Our work with children and families in the area got under way last month with the opening of a new Family Strengthening Programme. The SOS Children UK office has taken on responsibility for funding the facilities in Chipata, raising money for construction costs and for running costs in the early years of the development.
Family Strengthening Programmes provide medical care, educational opportunities for children, and vocational training for the adults who care for them. The aim is to develop the long term financial stability of families of all forms (child-headed, grandparent-headed and those headed by a lone parent for example).
Family Strengthening Programmes are designed to bring about long term financial stability for families. The aim is to reduce child abandonment and child labour and make families independent within 3-5 years.
The new Family Strengthening Programme in Zambia is based at Mchini, a high-density unplanned settlement of approximately 20,000 people living in 4,000 households on the outskirts of the rapidly growing town of Chipata. Mchini lacks basic amenities such as sanitation systems and clean drinking water. HIV/AIDS prevalence is high, and income levels are low.
In Chipata as a whole, HIV/AIDS prevalence is over 22%. In Mchini in particular, there are limited health and education facilities, little access to HIV/AIDS information, and a lack of local voluntary counselling and testing provision. The nearest health clinic is 5km away and no clinics in the area have ambulances to transport patients in need of care.
Rural-urban migration has contributed to Chipata’s growing population. The construction of the railway line along the Nacala Corridor (a trade route that is currently being developed to link Nacala, on the coast of Mozambique, with Malawi and Zambia) brings increased population growth through migrant labour, increased HIV infection, and the expansion of informal and squatter settlements.
Emerging economic growth and commercial and cross-border businesses have brought no corresponding growth in service provision. Many children in the area have already lost either one or both parents to HIV/AIDS. Levels of malnutrition are high and an estimated 70% of adults are unemployed. Low employment means that there are children dropping out of school to find informal work and contribute financially to the household.
Construction of the new SOS Children's Village
The new Family Strengthening Programme will bring vital help to people in the area and is just the first step in the establishment of SOS Children’s Village Chipata. Very soon the houses in the Children’s Village will start to be built; the construction of new classrooms at the local school (pictured) is also part of the SOS programme of development here.
SOS Children's Villages Zambia has been caring for orphaned and abandoned children since the completion of its first village in 1999. Nearly 600 children and young people are cared for in three SOS Children's Villages. Last year a total of 19,500 people benefited from SOS Children's outreach and community support including our schools, vocational training, medical care, and Family Strengthening Programmes.