Savings Accounts Improved Health, Lowered Hopelessness for AIDS Orphans in Uganda

Faculty; Global; Research; Social Work

​An intervention integrating child savings accounts with financial literacy and income-generating activities for families with children who have lost parents to HIV/AIDS in Uganda resulted in health and emotional benefits for the children, according to a new study from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

The study is a cost-effectiveness analysis of Bridges to the Future, a randomized control trial that incorporates child savings accounts with financial literacy training and microfinance/income-generating activities for 1,410 schoolchildren orphaned by AIDS. One arm of the intervention provided a 1-1 match incentive for savings accounts, while another arm provided a 2-1 match.

After four years, the study showed that the larger match significantly improved self-rated health, HIV knowledge, self-concept and self-efficacy and lowered hopelessness in children.  The smaller match accounts improved only self-rated health.

“Children who have lost a parent to HIV/AIDS face multiple stressors affecting their health and development,” wrote the study’s senior author, Fred Ssewamala, William E. Gordon Distinguished Professor at the Brown School. “Family economic empowerment interventions have the potential to improve these outcomes and mitigate the risks they face. These findings contribute to the evidence supporting the incorporation of economic empowerment interventions within national social protection frameworks.”

The study was published Dec. 31 in PLOS ONE. Read more here.