Child headed households, the emerging phenomenon in urban informal settlements: a case study of Kibera slum Nairobi-Kenya
Orphans living on their own in child-headed households (CRRs) are a new, but growing phenomenon which was first noted in the late 1980s in the Rakia district of Uganda and other parts of Africa which have been badly affected by RIV/AIDS ( WHO 1990). With the traditional extended family and community support networks disintegrating, many orphans now live on their own in child headed households. Although AIDS is only one of several factors leading to the changes being observed in traditional patterns of child care (Foster et al 1995), it is undoubtedly the main factor predisposing to the establishment of child-headed. The study examined factors surrounding the emergence and persistence of child headed households in Kibera slum, Nairobi. The objectives were to establish; the causes of the emergence of child headed households; the challenges they face; the source of emotional, material and financial support and the channels of survival used by children in these households. The study was carried out in four out of seven villages in Kibera. These were Lindi, Kianda, Laini Saba and Makina. These villages have the highest population of orphans and vulnerable children and also host most orphans support projects. The basic unit of study was the children living in child headed households. Both primary and secondary data was collected to increase the reliability of research findings. The questionnaire, observation guide and key informant guide were used to collect data. The study found that many ailments and deaths coupled with the breakdown or weakening of the extended family network has lead to the emergence of Child headed households. Children in these households are faced with many challenges such as lack of parent's love and affection, protection and care, Lack of basic necessities like food shelter and health care, social exclusion and stigmatization, disinheritance, exploitation abuse. The study therefore recommends: interventions which promote sustainable solutions to child headed households; development of programs which address needs of adolescents; skills training for children in child headed households on issues of reproductive health, children's rights, drug abuse, home management and conflict resolution.