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Changing patterns of orphan care due to the HIV epidemic in western Kenya


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  • Nyambedha, Erick Otieno
  • Wandibba, Simiyu
  • Aagaard-Hansen, Jens
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    The HIV/AIDS epidemic has given rise to major demographic changes including an alarming number of orphans in sub-Saharan Africa. The study describes a rural community in western Kenya in which one out of three children below 18 years of age had lost at least one biological parent--and one out of nine had lost both. The main problems these children faced were lack of school fees, food and access to medical care. The high number of orphans has overwhelmed the traditional mechanisms for orphan care, which were based on patrilineal kinship ties. Thus, 28% of the orphans were looked after by culturally "inappropriate" categories such as matrilineal kin or strangers. Furthermore, many of the caretakers were themselves not capable due to ill health or old age. Factors such as poverty, negative attitudes, and traditional funeral customs made the orphans' situation even worse. The authors conclude that though community-based interventions are urgently needed as the most appropriate way to address the issue, the complex, local reality in which cultural factors, kinship ties, and poverty are interwoven needs to be taken into consideration if sustainable solutions are to be found.

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    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.

    Volume (Year): 57 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 2 (July)
    Pages: 301-311

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:57:y:2003:i:2:p:301-311

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    Keywords: Orphans Kinship Kenya LUO Demographic change Community-based interventions;


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    Cited by:
    1. Lorraine van Blerk & Nicola Ansell, 2007. "Alternative care giving in the context of Aids in southern Africa: complex strategies for care," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(7), pages 865-884.
    2. Karimli, Leyla & Ssewamala, Fred M. & Ismayilova, Leyla, 2012. "Extended families and perceived caregiver support to AIDS orphans in Rakai district of Uganda," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(7), pages 1351-1358.
    3. Titeca, Kristof & Omwa, Samuel Samson, 2011. "Community-based initiatives in response to the OVC crisis in North Central Uganda," IOB Discussion Papers 2011.04, Universiteit Antwerpen, Institute of Development Policy and Management (IOB).
    4. Skovdal, Morten, 2011. "Examining the trajectories of children providing care for adults in rural Kenya: Implications for service delivery," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(7), pages 1262-1269, July.
    5. Lauren Bachan, 2014. "Anticipatory child fostering and household economic security in Malawi," Demographic Research, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany, vol. 30(40), pages 1157-1188, April.
    6. Yanagisawa, Satoko & Poudel, Krishna C. & Jimba, Masamine, 2010. "Sibling caregiving among children orphaned by AIDS: Synthesis of recent studies for policy implications," Health Policy, Elsevier, vol. 98(2-3), pages 121-130, December.
    7. Beegle, Kathleen & Filmer, Deon & Stokes, Andrew & Tiererova, Lucia, 2010. "Orphanhood and the Living Arrangements of Children in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(12), pages 1727-1746, December.
    8. D. Omariba & Roderic Beaujot & Fernando Rajulton, 2007. "Determinants of infant and child mortality in Kenya: an analysis controlling for frailty effects," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 26(3), pages 299-321, June.
    9. Ice, Gillian H. & Sadruddin, Aalyia F.A. & Vagedes, Amy & Yogo, Jaja & Juma, Elizabeth, 2012. "Stress associated with caregiving: An examination of the stress process model among Kenyan Luo elders," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(12), pages 2020-2027.
    10. Kevin Thomas, 2010. "Family Contexts and Schooling Disruption among Orphans in Post-Genocide Rwanda," Population Research and Policy Review, Springer, vol. 29(6), pages 819-842, December.
    11. Wang, Bo & Li, Xiaoming & Barnett, Douglas & Zhao, Guoxiang & Zhao, Junfeng & Stanton, Bonita, 2012. "Risk and protective factors for depression symptoms among children affected by HIV/AIDS in rural China: A structural equation modeling analysis," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(9), pages 1435-1443.


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