Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page

4. Impact of HIV/AIDS on agriculture

This Chapter presents the findings on the impact of HIV/AIDS on agricultural production. The impact of HIV/AIDS is analysed on the basis of the 3 categories (i) crop farming, (ii) livestock farming, and (iii) fishing. Most studies, which have been carried out on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the economy in general, have tended to focus on crop farming with less attention on livestock farming. In this study attempts were made to analyse the impact of HIV/AIDS on livestock farming.

The socio-economic dynamics in fishing communities unlike in crop and livestock farming communities make them more susceptible to HIV infection, and the impact of the epidemic. The impact of HIV/AIDS on fishing can, first and foremost, be appreciated by examining the basic characteristics of household members involved in fishing in the lake.

4.1. Impact of HIV/AIDS on crop farming

The impact of HIV/AIDS on the agricultural sector is quite visible in districts that have been hard hit by the epidemic. This has far reaching implications since agriculture accounts for 43% of GDP, 85% of export earning and 80% of employment. In addition, 85% of the estimated 22 million Uganda's total population live in rural areas and depend mainly on agriculture (GoU, 2000). Since most agricultural activities take place in rural areas, where farmers mainly using labour intensive techniques live, and have been much vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, it has resulted into decline of agricultural production in general, and food production in particular. Many communities whose source of income, food and general livelihood is agriculture have registered negative growth due to HIV/AIDS. In this study, empirical data on the impact of HIV/AIDS on agricultural production is analyzed.

Type of crops

In all the 4 districts, farmers were small landholders, majority owning less than 8 acres of land, and using labour intensive techniques in their cultivation; a hoe, pang and axe. Most of the households were growing crops on small portions of land, while big portions of land were not cultivated. Most of the crops both for food and sale were labour intensive crops, most susceptible to HIV/AIDS.

Tubers such as cassava, yams, sweet potatoes etc, which seem not to be much labour intensive such as bananas (matooke) were the dominant food crops in all districts except Mbarara. Legumes such as beans, groundnuts, peas were the second dominant crops followed by cereals. In areas of Mbarara and Rakai, which are matooke growing areas, it is becoming evident that HIV/AIDS has had its toll as only less than a half of the households in respective areas reported matooke as their dominant food crop.

In the four districts, there were no marked cash crops. The food crops doubled as crops for sale, but also among few households. Most households, which, sold off crops mainly cereals (rice, millet, and maize), were in Lira and Iganga. In the districts of Mbarara and Rakai very few households had crops to sell.

As a proxy indicator of the impact of HIV/AIDS, respondents were asked whether there were certain crops, which they used to grow, but were no longer growing in the last 10 years preceding this study. Several households (64.8%) indicated that there were certain crops, which they used to grow in the past, but were no longer growing. Most of these households (i.e., over a tenth, 12.8% had stopped growing cereals such as millet, sorghum, maize etc. The dominant reason for not growing such crops was cited to be lack of labour in almost a fifth of the sampled households (19.2%). In a few households it was as due to pests and diseases as a result of poor management, infertile soils and lack of market.

In a situation where there are small landholders, it would be expected that much if not all the land would be under cultivation in crop growing communities. However, the study findings revealed that a big proportion of the households (60.1%) had unused land or gardens that had reverted into bush due to lack of manpower. When this was cross tabulated by districts, majority of such households were in Lira (82%) and Rakai (64%) districts.

Social maps drawn by community members in Lira indicated a number of households than had been affected by HIV/AIDS related deaths, with gardens that had reverted to bush. Households with unused land that was formerly under cultivation attributed it to lack of labour, lack of money to hire labour and conversion of cultivable land into grazing pastures etc.

Trend/pattern of agricultural production

Household respondents were requested to comment on the household's agricultural production in the last 10 years so as to link with possible effects of HIV/AIDS. Majority of the household respondents (76.9%) revealed that their respective households had experienced decreased agricultural production in the last 10 years.

A number of factors, all related with HIV/AIDS explain the general pattern/trend of decreased agricultural production such as depletion of labour force and increased workload due to increased dependency burden, loss of skills and knowledge, and income disruption.

