Zambia is experiencing a crisis of massive proportions due to AIDS, poverty and dwindling economic strength. Nearly three quarters of the Zambian people live in poverty. The HIV/AIDS epidemic is drastically impacting on the demographic, social and economic landscape in Zambia. Currently, the sero-prevalence rate hovers around 20%, which means one out of every five adult Zambians is infected with HIV. Children are a particularly vulnerable group among those affected by the AIDS crisis and increasing poverty. Many children have lost/are losing one or both parents due to AIDS and other circumstances. Increasingly children, both orphans and others, are not attending school, receiving proper nutrition or accessing health care. In addition the number of children in high risk situations, such as street children, is increasing. Currently, illness and poverty are placing great burdens on care givers and traditional family structures. Furthermore, the orphan generation will certainly grow for the next ten to twenty years, even if HIV/AIDS transmission was halted today. Zambia must identify ways of responding to this significant social and demographic swift as a matter of urgency. Because of the growing problem, the Study Fund of the Social Recovery Project proposed a situation analysis of orphans in Zambia in March 1999. UNICEF and USAID saw this as an opportunity to create a comprehensive tool for a national concerted effort to help orphans and other vulnerable children - an effort which would identify 'best practices' at the local level and be useful for policy makers. Via consultations with government and other partners the elements of this situation analysis evolved. This study undertaken by a range of local consultants marks the most comprehensive effort to date to develop an understanding of the challenges faced by orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Zambia.
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