Main Article Content

Safeguarding inheritance and enhancing the resilience of orphaned young people living in child- and youth-headed households in Tanzania and Uganda

Ruth Evans


This article explores the resilience of orphaned young people in safeguarding physical assets (land and property) inherited from their parents and sustaining their households without a co-resident adult relative. Drawing on the concept of resilience and the sustainable livelihoods framework, the article analyses the findings of an exploratory study conducted in 2008–2009 in Tanzania and Uganda with 15 orphaned young people heading households, 18 of their siblings, and 39 NGO workers and community members. The findings suggest that inherited land and property were key determining factors in the formation and viability of the child- and youth-headed households in both rural and urban areas. Despite experiences of stigma and marginalisation in the community, social networks were crucial in enabling the young people to protect themselves and their property, providing access to material and emotional resources, and enhancing their skills and capabilities to develop sustainable livelihoods. Support for child- and youth-headed households needs to recognise young people’s agency and should adopt a holistic approach to their lives by analysing the physical assets, material resources, and human and social capital available to the household, as well as giving consideration to individual young people’s wellbeing, outlook and aspirations. Alongside cash transfers and material support, youth-led collective mobilisation that is sustained over time may also help build resilience and foster supportive social environments in order to challenge property-grabbing and the stigmatisation of child- and youth-headed households.

Keywords: asset inheritance, HIV/AIDS, human capital, orphans and vulnerable children, participatory research, policy development, poverty, social capital, sub-Saharan Africa, sustainable livelihoods

African Journal of AIDS Research 2012, 11(3): 177–189