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Foster care ontologies: A qualitative study in Zimbabwe

Vol. 11(6), pp. 118-131, October-December 2019
DOI: 10.5897/JASD2019.0553
Article Number: 029816762237
ISSN 2141-2189
Copyright © 2019
Author(s) retain the copyright of this article
Journal of African Studies and Development
Full Length Research Paper
Foster care ontologies: A qualitative study
in Zimbabwe
Musavengana W. T. Chibwana
Senior Child Protection Officer, African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, African Union,
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Received 2 September, 2019; Accepted 7 October, 2019
Both the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of
the Child place premium on having children grow up in families. Foster care is one of the opportunities
that can be used to ensure that children grow up in families on the African continent and Zimbabwe in
particular. There are however some minefields which have to be explored carefully. The paper dedicates
some attention to inhibitive cultural dimensions that have to be tackled delicately in promoting foster
care. The paper also debunks the thinking that foster care is a destination in itself by showing the lived
realities of children in foster homes. This has been done by exploring ontologies of foster care in the
context of Zimbabwe. General typologies of foster parents are given showing the nexus between quality
of life for children and the types of foster parents. A qualitative research design was employed, where
the data were collected through exploratory tools namely focus group discussions, key informant
interviews and in-depth interviews.
Key words: Quality of life, child right, foster care, children, foster parents, child protection.
The preambles of both the United Nations Convention on
the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the African Charter
on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) place
premium on having children grow up in families. The
African Children‟s Charter, in particular, notes that „the
child occupies a unique and privileged position in the
African society and that for the full and harmonious
development of his personality, the child should grow up
in a family environment in an atmosphere of happiness,
love and understanding[Emphasis added].
This paper
is premised on this aspiration. Foster care is one of the
instruments that can be used to ensure that children grow
up in family environments. There is an expectation that
the family environments that children find themselves in
have atmospheres of happiness, love and understanding.
Both the UNCRC and the ACRWC as the normative
frameworks on children‟s rights posit that the protection
of children is to be covered by the 'parens patriae'
authority of the state.
At national level, Section 19 of the Zimbabwean
Constitution is dedicated to national objectives that are
specific to children. The national objectives are supposed
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to guide the State and all institutions and agencies of
government at every level in formulating and
implementing laws and policy decisions that will lead to
the establishment, enhancement and promotion of a
sustainable, just, free and democratic society in which
people enjoy prosperous, happy and fulfilling lives.
In consonance with the preambles of the UNCRC and the
ACRWC, the Zimbabwe Constitution places premium for
children to grow up in a family environment. Chapter
2(19) of the constitution posits that:
The State must adopt reasonable policies and measures,
within the limits of the resources available to it, to ensure
that children:
(i). Enjoy family or parental care, or appropriate care
when removed from the family environment;
(ii). Have shelter and basic nutrition, health care and
social services;
(iii). Are protected from maltreatment, neglect or any form
of abuse; and
(iv). Have access to appropriate education and training
[emphasis added].
Foster care presents an opportunity for the fulfilment of
the objectives as set out in 19 (2a) of the national
constitution. As such foster care is being promoted in
Zimbabwe as a tool to achieve the goal of having all
children growing in family environment.
Beyond encapsulating the issue of children growing up in
a family environment in the national constitution,
Zimbabwe has established a child protection architecture
which includes foster care. The National Orphan Care
Policy (1999) recognises the family, extended family and
community as the ideal place for a child to develop. The
National Orphan Care Policy identifies a six tier system
for child protection starting at family level as the first
safety net.
The next best placement for the child where
the family, extended family and the community have
failed is within the foster care system. In a foster care
setting, it is expected that children are protected and
have access to all the rights such as the right to be loved
and cared for, the right to shelter, food, medical care,
identity and education. On the hierarchy of the child care
systems in the country, foster care is considered as the
fourth tier of protection. Scholars such as Grant and
Yeatman (2012); Sherr et al. (2017) posit that foster care,
if efficiently administered, can be the next level of care
should the family fail to provide for the children. The
legislative framework on child protection in the country is
capped by a wholesale Children‟s Act Chapter 5:06. The
Act provides specific definitions and processes which
gives the magistrates courts the power to place children
under foster care through issuance of a court order that is
renewed after every 3 years.
Chibwana 119
This qualitative study employed the emic approach which allowed
for views of a person who is familiar with a system or culture under
study, and who has the know-how of functioning within it to speak
to their reality (Berry, 1989). The approach emphasizes on self-
determination and self-reflection (Ibid). Consequently, the study
placed premium on the voices of the children in foster care, foster
parents and probation officers. Data collection was done in twenty
one districts of the country. In each of the ten provinces of the
country, two districts were purposively sampled to ensure that both
urban and rural districts are covered. The thinking was to have a
basis for comparison on rural to urban nuances around foster care.
In the twenty one districts that were selected, five primary
stakeholders are targeted to foster care. The first target group was
the children in foster care. The study initially targeted to have 100
children in ten focus group discussions. This meant that there
would have been one FGD per province. The 9-14 and 15-18 years
of age categories were the target for the focus groups.
The research was not able to conduct group discussion in
Matebeleland North. The reason why there was no focus group
discussion in Matebeleland North is that there were no children who
were above the age of nine, which the research had set as the
minimum threshold. It is worth noting that most foster parents in the
research preferred children below the age of three years. In line
with research ethics of not exposing the participants to any
physical, social, emotional and spiritual harm or potential harm of
any nature, the study ensured that none of the respondents were
exposed to any harm by not asking private and sensitive questions.
During FGDs with children, the research exercised caution in asking
questions since some of the children did not know that they were
under foster care. Further, FGD times were set in cognisance of the
school times of the children so that they would not miss school. It
was only in one district that the FGD happened mid-morning with
some children missing school around that time. The practice was
corrected with the respective probation officer for future programs.
Consent was sought from the children‟s guardians. Forty in-depth
interviews were also conducted with foster parents from the ten
provinces of the country, meaning that four foster parents were
reached in each of the ten provinces. Prior to interviewing any of
the respondents, the research team was oriented to seek informed
consent. The respondents were presented with the option to
choose whether they wanted to participate or not at any point
in the study. In each of the districts visited, key informant
interviews were conducted with the probation officers. The reason
for targeting probation officers was that they oversee the process of
placing children in foster care as well as carrying out regular
supervision to households where children are in foster care.
The context of foster care in Zimbabwe
The research discovered that there limited uptake of
foster care in the country. As at December 2018, there
were 4306 children spread across ninety six residential
care institutions (Department of Social Welfare, 2018).
Meanwhile, as at 2018, there were 532 children under
foster care. This means that there are some 3774
children who can potentially be in foster care but are not
absorbed into families because there are simply no
families who have undergone the screening process to
absorb these children. The research therefore sought to
explore the reasons why foster care uptake was low viz a
viz the need.
120 J. Afr. Stud. Dev.
Table 1. Distribution of foster children by province.
Number of children in foster care
Mashonaland West
Mashonaland East
Mashonaland Central
Matebeleland North
Matebeleland South
Source: Department of Social Welfare (2018).
