in Uganda

Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Survey in Luwero, Uganda


Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) Survey

1.1.2.      BACKGROUND
1.6.1.      Goal
1.6.2.      Study questions
1.6.3.      Objectives




Sustainable Development Community e.V Africa is a Germany non-profit organization committed to help advance multiple sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Uganda. Sustainable Development Community (SDC) e. V. is a community based non-governmental organization (NGO) registered in Uganda with its headquarters in Germany. The organization has been supporting various initiatives in Uganda with a major focus on Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children (OVC). The organization intends to conduct an assessment starting from the month of April 2020 on OVC in the district of Luwero.

Assessment of OVC is necessary for effective and meaningful interventions to solve OVC problems and restore children’s hope for a meaningful future. Findings of the assessment will help articulate the magnitude and the impact of the orphan situation in Luwero District and bring out all the ramifications and complexities compounding the OVC problem. These findings will provide clarity on what the real issues are and a basis for appropriate responses to these issues. It is hoped that results of the assessment will guide and bring about a better understanding of the essential elements of OVC phenomenon to enable promotion of realistic, effective, and feasible interventions to protect and improve the well-being of children and families in Luwero District.


1.1.2.    BACKGROUND

Since the early 21st century, there has been a rise in the number of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), the majority of which live in sub-Saharan Africa [UNICEF 2006]. Orphan hood in sub-Saharan Africa is largely attributable to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which has left an estimated 17.3 million children orphaned due to the death of one or both parents [UNICEF 2013]. Despite major advances in addressing the HIV epidemic, the number of HIV-related orphans is still considerable, with a global estimate of 13.4 million children and adolescents orphaned by HIV. Most of these children reside in resource-limited settings and are in need of multiple support services for themselves and their families. Prolonged conflict, political instability and extreme poverty in some sub-Saharan African countries has also contributed to the OVC burden (UNICEF, UNAIDS, USAID 2004).

According to the Uganda Population-Based HIV Impact Assessment (UPHIA) report 2016, the national prevalence of HIV/AIDS was at 6% in Uganda. In 2015, an estimated 147,394 children aged between 0 and14 were living with HIV, just over 10% of the total HIV positive Ugandans. There were an estimated 5,200 new pediatric HIV infections in 2014, and almost 5% of babies born to HIV positive mothers tested positive for HIV in August 2015. The vulnerability of the very young and infected is exacerbated by poverty and assumed poor feeding practices, as evidenced by the fact that about 2 million under-5 children are stunted and 801,000 are underweight. HIV prevalence among people aged 15–24 years was 3.7% in 2011, having increased from 2.9% in 2004/5. Rising prevalence in this age group is related to behavioral challenges. In 2011, only four out of 10 young males and females aged 15–24 had comprehensive knowledge about HIV prevention; one in every four girls aged 15–19 has begun childbearing; two in every five women aged 20–24 were married or in a union before 18 years; nearly 6 in 10 young women aged 15– 24 (58%) had sex before age 18; and five in 10 unmarried young women were sexually active.

In Uganda, a child who has been orphaned is defined as a child below the age of 18 years old whose mother or father has died (MGLSD 2004b). According to this definition, orphaned children are just one category of vulnerable children in Uganda, since many more children live in situations that render them vulnerable. Rampant poverty and lack of access to basic services (such as appropriate housing, health care, education, water, and sanitation) have left many children vulnerable to high risks of exposure to harm. This assessment aims at increasing the understanding of the scope of the problem of vulnerable children in Luwero District in Uganda including the full spectrum of core services needed in order to facilitate planning to inform SDC e.V’s current and future programming efforts.



Uganda was one of the first countries in which the potential impact of the HIV and AIDS epidemic on children was documented and recognized (Hunter 1990, Müller and Abbas 1990, Dunn et al. 1992). According to Children on the Brink 2000 (Hunter and Williamson 2000), in 1990, 17 percent of Uganda’s children below 15 years old were orphaned. The Uganda National Household Survey conducted by UBOS in 2005/2006 identified that 15 percent of Ugandan children (below the age of 18 years old) were orphaned, suggesting that at that time there were approximately two million orphaned children in Uganda. Unfortunately, this number has continued going up.

