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

The Effects of HIV/AIDS on Agricultural Production Systems in Zambia: A Restudy 1993-2005
Analytical Report
February 2006
Michael Drinkwater, Margaret McEwan, Fiona Samuels


This analytical report is the outcome of a restudy that was undertaken in January 2005 of an original study undertaken in 1993 of the impact of HIV/AIDS on agricultural production systems and livelihoods in the Mpongwe area of the Copperbelt Province and the Teta area of Serenje District in the Central Province in Zambia. The study has used a ‘cluster analysis’ methodology that allows individuals and households to be seen in context, and in its remapping of the clusters originally surveyed has allowed surprising insights into the dynamics of social change to be developed. There are significant contrasts between the two study sites. In Mpongwe, a major maize production centre near the Copperbelt markets, maize production, dependent on agricultural inputs, has become the dominant production activities and fuelled a growing inequality between those successful in securing access to the necessary inputs, including draft power, and those who cannot. By contrast, in the Teta area, market liberalisation has deprived the area of access to inputs, and in this system maize production has declined, and the farming systems now consists of diverse food crops, not dependent on external inputs.

HIV/AIDS has had a greater impact on livelihoods in the Mpongwe area, where it is now a full fledged epidemic with numbers of people having died who contracted the disease locally. In Teta, the disease has remained more peripheral, though people, largely with external contacts have died. Whilst undoubtedly exacerbating vulnerability and food insecurity, the effects of the disease are not straightforward, and not as severe as might have been imagined. Surprising resilience has been displayed within the context of the predominantly matrilineal social system in both areas, even if life will remain uncertain for most, for the foreseeable future. Factors such as livestock disease are also responsible for this uncertainty, however, and paid less attention. If there are central messages, they are that broad strategies for HIV prevention, or for health treatment, or for social protection and safety nets, are not appropriate if not modified to take into account different cultural contexts, rural and urban.

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