Several studied households (66.9%) mentioned shortages of labour to be behind decreased agricultural production in their households. In almost a fifth of the sampled households, labour shortages were directly linked to HIV/AIDS related deaths.

Accordingly, AIDS undermines agricultural systems, affects the nutritional situation and food security of rural families. Families face declining productivity as well as loss of knowledge about indigenous farming methods and loss of assets (Focus, 2001). FAO estimates that in the 25 most-affected African countries, AIDS has killed seven million agricultural workers since 1985. It is forecasted that 16 million people will die of AIDS in the next 20 years. Labour intensive farming systems with a low level of mechanisation and agricultural input are particularly vulnerable to AIDS. Given the fact that AIDS is concentrated among the 15 - 45 years old, who are most able bodied, then agriculture suffers most in terms of production and market for the accruing products.

For women who are the main producers generally shoulder the burden of caring for the sick. This diverts their energies from agricultural production and general work that would provide income. The result is household food insecurity, declining nutrition and health. Thus, the decline in women's contributions to agriculture, as a result of their own illness or that of family members, reduces agricultural productivity and household food security. This is especially devastating given women's key role in the agricultural work force and in the production of most subsistence food crops.

Labour loss and depletion as a result of HIV/AIDS partly occurs due to high dependency burden, coupled with structural changes in family structure. Situations where frail grandparents are increasingly assuming roles of able-bodied persons to care for the children of their late sons and daughters are common. In such households, food production declines, and the family becomes perpetually food insecure. A household case in Ngara area, Nyakayejo illustrates the point.

Case 1: Food Insecurity in a Grandfather Headed Household

Paulo, a widower aged 80 years old lives in Ngara village, Nyakayejo Sub-county in Mbarara district with 5 grandchildren who are orphans aged 5,7,8, years who were left behind by his daughter and a son who died of AIDS. Paulo narrates, "I used to be self-reliant, hardworking, supplemented my little income from farming with carpentry work, but when my children died, leaving behind children and nobody else to take them up except me, my life changed. I am not only a grandfather to these children, but a father and a mother at this advanced age.... I am now sick and cannot afford to dig or to do carpentry work any more after an operation I underwent, coupled with old age. It puts me in great pain, for I don't know what will happen to these children once I die as they all depend on me".

The old man has a banana plantation, but the biggest part is overgrown with weed due to lack of enough manpower. Together with the orphans, they cannot carry out meaningful cultivation even though the orphans are not attending school. There has been sharp reduction in food for consumption available for the family as the old man continued narrating, "even now when I am still alive, we do not have enough to can see that young one (pointing to the youngest orphan) is gloomy not because he is sick or has been punished, but because he has not eaten anything since morning". As a coping mechanism, the household feeds on one meal (supper) a day, and take some local porridge for lunch.

The above case illustrates how HIV/AIDS has changed the family structure, with frail grandparents assuming responsibilities of "fathers and mothers", but yet cannot meaningfully execute such roles of fending for the family. The case also points to occurrences of food insecurity among HIV/AIDS affected households and psychological trauma. When the grandparent is preoccupied with "what will happen" to his grandchildren after his death, it points to, among others, the need for psychosocial support, and deliberate programmes to help such families.

The relationship between change of family structure as a result of HIV/AIDS and reduction in agricultural production is more evident in this study as all households headed by grandparents or children themselves, reported decreased agricultural production.

Declined agricultural production and consequently food insecurity were markedly prevalent in grandparent and child headed households than in other households. A case of a grandmother headed household illustrates the trend of agricultural production in such households.

Case 2: Declined agricultural production and food insecurity in a grandmother headed household

Agellina, a widow and grandmother aged 65 years old lives in Kakuto Parish, Kigayaga village, Rakai district. In a small mud and wattle iron roofed house, lives 10 people (4 males and 6 females), 8 of whom aged below 14 years old. All the nine other members of the household are her grandchildren who were orphaned by AIDS. Agellina had produced 4 children, three of whom died of HIV/AIDS related illnesses in 1990s together with their spouses, leaving behind 9. Six of her grandchildren including the eldest who is 14 years old have dropped out of school partly due to lack of other school necessities (i.e., save for tuition, which is covered under Universal Primary Education), and to supplement the grandmother's failing input on the small banana plantation.

