Themen und Ressourcen
Kultur, Umwelt und Gesellschaft

The impact of HIV/AIDS on livelihoods, poverty and the economy of Malawi

The reinforcing nature of HIV and poverty: In a number of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, widespread HIV infection has already translated into full-blown AIDS epidemics. The effects of this disaster on lives and livelihoods are dramatic, yet the economic consequences are difficult to measure using conventional approaches. Although past and current consequences of the epidemic, and responses to these, can be empirically studied, our knowledge of the overall socio-economic impact of HIVAIDS remains deficient. This study focuses on Malawi, as a representative case.

It addresses both the short and long term impact of HIV/AIDS by bringing together and analysing findings from qualitative and quantitative studies on the spread and impact of the epidemic. The authors’ analysis provides a stronger foundation for conclusions of the consequences of HIV/AIDS and of appropriate policies to combat the deadly disease.

Key conclusions include:

  • HIV/AIDS and poverty are mutually reinforcing - it acts as a forceful vehicle for impoverishment at the individual and household level and results in increased income and asset inequality. Poor households with small economic buffers are particularly exposed to the economic consequences of HIV/AIDS. For these, illness and death in the family due to AIDS often entails economic disaster as they are forced to sell off precious productive assets such as land and cattle •
  • It is very much a gender issue - the risk of contracting HIV/AIDS is manifestly higher for girls and women than for boys and men below the age of 25 •
  • increased knowledge and signs of behaviour change: there is ample evidence that knowledge about HIV/AIDS among the population at large has increased to the point where it may be considered to be reasonably good •
  • the need to invest in children - it is generally recognised that children are particularly exposed to the consequences of HIV/AIDS, as the number of orphans sky rocket and AIDS-effected households have to resort to child labour to make ends meet •
  • a weakened public sector - HIV/AIDS exerts a strain on the public sector mainly through (i) high attrition rates among middle and senior level staff, and (ii) increased need for HIV/AIDS related expenditures in particular on health care. (SIDA Studies 2010)


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