Poverty Alleviation and Livelihoods

The capacity of vulnerable households to cope with the impact of HIV will need to be strengthened further. Insufficient evidence exists to understand accurately the importance of building livelihood security in households with regards to reducing new infections and keeping PLHIV for longer.  However, there is evidence of small-scale initiatives within civil society that have had some success. The key entry point is working with MCDMCH, local authorities and civil society organizations to empower vulnerable households with resources and skills that move them beyond welfare, material and cash hand-outs to self-reliance and resilience. Interventions such as sustainable businesses and livelihood development, improving household food security, food security packs, backyard and community gardens, small livestock schemes and reducing household risks and vulnerability are all important in the context of HIV.

There is a symbiotic relationship between the HIV epidemic and poverty and livelihood security.  Livelihood insecurity can lead people into risky behaviour patterns such as transactional sex or migration in search of work both putting people at risk of exposure to HIV.  Those living with HIV may need to reconsider their livelihood strategies such as agriculture towards less labour intensive activities.  Zambia has been left with a growing number of orphans or children affected by AIDS who are particularly vulnerable to food and livelihood insecurity. 

Given the generalized nature of the HIV epidemic in Zambia, building individuals and communities’ capacity to progress out of poverty through reducing their vulnerabilities to external shocks and build household assets is essential. External support must take account of the capacity of PLHIV and their families through building relevant skills, improving access to credit, building appropriate value chains and markets.