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2. Basic profiles of sampled households

The impact of HIV/AIDS on agricultural production or fishing activities varies from household to household depending on basic characteristics of the household. This Chapter therefore presents the study findings on the basic characteristics of sampled household as well as their socio-demographic characteristics.

Household activities and socio-demographic profile

This study covered 313 households, altogether with a total population of 1907 members (i.e., family size estimated at 6 per household). Slightly over a half of household members were female (50.8%). What is very relevant to note is that that almost a third of household members (30.9%) were aged below 10 years, which implies a heavy dependency burden. Slightly more than a fifth of the household members (21.9%) were aged between 11-17, also falling in the age bracket of children.

A majority of the households (61.2%) covered by this study were peasantry involved in crop farming. This represents the general picture of the country where majority of the population is involved in agriculture on small scale using labour intensive technologies, which are greatly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. The other households were involved in livestock farming (17%) and fishing (21.8%).

The study findings indicate dramatic changes in the household structure and composition as a result of HIV/AIDS, which has a bearing on agricultural production. For instance, only less than a half of the sampled households (46.0%) represented what an ideal household should to be in the Ugandan context; both husband and wife alive. Almost a third of the households (30.4%) visited were headed by female adults, and in most cases widows. Over a tenth of the households (14.4%) were headed by a grandfather and 4.5% headed by both grandparents. In both instances, grandparents had taken on the care of their grandchildren whose majority of parents had died of HIV/AIDS related illnesses. As a result of HIV/AIDS, child headed households have emerged (4.2%).

Other salient features are that close to a quarter (23.0%) of all household members had never attended school, and presumably not in position to read HIV/AIDS messages in the print media. On the other hand, 38.6% of household members were attending school. This implies schools can be used as partners in disseminating HIV/AIDS messages.

Over a fifth (22.2%) of household members was "other" relatives to the head of the household, but not the spouse or child. This could imply that these were children of the deceased relatives, i.e. orphans. It is revealed that in only 40.8% of all the household members had both parents alive, while over a quarter (27.1%) of all household members had their both parents dead, and 26.4% had only a mother alive. It can be concluded that a big proportion of household members covered by this study were young orphans, which is further corroborated by the findings on mortality among studied households in the last 10 years preceding this study.

Mortality and Causes

Majority of the households (91.0%) covered by this study had lost a member in the last 10 years. Most of the deaths occurred between ages 20-35 for both sexes, but with females being slightly more than males, and relatively similar between sexes for children below 5 years. Figure 2 summarises deaths in the household by age and sex of the deceased.

Figure 2: Deaths of household member by age and sex

The findings indicate that at below 5 years, the level of mortality between girls and boys is almost the same, but increases for females between 15-35 years. Mortality among males surpassed that of females from age 36 and above. HIV/AIDS was reported to be the major cause of death (56.5%) for household members. While natural causes accounted for 36.3% and others 4.3%.

According to study findings, in a few households (2.9%) deaths was attributed to witchcraft, which key informants indicated that this was rather a defence mechanism or denial of the inevitability as one put it:

We have people who have AIDS, but do not want to believe that they have AIDS due to fear of the inevitable and stigma. They hide behind witchcraft, which gives them some hope together with members of their families, but in the process sell off all the household property in search of a cure from witch doctors and traditional healers [Local Council Chairman, Ngara].

In terms of age, HIV/AIDS related mortality was found highest between 20 - 50 years, but more concentrated between 20-35 years old. This is the age category that is very productive, and hence could unleash adverse implications on agricultural and fishing activities. See Table 2 below.

Table 2: Reported cause of death by age


Age in Years

< 5 %

5-14 %

15-19 %

20-35 %

36-50 %

50 %

HIV/AIDS related







Other natural related





















Don't know













When findings on HIV/AIDS as the reported cause of deaths are analysed by age and district, variations emerge. Rakai district where the first AIDS cases in Uganda were recognised around 1982, reported the highest number of HIV/AIDS related deaths in almost all age categories. For instance, the majority of the infant mortality due to HIV/AIDS was reported highest in Rakai district (52.6%), while 5-14 years is almost similar in all districts except Iganga, which recorded the lowest.

Although Rakai reported highest HIV/AIDS related deaths in almost all age categories, it reported lowest among those aged over 50 years, while Lira reporting the highest for the same age category.

The findings presented in this Chapter have revealed that a number of deaths have occurred in the last 10 years in almost all the households surveyed. These deaths mainly occur among societal members who constitute the bulk of the labour force. This in turn impacts on the economy, and largely on agriculture, which is the backbone of Uganda's economy. Thus, efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, and mitigate the impact remain critical. For MAAIF to contribute to this cause by mainstreaming HIV/AIDS messages into agricultural extension, requires an understanding of current peoples' knowledge of HIV/AIDS, sexual relations and practices, which are presented in the following Chapter.

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