnerability is the fragility of the individual against the demands / external and internal attacks. Regarding the specific case of the OVC, 10 priority needs were identified corresponding to its main existential concerns.
•    The first need of the OVC is their reintegration so as to establish and / or renew the physical, psychological and social contact with their immediate environment, the community and society as a whole.
•    The second need is their nutrition in order to ensure their survival to withstand external stresses that may impact negatively on their physical or mental disposition.
•    The third need is an affective, emotional, psychological and social follow-up. This need is fundamental to their balance because on account of their immaturity, they lack the required cues for life in society. The vulnerability results in the interruption, or discontinuation of the regression process of comprehensive development of the child, nothing lasting can be considered outside of the best interests of the latter.
•    The fourth need is to provide the child with adequate health care, for the poor conditions in which he lives exposes him to various ailments that are the basis of different diseases that can lead to death.
•    The fifth need is to ensure their education. Beyond basic education to which access is guaranteed for all children in Cameroon, a decent and rewarding environment that facilitates socialization is essential.
•    The sixth need is the acquisition "of life skills" that would permit them to take charge of themselves early in life and to have mechanisms for obtaining available goods. The seventh will need the protection of their rights to the shelter in cases of violence, discrimination and stigma.
•    The eighth need is rehabilitation so as to repair their physical, mental or social defects.
•    The ninth need is the socio-economic empowerment in order to overcome the scarcity of resources within families and facilitate access of the OVC to basic social services.
•    The tenth need is access to a home so as to ensure and / or provide the OVC a physical setting and human security for their total well-being.
Finally, every human being needs physical and emotional protection for their development. The OVC can therefore best flourish if reassured about a harmonious and fulfilling family and social life.

III. Policy guidance and services

On the whole, interventions towards the OVC have equity as their main directing principle and are child-focused, family-centered and community-based. Focus on the child means that all interventions and activities are in their best interest, and must be oriented on their basic needs, taking into account their age, sex and stage of development. The centralization of the family in it implies that programmes and interventions recognize that the family is the best place of development and growth of the child. Finally, if projects and actions are based on the community, it is to recognize that the community is the second line of security for the child, while it remains the cornerstone of consolidation of individual and family balance .
The main services offered to the OVC are: facilitating access to their
basic social services (health, education, nutrition, housing and other basic material needs), psychosocial counseling, rights protection (fight against stigma, legal aid, facilitating birth registration ...), strengthening the capacity of families, communities and institutions to reception and support structures.
The main actors are the State, Regional and Local Authorities, Civil Society Organizations, religious groups, traditional authorities, OVC, families and communities, not to mention development partners. Many programmes have been developed and implemented like the National Program Support for OVC with the Global Fund, Multi-Bi project and component support OVC Child HIV program in cooperation with UNICEF. We can also mention here the contribution of Plan-Cameroon, Cameroon Care and national organizations such as the Chantal Biya Foundation and African Synergy against Against AIDS and Suffering.
The direct beneficiaries of the actions are OVC, families and childcare facilities for OVC, while the indirect beneficiaries are mainly comprised of communities.

IV. Perspective

The Implementation of the National Strategic Plan for catering for the OVC in its five major strategic axis, namely the development of a protective environment for the OVC, catering for the OVC and their families, the capacity actors, resource mobilization and partnership, as well as the coordination, monitoring and evaluation...

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