A joint study by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) and Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) found out that at the end of 2001, 13.4million children under the age of 15 had lost one or both parents to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The increase in AIDS, which orphans many children, is one of the major challenges in many countries. According to HIV/AIDS Perspective (2004), one of the worst consequences of AIDS is the large number of children orphaned as a result of parents dying from AIDS. By mid 1997, 10 million children under the age of 15 had lost their parents to AIDS worldwide [and] at the end of 2000, there were more than 13 million orphans worldwide (Deame 2000). Presently there are 15 million children who have lost their parents to AIDS. This is because of rise in poverty, poor health care systems, and limited resources for prevention and care which fuel the spread.
AIDS is responsible for leaving a large number of children in Africa without one or both parents, in some countries larger proportions have lost their parents to AIDS than to any other cause of death. This means that were it not for AIDS epidemic, these children would not have been orphaned. According to Robbins (2004), AIDS has already orphaned more than 12 million African children. These numbers are projected to increase since millions of children currently live with sick and dying parents. In Africa, there are millions of children orphaned by AIDS and they suffer from the tragedy of losing both parents to AIDS. In addition, they grow up in deprived and traumatic circumstances without support from their immediate family members, without parental care and love and most are deprived of their basic rights to shelter, food, health and education. In Africa 7000 young people are infected everyday 2000 of these are mostly under the age of 15 (Nyasato and Otieno 2002).
At the end of 2001, 13.4 million children under the age of 15 had lost one or both parents to AIDS with four out of five in sub-Saharan Africa This makes a child an orphan every 14seconds that year, (World Bank Report 2003). There is an increase in the number of children in sub-Saharan countries who are affected by HIV/AIDS. Among the more than 34 million orphans in Africa, 11 million became orphans as a result of AIDS. From 1990 to 2010, the number of orphans in sub-Saharan Africa who lost both parents tripled because of AIDS (UNAIDS/UNICEF/USAID, 2002). In the most affected 12 African countries, orphans in general will represent at least 15% of all children under 15 years of age by 2015. When defining the vulnerability of a child, assessing if one or both parents are alive is not adequate. In many parts of Africa it is common that children are fostered by relatives and do not live with their biological parents, even when the parents are alive. If children are living with other relatives and one or both of these relatives die, this will also have a large effect on the lives of the children (Foster and Williamson, 2000).
Kenya is home to one of the world’s harshest HIV and AIDS epidemics. An estimated 1.5 million people are living with HIV; around 1.2 million children have been orphaned by AIDS; and in 2009, 80,000 people died from AIDS related illnesses (UNAIDS 2010). According to UNICEF (2003), The child mortality in Kenya was 205 per1000 in 1960, and had fallen to per 1000 in 1990. However, due to HIV/AIDS the rate increased to 122 per 1000.Although statistics are high UNAIDS (1996) notes that statistics do not capture the misery that HIV/AIDS can bring to children. According to UNICEF (2003), the staggering number of children orphaned due to AIDS is only the beginning of a crisis of gigantic proportions, and the worst is yet to come. These numbers will increase as the epidemic develops.