African Journal of Social Work

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The sustainability of kinship foster care system in Zimbabwe: a study of households caring for orphans and other vulnerable children in Bikita

Charles Dziro, Johanne Mhlanga


Most Zimbabweans, like other people in the Southern Africa region, have suffered in a number of ways as a result of the HIV and AIDS pandemic, persistent droughts and such environmental challenges. The death of parents has an impact on the survival strategies for orphans and other vulnerable children (OVCs). Without strong legislation and services for OVCs in Zimbabwe, services become influenced by Western values such as individualism. Such values are espoused in policy instruments such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Zimbabwe ratified. Even the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the Children’s Act (Zimbabwe) demonstrate western values. However, these frameworks have all been proven to be ineffective in dealing with children’s challenges in different environmental challenges for OVCs in Zimbabwe. The
study wanted to establish the sustainability of kinship-based foster care in the care of orphans and other vulnerable children in rural areas. The study used a qualitative research design. The study therefore employed in-depth interviews to collect data from OVCs themselves on the sustainability of kinship based foster care under the current environmental challenges facing the country as a whole. Focus group discussions were used to gather information from household heads, community members and other people with the experience of caring of OVCs. Key informant interviews were used to collect information from community experts who normally provide valuable information on the sustainability of kinship based foster care in challenging environmental situations. The study realized that families are facing a number of challenges in meeting the health, education and social welfare needs of orphans under kinship-based foster care. The study came up with suggestions for improving OVC policies and intervention strategies. One of the recommendations was that of expanding domestic financing for child and social
protection. Revival and supporting of Zunde raMambo projects through irrigation schemes as well as political will by the government to support orphans under kinship-based foster care.

Keywords: Sustainability, foster care, kinship, policy

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