Statutory process of registering foster parents
According to the Children‟s Act, foster care has been
defined as situations where children are placed by a
competent authority, through a court order, for the
purpose of alternative care with registered foster family
other than the children‟s own family that has been
selected, qualified, approved and supervised for
providing such care.
For one to be considered to be a
foster parent, the individual or potential family has to go
through screening by the Department of Social Welfare.
The rigorous screening process for one to be considered
a foster parent has been given as reason for low
numbers of foster parents. One foster parent noted that:
…the process to be considered a foster parent was
hectic. I had to make several trips to the Department of
Social Welfare several times. I had to use my resources
to get a police report and medical report, the things which
the Department needs to register me as a foster parent
[In-depth Interview, 18/01/2018, Female, Foster Parent,
Harare District]
To corroborate the foregoing, one probation officer noted
that he had several potential foster parents who had not
seen through the screening process. He was however
quick to note that the rigorous screening process was
necessary since the family, when approved as foster
parents, would be a strategic resource to the Department
of Social Welfare. This is because approved families
become also places of safety where the DSW can place
children in dire need.
To demonstrate the greater need for foster care, in all
instances where there were registered foster parents,
there were no instances of registered foster parents who
did not have children. This means that the country has
more children in need of such care but are not receiving
it. This unavailability of potential foster parents makes the
children stuck either in places of safety, residential child
care facilities or various contexts of vulnerabilities. The
research observed that the majority of the foster parents
who have children are people who just walked into the
DSW wanting to foster children. As has been noted
earlier, these numbers of foster parents are
disproportionate to the demand for foster care (Riley,
2012; Cantwell et al., 2012; Cooper, 2012).
The concept of mutorwa
Ciganda et al. (2010) argue that Zimbabwe has many
families that have absorptive capacity of taking care of
vulnerable children. The research observed that there is
a disproportionate distribution of foster parents between
the urban and the rural. The general trend which can be
observed from Table 1 is that predominantly rural
provinces have less numbers of children under foster
care compared to the urban provinces. The table also
shows a conspicuously huge number of fostered children
in Harare province.
Part of the explanation why Harare has more children
in foster care is that most of the urbanites who foster
children are not bound by the traditional beliefs which are
inhibitive to the concept of foster care. Also in rural areas,
kinship care is the main mechanism of taking care of the
vulnerable members of society. Kinship care is
embedded in the anthropocentric concept of Ubuntu. As
Mbiti (1969) noted, the concept is premised on the belief
that “I am because we are”. As such, the communities
get knit together and come up with mechanisms to take
care of each other. The spirit of communitarianism can be
considered to be strong in rural settings. In its idealistic
sense, it ensures that all the vulnerable members of a
society are taken care of and any nakedness is covered
by the community.
Whilst the concept of communitarianism brings with it
such cohesion and solidarity amongst the people living in
the rural areas, it brings with it as well some exclusionary
tendencies. Due to the clear relationships that get
established within communities on the basis of inter
marriages and totems for example, when a stranger
comes into the same community, they become
conspicuous. In the Shona culture, there is a concept of
mutorwa. A mutorwa is someone who is not related to
you in any way be it through marriage or through totems.
Whilst in the romanticisation of the Shona culture, it is
easily argued that strangers are welcome. There are
parameters within which one can interface with a
mutorwa. One probation officer confirmed the existence
of this phenomenon by noting that in the Shona culture,
there is a proverb chawawana idya nehama, mutorwa
ane hanganwa [when you find food, eat with your
relatives, strangers are forgetful]. The meaning of this
proverb in essence is that one has to take care of their
In the context of foster care therefore, families that are
strongly embedded in their cultures and traditions find it
difficult to take a mutorwa child into their homes as long
as there are cousins and nephews still needing to be
taken care of. It would be an issue of disapprobation for
a family to take in a mutorwa child whilst there are
relatives in need of care. This explains why in the rural
settings, there is predominantly kinship care. It is only
when families move to towns or to areas where they are
not strongly linked with their clans that they can consider
foster care and adoption. And when they do it, the
research observed that it is kept as a sacred secret for
life. The foregoing explains why it is easy for white foster
parents to get a black child but there has not been an
incident of black foster parents who either requested or
fostered a white child. One probation officer observed
In my many years of working in the area of foster care, I
have not found black foster parents wanting a white child
for fostering. It is however acceptable for white foster
parents to want black children. For black foster parents,
the idea is to conceal the issue because if the relatives
get to know that you went to foster a child of another
race, clan or ethnic background, it may not be taken well.
The relatives will ask whether you have finished taking
care of the available relatives to go for a mutorwa[Key
Informant Interview, 22/01/18, Probation Officer]
A totem is an animal, plant, or natural object (or
representation of an object) that serves as the emblem of
a clan or family among a tribal or traditional people. A
totem represents a mystical or ritual bond of unity within
the group. Totems are key symbols of religion and social
cohesion; they are also important tools for cultural and
educational transmission. Totems were often the basis
for laws and regulations (Grundy, 1999).
There are
Chibwana 121
connections of totems mainly through marriage. In the
context of foster care, families who believe in this aspect
find it difficult to foster or adopt a child who would have
been abandoned with their totem not known. The
challenge with this dynamic is that should the fostered
child be involved in bad behaviour, it can be attributed to
the ancestors of the clan where the child comes from
which may be calling him or her to come back home,
hence the bad behaviour. In such instances, for foster
parents who believe in the doctrine of ancestors, they
would feel that they do not have authority to disciple the
child. One foster parent confirmed this assertion by
noting that:
When a child you are keeping starts behaving badly,
refusing to be sent, being lazy and being stubborn, it may
be difficult to correct this child’s behaving because maybe
the ancestors of the child could be forcing him to behave
like that so that he can go back to his roots. As someone
I am not related to in any way, I may need to seriously
think how to deal with it before the child does a lot of
damage to drive the point home… [In-depth Interview,
25/02/2018, Female, Foster Parent, Gutu District]
Avenging spirits/Ngozi
There has been a plethora of literature that has been
produced by several scholars on the traditional belief
systems of the people of Zimbabwe (Taringa, 2006;
Mawere, 2010; Perera, 2001; Mawere and Kadenge,
2010; Mutekwa, 2010; Maxwell, 1998; Maxwell, 1995;
Bucher, 1980; Engelke, 2004).
One fundamental aspect
of the Zimbabwe traditional religion generally is this
obstinate belief in the symbiotic connection between the
dead and the living, the natural world and the invisible.
The research observed that linked to the concept of
mutorwa is the aspect of ngozi. Ngozi is when a mutorwa
dies under the custody of a particular family. The spirit of
that individual will come to wreak havoc in the lives of the
decedents of the person who would have caused the
death of this mutorwa person. The spirit of the deceased
can cause misfortunes of all kinds in the family including
bareness, death and all sorts of calamities. One
probation officer confirmed the foregoing when he noted
One of the reasons why people do not want to foster
children is this belief in ngozi. There is a fear that if by
any chance this child dies in my hands or a mistake
happens causing this child to die, it will haunt my clan
terribly. There are stories where the spirit of the
deceased comes back to demand recourse. This belief is
upheld by those who are still rooted in their traditional
culture… [Key Informant Interview, 22/01/18, Probation
122 J. Afr. Stud. Dev.
In view of the foregoing, the research observed that
would-be foster parents would rather not have a mutorwa
child amongst them since something may happen which
may cause the death of the fostered child. Usually
appeasing a ngozi requires another human being as well
and substantial fortune such as cattle to be given to the
family of the deceased. Families that are grounded in
their cultural beliefs therefore do not want to take
chances hence they will not foster or adopt children are in
need of care.
