Assessment of female-headed house holds' coping strategies in caring for orphans in Ng'ombe compound

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Malesu-Kasaka, Mainah P
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The problem of orphans in Zambia is serous, and has confounded the challenges faced by female-headed households. Despite their economic and social vulnerability, these households take care of one to three orphaned children. This study has been conducted to identify the problems faced by female-headed care -givers in caring for orphans, identify the problems faced by orphans and also to establish the socioeconomic strategies used by female-headed households in caring for orphans. This study was conducted in Ng'ombe Compound and a sample of 50 female care-givers and 20 orphaned children were interviewed. The data was collected using both unstructured interview schedule and the semi-structured questionnaires. Secondary data was collected by reviewing records from related literature from various institutions. Female-care-givers and orphans were purposively selected and interviewed for the qualitative approaches. The quantitative and qualitative data were analyzed using SPSS and content analysis, respectively The results show that a significant number of orphans (35%) are living with their surviving mothers or grandmothers (25%) who are often too weak to work in order to support these children in terms of food, clothing, health matters and education. As much as the extended family still cared for orphaned children, it was discovered that the burden of taking care of the orphans fell on the female relatives who are more likely to be widows, grandmothers or aunties. The majority of these care-givers were 41 years and above, and illiterate, whose main source of income was vending. Hence, lack of food, clothing, limited access to medication and education were sited as the major ones in caring for orphans. In the same way, the orphans living in these female headed house-holds had the same problems because economically, their guardians were unable to assist them.It was also revealed that the Government and other institutions have not done much in helping the female-headed households in caring for orphans as they are also overwhelmed by the ever increasing number of these female-headed households. The findings, therefore, called on the Government to seriously look into the problems of both female-care-givers and orphans by setting up strong social service systems to complement and enhance the extended family system in supporting orphans.
Women heads of households -- Ng'ombe -- Zambia , Orphans -- Ng'ombe -- Zambia , Caregivers -- Ng'ombe -- Zambia