Orphans living with siblings

Export Indicator

The percentage of orphans who are not living in the same household with all their siblings under the age of 18.
What it measures

To assess the extent to which orphans are separated from their siblings.


This indicator assesses family capacity and community capacity to keep orphan siblings together in one household. Generally, sibling connections and attachments are even closer than usual when there has been inadequate parental care and nurture. Helping siblings remain together on the death of their parent(s) is therefore another way of strengthening orphans' ability to cope. Many extended families disperse orphaned siblings among different households to share the cost of their care. Interventions that enable families to keep siblings together help these children recover from their loss, support one another and remain in their own community. Siblings who are living together in foster care tend to have fewer emotional and behavioural problems than those who are living separately.


Number of orphans who do not live in the same household as their biological siblings ages 0–17.


Number of orphans who have siblings ages 0–17.

Method of measurement

In the household-listing module of a household survey, the head of the household is asked whether all biological siblings (under age 18) of each child lives in the household. The indicator is limited to biological brothers and sisters to ensure the indicator is collected consistently and to ensure the relatedness of the children.

Measurement frequency

Age group:

Education: N/A

Gender: N/A

Geographic location: N/A

Pregnancy status: N/A

Sector: N/A

Target: N/A

Time period: N/A

Type of orphan: N/A

Vulnerability status: N/A

Explanation of the numerator
Explanation of the denominator
Strengths and weaknesses

Separation of siblings is often a result of life processes, and eventually happens to most children. It is therefore important to exclude these ‘natural’ separation events from the forced separation due to orphanhood during childhood. Siblings who are separated due to marriage or further schooling should therefore be excluded. By limiting the focus of the siblings to under age 18, most of the bias will be avoided. Economically, it might not be feasible to always keep siblings together. Communities should be sensitized, however, on the need for siblings to have opportunities to be together, particularly in the immediate years after the death of their parent(s). For that reason, siblings should, as far as possible, remain in the same community in the event that one family is not able to care for them all. It would therefore be useful to add a question on the frequency of visits between siblings.
For this analysis, an orphan is considered as separated if one or more of his/her siblings aged 0–17 years are living outside of the sampled household. Orphans with a larger number of siblings are more likely to be separated on the death of parents. Therefore, when possible, it is important to tabulate the results by overall number of siblings (1, 2–3, 4+ children).

Further information