The impact that HIV/AIDS is having on livelihoods deserves the full attention of project managers. It is not unusual for projects to not anticipate - or to ignore altogether - the specific needs and constraints generated by the epidemic. Development projects are thus rendered ineffective or even become irrelevant when the full impact of the epidemic surfaces. It is therefore crucial that HIV/AIDS considerations are systematically incorporated into project cycle management.
The process of project development and implementation more or less follows a standard sequence of steps called the project cycle. While there may be important differences between projects in terms of content and implementation, the recommendations for incorporating HIV/ AIDS considerations into food security and livelihood projects are structured along a simplified version of the cycle, as illustrated below in Figure 2.
It is most effective to consider HIV/AIDS-related issues at the start of the project cycle. The identification of HIV/AIDS as an existing and/or future constraint to achieving nutrition and food security during Step 1 ensures that HIV/AIDS will be incorporated in project interventions.
Figure 2 - The project cycle.
In practice, however, the impacts of the epidemic are not usually considered until Step 3. Here, the sustainability of interventions is assessed, and it is often found - particularly in areas where prevalence rates are already high or rising - that HIV/AIDS-related sickness and death will play a major role in reducing human resource capacity and the ability to implement future activities.
A four-year project in southern Africa was designed to improve nutrition and food security. The vulnerability analysis failed to identify HIV/AIDS-affected households as a specific target group. The project review highlighted this gap and recommended a redesign. The project then carried out an in-depth appraisal and identified orphan-headed households and people living with HIV/AIDS as extremely vulnerable groups. The project designed specific interventions to assist them. Local volunteer organizations are now actively supporting affected households and communities in growing food and caring for those living with HIV/AIDS.
Regardless of whether a project has been designed to address the impacts of the epidemic, a mid-term review can provide an opportunity to evaluate whether the consequences of HIV/ AIDS are inhibiting the project from achieving its objectives. In turn, an assessment can be made of how successful the project was in supporting HIV/AIDS-affected households.
 Karel Callens, Nutrition
Officer, FAO Nutrition Programmes Service.|