Currently in Swaziland there are approximately 120,000 orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) and this number is predicted to increase to approximately 200,000 in coming years. Similar rates of orphaning would result in over 18.5 million orphans in the USA, demonstrating the scale of the problem facing Swaziland.
The abundance of orphans is a result of deaths due to AIDS, and more specifically the hollowing out of the economically productive age groups (age 15-64). This has lead to an increasing dependency ratio, a ratio that highlights the relationship between the numbers of people who are economically active (15-64 years) compared to those either too young or too old to work. The higher the ratio of economically dependent people per economically active person, the more resources are diverted from future use to care for dependents.
Approximately 50% of all Swazi households are now caring for orphans and most are cared for by grandparents or other elderly relatives, many of whom do not have the ability to work and have no income to support these children. This has been a major contributor to an increasing number of households descending into poverty.