In a 2015 Situation Analysis of Children in Uganda report produced by the Ugandan Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development, household survey data was used to estimate the number of vulnerable children in all four major regions of Uganda. Household survey data indicated that 14 percent of children in Uganda had been orphaned (i.e., experienced the loss of one or both parents), which is equivalent to a national total of 2.43 million out of 17.1 million children under age 18. According to the Uganda-specific definition and indicators developed during this research, nationally, up to 96 percent of children have some level of vulnerability. Within this broad grouping of vulnerable children, degrees of vulnerability can be distinguished for prioritization of support services. That is, nationally, 51 percent of children in Uganda are considered moderately or critically vulnerable, equivalent to a national total of approximately 8 million vulnerable children in Uganda.

The criteria currently used in Uganda by the National OVC Policy (NOP) and National Strategic Program Plan of Interventions for Orphaned and Other Vulnerable Children (NSPPI) to identify vulnerable children (for purposes of enumeration and intervention allocation) are shown in table 1.

Table 1: Criteria used for identifying vulnerable children in Uganda

1 Living on their own/institutionalized
2 Psychosocial status poor/potentially poor
3 Unstable environment (abusive, conflict, migratory)
4 In need, as determined by consensus but could include: inadequate food (one meal or

less), inadequate clothing (fewer than three sets including uniform), poor shelter (grass

thatch and mud walls), lack of/irregular education, regular cash income < US $1 equivalent per day

5 Orphaned
6 Single/widowed caregiver or head of household
7 Chronically ill adult in household
8 Female caregiver or head of household
9 Elderly caregiver or head of household
10 Abandoned (parents known to be alive or assumed alive but cannot be located)
11 Parents or guardians cannot be located or are absent (are assumed dead or known to be missing and cannot be located)
12 Chronically ill child
13 Illiterate/not going to school
14 Disability

Source: NSPPI (MGLSG 2004b)


The Government of Uganda (GOU) has focused attention on the problem of orphaned and other vulnerable children by enacting policies and regulations, attempting to register vulnerable children, and undertaking various efforts to promote community support and fostering and to re-unite children in orphanages with their extended families (MGLSD 2002).

In 1996 the GOU established the Children Statute (later renamed the Children Act), which provides a legal framework for the protection of children, stating that, “children have a right to education, immunization, adequate diet, clothing, shelter, medical attention and not to be discriminated against, subjected to violence, abuse or neglect.” The government also began encouraging communities to take orphaned children into their homes and to care for them. In 1997, the GOU introduced free Universal Primary Education (UPE).

Additionally, in 2004, the Ministry of Gender Labor and Social Development (MGLSD) developed the NOP, aimed at improving the quality of life for poor and vulnerable children. In order to implement the NOP, the GOU and its partners developed a strategy document, the NSPPI (MGLSD 2004b) and the Quality Standards for the Protection, Care, and Support of Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children in Uganda (MGLSD 2007). These documents identified 10 core program areas (CPAs) essential to the wellbeing of vulnerable children under four main themes or building blocks as highlighted in table 2 below.

The preferred practice in Uganda is that protection, care, and support services for vulnerable children are organized at the household level. In 1996, the MGLSD enacted a policy that favored family and community-based care, with institutional care as a last resort (MGLSD 2002). In the absence of immediate family, vulnerable children should be cared for by the extended family and community members to keep the children in a familiar and stable environment. The GOU recognizes the crucial role of and works closely with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations (CBOs), CSOs, and faith-based organizations to provide care, support, and protection for vulnerable children.