One of the reasons which the research noted as a
discouraging factor to consideration of foster by would-be
foster parents is heavily linked to the belief of ngozi. The
traditional beliefs are heavily embedded into the value
systems of the people to the extent that for those who
then choose to become Christian or follow another
religion, they take their beliefs with them. In a way, they
indigenise‟ Christianity for it to incorporate their traditional
beliefs and way of life (Grundy, 1999).
This is called
syncretism. One scholar aptly put it by saying:
There is increasing evidence that, even among African
Christians of long standing, there continues to be a lively
awareness of the presence and power of the ancestors,
(even if the specific rituals are no longer performed in
their entirety, that much illness and misfortune is still
explained in terms of witch beliefs and that in certain
communities the last hundred years has seen the
increasing spread of new cults centring on possession by
alien spirits (Pauw, 1963).
Manona (1981: 36) agrees with the foregoing assertion
when he makes a general observation that Africans have
never actually disassociated themselves from their
ancestors. One reason for this conflation of beliefs has
been that Christianity has had much to say about the
individual, and about society at large, but little specific
teaching about one's duty towards one's wider kin, a
lacuna filled by continuing ancestor beliefs (Hammond
Tooke, 1986).
It therefore means that even for the
families that are in religions such as Christianity still
believe in such things as ngozi and totems. Such beliefs
deter families to consider fostering children and adopting.
The above section discussed some of the deterring
reasons for limited uptake of foster care in Zimbabwe. In
spite of all the reasons given above, there are still some
families which decide to foster children. This section
details debunks the notion which many researches on
foster care have implicitly noted, that foster care is the
destination for child protection. The section enunciates
some realities within foster homes. The research used
the quality of life conceptual framework to explore the
kind of life which the children live under foster care. The
World Health Organisation defines quality of life as:
…an individual's perception of their position in life in the
context of the culture and value systems in which they
live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards
and concerns. It is a broad ranging concept affected in a
complex way by the person's physical health,
psychological state, personal beliefs, social relationships
and their relationship to salient features of their
As can be deciphered from the definition, quality of life is
a subjective interpretation of an individual hence the
research placed premium on the views of the children
and foster parents which were collected through focus
group discussions and in-depth interviews respectively.
Subjective interpretation of quality of life corroborates
Campbell (1972) assertion that quality of life must be in
the eye of the beholder. Milbrath (1978) also concurred
with this notion by positing that „… I have come to the
conclusion that the only defensible definition of quality of
life is a general feeling of happiness‟, which is subjective
to the person.
The research observed that the quality of life which
fostered children experience in a home is a function of
the kind of foster parents. These foster parents are not a
monolithic group. The ACRWC appreciated this fact
when it noted that:
‘parents or other persons responsible for the child shall have
the primary responsibility of the upbringing and development
of the child and shall have the duty… to secure, within their
abilities and financial capacities, conditions of living
necessary to the child's development…’African Charter on
the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1999).
The ACRWC seemed to appreciate that „abilities and
financial capacities‟ of parents and other responsible
persons would not be the same. The bottom line however
is that child development has to be guaranteed. In
consonance to the ACRWC, the research observed that
broadly, there are three „abilities and financial capacities‟
typologies of foster parents in the country namely chronic
poor foster parents, transient poor foster parents and well
off foster parents.
Foster parents’ typology 1: Chronic poor
The concept of chronic poor foster parents is derived
from the general definition of chronic poverty as has been
posited by several scholars.
The definition of chronic
poverty used by this research was given by Hulme and
Chibwana 123
Table 2. Foster parent case study.
An elderly lady decided to foster a boy in the spirit of taking care of children. She offered to take care of the boy despite her poor
background. Her rationale was that she had weaned off her own children and needed someone to stay with whom she would
provide for since her children were working in other cities and towns.
For sustenance, the lady relies on farming proceeds and remittances from her children to take care of the basic needs for the
fostered child. For school fees, she depends on support from the DSW, though the support does not cover all the essentials for
school. She uses the child to seek for assistance from neighbours.
The fostered child together with two other grand children spend a lot of time after school on the farm. This affected the fostered
child‟s education such that he did not pass his O‟ Level exams in 2017. This has affected the boy and his relations with the foster
parent are strained. The boy wants to rewrite his O levels but does not have finances to do that so he is stuck at this home, doing
farming a lot more since he has more time on his hands.
Shepherd (2003) who noted that chronic poverty is an
experience of deprivation that lasts for a long period of
Borrowing from Barrientos et al. (2005), the other
dimension of this type of poverty is that households in
this bracket have per capita income or consumption
levels that are persistently below the poverty line during a
long period of time.
The research showed that there
were foster parents who generally fitted the
aforementioned definitions. The foster parents in this
category resembled a speculative characteristic in that
some of the reasons for choosing to foster children were
a perceived opportunity to benefit from government
support that comes with fostering. This observation came
mainly from probation officers who had made this
deduction on the basis of their interaction with the foster
parents. The research had an opportunity to interview
some of the foster parents that are in this category.
Foster parents in this category took the opportunity to
complain about how they are not receiving any support to
take care of the children. They underscored the need for
the foster fees to be disbursed, even though they also
were quick to say that the foster fees were insufficient to
cover the basic needs of the households. One foster
parent noted:
…When government gives us children, they need to be a
responsible father to these children. I have not been
receiving foster fees since 2013. How does the
government think that I will take care of the children? I
don’t have a job and am old now. We used to come here
at the Department of Social Welfare and would be given
blankets, food for the children, clothes and seed for
farming. Now, there is no support we get except for the
50 kg maize under drought relief… [In-depth Interview,
18/01/2018, Female, Foster Parent, Masvingo District].
In view of the foregoing citation, fostered children living in
such a household would be deprived of basics since the
foster parent will not be able to provide. The sentiments
of the foster parent also exhibit a lot of reliance on the
government with a seeming sense of entitlement
premised on the fact that the foster parent is housing a
„government child‟. One would wonder why the foster
parent chose to be one at their own volition if it is such a
burden. It would appear that the foster parent did not
count the cost of fostering, hence the assertion that such
a foster parent was speculative in making the decision to
be a foster parent. One officer pointed out that at least
60% of prospective foster parents that she had trained
were anticipating getting direct material benefits through
fostering a child.
The research observed that all foster parents in this
category are all not formally employed. They either are
vendors or undertake menial jobs for livelihood. Some of
the foster parents in this classification once requested
letters from the probation officers to use on begging for
assistance from well-wishers. This request was turned
down for ethical reasons. The average age of these
foster parents is 55 years. Some of these foster parents
having been taking children from the Department of
Social Welfare since the 80s when the government used
to have means of taking care of children in foster care
(Table 2). During a focus group discussion, one child
under this typology of foster care retorted:
Life is hard. I wish the government would support us with
food, stationery at school. Sometimes I go to school
hungry and without a complete school uniform. After
school I would have to go and sell vegetables so that we
can at least find some money… [Focus Group
Discussion, 18/01/18, Child Respondent, Masvingo
Foster parents’ typology 2: Transient poor
Transient poverty is associated with a fluctuation of
income around the poverty line.
