Announcement of a publication
The impact of HIV/AIDS and drought on local knowledge systems for agrobiodiversity and food security
Report no 50
This is a publication of the LinKS Project, Gender, biodiversity and local knowledge systems for food security
Drought caused by poor rains in the last four seasons and a high incidence of HIV/AIDS are both long-term crises that create vicious cycles of vulnerability, poverty and food insecurity. This study was conducted to determine the effects of HIV/AIDS and drought on the local knowledge systems for agro-biodiversity and food security in Swaziland, as recent years have seen an increase in both types of disaster.
The livelihoods approach was used in this study to highlight the linkages between the impact of HIV/AIDS and drought on human, financial and social capital. The study found that there are numerous impacts of HIV/AIDS and drought on the different livelihood assets and the negative impacts are detrimental to food security and local knowledge for agro biodiversity. For example the drought has affected local knowledge for agrobiodiversity and food security in the following manner:
Swaziland has not yet recovered from the drought and is not likely to recover quickly due to the HIV/AIDS pandemic that has exacerbated the situation. Because HIV/AIDS kills certain members of the family who have specific types of knowledge, those who are left behind will never gain this knowledge if they have not yet had the opportunity to learn. Young orphans were particularly at a disadvantage because their parents die at a time when they are still too young to learn.
HIV/AIDS was found to be more prevalent among the youth and able-bodied members of the communities and increases in morbidity and mortality result in the loss of labour for household and agricultural purposes. In some communities this resulted in less cultivated land or no cultivation at all. Households that failed to cultivate had no food available in their households and were food insecure. Due to illness and death, most of the finances were diverted to care for the sick in terms of medical bills, transportation and finally funeral expenses. Moreover, households also experience a loss in income that may be coming into the household through remittances and off-farm employment.
Recommendations are made that could help to improve communitiesí human capital by addressing health care, nutrition labour shortages and skills and knowledge. Financial and social capital can be strengthened by promoting community based initiatives that will build social support systems. Gender inequalities can also be reduced through increasing access to and ownership of resources and focusing extension messages to address the diverse gender roles in the household. Sustainable mitigation strategies will work to improve communitiesí abilities to cope with the negative effects of drought and HIV/AIDS and to lessen their impact on local knowledge and food security.
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