“For children like us who live in child headed households, when we have no parents, we live under very difficult conditions; life is very hard and there are times when we are actually even starving,” says Justine.“For children like us who live in child headed households, when we have no parents, we live under very difficult conditions; life is very hard and there are times when we are actually even starving,” says Justine.
HELPFUL STATISTICS AND TESTIMONY ABOUT RWANDAN ORPHANS, CHILDREN & WOMEN
One of the greatest challenges facing Rwanda today is how to care for its massive population of orphans. According to the UNICEF office in Rwanda, there are more than a million orphans in the country. The high proportion of orphans has roots in the genocide of 1994. Since the genocide, increasing numbers of children are being orphaned as a result of HIV/AIDS. In Rwanda it is common to see older children raising younger ones by themselves. Tens of thousands of children in Rwanda are forced to eke out a living on the land without help from adults. For the past seven years, UNICEF and Rwanda’s Ministry of Social Affairs have been helping children gain specialized skills in agriculture and providing them with tools and other supplies.
AN EDUCATION THAT NOT ONLY IMPARTS CRUCIAL LANGUAGE & TECH SKILLS BUT ALSO HELPS REBUILD AND SUSTAIN THE ORPHANS’ LIVES & COMMUNITIES.
As expected, the chances of being in school are higher among children with both parents alive than among those who have lost at least one parent– almost 76 percent, compared with 72 percent. The data suggest that the gap between orphans and nonorphans is driven largely by the shortfall in participation for orphaned girls. The participation rate for orphaned boys was less than 1 percentage point lower than for boys with both parents alive, but the corresponding shortfall was more than 5 percentage points for girls. Closer examination of the data suggests that children who had lost their mothers, even if they had not lost their fathers, were most at risk of not attending school. Their participation rate was 71 percent for boys and 64 percent for girls. For children who had lost only their fathers, the rates were 77 percent for boys and 72 percent for girls.
An estimated 11% of all females, or approximately 535,000 women, living in Rwanda at the time of the genocide were victims of a concerted rape campaign. During the course of the rape campaign, an average of 4 women were violently sexually assaulted, most of them by HIV+ men, every minute of every hour of every day for 100 consecutive days. More than 67% of women who were raped in 1994 during the genocide are now facing death from AIDS. As a direct result of the 100 days of death and violence in 1994 there are more than 60,000 widows living in Rwanda, caring for more than 200,000 orphans. Otherwise stated, 3.25% of the total Rwandan population is orphans whose parents died from AIDS. By the end of 2001, there were 500,000 people in Rwanda living with HIV or approximately 13% of the population. That equates to more than 1 out of every 10 people suffering from HIV or AIDS.
From World Fact Book 2006
RWANDA’s ORPHAN POPULATION
Rwanda has a population of 7.8 million, 3.3 million of whom are children less than 15 years old (BUCEN, 2003). Infant mortality in 2001 stood at 96 deaths per 1,000 live births and under-five mortality at 183 deaths per 1,000 live births (UNICEF, 2003) UNAIDS estimates that adult HIV prevalence was 8.9 percent in 2001 and that 65,000 children aged 0 to 14 were living with HIV/AIDS.
National Orphan Population: various estimates and projections of the percentage of children who are orphans (losing one or both parents due to all causes, including HIV/AIDS) are high
- 21.6 percent (1995)
- 17.5 percent (2001)
- 16.8 percent (2010, projected) by Children on the Brink 2002
- 9.6 percent (1992) and 26.8 percent (2000) by the Demographic and Health Survey (DHS)
- and 28 percent (2000) by the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS). In addition, the percentage of children who are double orphans (having lost both parents) is also high when compared to other countries. The data support the consensus that the number of orphans in Rwanda is likely to increase throughout the decade and reach 687,000 by 2010 (Children on the Brink 2002.)
Orphans Due to AIDS:
The estimated percentage of children orphaned by AIDS, as opposed to other causes increased from 24.7 percent of all orphans in 1995 to 43.1 percent in 2001. If current trends continue, it is projected that by 2010 half of Rwanda’s orphans will be orphaned by AIDS.
Sub-National Orphan Populations:
The percent of orphaned children in Rwanda does not vary widely among sub-national regions. In all of Rwanda’s five sub-national regions, the percentage of children who are orphans is higher than 20 percent. The Southwest region has the lowest percentage of orphaned children (20.5 percent of all children), while all other regions are between 25 and 31 percent, with the Northwest region highest at 31.2 percent. In all regions, the percentage of children whose fathers have died (paternal orphans) is much higher than in other countries. Between 1992 and 2000, the percent of children who had lost either one or both parents more than doubled in all regions of the country, with the Northwest region experiencing a fourfold increase. Double orphans (children who have lost both parents) increased significantly in all regions as well.
Methodologies for Estimating Orphans:
Differences among the orphan estimates and projections of various organizations occur due to differences in methodologies, definitions (of ‘orphan’ for example), and demographic and epidemiological assumptions. On the one hand, Children on the Brink and UNAIDS estimate the number of orphans using mathematical models, estimations, and projections based on certain assumptions about the impact of HIV/AIDS on adult mortality, fertility, and child survival. These assumptions are likely to lead to overestimations of female HIV prevalence and mortality. Surveys such as DHS and MICS, on the other hand, are based on data gathered through household surveys of representative samples of the national population. However, these surveys may underestimate the number of orphans because they fail to count orphans in institutions or on the street. In addition, surveys may underestimate the number of orphans if parental survival status is unknown.