Mitigating impacts of HIV/AIDS on rural livelihoods: NGO experiences in sub-Saharan Africa

HIV/AIDS is having profound impacts on livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa. These include the deaths of working-age adults, the diversion of resources to caring, and the rupture of traditional chains of knowledge transmission. NGOs are responding by providing assistance to communities affected by the epidemic in the fields of agriculture, skills training, and microfinance, as well as by offering home care and support. A key feature of such initiatives is the focus on previously neglected groups such as women, school dropouts, and orphans. Factors of success include the use of participatory processes to identify target groups, and the involvement of local political leaders and adults trusted by young people in project activities. Challenges include the improvement of monitoring systems, effective dissemination of lessons learnt, and persuading donors, whose responses to the epidemic are currently focused on preventive and curative health services, to support livelihoods interventions as a matter of urgency.