Caring for African Orphans: A Comparative Review of Existing Institutional Arrangements

Vongai Kandiwa, Cornell University

Africa’s orphan population has trebled in the last two decades, and this growth raises questions about how societies care for these orphans. My paper addresses two questions: (1) Do extended families –that have historically been relied upon-- still adequately accommodate orphans in sub Saharan Africa? (2) How effective are alternative arrangements –notably international adoption, foster care, and orphanages-- relative to extended families? I begin with a typology of existing care institutions then develop a framework for analyzing their relative effectiveness. My analysis shows that the extended family system still provides the greatest coverage for African orphans; yet, it is limited in quality and accountability. I then discuss possible complementarity and synergy between the various care institutions.

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Presented in Session 130: The Health and Mortality Impact of HIV/AIDS