The orphan rate in Zambia increases daily as a result of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. All social and economic indicators clearly show that an increasing percentage of the population is becoming marginalized, particularly women and children. They are further being impoverished through a number of economic constraints and social services, income and inadequate nutrition.
These situations have caused extended families to disintegrate and not be able to take care of the children of their dead relative, as they are already over-stretched with their own large families’ needs. As a result, orphaned children end up on the streets to fend for themselves. (In actuality, nearly three quarters of Zambian children live below poverty line with little notable difference between orphans/vulnerable children and others.)
Almost half of all AIDS-impacted children in the country reside in a household headed by a surviving parent. Forty percent have lost both their parents. Grandparents and aunts/uncles look after a large percentage of these children who have lost both mother and father, demonstrating that extended families continue to share the burden of orphan care.
It is estimated that there are 750,000 street children, and that 7% have no home to return to.
It costs about $50 a year to send a child to elementary school and over $100 a year to send a child to high school. For families living on less then a dollar a day, obviously school becomes an impossible luxury. As older children become the heads of household for their younger siblings, and/or healthy adults take on caring for more and more of their relatives’ children, simply feeding the children becomes difficult. And yet, without school and adequate food, many children run away and end up on the streets, at high risk themselves for HIV/Aids, drug abuse and other challenges.