The family depends on a small plantation for it food requirements and beans grown in the banana plantation. The family has some land of 2.5 acres reserved for cultivation, but can only cultivate less than an acre. According to Angellina "the family does not have labour to tend to both the plantation and the garden of beans", and hence have been exposed to weevil and pest infestation.

The family has witnessed declined food production and consumption as well. The children playing in the courtyard looked hungry and malnourished. The grandmother in touching emotions observed, "we only have one meal a day, and also not adequate...we let the small ones first eat...a type of life that they were not used to".

Angellina is planning to sell part of 2.5 acres of land so as to raise some income for meeting the basic necessities including food for the family.

The above case shows how changes have occurred in family structure due to HIV/AIDS and the attendant consequences of decreased agricultural production. This finding is supported by findings from secondary sources. For instance, according to UAC (March 2001), Uganda has the highest proportion of AIDS orphans in the whole world. By the end of 1999 UAC estimated that over 1.7 million children below 15 years had lost one or both parents to AIDS.

However, a dimension in the above case that did not feature in the case of Paulo in Mbarara is weevil/disease infestation due to poor management of gardens. Some of these diseases were as a result of poorly or unattended gardens/banana plantations due to labour depletion resulting from of HIV/AIDS. Some of the diseases and pests included banana steak virus mainly in Kyotera county, coffee wilt, beans bacterial, fungal and viral, sweet potato caterpillars and cassava green mites etc. Cassava mosaic which used to be a problem in most areas was reported to be on the decrease due to the introduction of new resistant/tolerant varieties from the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO). Also in the above case, a new dimension of selling the family property such as land in order to cope with the new demands arising from HIV/AIDS emerges.

A lot of literature points to similar situations in several parts of the country that have been hard hit by HIV/AIDS. For instance, FAO (2001) summarised the impact of AIDS on a once wealthy rural agricultural community of Gwanda in Rakai district. HIV/AIDS was reported to have resulted into loss of labour, poor land use, increased pests and plant diseases, livestock decline and food insecurity. All these put together have resulted into massive poverty, and undermining of sustainable development. Apart from reduction in incomes accruing from the agricultural sector, decline in food production which, culminates into food insecurity has adverse impact on PLHA in particular. Decline in production of local foods implies that the nutritional requirements for PLHA are not met, which affects their life span.

Further, the affected and afflicted family, and the wider community feel the impact of HIV/AIDS through reduced agricultural production. Culturally, when death occurs in most parts of Uganda, community members take off time for burial and in some instance observing the mourning period i.e., not attending to their gardens. Eeven in majority households where a member had not died in the last 10 years, reported decreased food production.

Both quantitative and qualitative data revealed that as a result of HIV/AIDS, crop-farming households were faced with the following:

It was reported in some communities in all the 4 districts that in situation of poverty, orphans and widows have been dispossessed of their properties by the relatives of the deceased father/husband. Lack of awareness of property rights, corruption and lack of money by orphans and widows pose barriers for them to seek justice. An in-depth case study of the widow, Sarah explains the point at hand.

Case 3 - Property rights, agricultural production and food security.

Sarah aged 39 years and living with HIV/AIDS lost her husband in May 2000 over HIV/AIDS related illness. She lives in Senkoma village, Kyebe Sub-county with her 3 children; the youngest aged 3 and the oldest 12. Narrating her situation to the researcher, Sarah contends that the family used to be rich before the onset of AIDS. Together with the late husband, they struggled to put up a 3 bed-roomed permanent house after realising that they were HIV positive. The couple jointly made the bricks, but in the evening Sarah would leave for the market to trade in smoked/dried fish so as to supplement the family income. Sarah narrates that all the property that the family had was jointly worked together, although the relatives of the late husband were trying to grab the family property.

