It is a pleasure to be with you today to celebrate the launch of Wezesha Project. Wezesha Project is a USAID partnership with Lifeskills Promoters, and its partners, St Johns’ Community Center and Christian Partnership on AIDS in Kenya, to coordinate the sustainable care of 20,000 orphans and vulnerable children in Homa Bay, Kisii, and Migori Counties.
USAID has partnered with the Government of Kenya for 50 years to jointly implement development programs. One of our greatest successes has been improving the lives of children through programs that ensure that orphans and vulnerable children can lead productive lives instead of being a burden on their communities.
I would like to thank the Ministry of Labor, Social Security and Services and particularly the Department of Children Services, for their continued leadership in overseeing and coordinating activities to support orphan and vulnerable children in Kenya. We would also like to thank the Ministries of Education, Health, Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, the provincial administration, county representatives and the community for the partnership we continue to enjoy as we work to improve the lives of orphans and vulnerable children and their families.
USAID supports Kenyan-led programs to further local capacity development, commitment, and sustainability. To accomplish this, USAID builds partnerships with local organizations. This project marks the first time that USAID/Kenya is directly partnering with a local Kenyan organization to implement orphans and vulnerable children activities.
According to the 2012 Kenya AIDS Indicator Survey, 40 percent of all orphans who have lost both parents live in Nyanza. Providing targeted resources to this high-need area is critical for improving the well-being of orphans and vulnerable children in Kenya. Wezesha Project does just that.
Wezesha Project uses a sustainable and family-centered approach to meet the basic needs of orphans and vulnerable children. The project supports community workers to conduct local needs assessments and develop realistic plans for improving household incomes of families that serve as primary caregivers.
Wezesha Project is funded through the U.S. Government’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, also known as PEPFAR. Ten percent of PEPFAR’s HIV/AIDS care, treatment and prevention budget goes to caring for orphans and vulnerable children. Through its partners, the United States Government is serving 655,601 orphans and vulnerable children in Kenya. In Nyanza, the United States Government supports approximately 90,000 orphans and vulnerable children. This number will increase with the Wezesha Project, which is funded to help 20,000 orphans and vulnerable children here in Homa Bay, Migori, and Kisii Counties.
Under PEPFAR, priority strategies for orphans, vulnerable and children include stabilizing vulnerable households to enable them provide for the needs of their children, linking families to essential services, which includes education, health services and nutrition, and building the capacity of government and civil society to ensure a systems-based approach to improve the welfare and protection of children.
To sustain and institutionalize these efforts, the United States Government expects all implementing partners to strictly adhere to the Government of Kenya’s quality improvement standards for orphans and vulnerable children.
I am confident that with concerted effort and coordination we can serve Kenyan children in a way that reduces their vulnerability and helps them realize their rights as citizens of this great country.
Last updated: July 17, 2014