Foster parents in this
classification can be defined as precarious non poor. It
means that they are able to meet their basic needs as
long as the exogenous factors are amicable. They are
easily affected by any changes in variables such as
inflation rates, macroeconomic policies as well as natural
happenings like inter alia droughts and flooding. Such
families live in a precarious state. All the foster parents in
this category had either formal employment or running
124 J. Afr. Stud. Dev.
Table 3. Well off foster parent case study.
This couple decided to foster two children, a boy and a girl, in the spirit of providing someone with a chance after being abandoned.
The couple already has four biological children. The husband has a Phd in electrical engineering working in a power utility
company. Being a senior executive in the company, the husband has a facility at work that takes care of the school fees needs of
his biological children. The fostered two children are not on this program because of different surnames. The couple decided
however to take care of the educational needs of these two children. They go to a private school in their town together with the
other children in this family. For health, the family is on company medical aid and have a family doctor.
The family resides on a 10 hectare plot where they built a house which allows each child to have their own room. The house has
wifi therefore there is continuous presence of internet connectivity. The household also has a full bouquet digital satellite television.
The family encountered a challenge the previous holiday season. As part of the foster father‟s work benefits, he can take his family
outside the country for holiday. The family could not go since the fostered children did not have passports. The children currently
use the short birth certificates which make it difficult when travelling abroad.
their own small enterprise. The research observed that
children fostered by households in this category had what
they needed when the small businesses were doing well.
In times when the macro economic conditions were not
favourable, the family would take a direct hit. Children
under this typology of foster parents go to school with the
rest but may not have all the supplies that they need.
There is a lot of improvising to make ends meet. The
research observed that this group of foster parents do not
necessarily begrudge the government when the foster
fees are not paid. They also do not have an ardent
pursuit of the government officials to ask for any form of
assistance to take care of the children. They certainly will
not ask a letter from the probation officer to beg for
assistance. One child living in this kind of family noted
I honestly do not have anything to complain about. I see
that my parents are really trying to provide for us.
Sometimes we get what we ask for but sometimes we do
not. Like everyone else at school, we sometimes get sent
home for not paying school fees. The teachers
understand our kind of life… [Focus Group Discussion,
25/02/18, Child Respondent, Kadoma District]
Foster parents’ typology 3: Well off
The second category is one where the foster parents are
well off and have means to take care of the fostered
child. These more often are well educated usually with
formal or predictable income from business or acquired
skills. This category of foster parents would not want any
support from the government in taking care of the
fostered children. The major support they need from the
government is facilitation with getting birth certificates as
well as expediting adoption papers. In Hwange and
Bulawayo, the foster parents wrote letters to the DSW
indicating that they did not need any foster fees or even
school fees support.
The children in this kind of family are provided with the
general basics that they need to realise their full potential.
Since foster parents in this category are well off, they
natural assume an elevated role in contexts such as
churches, schools and so forth. That profile also benefits
the fostered child as they ride on the identity of the foster
parents. This observation is in consonance with assertion
by Bhatta et al. (2006) who argued that an individuals‟
level of human capital itself is influenced by their family‟s
income and assets. As such, household wealth is a
potential determinant of human capital at the individual
Human capital is an important ingredient for the
success of any person. Children in well off families have
a lot of it through their parents. On the contrary, poor
households have a significant negative impact on an
individual's ability to accumulate human capital. It means
that in those households, children will not have a lot of
networks necessary for their development (Table 3).
The concept of in loco parentis means "in place of a
parent" (Harrison, 1996).
Foster parents therefore get
children in respect for this principle. They however
expressed concerns with the parameters of the
application of the principle of in loco parentis as it relates
disciplinary authority. Foster parents expressed disdain
on the fact that the Department of Social Welfare would
give them children with strict instructions that the children
should not have corporal punishment administered on
them (Table 4). The African Charter on the Rights and
Welfare of the Child provides that:
Parents or other persons responsible for the child shall
have the primary responsibility of the upbringing and
development of the child and shall have the duty…to
ensure that domestic discipline is administered with
humanity and in a manner consistent with the inherent
dignity of the child.
This provision seems to imply that foster parents have a
key role to play in administering „domestic discipline‟.
Chibwana 125
Table 4. Consolidation of foster parents‟ typologies.
Foster parents
Reason for foster
Support needed from
the government
Employment status
Generalised Quality of life for the Children
Chronic poor
and speculative
foster parents
-possible benefits that
can be obtained from
the government and
well wishers
-purported love for
-foster fees
-scholastic needs such
as stationery, uniforms,
payment of fees,
-assistance with utility
-more often
without any
-formally unemployed
-conducting activities
such as vending,
cross border trading
Health- When the children get sick, they are taken to public hospitals with an Assisted Medical Treatment
Order (AMTO). There were however complaints that the AMTO does not cover for medicines that may be
needed by the children
Education- the children go to public schools and they rely on either Basic Education Assistance Module
(BEAM) or school fees payment by the government. There were complaints that the support provided is
not holistic to include such items as stationery and other needs that the children may have. For school
uniforms, the Department provides through Enbee.
Environmental- children raised concerns that they would appreciate support from the government for
bills payment because most households in this category struggled with paying utility bills especially
electricity. The children also suggested buying of beds and food supplies. The basic living standards for
children in this category are deplorable in the category
Emotional- Most of the children knew that they were in foster care. This was primarily because the foster
parent uses them to mobilise resources from the community around them.
Social- the children did not exhibit a lot of confidence though some of them were articulate in outlining the
issues they needed fixed.
Spiritual- all the parents indicated that they go with the children to the church chosen by the foster
Transient poor
but foster
-love for children
-foster fees
-scholastic needs such
as stationery, uniforms,
payment of fees,
-assistance with utility
- these are
sometimes employed
in public service or
elsewhere but at the
lower echelons
hence making little
money to be able to
take care of the
needs of the fostered
-Overall, the foster parents in this category endeavour to provide for the children using all the means that
they have. In some instances they fail to meet all the needs of the child. Such households are in transient
poverty therefore the state of affairs in the household vacillates depending on agricultural productivity of
that year, or good economic policy and so forth. The quality of life for children in this category is not the
same but ranges on the border line between having what is necessary to have quality of life and in some
instances not having at all.
Health- the households relies on the government to provide access to quality health care for the fostered
child. This household therefore needs AMTOs when a child gets sick hence issues around the lack of
comprehensive cover of AMTO in taking care of the health needs of the child is something that foster
parents in this category raised.
Education- the children’s tuition fees are paid by the government. The foster parents however are able to
provide the other scholastic needs of children such as stationery and civic day payments.
Environmental- the environment for households in this category presents challenges for the child to
flourish. In the era of privatised public goods like electricity and water, the foster parents sometimes do
not have money to pay utility bills and to have running water.