Sarah revealed that as much as the husband knew that he had HIV/AIDS, he did not make a will, despite the constant pleas of the wife. In may 2000, the husband passed away without making a will. When the husband became critically ill, with no hope to recover, her mother in-law and sister in laws started apportioning blame on her that she was responsible for the disease that had afflicted her husband. Sarah narrated that this was to lay a background and a pretext for grabbing the family property upon the deaths of her husband. Indeed, when the husband passed away, during the period of mourning, the mother in-law and her daughters succeeded in grabbing part of the family property, and dispossessing her of the small banana plantation, claiming that the late son had not been given the banana plantation officially. The in-laws were now threatening to evict her, in her words; "evicting me from the very house I built with my husband". The plantation, which was taken away from her exhibited all indications of not being attended to; overgrown weed, banana trees that were not pruned and attacked by weevils..

Sarah whose health had started failing and having lost one of the children possibly over HIV/AIDS related illness with another child very sick, found herself with no money to seek legal redress having spent all that she had on medical bills and feeding. She conceded that it was doubtful that even if she had money to seek redress in the courts of law she would succeed as she was not married legally. She tried to take the case to the local committee, but the case was yet to be put on the agenda. As she was not in a legal marriage she has met a lot of difficulties for her case to be heard by the local council, where it has been on for a while. Even if her health was not failing her, the widow has no land to cultivate and only survives on petty trading, though it can not generate much income.

The children no longer go to school due to lack of money as the little she earns is meant for covering medical bills and food. As to why she doe not take advantage of Universal Primary Education, she answered, do not have money to buy uniforms and other scholastic materials, and also children are giving a hand in looking for food for the family by hiring their labour.

Critical issues that need attention in the fight of HIV/AIDS and mitigation of its impact, which arise from the above case and which could be focused on in mainstreaming HIV/AIDS into agricultural extension include:

Impact of HIV/AIDS on various agricultural aspects

Respondents in crop farming communities were asked to comment on the effects of HIV/AIDS in their own households as well as other households in the community. A number of agricultural aspects were formulated and view sought from respondents. The findings, which largely indicate adverse impact, are shown in Table 3.

Table 3: Effects of HIV/AIDS on aspects of crop farming


Effects of HIV/AIDS of farming aspects

Respondent's household

Other households in community

Aspect of crop farming

Decreased %

Increased %

Same %

Can't Tell %

Decreased %

Increased %

Same %

Can't tell %

Food crops grown









Cash crops grown









Amount of food consumed









Sale of agricultural produce









Farm labour









Income from crops









Both in the respondents' households and community, the effects were adverse with income from crops being most affected. HIV/AIDS leads to income disruption and eventually cessation as able-bodied people in society succumb to the epidemic, while others have their productive time diverted from farm production to attend to the sick or burials and funerals. At the same time, household expenditures rise to meet medical bills and funeral expenses. As reported by FAO (2001), while the number of productive family members decline, the number of dependants grow. These realities endanger both short-term and long-term household food security.

Loss of skills and knowledge/technology transfer loss

HIV/AIDS has been documented to be eroding the skills and knowledge acquired as people die in their prime age before passing on knowledge and expertise to the next generation. The impact of HIV/AIDS on this aspect is well illustrated in a household headed by a 19-year-old male who started assuming family headship when he was around 16 years old.

Case 4: Food Production and Security in an Orphan Headed Household

At 19 years old, John who is an orphan residing in Nyakayojo, Mbarara District has been a family head for the last 3 years, although the family members are not his wife and children, rather his two sisters aged 17 and 14, and the young brother aged 11 years. Their father and mother died in 1996 and 1998 respectively. They stay in a small mud and wattle iron roofed house. With financial assistance from a relative, the older sister goes to a nearby secondary school as a day student. Both the young sister and brother are in primary school. After the death of their mother, John who was in secondary school stopped schooling so as to attend to his younger sisters and brother. The family owned 4.5 hectares of land where they grew basically food crops for home consumption and a little surplus for sale. In addition, they had some animals; cows and goats. The father who became ill first, and without responding to modern medication suspected the cause of his ill health to be witchcraft related resulting from a of a land dispute with his neighbour, and hence opted for traditional treatment. To meet the exorbitant charges of the various traditional healers, he depleted all the little savings the family had. When this was not enough, he sold off the family animals as well as offering some to the traditional healers as a form of payment.

