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Regional themes > Food security Last update: 2020-11-27  

HIV/AIDS and agrarian change in Southern Africa

Michael Drinkwater

Presentation for the United Nations Regional Inter-Agency Coordination and Support Office Technical Consultation
on Vulnerability in the light of an HIV/AIDS Pandemic

9-11 September 2003

Johannesburg, South Africa

Posted with permission of the author
[Complete version - 273Kb ~ 2 min (12 pages)]     [ Share with a friend  ]

Introduction: Food Security, HIV/AIDS and Social Change

In order to understand the impact of HIV/AIDS on farming systems and food security in Southern Africa, there are several parameters that are critical to attaining a realistic and relevant notion of the trends that are taking place. First, since I do not believe it is useful to separate conceptually a food security from a livelihoods perspective, I shall not attempt to, although I will focus on the aspects of food security and economic choices. Second, I shall posit that, substantially, in the rural areas of countries like Malawi and Zimbabwe, processes of depeasantisation and deagrarianisation (Bryceson 2003) are accelerating as a result of the impact of HIV/AIDS. These terms shall be explained in more detail subsequently, but they mean essentially, that farming systems and social structures, as conventionally understood, are breaking down and mutating into forms where poverty and vulnerability is considerably heightened. And third, the nature of these processes, their form and consequences, are different in each context.

Food security has conventionally focused on how households access the food and income they require for survival on an inter- and intra-seasonal basis. If nutritional security is entertained additionally as a concept, then food security relates to the pathway of food into the household, and nutritional security to the nutritional outcomes, once the internal factors related to storage, preparation, distribution, health and mother care, have been taken into account.

An holistic livelihoods model is vital to the analysis of food security, I would contend, for the principal reason that an understanding of what is happening to a household's and individual's assets is critical to knowing what is happening to the status of food security. An appropriate approach also needs to seek to understand social and economic trends in a dynamic way, and in this regard adding a rights dimension to a livelihoods framework is helpful, for instance, to understand the new forms of discrimination and vulnerability that are arising as a result of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

There are two models that I shall refer to in this paper. The first is a reformulation of CARE's earlier household livelihood security model as a livelihood rights model, and the second is a dynamic variant of this that helps provide a vehicle for analysis. As illustration of the uses of these frameworks, I shall make reference to direct and indirect instances of their actual utilisation.

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