Emotional- though the household may not be able to meet all the needs of the fostered child, the latter
however grows in a loving family that can help the child to reach their full potential in spite of the
antagonistic circumstances. Children in such homes are able to have solidarity with their parents and
lower their expectations on what they can get from the foster parents.
Social-the child in this category are able to integrate into the society as they face similar challenges that
the other households around them face. Usually foster parents in this category stay in high density areas
if it is an urban setting.
Spiritual- just like any other category of this typology, there seem to have been a unanimity that foster
parents provide guidance to the fostered children on religious matters. This is primarily because of the
age of the fostered children which is averagely 3 years.
126 J. Afr. Stud. Dev.
Table 4. Contd.
Well off
-the desire to give
other children a
chance in life
-assistance with getting
long birth certificates and
passports for the children
-expediting the process of
-mostly tertiary
including PhDs
- mostly formally
-in a rural setting,
well-resourced with
land, cattle and
necessary equipment
for successful
Children fostered in such families are given remarkable opportunities to flourish and realise their full potential
without many impediments. Children in this kind of family, foster parents do not generally have closer
monitoring by the parents since the parents will be preoccupied with their business or career endeavours.
This arrangement leaves the children without parental supervision for the greater part.
Health- such families procure private medical facilities therefore they would not need the AMTOs. It is well
within their means to take care of the health needs of the fostered child.
Education- the families do not need support from the government through BEAM or other facilities. They are
able to take the fostered child to well resources schools, including private schools in some instances. The
family is also able to provide most scholastic needs of the child.
Environmental- the child is given an environment which has most requisites for a healthy childhood.
Emotional- There is a dynamic of irregular and inconsistent availability of the foster parents to provide
parental and emotional care to the child. This is because such households are characterised by several
career and societal obligations which make them not be available all the time.
Social- A foster child coming from such a family does not struggle to integrate into the society as they ride on
their parents’’ social capital.
Spiritual-All households interviewed go to a Christian church despite the plethora of variations. The choice of
the church is done by the foster parents in the spirit of family and doctrinal cohesion.
Some of the foster parents felt that the DSW
disenfranchised them by not allowing them to beat
the children whom they were fostering. One
parent noted that:
The Department gives us these children and tells
us that under no circumstances should we beat
them. If we do not beat them, they will become
unbridled. They need to be shown the way. Even
the training we were given by Child Protection
Society, they said that we cannot beat the
children. Exactly how do I become the parent if I
cannot beat the child when they do something
wrong for the umpteenth time without listening to
verbal rebuke? [In depth Interview, 8/01/18,
Female Foster Parent, Harare District].
In building up this argument on some foster
parents‟ disapproval of the government directive
for not beating children, another foster parent
noted that:
When a child continues to do bad behaviour, we
have been told that we should bring him/her to the
probation officer. What does that say about me as
a parent? The child won‟t respect me knowing that
I will not punish them…? [In depth Interview,
22/01/18, Female Foster Parent, Masvingo
As can be deciphered from the citations above,
the foster parents seem to be in disapprobation
with the policy that the government came up with
for not disciplining by beating any fostered child.
There were sentiments that the policy was derived
from westerns ideologies. One parent lamented
How come we just took the policies that came
from overseas to make them our own? Why did
we not see how the issue of banning the beating
of children can be replaced before we talked
about abolishing it? Who also did they consult? If
you say we should not beat the children, then give
us the options that are viable so that we will not
be stranded…? [In depth Interview, 15/01/18,
Female Foster Parent, Makonde District].
The above quotation of a foster parent challenges
the policy of prohibition of corporal punishment as
a policy that was not done with wider
consultations. The research observed that the
main tool for disciplining children which some of
the foster parents knew was beating. Removing
beating from the equation therefore made the
parents not to have options. It must be noted
however that in the traditional cultures of
Zimbabwe, beating of children was not the first
option available to the parents. During an in-
depth interview with a foster parent from Gutu
District, the latter gave the research team a
catalogue of Shona proverbs which indicated that
beating was not the only avenue for disciplining
children. Table 5 is an outline of some of the
Chibwana 127
Table 5. Shona proverbs on disciplining of children.
Shona Proverb
Potsi haarwirwi
The first time is not worth
fighting over
Beating someone for first offence or bad behaviour is
not right. Action would need to be taken if there is
Yafamba kamwe
hayiteyirwi musungo
You will not put a snare for an
animal that would have tracked
once on an area.
A single transgression should not be taken seriously.
Mhembwe rudzi inozvara
mwana ane ruzhumwi
A duiker is one of a species, if it
bears a child, he will have a tuft
on his head.
The behaviour of children reflects the parents. This
means instead of disciplining the child, the parents
need to introspect if they are setting the right
Mwana asingachemi
anofira mumbereko
A child who does not cry dies in
the cradle
A child should voice out his or her complaints and
Chirere mangwana
Care for it and it will care for
you tomorrow.
The motivation of nurturing of adults to children is to
have responsible children who will take care of their
communities and elders.
Kurayira kunoda pwere.
Mukuru ndimambo
Discipline requires a child. An
adult is a chief.
Give advice to children so that they grow up knowing
the right way. When one is an adult, it will be too late
as they may not heed the advice.
Kuziva mbuya huudzwa
To know one's grandmother
means being told who they are.
Children should be taught even the seemingly obvious
things. How can they know unless they are told?
Chenga ose manhanga
hapana risina mhodzi.
Take care of all pumpkins since
there is none without seeds
Take care and nurture both boys and girls, they all
have something to offer.
akazoonekwa nembonje
Headstrong was found with a
head wound.
The one who refused to be advised will get permanent
scars which could have been avoided.
Regai dzive shiri, mazai
haana muto.
Let them be birds, eggs do not
have soup
Let the children grow and realise their full potential.
Child marriage does not produce fruit.
Kuudza mwana
When you tell a child, do it like
it‟s the last time
Take time to explain instructions to children as there
may not be another opportunity to do so
Gudo guru peta muswe
kuti vaduku vakutye
A big baboon should fold its tail
for the small ones to fear it
The adults need to lead by example if they are to get
respect from the young people around them
Source: Compiled by the author from in depth interviews with foster parents (2018).
proverbs that guided how the parents dealt with
their children in issues of discipline.
Proverbs embody a people‟s culture, values and
worldviews. The aforementioned proverbs of the Shona
people demonstrate that premium was put on telling or
advising the children, not necessarily administration of
corporal punishment. Administration of corporal
punishment was not the first option available to parents
as can be envisaged from the proverbs above. As such,
when foster parents feel disenfranchised to administer
discipline on the children they are fostering, it is partly a
lack of understanding of the requisite ethos that were
used historically in raising children. The lack of this
indigenous knowledge system in some foster parents on
raising of children was laid bare by some of the
responses of the children during the focus group
discussions. The children noted that whilst the
government had made beating of the children
unacceptable, the foster parents then resorted to other
means which equally violated the right of the fostered
children. In a focus group discussion in Kadoma, one
child‟s narration epitomised the general sentiment of the
children by saying:
I would rather be beaten, then you know that the matter is
resolved. If you refuse to be beaten, the foster parent will
threaten to take you back to the Department. I don’t want
to go back where I came from. I would rather they beat
me and I know that I have somewhere to stay. What’s the
point of refusing to be beaten then you are homeless
again…? [Focus Group Discussion, 11/01/18, Child
Respondent, Kadoma District]
This sentiment was expressed a lot by the children. They
had a concern that they felt like they were treated
differently since they could not be beaten. Such treatment
made them to feel as though they did not belong. The
children did not want to be treated in any special way
128 J. Afr. Stud. Dev.
Table 6. Children‟s perspectives to physical punishment.
