|Type||Journal Article - Reflections on Children in Botswana 2011|
|Title||Child protection issues in HIV and AIDS burdened countries: The case of Botswana|
The HIV and AIDS epidemic has had grievous consequences for the full realization of the rights
of children worldwide. Regardless of Botswana’s strong economic growth record, prominent
challenges have arisen over the last two decades that threaten to unravel its past successes.
One of such challenges is the scourge of HIV and AIDS. The AIDS pandemic is shattering
children’s lives and reversing progress that has been made on children’s rights. About 44%
of Botswana’s 1.8 million people are children below 18 years. With a population-based HIV
prevalence of 17.6% and 31.8% for antenatal clinic attendees aged 15–49 years (Central
Statistics Office – CSO, 2009a; the consequences for children have been considerable. A
significantly large proportion of children (93,000) have lost their parents to AIDS than to
any other cause of death. As part of the emergency response to the impact of the HIV and
AIDS epidemic on children, the Government of Botswana developed the Short Term of Plan
of Action for Orphans in 1999. This plan was significant in guiding government’s response
in mitigating the impact of AIDS on children and vulnerable families through among other
things, the provision of food baskets. About 43,000 orphans and 37,000 other vulnerable
children receive food coupon/basket and other support from government annually
(Department of Social Services – DSS, 2011). Only 31.2% of households with orphans and
vulnerable children received free basic external support in 2008 (CSO, 2009a).
Other immediate and remote consequences of the HIV and AIDS epidemic on children are
reflected in current statistics on children. Twenty-two percent of all children have lost one
or both parents; 25% live with non-biological parents, 40% with grandparents, only 17% of
adults are legally married (CSO, 2009b) and 31% of households live below the poverty line
(CSO, 2003). In addition to these, a conservative estimate of Botswana’s teen ARV needs in
2011 indicates that nearly 4,000 adolescents need ARVs. In addition to medical treatment,
these teens need specialized care and support to help them overcome the hurdles of
puberty and adolescence (http://botswanateenclub.wordpress.com/adolescenthiv/).
Anecdotal evidence and police statistics all point to the fact that children are at greater risk
and vulnerability to abuse, exploitation and HIV infection.
Although these challenges may seem daunting for children, government responses to the
issues have been phenomenal in terms of programming to mitigate the impact on children
and vulnerable families. Significant milestones in this direction include the passage of the
Children’s Act of 2009.
The purpose of this article is three-fold. First, it highlights child protection challenges faced by
children in the era of HIV and AIDS. Second, it discusses efforts that are aimed at mitigating
the challenges. Lastly, the article makes recommendations for the way forward.
|»||Botswana - AIDS Impact Survey III 2008|