, Volume 71, Issue 2–3, pp 93–106 | Cite as

Queens as Mothers: the role of the traditional safety net of care and support for HIV/AIDS orphans and vulnerable children in Ghana

  • Ragnhild Lund
  • Samuel Agyei-MensahEmail author


The paper examines the significance of the traditional safety net to provide security and help to orphans and vulnerable children (OVC). (Abbreviation OVC, as conceptualised by UNICEF (2001)). It questions the scenario of societal breakdown due to HIV/AIDS by asking how the traditional safety net operates, nature of solutions to the OVC problem it provides and its sustainability. No geographical region in Ghana has been so affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic than the Manya Krobo District in Ghana. While analysing the role of the work of the Manya Krobo Queen Mothers’ Association (QMA) and five private caregivers, the perceptions of three OVC are presented: on how it is to be an OVC, what their dreams and hopes are for the future, and their awareness of HIV/AIDS. It is observed that even though the QMA serves as a good role model for how to address the OVC problem, it has its limitations. The traditional extended family system is under pressure, but not about to break down. As the effectiveness of its support will depend on the contribution of the wider Ghanaian society, localised solutions have to be scaled up to make an impact. Thus, the breakdown scenario needs to be nuanced and contextualised. The vulnerability of the local place under study relates to unemployment and migration, economic poverty and social–cultural marginalisation. These factors are intertwined with the HIV/AIDS epidemic.


Ghana HIV/AIDS Orphans and vulnerable children Queen Mothers 



The authors would like to acknowledge all the individuals and organisations that have contributed with information, particularly our research assistant Kojo Gyabaah, and also Manye Esther Narketie (Vice President of the Manye Krobo Queens Mothers Association). Funding for the preparation of this paper has come from the Norwegian Council of Universities Committee for Development Research and Educations (NUFU) Research Project on the New Faces of Poverty in Ghana. We also appreciate the excellent comments and inputs provided by the anonymous reviewers of Geojournal and Catriona Turner.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyNorwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)TrondheimNorway
  2. 2.Geography and Resource DevelopmentUniversity of GhanaAccraGhana

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