Offences that qualified to be beaten for
Offences that do not warrant one to be beaten
When I stole all the relish of the family and ate by myself
When I break a glass or plate by mistake
When I forgot to feed the chickens after being reminded several
When I did not do well at school
When I picked up a cigarette and smoked it
When the teacher beat me because my books were not
covered and yet I did not have the money to buy book covers
When I pulled down the television and it smashed to the ground
When I overslept because I was tired
When I forgot to inform the parents that my school uniform
needed to go for dry cleaning until the day before schools
When I lost money for bread after being sent to the shops
When my books at school got stolen from my drawer
Source: Compiled by author from focus group discussions with children in foster care.
Figure 1. Public Sentiments in Zimbabwe on the use of physical force to discipline children.
Source: Adapted from the Afrobarometer Dispatch No. 156, 12 July 2017.
because they had been placed there by the government,
they wanted to be treated like any child would be treated.
This dynamic delicately poises the carefulness of the
foster parents in that the fostered children had come
through a court order and were subject to periodic
supervision from a probation officer. Whilst the monitoring
by the Department of Social Welfare can be said to be
needful, it however made the foster children to be
somewhat „different‟ from the other children who may be
in the household.
Physical abuse versus disciplining
In some of the focus group discussions, children
distinguished between physical abuse and being
disciplined. One child noted that:
When a parent takes shamhu
to beat you after you do
something wrong, that is not abuse. When they take a
cooking stick or another big instrument to beat you that is
physical abuse [Focus Group Discussion, 18/01/18, Child
Respondent, Masvingo District]
The sentiments of the child presuppose that there is
administration of discipline which is understandable to the
child depending on the crime committed. There is
however some administration of discipline that becomes
abuse. The research interrogated this aspect by asking
the children to outline some of the crimes which they
thought were justified to be beaten and those which did
not justify. Table 6 outlines the children‟s responses.
Another aspect that the children raised on discipline was
that if they were beaten after getting an explanation of
why they were beaten and also given the opportunity to
respond, they appreciated it rather than be beaten in the
spasm of the parent‟s emotions. The views of the children
as cited above corroborate what the 2017 Afrobarometer
found out when they conducted a survey earlier in 2017.
The survey found that 28% of Zimbabweans believe the
use of physical force to discipline children is never
justified; 48% believe it is sometimes justified, and 25%
believe it is always justified as illustrated in Figure 1
(Ndoma, 2017).
The figure shows that the majority of the respondents
Not justified
sometimes justified
always justified
use of physical force to discipline children
agreed with the sentiments of the children in focus group
discussions conducted by this study in that physical force
should not be used at all times. The foster parents who
felt disenfranchised of the in loco parentis for not being
allowed to beat the fostered children fell into the „always
justified‟ category of the cited research.
As momentum is growing in making foster care be a
viable child protection tool in the country, there is need to
interrogate some of the factors that are limiting its uptake.
This paper has shown that there are several embedded
cultural and traditional beliefs that would need to be
confronted through foster care promotional initiatives.
The research also showed that foster care provides
children with an opportunity to grow up in a normal family
whose characteristics are heterogeneous hence needing
to be differentiated. Overall, the quality of life for children
in foster care is varied. Some of the children get into
families that set them a platform to flourish whilst others
get into families which themselves have limited
opportunities. This is reality of human existence since all
the families cannot have similar opportunities for their
children. Again, the aspiration is for children to grow up in
a family environment which fosters child development.
The screening process in Zimbabwe does not favour only
the rich. The research has shown that families that are
poor have been given children to foster. There may be a
risk of discriminating against poor families who may want
to foster children. With higher demand and limited supply
for foster care, when a family goes through the entire
screening process, it is a huge opportunity for a child who
may spend their entire childhood in a residential child
care institution. If the process were to set high wealth
threshold for approving the kind of families that can foster
children, it would be flawed to assume that well to do
families better protect children. The paper has shown that
there are different child protection issues in all the three
typologies of foster families. The paper has given caution
that placing a child in foster care is by no means the end
in itself as there are various vicissitudes and nuances
within these families which need closer attention to
ensure better quality of life for children.
The author has not declared any conflict of interests.
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13 (Accessed 29 January 2018)
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ACRWC, Article 20 (c)
According to the constitution of Zimbabwe, the country has the following officially recognized languages: Chewa, Chibarwe, English, Kalanga, Koisan, Nambya,
Ndau, Ndebele, Shangani, Shona, sign language, Sotho, Tonga, Tswana, Venda and Xhosa. The research however identified only Shona proverbs. As such, this is one
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Shona is the widely spoken language in the country.
Shamhu implies a small thin branch of a tree. It is usually used to swipe the legs without causing any injuries on the child. When t he shamhu is thin, it causes a
twinging pain that however does not damage the skin.
Ndoma S (2017) Contrary to court ruling, Zimbabweans endorse parental right to physically discipline children: Afrobarometer Dispatch No. 156, 12 July 2017
accessed at (Accessed, 7/02/18)
... Infertility can be a push factor for considering foster care, which is thought to ease psychosocial challenges and provide companionship as a result of not being able to have their children (Muchinako, Mpeambela & Muzingili, 2018). Similarly, in a qualitative research conducted in Zimbabwe, well-off parents who cannot have their children have considered foster care (Chibwana, 2019). In the same line, research has shown that couples who want children but not of their own may consider foster care (Andersson, 2001). ...
... Uncompensated foster care was also found to be favoured by people who were religiously-oriented in Finland (Isomäki, 2002). Moreover, altruism was also seen as a key determinant for foster care where values such as caring for people in general, solidarity and social responsibility were important driving factors (Chibwana, 2019;Daniel, 2011;Delfabbro, Taplin & Bentham, 2002;Diogo & Branco, 2017;Helm, Peltier & Scovotti, 2006;Isomäki, 2002;Migliorini et al., 2018;Muchinako et al., 2018, Nsthongwana & Tanga,2018Rodger, Cummings & Leschied, 2006). Furthermore, in a study conducted in South Australia, altruistic and family-oriented drives were the major motivating force behind people's desire to become foster parents rather than religious beliefs, additional income and moral obligations (Delfabbro, Taplin & Bentham, 2002). ...
... They also noted that to be emotionally invested and provide for the child's needs, money was required. Similarly, Chibwana (2019) found in a study conducted in Zimbabwe that chronically poor foster parents were motivated because of possible benefits in terms of fees from the government alongside a love for children. Conversely, in Kirton's study of 20 female carers in 2001, "payment was found to act as (at least partial) compensation for some of the most challenging aspects of foster care and those that were low on other satisfactions" (p. ...
