Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
Conseil pour le développement de la recherche en sciences sociales en Afrique
Conselho para o Desenvolvimento da Pesquisa em Ciências Sociais em África
مجلس تنمية البحوث الإجتماعية في أفريقيا

The African Child and Youth in the Era of HIV/AIDS


Number of visits: 1995

Through the 2003 Child and Youth Studies Institute, African researchers are being invited to contribute to a better understanding of the consequences of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on the development of African societies in general and the younger members of the community in particular. Public policies aimed at eradicating the disease pay little attention to the extent to which the pandemic is affecting the structure of the organisation of African societies and how conversely, these societies are developing new strategies that would enable their members to survive individually and collectively, and also overcome the danger they are faced with. Children and youth, who by definition, are at the centre of the social reproduction process of the remaking of the social system. In other words, the social impact of the pandemic on the youth is producing outcomes which, at a time of generalised vulnerability, is paving the way for the reconfiguration of the social order in many African countries. From this point of view, a variety of interesting questions for further research are emerging and would be pursued within the framework of the 2003 Institute. Some of the emerging issues include the following.

  • The increasing number of AIDS orphans and the implications of this development for the social status of the African child and the traditional kinship system;
  • The loss of a spouse infected with the disease and the wy this calls into questions the "traditional" modes of constitution of domestic groups/households, the community capacity to deal with pandemics, and dominant notions of family cohesion
  • It can be supposed that the presence of the disease in households changes the existing social relationships between members; in particular, relations between parents and children, can be subject to profound changes in affection, transfer of "patrimony" and in strategies for collective reproduction. The dislocation of the households also induces the production of new property relations and distribution strategies at the centre of which are children and youth;
  • The precarious situation of youths in the context of the HIV/AIDS pandemic warrants a redefinition of the role of the elderly members of society who can no longer take for granted the intermediary function usually carried out by the youth as the bearers of the renewal and continuity of social groups
  • Faced with the pandemic, youths will certainly develop new strategies in their choice of partners, social relations and lifestyle - attitudes that are also expressed through cultural media (music, dance, clothes, paintings, sports etc.). Such changes in the behaviour of youths depend on individual perceptions of the disease and its consequences, which in turn derives from the influence of the currently globalised cultural environment;
  • The vulnerability of children and youths in this era of HIV/AIDS also reflect, in a complex manner the dangers associated with prevalent practices and behaviour, furthermore, they affect gender relations in general;
  • It would be of great interest to evaluate the actions (prevention, care and social rehabilitation) initiated by NGOs and state social services to respond to and accommodate the needs of children and youths in HIV/AIDS-affected families

Participants in the Institute will be encouraged to undertake a critical review of the literature that has been produced on children and the youth in the context of HIV/AIDS pandemic; analyse evidence emerging from field studies which they have undertaken or emanating from other sources; re-think received conceptual, theoretical and methodological tools in the light of the challenges posed by the need to develop fresh insights into the transformation of social relations and practices in the wake of the pandemic; and sharpen their own research interventions through the production of publishable reports on a given aspect of the theme of the 2003 session. In order to assist the participants in the realisation of these goals, the resources of th CODESRIA Centre for Documentation and Information (CODICE), as well as the expertise of invited resource persons will be made available to them.

December 28 2009