Finally, he passed away in 1996 leaving the family with almost nothing. The little that was remaining was spent on an elaborate burial and funeral ceremony as he had willed.

Almost two years after, the widow started developing ill health. Without any source of income, the family sold off 1.5 out of 4.5 hectares of land to meet household needs including medical costs of the ailing widow and mother. In 1998, she passed away, again leaving the household more impoverished. After the death of his mother, John started selling off the remaining animals until there was none to sell, while the banana plantation and gardens had reverted into bush as much time had been spent nursing their late father and eventually their mother.

The family was facing severe shortages of food having opted to grow less labour intensive crops such as cassava. Thus, apart from shortages of food, the quality of the food taken by the household had tremendously declined. John summarised the quality of food consumed, "...we are lucky that we do not have a small baby here, otherwise it would suffer from kwashiorkor as we only feed on cassava and posho unlike in the past when we had a balanced diet". To cope with the situation, John is making bricks for sale where he spends most of his day, but still this does not generate sufficient income to cover household needs. The communal cultivation group which together with some youths in the village had formed as a way of coping with labour shortages and to increase food production collapsed after members realised that the whole venture was not profitable.

John does not know what the future holds for the family if he failed to get an income generating project that provides sufficient income unlike the brick-making project that he was involved in. He summarised the predicament:

"I do not know how I can get capital to start up some retail trading which can generate some income. If the situation remains like this we shall definitely starve more, and as funding for the tuition for my sister in secondary is not certain, she will drop out, while the youngest sister and brother will not continue with education after their primary schooling as there is no Universal Secondary Education as yet".

In the above case, some lessons, which can guide mainstreaming HIV/AIDS messages into agricultural production, are evident. These are:

A man feeding goats in Uganda, © FAO

4.2. Impact of HIV/AIDS on livestock farming

Types of livestock kept

The type of animals kept by the 53 households studied included cattle, goats, sheep and pigs. Slightly over a tenth (13.2%) of the households in the pastoral communities reported to have no cattle at all as all the cows had either been sold off to meet family needs resulting from HIV/AIDS, died due to poor management or stolen after the death of able-bodied household members. The distribution of households by animal kept is shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Type of animals kept

In households where cows were no more, members were keeping other animals such as pigs (basically in Rakai), goats and sheep. These animals were, however, being kept in small numbers as they were the basic source of income for the household, and hence were constantly being sold off to meet family needs.

Problems faced by livestock farmers as a result of HIV/AIDS

Like in crop farming communities, livestock farmers faced a range of problems as a result of HIV/AIDS. In households that had been afflicted and affected by HIV/AIDS, the impact was severe as 17 households (32%) reported it involved uncontrollable selling of animals in order to meet the emerging needs such as medical care.

In over a quarter of the households (26.4%) reported death of livestock was attributed to lack of care and poor management practices that arise as a result of members' sickness and death. The situation was reported to be more severe in a household where the breadwinner is having HIV/AIDS or died of related illness. The case of Maria, a widow in one of the pastoral communities of Mbarara explains the point at hand.

Case 5: Effects of HIV/AIDS on livestock farming

Maria, a young widow of 35 years, lives in a pastoral community of Katerananga in Rubaya Sub-county, Kashari county, Mbarara District. Her husband died of AIDS related illness in March 1999. She is survived by five orphans, the last being twins, born two months after the death of her husband. The twins could be infected with HIV, as they have been sickly ever since they were born, and look as if they are few months old.

Maria narrates that the family was quite prosperous before the husband fell sick and eventually died. They had several cows and a shop in the nearby Biharwe Trading Centre. As business flourished, the husband relocated to Kampala while Maria stayed behind to supervise the herdsmen who were looking after cattle. Maria says that while in Kampala, her husband entered a partnership with a businesswoman, with whom they developed a sexual relationship, and "possibly with many others". Maria believes that it was when the late husband relocated to Kampala that he possibly got infected with HIV.

