Despite major efforts and investments to support orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Mozambique, few studies have examined the situation of OVC and their households and assessed whether programs are meeting the needs of these vulnerable populations. We conducted this study to generate empirical evidence on the situation of OVC and their households and the services that they receive in order to help GoM and partners improve the effectiveness of OVC programs and policies in the context of limited resources and widespread need.
The study was conducted in the districts of Marracuene, Katembe, Dondo, and the administrative post of Natikire in Mozambique. We conducted a household survey of 1,759 households with 5,726 children aged 0-17 years; focus group discussions (FGDs) with caregivers of OVC; in depth interviews with local key informants such as village chiefs and community leaders; and in-depth interviews with children and their caregivers. We examined shelter, health, food security and nutrition, legal protection, education, and psychosocial outcomes among children and we measured differences in these outcomes based on whether households care for OVC and on poverty status. We also examined whether children and families received support services, the types and frequency of services received, and how organizations implement OVC programs.
Our results reveal that orphans and vulnerable children living in poor households have worse outcomes in food security, nutritional status, shelter, health, psychological wellbeing, and education compared to non-OVC and children living in non-poor households. For example, among children under five years old, poor OVC were 2.6 times more likely to have caregivers worried that there would not be enough food three or more times in the four weeks preceding the survey compared to non-poor non-OVC. In logistic regression models, poor OVC were 2.7 times more likely to be out of school compared to non-poor, non-OVC. Among 0-4 year olds poor and non-poor OVC were more likely to be underweight than non-poor non-OVC. Poor OVC, aged 5- 11 years, had 3.4 times the odds of not having a blanket compared to non-poor non-OVC. We also found some additional disparities based on gender, age, and location.
With the exception of households that received support for birth registration, less than 10% of needy households received any support during the twelve months preceding the survey. Also, the support did not seem to target the children and households in the worst circumstances. Interviews and focus group discussions with caregivers and community members revealed that few children and households receive any type of support. While there are OVC support services, the organizations generally provide services to a small number of children and families on a regular basis. Interviews with OVC service providers revealed low levels of program and M&E knowledge.
The combined OVC and poverty-based disparities documented in this report are severe, such that poor orphaned and vulnerable children live difficult lives and face a bleak future without adequate food, shelter, health, education and even hope. We offer recommendations to policymakers, donors, service providers, and other stakeholders.