The Orphan Problem in Selected African Countries
The HIV/AIDS epidemic has surged in sub- Saharan Africa, leaving in its wake massive numbers of adult mortality and orphaned children. In countries that have high levels of HIV infection, an apparent trend is that the increase in orphans has been so dramatic that it has overwhelmed the extended family system. The care-giving role of the elderly is becoming more widespread in response to the emerging orphan crisis. Orphans themselves are in a diffi cult position, having to contend with conditions that are fi nancially, socially and emotionally dislocating, and experiencing hunger, homelessness, forced migration, limited or no access to healthcare and social services, sexual exploitation and being targeted for child labour. Governments need to respond timeously and intervene in a meaningful way so that the position of both orphans and caregivers is secured. This is imperative since the HIV/AIDS epidemic has long-lasting implications, and, if unchecked, the rampant spread of new infections will impede the realisation of much-needed socio-economic development of the African continent.
Africa Insight Vol. 37 (4) 2008 pp. 148-159