Unicef Logo and the text: Children Under Threat. The State of The World's Children 2005.

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©UNICEF/HQ02-0361/
Giacomo Pirozzi

Call for Action

Mobilizing community responses

When extended families cannot take responsibility for orphaned children, the next option should ideally be the local community. Fostering and adoption are alternatives that allow a child to remain in a family setting, and the greatest continuity and security is provided if such options are available within the child’s own village or district. Foster families, whether spontaneously formed or formally arranged, need and deserve to be supported in their role by the wider community as well as through government services.

Community-based responses need mobilizing and reinforcing to ensure that the local community becomes a source of strength and support to orphaned children. Among the strategies that can help are:
  • Sensitizing local leaders – including religious authorities, teachers and other prominent citizens – to the impact of HIV/AIDS on vulnerable children, mobilizing their support and encouraging them to counter the risks of abuse and exploitation.
  • Fostering dialogue on HIV/AIDS within communities in order to dispel myths, combat ignorance and maximize the chances that people will respond to affected children’s needs with compassion. Children and adolescents can play a key role, exploring opportunities for discussion and community education in schools, religious gatherings and youth clubs.
  • Organizing cooperative support for affected households. This can involve home visits, community day-care programmes or childcare to give caregivers some respite. The support can also be material, assisting vulnerable households through pooled funds.
  • Ensuring that community responses are appropriate to children’s ages and stages of development.


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UNICEF’s work on HIV/AIDS [Web]

Facing the Future Together: Report of the Secretary-General's Task Force on Women, Girls and HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa [PDF]

Africa's Orphaned Generations [PDF]

Children on the Brink 2004: A joint report of new orphan estimates and a framework for action [PDF]

Fighting HIV/AIDS: Strategies for success 2002-2005 [PDF]


“When parents don't allow their children to go to school, because they don't have the money, or they don't see the necessity of education, they can't expect their children to have a better future.”
girl, 18, the Netherlands

Log on to www.unicef.org/voy


Estimated number of children under 14 years old in sub-Saharan Africa who are HIV-positive: 1.9 million; the number of children under five living in Spain: 1.9 million.
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© UNICEF 2004