In the past, international organisations, local church groups and extended families did much to fill the gap left by the lack of child welfare services in Africa, but in recent years the situation for Africa’s orphaned children has become dire. Experts have now coined the term, ³Africa’s Orphaned Generations² for the trend that is emerging in which several generations of the same family have lost one or more of their parents before the age of 15.
According to projections compiled by the U.N. there will be as many as 50 million orphaned children in Africa’s 16 southernmost states by 2018 if more is not done to provide simple lifesaving solutions such as anti-retroviral drugs for HIV sufferers and mosquito nets to combat malaria.
While many charities and microfinance organisations lack the resources to tackle this problem head on, they can provide vital support at the community level, interrupting the cycle of poverty that accompanies the death of a child’s parents. Low interest loans can allow uncles and aunts to start of expand businesses that provide sufficient income to cater to the needs of nieces and nephews, while well-run orphanages can provide safe havens for street children otherwise forced to survive through begging and stealing or engaging in dangerous enterprises such as recycling toxic waste or selling trinkets at crowded traffic intersections.