HIV/AIDS and climate in food security crises :a study of Southern Africa, 2001-2005.

Van Riet, Gideon (2006-12)

Thesis (MA (Political Science.International Studies))--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.


This study is based on the premise that HIV/AIDS and variable rainfall, in other words, events such as droughts and floods (climate), are likely to be prevalent in Southern Africa for the foreseeable future. Thus, these two factors are likely to accompany future food crises in the region. This study investigates the Southern African Food Crisis in the period 2001-2005, with certain objectives in mind. Firstly, the impact of HIV/AIDS and climate on food security is investigated. Secondly, in light of the findings relating to the first objective, it is investigated what an optimal humanitarian intervention in a food crisis in the Southern African context, characterised by variable rainfall and high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, might entail. Finally, the appropriateness of humanitarian interventions in the Southern African Food Crisis to ameliorate the long-term impacts of HIV/AIDS and climate on the region is considered. The study makes use of an extensive literature review, supplemented by a smaller set of e-mail and semi-structured interviews. Especially with regards to the second and third research objectives, the Consortium for the Southern African Food Security Emergency (C-SAFE) is used as a case study of an intervention in the above stated context. C-SAFE – composed of a consortium of international and local non-governmental organisations - is the largest humanitarian intervention programme that was created with the specific goal of ameliorating the food crisis in the Southern African region. They were primarily active in four countries: Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The study focuses on C-SAFE operations in these four countries in order to asses the impact of variable rainfall and HIV/Aids and other underlying causes – such as macroeconomic factors and government policy – on food insecurity in Southern Africa and to examine how these factors influence a humanitarian intervention programme such as C-SAFE. The most important findings of this study are that neither HIV/AIDS nor climate is driving food insecurity in Southern Africa. The impact of HIV/AIDS can however be devastating at household level. It is found that both factors, serve as catalysts bringing to the fore the underlying vulnerability of households. The findings of this study further suggest that interventions should provide resilience building to shocks such as drought, indicating a complex set of relief and developmental needs in the region. Furthermore, HIV/AIDS can be seen as a crisis in itself, requiring a comprehensive multisectoral response, however possibly requiring special attention in times of food insecurity. Finally it is argued that livelihoods erosion over time has meant that the work of relief agencies fulfilling their mandate, providing short-term relief to households and communities in need, regardless of the quality of such interventions, are ineffectual in addressing cycles of vulnerability in Southern Africa as inadequacies at national level, most notably a lack of government capacity, remain.

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