Mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS: Enhancing short-term agricultural productivity

Natural woodlands as safety nets. Non-wood forest products, such as these mushrooms, can provide a source of income and nutrition for HIV/AIDS affected households. (Photo: S. Kolberg)

HIV/AIDS fundamentally changes the household structure, resulting in elderly and orphaned households, and reduces the availability of labour, the area under cultivation and capital for agricultural investment. Such changes can be disastrous for the short-term production and longer-term productivity of the agricultural sector. The change in household structure means that the burden of household work, child care and care of the sick multiplies. In addition, inequality in women¿s access to and control of resources - formal community institutions, credit, and land - means that widowed households are marginalized more than other affected households. Marginalized households either do not have reliable access to land, or due to a combination of illness and death do not have the labour resources to cultivate their land effectively. Village customs pertaining to funerals, burial ceremonies and inheritance can also preclude what labour is available from implementing agricultural practices in a timely manner in the seasonal calendar. Increasingly households resort to natural and customary woodlands for nutrition (berries, nuts and bushmeat), income, animal grazing and building materials. In many villages, basic pharmaceutical drugs are not available and households rely entirely on medicinal plants, shrubs and trees from their farms and the surrounding woodlands and forests. Wild plants and trees are for many households the only source of mitigation of opportunistic infections arising from HIV/AIDS infection.

HIV/AIDS and the Miombo Woodlands of Mozambique & Malawi: An Exploratory Study
Presentation prepared for annual meeting of Conservation International
May 4, 2004
Washington, DC
last updated:  Friday, May 21, 2004