C.5.The Socio-Economic Impact of HIV/AIDS on rural productivity: A case study of Dedza and Zomba Districts
The cost of HIV/AIDS is not just about the forgone output or income due to inability to continue seeking means of gaining a living by the rural households, it is also and more importantly concerned with a decline of households’ assets emanating from the need to meet the costs of treatment and medicines. This demonstrates that the chronic illnesses, such as the HIV/AIDS-related cases, cause families to spiral into poverty even before they are able to generate a reasonable acceptable level of income. The case studies revealed a general fall of productivity amongst those households who had chronically sick members. These households faced a rapid deterioration of their ability to produce for consumption, leading to worsening in their well being and survival. The study concludes that most households in rural Malawi do not seem to plan for the event of such circumstances, and are therefore unprepared for it when it occurs, despite the frequency of its occurrence.
Unfortunately, there are substantive practical difficulties in constructing supportive environments for managing this problem, using mechanical replication as a ‘formula’ for HIV/AIDS intervention. Some of these difficulties derive from naivety about the psycho-social behaviours which tend to reproduce stigma amongst the populace rather than creating conditions whereby citizens can exercise their powers of choice and veto to participate in promoting ways of reducing HIV/AIDS risks, as envisaged in the policy documents.
Considering ways forward lies in the rethinking the means by which citizens can effectively participate in seeking ways of reducing HIV/AIDS risks, first, through an effective structure for managing this problem, and secondly, through building effective partnerships with credible service providers in the delivery of HIV/AIDS services and support to the rural poor.