Child Fosterage in Namibia: the impact of informal care arrangements upon children’s health and welfare

Victoria Sharley, Emma Leonard, Janetta Ananias, Heather Ottaway - Children and Youth Services Review


This paper reports the findings from a small qualitative study into child fosterage undertaken in Namibia in 2019. The research project is a collaboration between academics at the University of Namibia, Africa, and the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. Workshops were undertaken in Windhoek the capital city of Namibia with five groups including stakeholders and policymakers, children’s practitioners, social workers, parents and carers, and children. The workshops ascertained the thoughts, understandings and individual experiences about child fosterage practice from personal and professional perspectives focusing on the impact of child fosterage upon children’s health and welfare. This paper contributes new and rich insights into the impact of informal care arrangements upon children’s health and welfare. Findings contribute understanding about why child fosterage arrangements are needed, how they negotiated, and how they are experienced by children. Aside from recognizing the complex cultural variations in Namibia’s diverse ethnic groups, findings emphasize the multi-level contextual influences of fosterage practice, and the absence of children’s participation in decisions that govern informal arrangements for their care. With the recent implementation of the Child Care and Protection Act 3 of 2015 and the Act’s emphasis on children’s participation, rights and responsibilities, this paper makes a timely call for the inclusion of children’s voices and wishes in the processes that affect their care and welfare - congruent with article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and article 7 of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.