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$100m for Ethiopian Aids Orphans

Five hundred thousand Ethiopian children affected by Aids will benefit from a $100m (about £62m) in US aid over the next five years.

The package will help pay for social safety nets to support people looking after children affected by Aids as well as helping them with nutrition, health, education, psychological support, legal support and shelter.

It is funded by the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), The US Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and will be provided by a team of 50 aid organisations.

After her husband died of Aids, Kokobe Abate is struggling to raise her daughter Almaz in the Horn of Africa country’s capital, Addis Ababa.

Her husband’s death hit the family hard, but he’d given up on life before he died.

“Even before he passed away, he had stopped providing for us,” Kokobe said. “He couldn’t bear the idea of living with HIV. I think the guilt is what killed him – after we found out our HIV status he started drinking,” she told gantdaily.com

All that kept them from joining thousands of families living on Addis Ababa’s streets were handouts from neighbours and the state-owned, subsidised home her husband left behind.

“I tried to do everything out there – washing clothes for people, selling bread, but I hardly made enough money even to eat a good meal once a day.”

But last year her luck changed when she and 13 other unemployed people in their area were picked to work in a nearby parking lot, issuing tickets to drivers.

“I make money now; whether it is enough or not is another thing, but I have a regular income,” she said. “I can buy exercise books, uniforms, shoes and most importantly, food for both of us, and also [pay for] power and water.”

While Kokobe was lucky enough to get work, millions of Ethiopians caring for orphans in a country where annual inflation topped 34 per cent last month are forced to sell all their belongings for cash, or send young children out to beg.

There are an estimated 5.5 million orphans in Ethiopia, which is equivalent to 15 per cent of the country’s children. About 800,000 of the orphans have lost one or both parents to an Aids related illness.

A 2010 study of households caring for orphans in the country found that at least 22 per cent of orphans had been sent out to work.

“This programme is expected to provide several service areas: nutrition, health, education, psychological support, legal support, shelter and so on,” said USAID’s Walelign Mehretu.

The aid package will also help the Ethiopian government use a national monitoring system for orphans and vulnerable children.

But the average of $200 per child over the five years will not be enough to support all the needs of the targeted orphans, Walelign noted.

“One child may only need education materials, which is an expense of once a year so the money could be adequate… of course, some children may need all the services; in that case, what the programme is anticipating is to mobilize the community and to have some other source of resources,” he told the United Nations news service, IRIN.

“The problem of orphans and vulnerable children is severe and we know that this money isn’t adequate to cover all the expense and all the needs of the children,” Walelign said. “But we know that something is better than nothing.”

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