By Frank Mugabi
THE country risks a doomed future if the increasing number of orphans is not addressed, the gender ministry has warned.
Willie Otim, the commissioner for youth and children affairs, said there has been an increase in the number of orphans over the past years.
He noted that the number of orphans was estimated at 11.5% in 1999, but rose to 13.4% in 2003 and 14.8% in 2006.
Otim said the majority of these children are fending for themselves because both the Government has no budget to cater for their needs.
He warned that letting children grow up through their own efforts impacts on them negatively.
â€œWe need to provide for them now. If we donâ€™t, productivity and consumption of essential services will reduce in the long run,â€ Otim said.
He added that saying there was no money to look after orphans was like buying a time bomb that will explode one day and destroy us all.
Otim was speaking to local leaders at the West Nile regional orphans and vulnerable children advocacy workshop that was held at the TPO Centre in Arua town recently.
The advocacy and communications officer, Lydia Najjemba Wasula, warned that abandoning orphans would also result into increased public expenditure, high inequality levels and reduced local tax base.
She noted that this would also lead to an explosion of HIV because most orphans engage in commercial sex as a coping strategy.
She urged local government authorities to commit some funds to programmes like fruit growing and honey production and vocational education to help the orphans manage their lives better.