• This study responds to regional recommendations to strengthen families as a unit of care within the context of children affected by HIV and AIDS. In particular it addresses the recommendation to strengthen the skills of child, youth and older caregivers with age- and gender-sensitive training, including life and parenting skills, and awareness on sexuality and HIV and AIDS.

    An operations research study was undertaken comprising a literature review and qualitative field research with older carers and children in seven countries in eastern and southern Africa. The objective of the research was to better understand intergenerational issues for older carers and children orphaned by AIDS and identify policy gaps, lessons learnt, and good practices with regards to support mechanisms for the enhancement of intergenerational relationships.

    The study makes a number of recommendations relating to PSS for both older carers and the children they look after base don the findings.
    This study is unique in that it addresses the psychosocial needs of older carers who are engaged in a very common living arrangement in Africa where they are caring for young children. In addition it highlights the mutual PSS gains which can be derived from this type of living arrangement for both older carers and children, with a strong emphasis on ensuring that social protection measures are in place to support these vulnerable households. The study can guide policy-makers and programmers who are seeking guidance on family strengthening and support.

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    • This study looked at a very common living arrangement in Africa where children are living with grandparents, for the most part grandmothers. Despite this common caring relationship, older people are often forgotten in policy and planning. The study shows how the well-being of older people and children in Africa is mutually interdependent and also how given the right support this living arrangement brings much emotional comfort to both children and grandparents. This study provides much needed evidence for those advocating on carers/children’s issues, particularly the need for increased social protection.

    • I also wanted to point out the power of the photos in this study publication. I’m not always a fan of photos of children in the development context for number of reasons but these photos of older people with young babies/children to care for bring home the challenges which many older carers and children face as well as the love and strong bond between them.