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Life transitions and care in sibling-headed households affected by AIDS in Tanzania and Uganda

January 2013

Learn more about how young people manage sibling caring responsibilities following their parent’s death

Life transitions and care in sibling-headed households affected by AIDS in Tanzania and Uganda

‘We are managing our own lives . . . ’: Life transitions and care in sibling-headed households affected by AIDS in Tanzania and Uganda

Research by Ruth Evans, University of Reading

AIDS and child-headed households

Since the AIDS epidemic spread in the 1980s, East and Southern Africa has witnessed the emergence of child- and youth-headed households.

Although most orphaned children are cared for by extended family members, the phenomenon of child-headed households represents a significant change in conventional patterns of care for orphaned children.

It was recently estimated that an estimated 12 per cent of Tanzania’s 1.1 million ‘most vulnerable’ children lived in child-headed households.

In Tanzania and Uganda, as in many African contexts, young people often have considerable responsibilities for other family members, such as working to earn an income for the family, looking after their younger brothers and sisters and taking charge of a household in the occasional absence of grownups.

The situation of orphaned children living independently in child-headed households without a co-resident adult differs from usual expectations of children's roles within the family.

Child-headed households are regarded as a problem predominantly because of the lack of adult supervision and the ‘parenting’ responsibilities that some children have to take on. This can impact negatively both on the young people providing care and the children that they are caring for.

For these children, being young may be characterised by economic and social uncertainty – by continual efforts to make a respectable living and by needing to carefully manage social networks.

About the research

This research aims to learn more about how young people manage sibling caring responsibilities following their parent’s death. It is focused on young people caring for their siblings who live alone without a parent or adult relative. The research was undertaken in Tanzanian and Ugandan communities (both rural and urban) affected by AIDS.

Relevance

AQA – AS unit 1, Human option (Health issues) Case study of the one infectious disease. Illustrates the impact of AIDS on lifestyle.

Edexcel – AS 2 unit 4, Option 5 (Pollution and human health at risk) Illustrates how health issues can have wide-ranging effects on the quality of life of people.

In the Members' Area:

  • After a parent's death
  • Taking on a caring role
  • Changing positions in the community
  • How the research was undertaken
  • Activity

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