BY LORRAINE MUROMO
THE prolonged COVID-19 lockdown has negatively impacted on the survival of child-headed families who can now no longer fend for themselves, a child rights group said.
Shamwari yeMwanasikana, a girl child rights lobby organisation, said the lockdown had gravely affected child-headed families in the absence of government support.
“COVID-19 has done grave injustice to children who were already caught up in the claws of social and economic vulnerabilities, now coupled with the lockdown and COVID-19,” Shamwari yeMwanasikana director Ekenia Chifamba said in a statement yesterday.
“The same children who are forced work to meet their needs are now found without means of providing for themselves.
“Most of these children find themselves joining the informal trade, doing menial jobs such as laundry or gardening, and with the current movement restrictions they are no longer able to do so.”
Government pledged to give cushioning allowances to members of the informal traders, where most of those children parents are found, but four months on, the money is still to be disbursed, leaving most people vulnerable.
She added: “This implies that they are being subjected to hunger while trapped in their homes. In worse cases, they are exposed to sexual abusers as they take advantage of their lack of food and welfare in return for money or food.”
“Child-headed households have always experienced the worst impacts of any crisis situation, be they natural or man-made.
“Children in child-headed households suffer from severe poverty, high food insecurity; they are at higher risk of school dropout, sexual exploitation, and economic exploitation and child marriages, all this being as a result of their social vulnerabilities.”
Chifamba said there was need for government and relevant stakeholders to ensure the safety of vulnerable groups.
“There is an urgent need to ensure safety nets that provide food aid to vulnerable communities.”