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The development of a comprehensive foster care system as an alternative to the institutionalisation of children in out-of-home care remains underdeveloped in Mauritius. With no prior studies on the perceptions of foster care in this multiethnic island state and the relatively low number of registered foster parents, this qualitative study sought to explore the perceptions of the Afro-Mauritians and Indo-Mauritians on the reality of foster care. Also, this study sought to identify factors perceived to prevent or encourage members of particular ethnic groups in fostering a child. Similarly, it aimed to understand demographic factors perceived as significant for effective foster care. Using semi-structured interviews alongside purposive sampling, 10 parents were interviewed from which 5 were of African descent and 5 of Indian descent. From the thematic analysis, national silence on foster care alongside the urgency to make foster care a working reality was advanced. Unconditional acceptance of the foster child and support to foster parents were also reported as vital. While more similarities between the two ethnic groups were uncovered, some unique reasons to start foster care and barriers to do so were also revealed by members of particular ethnic groups. Family structure, age, educational level and socioeconomic status were revealed as important demographic indicators for effective foster care. It was recommended for social workers and policy makers to fully commit towards implementing more family-oriented care provisions. Also significant is the relevance of considering ethnic belongingness as an important and equally relevant demographic marker in the multicultural Mauritian context.
... Findings from some child fosterage research in Sub-Saharan Africa (cited in, Chibwana, 2019;Coppoletta et al., 2011;McDaniel & Zulu, 1996) show no significant difference between social outcomes of fostered and non-fostered children. Evidence from most researches indicates that the fostered child's experience is dependent on certain social and cultural factors, such as relationship between biological and fostered parents, the existence of biological parents, motives of fostering, and social context of fostering ...
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This thesis investigated the psychological impact of African child fosterage, by examining the emotional and behavioural outcomes of this unique caregiving arrangement. The objective of this research was to examine the influence of attachment orientation on the emotional intelligence and social functioning of fostered (N=68) and non-fostered (N=161) late adolescent Nigerians. Attachment disorder has been identified as the major effect of foster care, in international foster care research. Results of studies from Western context indicate that compared to their non-fostered counterparts, adolescences that are fostered score lower in secure attachment, and are deficient in emotional intelligence and social competence. The distinctiveness of the African child fosterage practice, compared to formal foster care arrangements in the Western context, necessities a deliberate inquiry into its outcomes. Few studies have investigated the psychological impact of child fosterage in a Nigerian sample. The overview of the results in the study indicated a significant difference in three attachment orientations (secure, fearful, and preoccupied) between fostered (N=68) and non-fostered (N=161) late adolescents with exception of dismissing attachment style. Similarly, there were significant difference in emotional intelligence and social competence scores of fostered adolescents and non-fostered adolescents, confirming that fosterage could have negative impact on attachment style, emotional intelligence and social functioning. The results also indicated that ‘relationship with foster parents/carers’ mitigated the negative impact of child fosterage. As adolescents that were fostered by immediate family relatives (i.e., Sister, Grandparents, Uncle) did not differ significantly from non-fostered adolescents in secure attachment, emotional intelligence and social functioning. Ways of improving the outcomes of child fosterage are discussed. The findings from this research are useful for parenting, school counselling, and family therapy.
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Child domestic work is a hidden form of child labour driven by poverty and social norms. However, little is known about the situations of child domestic workers. This study aims to describe and analyse gender-specific working conditions, health, and educational outcomes among hidden child domestic workers (CDWs) living in third-party homes relative to married children, biological children, and other children in kinship care. Data from the 2019 Zimbabwe Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) were analysed. Descriptive statistics and bivariable logistic regression were used to describe frequency and estimated prevalence. Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAGs) were used to identify exposures and inform the selection of covariates. Multivariable logistic regression models were fitted to estimate the effect of each exposure variable. The prevalence of CDWs was 1.5% and CDWs were mainly girls and living in much wealthier households with more educated household heads while married girls were living in much poorer households. When compared among girls themselves, being a CDW was significantly associated with having a functional disability, while married girls were more frequently engaged in hazardous working conditions. We provide the first intersectional analysis comparing work, violence, and health outcomes among CDWs, married children and other children. Child protection measures are needed to safeguard children in domestic work and marriages.
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This study sought to explore the variety of coping strategies that women employ in response to intimate partner violence. Coping strategies can help women tolerate, minimise and deal with difficult challenges or conflicts in their relationships, such as learning to be independent from their husbands and surviving trauma. Drawing on 18 in-depth interviews conducted in Mwanza, Tanzania, we examined two different coping strategies - engagement and disengagement coping - with respect to how women react to economic, emotional, physical and sexual intimate partner violence. While the choice of coping methods remains a complex issue, most women employed engagement strategies as a response to economic violence and disengagement coping for sexual violence. We explore the implications of gender and societal roles for coping decisions and analyse how access to resources may provide women with the tools to limit future violence.
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Children need to grow up in a loving and caring family environment for their development. In the absence of such an environment, children become vulnerable to violations of their rights, hence the need for alternative care, preferably family-based, for children deprived of their family environment. The right to appropriate alternative care for children is guaranteed under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989 and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child of 1990, both ratified by Tanzania in 1991 and 2003, respectively. Mainland Tanzania domesticated these treaties through the Law of the Child Act in 2009, in which the need for alternative care for children deprived of their family environment is reflected, with an emphasis on family-based alternative care rather than institutional care. However, in practice, institutional care is prevalent in Tanzania. The limited use of foster care as one of the family-based alternative care options to protect children deprived of their family environment necessitated this study that assesses the place of foster care in the continuum of child care in Mainland Tanzania. In this study, foster care, as distinct from informal traditional kinship care, refers to a form of family-based care, to be ordered and supervised by the competent social welfare authority, where a child deprived of his or her family environment is placed in the home of a carer who is selected, approved and supervised by the authority to provide such care. However, in Tanzania, foster care is understood and used in practice merely as a prerequisite for adoption rather than an independent form of alternative care as provided in the laws. On the other hand, with the so-called fit person programme, a short-term variation of foster care is applied without relating it to foster care. Therefore, the study examines the efficiency and effectiveness in practice of the legal framework regulating foster care and other forms of protection of children deprived of their family environment. By analysing the relevant legal and policy documents and conducting interviews with selected respondents, the challenges and prospects of foster care as family-based alternative care in Mainland Tanzania were unravelled in the light of the international and regional standards and principles on the right to alternative care, such as the principles of necessity and suitability. The narrow definition of foster care in the Law of the Child Act limited to care by non-relatives, lack of clarity on the objectives and uses of foster care, and lack of coherence of the Law of the Child Act and the regulations made under it stand out as the major legal challenges resulting in the limited use of foster care. Against this background, the study analyses the actual role of the social welfare officers in the protection of children, as well as child-care traditions and culture of Tanzanians, and poverty as critical practical challenges affecting the use of foster care in Tanzania. As a result, the study contends that existing campaigns to deinstitutionalise alternative care in favour of family-based care, the need for a case-by-case analysis of children’s needs, and flexibility in the practice of foster care provide prospects for a functioning foster care system in Tanzania. The study emphasises that adopting a holistic approach looking at the whole system of protection of children is essential in developing a desired foster care system as foster care cannot be a solution on its own. The study calls for a reform of the legal framework on child protection and a concretisation of the right to alternative care within the legal framework.
