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Life in Child/Adolescent Headed Households: Aqualitative study on everyday life experience of children living in child/adolescent headed households in Western Kenya region
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Sociology.
2010 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This thesis focuses on the everyday life experience of children living in household headed by a child or an adolescent after the loss of both parents in the rural communities in Western Kenya Region. Child/Adolescent headed household is a rapidly growing form of family in Sub-Saharan Africa mainly due to increased deaths rates of parents caused by HIV/AIDS, civil wars and the weakened state of traditional family safety nets in taking up care and raising responsibilities of orphaned children. Majority of these households are often headed by the eldest child/adolescent left in the family who takes up huge responsibility of heading and fending for the younger siblings. The family as an institution has over the years been changing in its structure and function that have brought both negative and positive impact on society.

In this study I investigate how children in child headed households make meaning of their lives by engaging them in giving short narrations of their everyday life experiences with the guide of open-ended interviews. Using purposive sampling method, I sampled nine household heads that were identified and interviewed, but only responses from six household are used in the analysis. Those who participated were between ages 15 and 23 years old. Later qualitative content analysis method was used to code the data, establish themes and patterns describing the children‟s life experience. And final social ecological systems theory, resilience theory and symbolic interaction theoretical frameworks were used to interpret the results.

The results show that the interactions and relations in the children‟s lives changed a great deal after the loss of both parents which led to social isolation and loneliness, changed childhood experiences, burdening parenting roles and responsibilities, difficult economic situation, and limited support systems. Despite all the obstacles the children/adolescents were still optimistic about their future and those of their siblings. This led to the conclusion that children in child/adolescent headed families even though were living in a disrupted and broken down immediate nurturing environment, if provided with all the support they needed within and outside the home environment were still capable of building resilience and achieving positive development. Therefore strategies and interventions initiated towards ensuring that all children experience positive growth and development should be based on a joint effort from all stakeholders; the children, communities, organizations and the government.




Child headed household, everyday life experience, HIV/AIDS, ecological systems, resilience, symbolic interaction, development, environment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. , 58 p.
Umeå studies in sociology, ISSN 1100-3553 ; 792
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-38662OAI: diva2:379941
2010-09-13, 13:40 (English)
Social and Behavioural Science, Law
Available from: 2011-02-16 Created: 2010-12-20 Last updated: 2011-02-16Bibliographically approved

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Awino Adongo, Dorcus
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