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Moving Forward: Implementing the 'Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children'

Supporting Child-Headed Households in Tanzania

Focus 4: Protection and support for child-headed households

Three decades of the HIV epidemic have led to changing patterns of care and inheritance in eastern and southern Africa and the loss of the parental ‘middle generation’ has led to the emergence of new household forms, such as child- and youth-headed households.

A study found that material and emotional support from NGOs played a significant role in sustaining these households. In this programme, individually tailored approaches that take a holistic perspective were targeted to support child- and youth-headed households. Non-governmental organisations provided children and young people with a range of services and support, including food, regular cash support, school fees, uniforms and materials, health care, emotional support, peer support clubs, life skills and vocational training, self-defence clubs, capital for income-generation projects and community volunteer schemes. Young people saw this support as crucial in helping them to care for their siblings and live independently.  

Findings suggest that support for child- and youth-headed households needs to recognise young people's agency and adopt a holistic approach to their lives that analyses the physical assets, material resources, human and social capital available to the household, as well as individual young people's well-being, outlook and aspirations. It was also recognised that support needs to foster peer solidarity and youth-led collective mobilisation. It suggests that such practices can enhance young people's capacities to care for their siblings and enable them to sustain their households over time, as well as help to build more supportive social environments that challenge stigma and safeguard young people's inheritance.

For more information see: The experiences and priorities of young people who care for their siblings in Tanzania and Uganda

Also see: Evans, R. (2012) Safeguarding inheritance and enhancing the resilience of orphaned young people living in child- and youth-headed households in Tanzania and Uganda, African Journal of AIDS Research , 11(3): 177-189. DOI: 10.2989/16085906.2012.734977

International Social Service, Oak Foundation, SOS Children's Villages International, unicef, ATD Fourth World, Better Care Network, Family for every child, ngo group for the crc, PEPFAR, RELAF, Save the Children, USAID