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AIDS Care. 2013;25(1):126-32. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2012.687812. Epub 2012 May 25.

Asset ownership among households caring for orphans and vulnerable children in rural Zimbabwe: the influence of ownership on children's health and social vulnerabilities.

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Graduate School of Social Work, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, USA.


The high prevalence of human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immune deficiency syndrome in sub-Saharan Africa has resulted in a dramatic increase in orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) over the past decade. These children typically rely on extended family networks for support, but the magnitude of the crisis has resulted in traditional familial networks becoming overwhelmed and more economically and socially vulnerable. Previous research consistently demonstrates the positive influence of household asset ownership on children's well-being. Using data from impoverished households caring for OVC in rural Manicaland Province, Zimbabwe, this study explores the influence of household asset ownership on OVC health vulnerability (HV) and social vulnerability (SV). Findings indicate that asset ownership is associated with significantly lower SV, in terms of school attendance and birth registration. Yet, assets do not emerge as a direct influence of OVC HV as measured by disease and chronic illness, although having a chronically ill adult in the household increases HV. These findings suggest that asset ownership, specifically a combination of fixed and movable assets, may offset the influence of other risk factors for children's SV.

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