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ActionAid International

Food security and HIV/AIDS in southern Africa: Case studies and implications for future policy

ActionAid International

August 2005

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ActionAid International-Southern Africa Partnership Programme (SAPP) is glad to launch a study on “Food Security and HIV and AIDS in Southern Africa: Case studies and implications for future policy”. The study was conducted against the backdrop of livelihood crisis and HIV and AIDS as critical challenges to poverty eradication within the sub-region. The report documents evidence of best practice as well as analysis of the link between food crisis and the epidemic itself. Based on a case study conducted in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, the study argue that there is need to deal with poverty and resource constraints in the understanding of the interplay between HIV and AIDS and prevailing community challenges. In addition an understanding of the fact that HIV and AIDS impacts are different at the various stages of the progression of the virus is important in programming since an individual can break these various interventions down to meaningful segments that can ensure that people’s needs are met both short term and long term from a developmental perspective.

The case studies that were documented as evidence of best practice around the region included the following:

  1. A community home based care project in Thyolo in Malawi supported by Medecins sans Frontieres. This is an holistic multi-sectoral approach to HIV and AIDS care and prevention that leaned heavily on the support from the volunteers and the community professionals. This project was designed to provide a basket of services aimed at individual, family and community capacity-building and focused on poverty alleviation so as to improve the quality of life. The target group comprised chronically ill patients, their caregivers and the vulnerable children.

  2. A community-based orphan care project in Lilongwe South, Malawi, supported by the National Smallholder Farmers’ association of Malawi. The distinguishing feature of the project is the participatory approach, with community initiated the project themselves, usually with limited funding, and building on local responses. The target group is the orphans themselves, with the interventions assisting with social activities and teaching life skills.

  3. Food security for orphans and vulnerable children, Mvuma Chiefdom Hhohho province in Swaziland supported by NERCHA. This project is based on the NERCHA philosophy and has country-wide community-driven interventions; building on local initiatives and promoting.

  4. Provision of Agricultural Implements (ox-drawn ploughs) in Nyanga, Zimbabwe, supported by ActionAid. The intervention built in on local capacity, based on capacity-building that avoids a ‘top-down’ approach that is so often used in development.

  5. Provision of agricultural technology (drip irrigation) Chiredzi, Zimbabwe, supported by ActionAid. Targeting households affected or infected by HIV and AIDS, the project focuses on building capacity of local AIDS service organizations and locally based extension services.

  6. Seed fairs, Marracuene District, Maputo province, Mozambique, supported ActionAid. The project works with families whose livelihoods have been devastated by the cyclical disasters. The distinguishing feature is that the local economy is boosted by producing seeds at local level, while also recognising the needs of the poorest people in the community.

  7. Nutrition Intervention (sweet potatoes) Manica District, Maputo province in Mozambique, supported by ActionAid, INIA and the Ministry of Health. The target group is the community-based organisations and emphasises nutrition and food security while drawing on indigenous knowledge. The project built on local initiatives and added to the range of sweet potatoes that are more drought-resilient in that area.
The following important recommendations emerged from these case studies:

  1. development, relief and rehabilitation must be addressed together
  2. policy should encourage, and be influenced by local implementation
  3. better targeting and participation helps affected people take charge
  4. a focus on multi-sectoral partnerships at district and at village level is important
  5. it is important to move beyond labor-saving technologies to labor management
  6. it is important to base policy and practice on experimentation and evidence of success.
With the above in mind, the documentation of best practice is essential to contribute to a better understanding of the situation, and improve coping strategies and interventions so as to influence developmental policy and contribute to successfully fighting the HIV and AIDS pandemic.

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