The Situation is Desperate
The unbearable condition, in which many children will find themselves, when both of their parents die.
More than 500,000 children are AIDS-orphans in Tanzania and it is estimated that at least 50,000 of these live in “child-headed households” without support from adults.
Without help these children will end up as criminals, prostitutes and/or in excessive poverty, a burden to themselves and to the society.
Mainly as a result of the AIDS-epidemic, Tanzania is under strain and the traditional African family-structure is no more able to cope with the demand.

However, the items mentioned in most discussions are the escalating costs for the health-service and the workforce missing, both in the formal and in the informal sector.
This in itself is a catastrophe for the country. But if you look at more than just the very near future, you will realize, that it is an even larger catastrophe that the children, who shall carry the country forward, are not prepared for anything but survival – if they survive.

The following information covers the situation in Tanzania and is based upon information from WAMATA and from Mr. Donald M. Charwe, Ass. Commissioner for Social Welfare. It can of course be nothing but a rough estimate.

  • More than 500,000 children are now orphans as a result of the AIDS-pandemic.
  • When the parents die, sibling-groups are often split and cared for by more or less distant relatives.
  • It is estimated, that more than 150,000 children are living in what is close to slave-conditions, by uncles and aunts, where they are working without salary and without real schooling. Often with only one meal a day.
  • It is estimated, that more than 300,000 children live by worn out grand¬parents, who try to create an alternative “big-family” with up to 20 grandchildren.
  • It is estimated, that much more than 150,000 children do not get elementary schooling because there are no resources for school-uniform etc. But also because all available time and energy is used for physical survival of the family-group.
  • It is estimated, that more than 50,000 children live in groups (mostly sibling-groups) without support from adults.
  • It is estimated, that more than 10,000 children die every year from malnutrition and/or trivial decease.
  • It is estimated, that more than 20,000 children every year will turn to small-criminality and/or prostitution because they do not have any other possibilities for survival.
  • It has been learned that, when the parents die, almost all children will loose what may be their right of inheritance because greedy uncles and aunts insists, that children (and females) can not be regarded as legitimate heirs.

Reliable statistics can of course not be found. However it does not matter from which angle the problem is seen, the problem is enormous and a solution must be found.
Thorkil Søe

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