Research report - National Child Labour Action Programme for South Africa (1).doc

The impact on households and communities can be

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The impact on households and communities can be devastating and may exert strong pressure for the involvement of children in work activities. This is particularly true in cases where children are orphaned by the disease. A recent study by the University of Cape Town estimates that the number of children who will have lost one or both parents to AIDS will peak in South Africa around 2014-2015, with 5,7 million children having lost one or both parents. 1 International research suggests that when orphans in the developing world constitute up to 2% of the child population, the children are generally absorbed into the extended family and community. In South Africa the percentage of orphans is expected to increase to between 9-12% of the child population by 2015. Where these children are taken into homes in the community, they may also be required to work for excessive hours, or to do other work inappropriate for their age within the household. As the disease progresses in an individual, he or she will be less able to support his or her dependents. Thus, even before the parent suffering from AIDS dies children may effectively be orphans in economic terms since they are forced to care for the parent as well as having to support themselves on their own. Thus, children’s basic survival is likely to come under increasing threat as HIV/AIDS claims more and more South African parents. The impact on children of the HIV/AIDS pandemic extends further than the impact on children’s families and households. Children’s access to education, for example, is likely to be negatively impacted as the disease spreads, infecting more teachers. Here, government’s challenge is also to ensure that the higher education system is able to produce teachers at a fast enough pace to replace those teachers who are sick or dying from AIDS-related diseases. Other countries in Southern Africa have already encountered this problem. In Zambia, for example, in 1998, teacher deaths totalled two- thirds of the number of newly graduated teachers. HIV/AIDS infected and affected teachers may also be forced to miss work due to their own or relatives’ illness, negatively impacting on the quality of education received by schoolchildren. HIV/AIDS will result in an increase in the number of child-headed households. The children in these households need income, and many will work unless there are other forms of assistance. At present the main forms of assistance come from over-stretched communities and NGOs. Current policy prevents such households from accessing the child support and other grants. 1 Johnson & Dorrington, 2001 ‘The Impact of AIDS on Orphanhood in South Africa: A Quantitative Analysis’
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Page 72 Proposed action – by circumstances increasing likelihood of harm Draft 4.10, October 2003 Children affected by HIV/AIDS are likely to become more vulnerable over time, and it is likely that their vulnerabilities will be exploited by some in the community, sometimes under the guise of helping them.
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