Who are Malawi's Orphaned & Vulnerable children?

UNICEF defines an Orphan in Malawi “as a child under the age of 18 years who has lost one or both parents through death.” A Vulnerable Child is, “one who lacks proper care and support and basic necessities of life such as food, love and shelter and these include children living on the streets, children in families with sick parents and parents with disabilities or guardians, abandoned and neglected children that lack proper care even when parents may be alive as well as children in conflict with the law.”

What challenges do orphans face?

There are numerous threats that orphans face each day: poverty, the direct and indirect affects of AIDS, lack of proper nourishment, no access to healthcare, lack of resources to stay in school or inability to attend school due to household demands. There are also severe emotional and psychological effects due to these extreme conditions.


An estimated 770,000 children in Malawi are orphaned due to AIDS. At least 180,000 children are living with HIV.


Most orphans do not receive the benefit of adult supervision and guidance. Many have to fend for themselves or work menial jobs to earn a meal for the day. 


A nutritious meal is a luxury for most orphans. Nearly 50% of children under 5 years of age have stunted development. More than 6 out of 10 children are estimated to be anemic.


Only 6% of orphans receive educational support. Almost 30% of poor children fail to start primary school, which is free in Malawi.


7 out of 10 child deaths in Malawi are due to preventable causes such as malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, anemia, malnutrition and neonatal causes. Only 6% of orphans receive any type of medical support.


Girls average less than 7 years of school, in part due to high teen pregnancy rates. The Malawi Demographic and Health Survey indicates that 152 out of every 1,000 girls between ages 15 and 19 become pregnant.