n Commonwealth Youth and Development - Is community-based participation a key instrument to addressing the plight of child-headed households in South Africa?

Volume 9, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1727-7140



The phenomenon of child-headed households is a common feature of our society. Millions of children have lost one or both parents to various causes of which the HIV/AIDS pandemic is the greatest contributor. The burden of care is carried by the weakest, the most marginalized and voiceless. The objective of this study was to look at government intervention, legal protection, and home and community-based care as intervention strategies to address the plight of orphans and vulnerable children living in child-headed households (CHHs) in South Africa. Firstly this paper briefly describes the rights of child-headed households; secondly it focuses on intervention strategies; and thirdly it emphasizes the participation of affected children as the key to successful intervention. It concludes that not only is government commitment necessary for successful interventions, but that participatory community-based care and involvement, with the emphasis on the participation of CHHs, a key instrument is to address the plight of orphan and vulnerable children. The only sustainable route to address the needs of child-headed households and orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) is through community-based participatory programmes supported by a national vision, policy and strategy endorsed by central government commitment that supports, capacitates and ensures the participation and rights of these children.

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