Asset ownership among households caring for orphans and vulnerable children in rural Zimbabwe: The influence of ownership on children's health and social vulnerabilities.
ABSTRACT Abstract The high prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome in sub-Saharan Africa has resulted in a dramatic increase in orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) over the past decade. These children typically rely on extended family networks for support, but the magnitude of the crisis has resulted in traditional familial networks becoming overwhelmed and more economically and socially vulnerable. Previous research consistently demonstrates the positive influence of household asset ownership on children's well-being. Using data from impoverished households caring for OVC in rural Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe, this study explores the influence of household asset ownership on OVC health vulnerability (HV) and social vulnerability (SV). Findings indicate that asset ownership is associated with significantly lower SV, in terms of school attendance and birth registration. Yet, assets do not emerge as a direct influence of OVC HV as measured by disease and chronic illness, although having a chronically ill adult in the household increases HV. These findings suggest that asset ownership, specifically a combination of fixed and movable assets, may offset the influence of other risk factors for children's SV.
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ABSTRACT: An orphan enumeration survey was conducted in 570 households in and around Mutare, Zimbabwe in 1992; 18.3% (95% CI 15.1-21.5%) of households included orphans. 12.8% (95% CI 11.2-14.3%) of children under 15 years old had a father or mother who had died; 5% of orphans had lost both parents. Orphan prevalence was highest in a peri-urban rural area (17.2%) and lowest in a middle income medium density urban suburb (4.3%). Recent increases in parental deaths were noted; 50% of parental deaths since 1987 could be ascribed to AIDS. Orphan household heads were likely to be older and less well-educated than non-orphan household heads. The majority of orphaned children were being cared for satisfactorily within extended families, often under difficult circumstances. Caregiving by maternal relatives represents a departure from the traditional practice of caring for orphans within the paternal extended family and an adaptation of community-coping mechanisms. There was little evidence of discrimination or exploitation of orphaned children by extended family caregivers. The fact that community coping mechanisms are changing does not imply that extended family methods of caring are about to break down. However, the emergence of orphan households headed by siblings is an indication that the extended family is under stress. Emphasis needs to be placed upon supporting extended families by utilizing existing community-based organizations. Orphan support programmes may need to be established initially in high risk communities such as low-income urban areas and peri-urban rural areas.AIDS Care 02/1995; 7(1):3-17. · 1.60 Impact Factor