Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

Impact of HIV and AIDS on agriculture and food security in SADC: The case of Zambia
Prepared for FANRPAN by: C Hamusimbi, M Mataa and G Jere
The University of Zambia, School of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension

Executive summary


The SADC is the most severely affected region by HIV and AIDS pandemic in the world. UNAIDS, (2004) reported that 11.2 to 18.8 million people are infected with HIV in the SADC region. Zambia has also not been spared by the effects of HIV and AIDS epidemic. With an adult HIV prevalence rate of 15.6% Zambia is ranked the seventh most affected country in the region Continued paucity of knowledge on the enormity of HIV and AIDS impact on agriculture and food security, especially among smallholder farming households, underscores the need for research on the extent to which HIV and AIDS affects agriculture and food security and rural livelihoods. Investment in research of this nature is important in designing appropriate and efficient policy measures to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on rural livelihoods.


In response to such a need, SADC-HIV and AIDS Unit in collaboration with the Food Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) conducted a study on HIV and AIDS impacts on agriculture and food security. The national studies were conducted in seven SADC countries, Zambia being one of them.. The main objective of this study was to determine, socio-economic impacts of HIV and AIDS on agriculture and food security at household and national levels.

Study design

The study was conducted in Choma, Monze and Sinazongwe districts located in the Southern Province of Zambia. It was a two pronged study involving; (i) a literature review exercise to review findings from previous work on HIV and AIDS impacts on agriculture, food security and natural resources, and identify the knowledge gaps on impacts of the disease on the aforesaid sub-sectors; and (ii) a structured survey involving 230 randomly selected farming households in nationally recognized Standard Enumeration Areas with higher incidences of prime age adult illnesses and/deaths. The study team also conducted a mini qualitative community level survey to solicit for information on the impacts of HIV and AIDS on communities.


The results of the study indicate that HIV and AIDS related morbidity and mortality affect agriculture and food security due to their negative effects on labour productivity and the erosion by such impacts of productive assets base of affected households. This study also revealed that the HIV/AIDS pandemic results in reduction in labour hours on agricultural activities, reduced number of working adults in households The female-headed households are most affected , in some cases HIV and AIDS led to abandonment of agricultural activities, much to the detriment of the households. The AIDS pandemic has also transformed the households demographic structure by increasing the number of female headed and households and orphars.. The increase in health and funeral costs also erodes the income and the household endowments thereby leaving the incapable of utilizing land for agriculture..Households affected by HIV and AIDS related illnesses and deaths, in distress resort to sale of productive assets to meet their immediate and pressing income demands.

The study reveals that the households depend mainly on agriculture for their livelihood. Major income generating activity was the sale of labor by household members to other small-scale farmers within communities.In trying to meet food demands households with orphans tend to exploit child labour in an effort to increase food production.

In an effort to mitigate the effects of HIV andAIDS the PRSP, and NAP, government and NGOs are promoting of the use of less labour intensive cropping technologies, livestock rearing and food processing and packing which also also promotes processing and consumption of local/traditional foods. However, despite such efforts, adoption of such mitigation measures has remained low among HIV and AIDS affected households and communities. The low adoption of mitigation strategies being promoted include; the inability by the affected households to buy on their own requisite inputs needed to adopt some of the mitigation strategies on promotion. Most vulnerable households are not members to any community based organizations and cooperatives used as entry points to access some services like skills training, input loans etc. Such households also lack money to pay for membership and at many times fail to attend community meetings due to competing time needs. Some affected households are missed out of programmes due to biased targeting. Affected households also have insufficient knowledge about some of the mitigation strategies being promoted.

Study results expose to a very great extent, lack of harmonization of national policy actions and programmes aimed at mitigating socio-economic HIV and AIDS impacts among farming households and communities. Current HIV and AIDS mitigation policy actions and programmes on non-health impacts are a product of various individual institutional developmental agenda, tailored to suit specific programme objectives and are devoid of long-term focus. As such, Zambia currently have little evidence-based HIV and AIDS policy actions and programmes on mitigating non-health impacts of the disease. Instead the numerous mitigation strategies are being implemented in piece-meals without understanding fully the needs of the households so affected by HIV and AIDS, and minus proper policy guidance.

Study results also suggest the need to further understand the contributory factors to the current low levels of adoption of the currently promoted mitigation strategies, if proper policy guidelines are to be developed. Of much importance to the current policy actions and programmes on mitigation strategies is the need to come up with measures to ensure proper targeting of affected and vulnerable households and communities, and measures to avoid duplication of mitigation responses between public and non-governmental organizations in rural development.

Policy influence is also required to reverse the current lopsided allocations of resources on the mitigation of HIV and AIDS impacts. Currently there is lack of equitable allocation of resources between prevention and mitigation measures. More resources have been dedicated to fighting the health related impacts of HIV and AIDS but there is also equally a prime need to allocate resources to mitigate non-health impacts of the HIV and AIDS on households especially the rural farming households where poverty levels are deepening.


The findings in this study suggest that for Zambia to develop and promote appropriate and life changing policy frameworks and mitigation programmes, there is need to develop a clear national synthesis of mitigation strategies framework founded on chief priority needs of households and communities affected by HIV and AIDS. The MACO/FAO mitigation framework development is one such programme activities government should consider. There is also need for government through its line ministries to come out clearly on possible collaborative efforts in promoting the prioritized mitigation strategies in any given area so as to avoid duplication of efforts. It is important for policy makers and development agents to harmonize operations in any given area.

There should also be deliberate policy efforts to take into account factors behind the current low adoption rates of mitigation strategies being promoted by both government and NGOs. For instance, there is need for policy makers and development agents to understand factors that could be contributing to the continued decline in agricultural production despite all interventions and copping strategies being promoted. Could such a scenario be attributed to inadequate attention being paid to marketing issues? Such assessments could allow policy makers and development agents to know which development areas to concentrate on. Presently any mitigation strategy should among other things try and strengthen market linkages, availability of marketing information and post harvest processing and utilization technologies, if it is easily to be adopted by the affected households.

Monitoring and evaluation of both copping and mitigation strategies among households and communities affected by HIV and AIDS related illnesses and/or deaths is another critical aspect requiring attention. For Zambia and even SADC region to develop capacity to design, develop and implement life changing coping and mitigation strategies, there is need to have an appropriate monitoring and evaluation system in place to monitor such strategies in the field. This is currently done on individual organizations level, and as such lacks national recognition. The nation should know what copping and/or mitigation strategies work for any given circumstances.

Finally, there is also need to re-examine changes and evolution of national policies with respect to the realities of the HIV and AIDS pandemic, if we are to know how such policies and programmes affect pathways through which households and communities affected by HIV and AIDS try to cope and mitigate socio-economic impacts of the disease.

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