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Country analysis > Lesotho Last update: 2020-11-27  

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Feedback report on the study of HIV/AIDS and its impacts on land tenure and livelihoods in Lesotho

1. Background

In 2001/2 FAO commissioned a study to determine the impacts of HIV/AIDS on various land issues. Three countries namely, Lesotho, South Africa and Kenya, under the coordination of SARPN-HSRC, participated in the study. In Lesotho, the study was conducted at the national, local and community levels. However, at that time more focus was given to community and household levels where the interactions of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, land and livelihoods were more vivid. The study came up with several conclusions and recommendations relating to policy issues, community relations and livelihoods as well as their various support systems.

On the other hand, the current feedback workshop was made possible through The Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN) support. Some of the major objectives of SARPN are to provide a facility for raising the level and quality of public debate on poverty across Southern African Development Community – SADC; enable debates that lead to formulation and evaluation of social and economic policy making, strategy and implementation at all levels across SADC region; disseminate key information on poverty issues; bring together and network issues related to poverty to Southern African Communities. It is out of this spirit that the SARPN made funds available for feedback workshop on HIV/AIDS and Its Impacts on Land Tenure and Livelihoods in Lesotho to take place. Thus, this report is a follow up activity of the mentioned study that was carried out in the year 2001/2 commissioned by the FAO and SARPN. The workshop was thus meant to share the findings of the FAO study with the participating communities, solicit their reaction an opinions and more importantly to update the previous findings by capturing new developments in regard to HIV/AIDS and its impact on Land.

The initial study that was commissioned by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and Southern African Regional Poverty Network (SARPN) found that HIV/AIDS had negatively impacted on livelihoods of the affected and infected communities in that it had lowered agricultural productivity and affected income sourced from agricultural activities since the infected households could not fully participate in agricultural activities because of the impending labour shortages resulting from prolonged illnesses.

Some of their assets such as livestock were being sold to meet the high medical expenses, particularly during the pre-diagnosis stage and during the time when victims are seriously ill. The loss of income had in turn impacted on the living standards of the affected household resulting in food insecurity, lack of agricultural inputs, poor education levels and lack of basic necessities.

HIV/AIDS pandemic had also reduced the effectiveness of institutions such as Agriculture, Health and LHWP that had experienced loss of trained personnel and resulted in a decline of services offered by them and ability to generate income.

The magnitude of HIV/AIDS prevalence combined with poverty and stigmatisation afforded to AIDS victims had overwhelmed the community support structure and weakened the kinship system consisting of the extended family that used to function as a safety net for societal disaster-situations.

The stigmatisation associated with AIDS had contributed to the widow’s insecurity of land rights. This is despite numerous reviews of land laws and Acts in an effort to make women legal heirs of land. In the same token the orphans’ rights were insecure partly due to lack of knowledge and non-implementation of the land Act and selfishness of the relatives who are given the custody.

HIV/AIDS has also altered the functions of land administration at the grass roots level in such a manner that the land managers, due to compassionate reasons had not been able to apply the provision of the land tenure system that revokes land when it has remained fallow

In response to the epidemic, households had adopted a number of strategies such the inter-household contractual arrangements such as sharecropping and mafisa, the sale of livestock by the infected individuals and affected households to cater for medical bills and withdrawal of children from school in order to cut expenses on school fees and to allocate to children household chores that the parents can no longer cope with (Mphale et. al. 2002)

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