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Recent developments in social protection have shifted its focus on to risk and vulnerability. These contribute to poverty directly, but also indirectly through the response of poor households to risk. The extent to which social protection interventions could address chronic poverty is unclear. A hard and fast distinction between transient and chronic poverty suggests a bifurcation in anti-poverty policy, with social protection addressing the former, and asset transfer policies the latter. To the extent that factors behind chronic poverty extend beyond the direct and indirect impact of risk on households, social protection can at best constitute a partial response. The paper discusses these issues and concludes that 'broad' social protection can have an important role in interrupting risk and vulnerability among the chronic poor.
This paper explores how an ostensibly child-centred system can fail to protect children. In some policy arenas, the Kenyan state is recognised as a leader in Africa for the care and protection of children at risk. Yet a case study of children's experiences illuminates how, despite adherence to a legislated framework and series of protocols, the Kenyan state proves unable or unwilling to ensure children's care and protection. The deployment of child-focused discourse and practice through bureaucratic documentation and judicial rulings camouflages (poorly) the state's neglect of children's perspectives and the fundamental risks to children, families, and communities. Cet article traite de la façon dont un système soi-disant centré sur l'enfant peut échouer au moment de protéger les enfants. Dans certaines arènes de politique générale, l'Etat kenyan est reconnu comme un leader en Afrique en matière de soins et de protection des enfants en situation de risque. Pourtant, une étude de cas sur les expériences des enfants montre comment, malgré l'adhésion à un cadre législatif et à une série de protocoles, l'État kenyan s'avère incapable ou peu disposé à dispenser des soins aux enfants et à assurer leur protection. Le déploiement du discours et des pratiques axés sur les enfants à travers la documentation bureaucratique et les décisions judiciaires camoufle (assez mal) le fait que l'État n'a fait aucun cas des points de vue des enfants et des risques fondamentaux pour les enfants, les familles et les communautés. Este artigo explora como um sistema centrado ostensivamente nas crianças pode falhar na sua proteção. Em algumas arenas de políticas, o Quênia é reconhecido como líder na Àfrica para o cuidado e proteção de crianças sob situações de risco. Porém, um estudo de caso sobre experiências de crianças esclarece como, apesar do respeito a uma estrutura jurídica e uma série de protocolos, o Quênia mostra-se incapaz de ou não disposto a garantir cuidado e proteção às crianças. O emprego de um discurso e prática centrados na criança através de uma documentação burocrática e procedimentos judiciais camuflam (mal) a negligência do Estado quanto às perspectivas das crianças e os principais riscos que recaem sobre elas, as famílias e as comunidades. Este ensayo analiza cómo un sistema aparentemente enfocado en la niñez no resultó eficaz para proteger a los niños y niñas. En algunos círculos de la política, el Estado keniano es reconocido como líder en África por el alto nivel de cuidado y protección que ofrece a la infancia en riesgo. Sin embargo, un estudio de caso sobre varios niños y niñas demuestra cómo el Estado de Kenia no ha podido o no ha querido asegurar el cuidado y la protección de la niñez, a pesar de ser signatario de varios protocolos y leyes al respecto. El despliegue de acciones y discursos sobre la infancia a través de documentos oficiales y de dictámenes judiciales oculta (sin lograrlo) que el Estado no atiende las necesidades de la niñez ni los principales riesgos que afrontan los niños, niñas, sus familias y sus comunidades.
L'article etudie les rapports du pentecotisme a la modernite et au progres economique en Afrique au Zimbabwe. L'A. montre comment les pentecotistes du Zimbabwe ont faconne leur propre version de la prosperite evangelique pour transformer la societe. Les pentecotistes deviennent autonomes en accomplissant une rupture avec le passe et la tradition impliquant un changement social.
L'A. analyse la proliferation des Eglises pentecotistes dans le nord-est du Zimbabwe. Les populations Shona du nord-est sont une bonne illustration de la relation entre ce mouvement religieux d'une part, les transformations sociales et les tensions rurales de l'autre. La religion des Shona connait des vagues d'enthousiasme dont la caracteristique actuelle est d'etre pentecotiste. Ces mouvements religieux doivent eux-memes etre inscrits dans une trajectoire de renouveau religieux cyclique. En outre, les Shona ont christianise les pratiques de sorcellerie et d'exorcisme
Spirit possession is a central trope in Zimbabwean literature, not only in English, but also in indigenous languages. This article looks at the avenging spirit as it is manifested in Zimbabwean literature in English from the colonial days to the present, and uses postcolonial theory and Lewis's social deprivation theory in the exploration. It shows how this trope, under colonialism, is used to represent contesting power discourses that seek a stranglehold on the people. It goes on to show how the same trope is used to recover suppressed discourses, voices and narratives, and also becomes a metaphor for fissures in Zimbabwean society in the aftermath of the war of liberation and the unfulfilled promises of the same. Finally, it explores the avenging spirit as a traditional belief system that is central in the psyche of many of the Zimbabwean people and which society has to contend with in the contemporary set up. The article goes on to argue however, that belief in the ngozi represents traditional knowledge systems that can be used to deal with African problems.
There is a tension between two research traditions in cross-cultural psychology: working intensively within a single culture in order to understand indigenous psychological phenomena and how they are related to cultural Context; and working comparatively across cultures in order to understand broad patterns of relationships between behavioural and cultural variables. This tension can be resolved, and the two approaches integrated, by the adoption of the emic and etic concepts of Pike, and by the elaboration of a set of concrete research steps rooted in these concepts. This paper outlines a conceptual and operational framework for the pursuit of both the indigenous and comparative goals, using examples from research on intelligence and attitudes.
This article examines some of the beliefs and practices underlying traditional African religion's attitudes to nature with reference to Shona religion of Zimbabwe. At the theoretical level, assuming a romantic view of Shona attitudes to nature, it is possible to conclude that Shona traditional religion is necessarily environmentally friendly. The strong beliefs in ancestral spirits (midzimu), pan-vitalism, kinship, taboo and totems have the potential to bear testimony to this. The aim of this article is to critically examine the extent of the claims that Shona traditional religion is environmentally friendly. It shows that Shona attitudes to nature are in fact discriminative and ambivalent. I argue that the ecological attitude of traditional African religion is more based on fear or respect of ancestral spirits than on respect for nature itself. As a result we need to re-examine Shona attitudes to nature if Shona traditional religion is to re-emerge as a stronger environmental force in the global village. After introductory remarks the article gives an overview background about the Shona focusing on their socio-political organization, world-view and religion. An examination of Shona attitudes to nature focusing on the land, animals, and plant life and water bodies follows. After this there is a reflection on the ethical consequences of Shona attitudes to nature. The last part considers the limits of the romantic view of Shona attitudes to nature.
This paper focuses on the conversion narrative of a man in the Johane Masowe weChishanu Church, an apostolic church in Zimbabwe. Taking up recent discussions within anthropology on Pentecostal and charismatic churches, the author shows how apostolics talk about conversion as a distinct break with 'African custom'. It is argued that anthropologists of religion need to take such narratives of discontinuity seriously because they allow us to understand better the dynamics of religious change.