Creating monitoring systems
Response strategies need to be monitored and evaluated to assist in the design and implementation of more effective programmes to alleviate the impacts of HIV/AIDS on rural livelihoods and food security. A preliminary analysis of vulnerable groups such as people living with HIV/AIDS and their families and orphans at the outset of any activity is essential. This will enhance understanding not only of the impacts of HIV/AIDS but also the underlying dynamics of poverty and empowerment in the local community, thus enabling projects to be responsive to the problems posed by HIV/AIDS.
In addition, participatory monitoring systems should be developed so that the people themselves can measure progress. A number of international tools to measure vulnerability already exist. These systems need to systematically incorporate HIV/AIDS indicators into regular data collection.
To achieve this, new indicators and appropriate methodologies need to be developed. Local mapping and the production of vulnerability profiles of regions and countries are of the highest importance. Differentiated profiles will allow interventions to be adapted to the needs and capacities of HIV/AIDS-affected communities and build on existing response strategies.
Although general patterns of the impact of HIV/AIDS on the agricultural sector are widely known, there is limited regional knowledge or more specific knowledge on the impact on fishing communities, pastoralists, trading communities, farming systems and the commercial sector. This knowledge is essential to design appropriate responses.
The risk of not understanding the complex dynamics between HIV/AIDS and poverty is that interventions can exacerbate existing problems. The situation of widows, orphans and young people are principal areas of concern. As these groups are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of HIV/AIDS, all interventions aimed at poverty alleviation should ensure that resources are invested in addressing their needs.