"As in many Sub-Saharan countries, the issue of orphan-care has risen to the top of social protection agenda in Malawi, where the prevalence of orphaned children has dramatically increased because of early deaths of parents infected by the HIV/AIDS virus...In Malawi, most orphans, whether in rural or urban areas, live in households of the surviving parent or close relatives, not in institutional homes. This means that orphan-related policy and/or public assistance programs have to operate, not directly with the orphaned children themselves, but through the agency of the household unit they live in. Understanding the state of orphaned children living in these households is therefore important for policy. Further, it is also necessary to assess the extent to which public assistance programs can successfully target their service to orphan-caring households and ensure that benefits actually accrue to the orphan child in the household." -- from Author's Introduction.