The impact of HIV/AIDS on land: case studies from Kenya, Lesotho and South Africa

The impact of HIV/AIDS on land: case studies from Kenya, Lesotho and South Africa

How should policy-makers respond to the impacts of HIV/AIDS on land?

The paper presents case studies from Kenya, Lesotho and South Africa in order to examine the impact of HIV/AIDS upon land, and present preliminary policy recommendations. It finds that as a direct result of very high infection rates in the region, HIV/AIDS will seriously impact on a range of land issues and livelihood strategies, including:

  • different forms of land use
  • various types of land tenure and land reform projects that are most appropriate
  • the functioning of land administration systems
  • the land rights of women, orphans and the poor generally
  • inheritance practices and norms

Preliminary policy recommendations are given for three areas:

General recommendations:

  • increase the capacity of households to engage in income generating activities, both agricultural and non-farm activities, taking into account the limited capacity of infected individuals and affected households in terms of labour
  • increase access to water for gardening purposes
  • continue with the sensitisation of people to the reality of HIV/AIDS and promote HIV testing and counselling
  • policies aimed at addressing the felt needs of the people infected by HIV/AIDS should be developed
  • support home care and community support programmes, including conducting research into social policies that are sensitive to the impacts of HIV/AIDS on households' coping mechanisms (which may become overwhelmed)

Fortifying land administration systems in tribal areas to take into account specific concerns around HIV/AIDS and land:

  • strengthen the land registration system in tribal areas, in particular relect rights in land of women, adult children, and perhaps minors
  • all round strengthening of tribal land administration systems, for example, through training tribal land clerks in administration functions to assist tribal authorities to perform their various land administration functions
  • ensure representation of weaker individuals and households in respect of land administration
  • facilitate the development of land rental markets in communal areas

Strategic interventions and actions to further ameliorate the situation in respect of HIV/AIDS and land:

  • governments should acknowledge the impact that HIV/AIDS is imposing on its service delivery capacity, especially at the grassroots level, and thus put into place appropriate safety nets
  • initiate large-scale sensitisation and training campaigns for the benefit of traditional leaders, community health workers, traditional healers, social workers, agricultural extension works
  • recognise the value of community health workers, and afford them a special measure of support to perform their role
  • strategise with officials within agriculture and land departments to take better recognition of diverse household types that result from HIV/AIDS impacts
  • conduct research on high yielding, nutritive, fast maturing, water efficient and pest and disease varieties of crops, which would minimise labour requirements, decrease duration of farm operations and improve affected household’s food security

[adapted from the author]

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