An investigation of factors leading to children becoming orphans and social problems orphans face in Limuru area
The care and support provision for orphans and vulnerable children is among of the greatest challenges that face Kenya today; it is estimated that about 2.4 million children according to KDHS 2008/2009, fall in the category of vulnerable people and these growing numbers overwhelm the available resources. AIDS, fuelled by high poverty levels, is one of the main contributors to OVC incidence in Kenya. Understanding the magnitude of the problem and socio-demographic characteristics of OVC can provide the foundation for building programs of appropriate design, size and scope. The National Plan for Action for OVCs 2007-2010 has guidelines that provide for inclusion in programs for orphans and vulnerable children. Child care institutions are required to comply with these guidelines. In Kenya, according to population fact sheet, 2011, more than 40% of children population comprises of needy children, of whose support must be drawn from the working groups including parents, guardians and relatives. However, it is acknowledged that not every needy person is able to get assistance from potential providers, and in most cases, such children are adopted by other families or end up in child care centers. This study aimed to explore social problems faced by such children in Limuru area. This area has a high number of orphans. The number of households with orphans were 41,068 and poor households with an orphan were 20,123 (National Aids Control Council, 2013). The specific objectives studied were to identify social problems faced by children, assess quality, accessibility and reach of education among orphans, find out the factors leading to the children becoming orphans, examine the psychosocial support systems for these children and establish the nutritional status of children in orphanages. The descriptive survey design was adopted for the study and data was collected by use of open and closed ended questionnaire for OVC, key informant schedules for care givers and focus group discussion for OVC. Collected data were analyzed by use of SPSS. The target population was 104 including 96 OVCs and 8 care givers. The study findings indicate that HIV and chronic illnesses are the major contributing factors leading to increased number of children becoming orphans. These echoes the UNAIDS findings. Most of the children attend public schools whilst the findings indicate that school performance is of average, which means getting good quality higher levels of education is not guaranteed, as based on Kenya system of education. The findings further indicated that physical and sexual abuse is high at 25% and 24% respectively, mostly done by relatives at 44%. The study concluded that HIV/AIDS is a major cause of children becoming orphans and therefore there is need to educate populations on good health practices if infected. There are social problems that negatively influence the orphans and vulnerable children in orphanages and they need to be addressed by aid of the government, private sector and well-wishers. The experiences of orphans in orphanages are characterized by lack of basic needs such as food, clothing and identity among orphans. The study suggested three areas for further research which included the predicament of children living with HIV in orphanages and how children institutions provide care to this key population, the role of policy makers in child welfare in orphanages and to find out the extent of child defilement by perpetrators who are known to them in orphanages.