Table 2: Core program areas essential for the wellbeing of vulnerable children



Core Program Areas Description
1. Sustaining Livelihoods CPA I: Socioeconomic Security The ability and capacity of orphaned and vulnerable children and/or households with orphaned and other vulnerable children to sustain their livelihood over the medium- and long-term with or without short-term emergency assistance
CPA II: Food Security and Nutrition The process by which individuals and households ensure that they are able to access through either primary production or secondary acquisition, adequate and appropriate foods that guarantee their short- and long-term nutritional needs.
CPA III: Care and Support The provision of basic commodities, such as food, clothing, bedding, and/or shelter to an orphan, other vulnerable child, household, or institution taking care of orphaned and/or other vulnerable children.
CPA IV: Mitigation of the impact of Conflict The process by which individuals, households, and communities in collaboration with civil society, government, and private sector-workers to secure an environment in which essential social services can reach vulnerable populations affected by conflict.
2. Linking Essential Social Sector CPA V: Education The formal and informal systems of information acquisition, skill building, and technical experience that are made available during childhood, but may involve adults who are seeking to acquire new skills.
CPA VI: Psychosocial Support Assistance to positively and meaningfully affect the psychological and social situation that impacts on mental function and social behavior in relation to family and society
CPA VII: Health The state of physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing that provides an opportunity for individuals to be as productive as possible and achieve their greatest potential.
Strengthening Policy and Legal Frameworks
CPA VIII: Child Protection The immediate response to circumstances and conditions that create gross violation of the rights of children, subjecting them to serious risks and hazards.
CPA IX: Legal Support OVC are protected from all forms of abuse and exploitation and from hazards and harm.
4. Enhancing the Capacity to Deliver Services CPA X: Strengthening Capacity The process by which individual, household, community,  and national capacity are improved in order to deliver adequate care, support and services to orphaned and other vulnerable children.

Source: Quality Standards for the Protection, Care and Support of Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children in Uganda (MGLSD 2007)



The need to providing care and support for OVC is amongst the biggest challenges Uganda faces today, as the growing numbers of OVCs overwhelm the available resources. AIDS, fuelled by high poverty levels, abuse, exploitation, limited nutrition and education are the main contributors to OVC incidence in Uganda. The data available about OVC are old and not reliable for SDC e.V programs’ planning hence this assessment will contribute to the understanding of the magnitude of the problem and socio-demographic characteristics of OVC in Luwero. The findings will provide the foundation for building programs of appropriate design, size and scope for response.


Recognizing and addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) to mitigating negative outcomes of the growing OVC population worldwide is a high priority for national governments and international stakeholders that envisage this as an issue with social, economic, and human rights dimensions. Despite the many efforts to improve the circumstances of vulnerable children in Uganda, policymakers, donors, and program managers still lack comprehensive and up-to-date information about their numbers, geographic distribution, characteristics and needs.  Availing the relevant available data on OVC, and acknowledging the gaps that still exist in our knowledge, will assist policy makers and program implementers to make evidence-based decisions about how best to direct funding and program activities and maximize positive outcomes for children and their caretakers. This assessment will produce comparable outcome level data to that collected from other OVC programs using the same tools in other countries, which will allow for more evidence-based decision making for SDC e.V OVC projects implementation in Uganda.



1.6.1.    Goal

The primary goal for this assessment is to increase the understanding of the scope of the problem of vulnerable children in Luwero District in Uganda including the full spectrum of core services needed in order to facilitate planning to inform SDC e.V.’s current and future programming efforts.

1.6.2.    Study questions


  1. What are the general health and nutrition, food security, shelter, schooling, child protection, and social and psychosocial support of OVC in Luwero District?
  2. What is the capacity of households and their requirements to meet the basic needs of vulnerable children?


1.6.3.    Objectives

The specific objectives of the assessment are:

  1. To describe the general health and nutrition, food security, shelter, schooling, child protection, and social and psychosocial support of OVC in Luwero District.
  2. To assess the capacity of households and their requirements to meet the basic needs of vulnerable children.