An assessment of the orphan reunification and rehabilitation program in Zoba Ma'akel, Eritrea.
Ghebremariam, Kirubel Bereket.
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This study aims at investigating the orphan reunification and rehabilitation program in Zoba Ma'ekel, Eritrea. The orphan reunification and rehabilitation program is an intervention devised by Eritrean government in an attempt to address the ever present and continuing problem of orphans in Eritrea. This program aims at reunifying orphan children with their extended families (the uncles, the aunts, the elder brothers and sisters, the grandparents, and any other available relatives). It also aims at strengthening the participant families economically so that they provide the physical and social needs of the orphans under their care. Using data collected through in-depth interviews and questionnaires administered face-to-face in eight selected sites, this study examines the 'well-being' of the reunified orphans compared to non-orphans 1 in the same families using what were believed basic child needs indicators. The study was carried out over two months (December 2002 to January 2003). The findings illustrate that reunified orphans are provided with food, clothing/shoes and health services. However non-orphans in those families are better off than orphans. Most of the caregiver families are economically poor and tend to privilege their own children when there is scarcity of resources within the family. The statistical findings show that 81.5% of non-orphans are supplied with food four times a day compared to 73.2% of the sample orphans. The expenses made for clothing /shoes are found to be slightly higher for non-orphans than orphans (65.9% compared to 59.1%). The findings also reveal orphans' enrolment rate is higher than the national school age children which means they are better off than other children of the country although they are enrolled 6.2% lower than the comparison group (79% vs. 85.2%). However, they work longer hours than non-orphans and among orphans, females do more work than male which deprived them time for play and study. Relationship with the orphans is found stronger where there is a close family tie between the orphans and the caregivers. 1 Non-orphans in this study refer to children in the same families sampled for questionnaires administered face-to-face.