Fulfilling the Responsibility to Protect: The Roles of Iddir on Supporting Orphan Children in Bahir Dar City, Ethiopia

Fulfilling the Responsibility to Protect: The Roles of Iddir on Supporting Orphan Children in Bahir Dar City, Ethiopia

Getachew Alebachew Mekonnen (Bahir Dar University, Bahir Dar, Ethiopia)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/IJRCM.2020010103
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Iddirs are traditional community-based organizations (CBOs) primarily established to facilitate burial ceremonies and comforting the bereaved. This study emphasized the additional roles and functions of Iddirs on supporting vulnerable groups of the community. The research has employed a qualitative research method, and it employs in-depth interviews, FGD and document analysis as data gathering instruments. Participants of the study were beneficiaries of Iddir (orphans and their caregivers), Iddir members and Iddir committees. The findings of this study showed that Iddir has significant contribution to improve the life of orphans and their caregivers. The types of care and support provided by Iddir include financial, material, medical, emotional, and psychosocial support. The study also shows that orphans in the area are vulnerable to a range of problems: food insecurity, lack of clothes and footwear, inadequate access to school and school materials, poor health, and physical and sexual abuse, in terms of their severity.
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Iddirs are community-based burial associations established on the basis of neighborhood, ethnicity, sex, and/or work place for the primary purpose of providing funeral services to the members, financial and material support, and give condolences to the bereaved members and their families (Dejene, 2010). Dejene further noted that, Iddirs are non-profit-making organization founded on the bases of solidarity, friendship and mutual support among members. Different studies conducted on this indigenous institution had revealed that about 87% of Ethiopians in urban centers and close to 70% of Ethiopians living in rural areas belong to these Iddirs. This makes this particular traditional institution the most widely spread type of self-help group in the country (Mauri, 2006).

In Ethiopia, there is an old age tradition of caring of orphans, elderly, sick and persons with physical disabilities. Nuclear and extended family members, communities and faith-based organization are the main sources of care and support to those peoples (Tsegaye, 2001). UNAIDS (2010) estimated that of the 16.6 million children (aged 0–17) who have lost one or both parents to AIDS, 14.8 million are in sub-Saharan Africa. Within Ethiopia 5.5 million children, around 6% of the total population, are categorized as orphans or vulnerable children. Orphan and vulnerable children comprise almost 12% of Ethiopia’s total child population. Over 83% of these orphans are living in rural settings of which 855,720 of them are orphaned children as a result of the death of one or both parents due to HIV/AIDS (Save the Children UK, 2008).

The Ethiopian Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS) estimates that 72% of children in the country live with both parents, 14% with mothers only, 3% with fathers only and 11% live with neither of natural parents. The same survey indicated that 18% of Ethiopian households are caring for orphans while 0.6% or 11, 577 households were estimated to be child headed (CSA, 2011).

Ethiopia counts one of the largest populations of orphans in the world. It goes without saying that HIV/AIDS is one of the major factors for the escalation of the number of orphans. It is estimated that 13 percent of children in the country have lost one or both of their parents for various reasons (Zewdineh, 2008). For instance, it is estimated that there are about 867,525 orphans, from these 533,764 (paternal orphans), 208,943 (maternal orphans), and 124,818 dual orphan children in Amhara region (CSA, 2015). However, the estimation varies from organization to organization, about children in difficult circumstances in general and orphans in particular in Bahir Dar. According to (ANRS BOLSA, 2008), there are about 9085 orphans in Bahir Dar city in 2008 (ANRS BOLSA, 2008).

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