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November 2001

Potential impact of AIDS on farming systems: A case study from Rwanda

by Dr. Stuart Gillespie
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

This work was carried out as a consultant for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Rome

1 December 2001 marks World AIDS Day. This month, the Population service publishes "Potential impact of AIDS on farming systems: A case study from Rwanda". This is one of the first studies commissioned by FAO on the impact of HIV/AIDS. It was carried out in 1988, but its results and conclusions remain valid, although current prevalence rates and numbers of infected persons vastly surpass the WHO estimates of the time.

Dr Stuart Gillespie, a former Research Fellow at the Centre for Human Nutrition of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine currently at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, D.C. assesses the potential impact of AIDS on farming systems in one Central African country - Rwanda. Two epidemologically based projection models of the spread of HIV/AIDS are used to predict the proportion of households losing a productive individual over the next ten years. The projected AIDS mortality rates of different age-sex groups are then related to different levels, type and timing of their respective labour inputs in each type of farming system. Five farming systems within Rwanda are subsequently ranked with respect to their relative sensitivities to the loss of labour through AIDS mortality.

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