Maria and her children live in a semi-permanent house with corrugated iron sheets. Three of the children are in primary school, while the twins whose health is declining consume much of Maria's time attending to them. At the time of her husband death, the family was left with 52 heads of cattle, which have reduced to 26 not as a result of selling, but deaths due to lack of care and management. Maria cannot engage the paid herdsmen who the husband employed, as she has no money to pay, while she is confined at home looking after the small children.

Maria is attending TASO clinic in Mbarara town. She complains of having little means of survival as the source of household income i.e., cattle are getting depleted over death and sales. She laments with tears; "It is strange for a family that was once self-sustaining in crop, animals, and business, to start begging for food and money from neighbours, friends, and few relatives".

Maria looks up in deep thoughts thinking about the future of her children, and remarks; "even if at the time of my death I leave cows and land to my children, they will be grabbed by the relatives or get stolen as the children are still young, and above all, I am very weak now to work for the family, and constantly traumatised about what will happen next to my small children".

Apart from the above problems, livestock farmers faced other problems, which coupled with the effects of HIV/AIDS, were making the situation worse. Thieves were reported by 23 households (43%) to be on rampage, and often the victims were reported to households headed by widows or where a family head was absent.

Labour as a problem faced by cattle keepers was mentioned in over a third of all the sampled households (34.0%). However, it was only in about a tenth (9.4%) of the cattle keeping households that lack of labour was directly linked to HIV/AIDS. Instead, majority of the households (22.6%) linked labour shortages to the mandatory policy of Universal Primary Education, whereby families are obliged to send children to primary schools that would otherwise be attending to cattle.

Mobility and HIV/AIDS

Unlike in crop farming communities where people do not move and spend days away while cultivating, the situation is rather different in pastoral communities. This mobility can contribute to HIV infection as people might seek sexual relationships in the absence of their partners. In slightly over a quarter of the sampled pastoral households, some household members were reportedly spending several days away grazing animals without returning home especially during the dry season. Most of the household members who were engaged in grazing animals away from home were mainly men and unmarried. These findings point to challenges that can be encountered by extension staff to disseminate HIV/AIDS information and messages to the biggest proportion of males who are always away especially during the dry season, and the unmarried community members.

Arriving on the landing site, ©FAO

The impact of HIV/AIDS on fishing will be covered in the next section (4.3).

4.3. Impact of HIV/AIDS on fishing

Household members involved in fishing

Majority of the 67 respondents who were involved in fishing on the lake were aged 18-30 years old (n=53, 80%), which is an age category vulnerable to HIV infection. 49.3% of the people involved in fishing were married and 46.3 had never been married.

The age and marital statuses of people involved in fishing greatly expose them to HIV infection as majority spend most of their daytime in recreation and merriment, waiting to go fishing at night. In all landing sites and fishing communities, several community members especially young men seemed to be redundant, spending most of the day in drinking sprees. In relatively stable fishing communities, fishing was combined with cultivation, and hence a sizeable proportion (29.1%) affirmed that they spent their day working in their small gardens, while night was for fishing.

In over a half (53.3%%) of the households in fishing communities, household members were reported to be spending several days away from home on fishing activities ranging from a week to over a month. This type of life involving either being away at night or spending days away from one's home can be sexually tempting, consequently leading to the spread of HIV/AIDS. On the other hand, women not involved in fishing on the lake were reported to be involved in a number of activities, most of which exposed them to sexual advances by men such as majority selling in bars and hotels. In Table 5, 14.7% of the respondents noted that some women in the landing sites were involved in prostitution.

Table 5: Role of women in fishing communities

* Reported Role



Crop farming



Smoking fish



Selling food stuffs



Shop attending



Working in bars/hotels






Household related chores






* Multiple answers allowed

The above findings were corroborated by observations by the study team in the landing sites where people lead an "urban" type of life. In such situations, intensive HIV/AIDS campaigns need to be mounted.

Effect of HIV/AIDS on Fishing

HIV/AIDS in Uganda was first identified among the fishing communities/landing sites of Lukunyu and Kasesero in Rakai district. Given the nature of the fishing activity which involves seasonal migration and a lot of mobility, it enhances the possibilities of HIV infection. In all key informant interviews, it was revealed that death among fishermen has been common in landing sites as one key informant put it:

Fishermen have died in big numbers, which has paralysed fishing...The rest migrate to other landing sites where they spread the infection or get infected. [Iganga]

On the other hand, there were general reports pointing to reduction in fish catch as a result of HIV/AIDS morbidity and mortality. Like in farming and pastoral communities, availability of labour is critical for the survival of the activity. More significantly, in fishing using traditional gear or equipment demands a lot of energy, which an infected person might not have. A key informant had this to say:

Fishing, mongering and processing are all related, and these activities are so demanding such that people infected with HIV/AIDS give up as their health starts deteriorating. AIDS hits the target group who go fishing. To make matters worse, majority of the fishermen fail to afford treatment after exhausting the little income they have saved over time on the sickness [Bwonndha Landing Site]

It was also found out that often a number of young men are employed to carry out fishing by rich individuals who own fishing equipment/gear. In the event that the employer dies, all the employees lose jobs as adduced in one focus group discussion:

When the owner of the boats and nets dies of AIDS, all his employees lose jobs...and also all the properties get lost mysteriously. Consequently the formerly employed youths if they fail to get another rich man to employ them, they end up getting involved in taking marijuana, raping girls and general thuggery, which contribute to the spread of HIV [Male, Kasensero village]

Like in crop farming and livestock farming communities where surviving relatives take on orphans of deceased relatives, and hence affecting the agricultural production in various ways, fishing communities are also not free of such effects. A case of Abdullah in Bukagabo illustrates the point.

Case 6: Cessation of Fishing Activity and Need for Modern Fishing Equipment.

Abdullah aged 27 years resides in Bukagabo Landing site in Malongo Sub-county, Mayuge district. Abdullah at 27 years old is in a polygamous relationship (i.e., has 2 wives) with whom they have a number of children. Two years ago the family size witnessed an unprecedented increase. Abdullah's brother died of AIDS leaving behind five children with their mother. The widow (Abdullah's sister in law) for a few months after the death of her husband stayed with the children, but as life became difficult she decided to abandon the children with their uncle (Abdullah), and her whereabouts have been unknown.

Faced with the big size of the family, coupled with overwhelming household demands, Abdullah's main source of income; fishing using traditional gear/equipment failed to generate sufficient income. He opted to leave fishing, start up some retail business, while the rest of the family members got involved in small fish processing activities such as washing fish,in exchange for token payment either in kind i.e., getting fish in turn or some little money.

Abdullah labours greatly to ensure that the family survives. He believes that if he had his personal fishing equipment especially motorised boat, he would be in position to earn sufficient income and look after the expanded family.

In the case of Abdullah fishing using traditional equipment was no longer sufficient to earn him a living and take care of his expanded family. According to a key informant, there were many fishermen who had abandoned fishing either due lack of energy required of using traditional fishing equipment or their families overwhelming the income accruing from fishing.

Type of Fishing Gear/Equipment

Almost all the fishing households covered in this study were using traditional fishing equipment/gear, which included local boats (without engines), baskets, buckets, hooks and spears. According to the Commissioner of Fisheries in the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, many of the fishermen in Uganda are undercapitalised. It is estimated that fishermen on Lake Victoria alone have 15,000 boat units, out of which 11,000 are traditional requiring muscle power to propel them. The implication here is that they cannot go into the far off waters with the small canoes. Even when the fishermen change locations and go to distant spots, they still concentrate along the shorelines. All people using traditional gear/equipment associated it with the following problems:

Using traditional gear especially canoes is dependent on one's health. Thus, in situation where a fisherman is faced with failing health due to HIV/AIDS, then fishing suffers.

In light of what has been noted above, it can be seen that whereas the impact of HIV/AIDS on crop farming and livestock farming can easily be discerned, that on fishing is not easy to analyze. It can generally be inferred, as applying statistical analysis is possible over a long period.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page