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24 and 25 June 2002 Shere View Lodge, Pretoria
[Introduction]     [Programme]     [Workshop papers and report]     [Related sites]

Background and motivation for the Workshop

HIV/AIDS is a major issue of development in Sub-Saharan Africa today and it is recognised that there is an urgent need to address and resolve the problems created by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In the agricultural sector, research on the impact of HIV/AIDS on extension, food security, nutrition, agricultural productivity, etc. has been initiated by a number of aid agencies. However, little research has been conducted on the impact of HIV/AIDS on land issues.

HIV/AIDS affected households generally have less access to labour, less capital to invest in agriculture, and are less productive due to these limited financial and human resources. With regard to land, some of the HIV/AIDS affected households may abandon, rent out or sell land as a result of inability to utilise the land and/or the need to generate cash to buy medicine or to cover funeral expenses. Dispossession of AIDS widows by the deceased’s family members is increasingly becoming a problem in the region, in some cases leading to destitution of AIDS infected widows. Young widows are under pressure to return to their natal home after the husband’s death. In some communities, the custom of remarriage of the widow to their brother in law is gradually disappearing partly due to a fear of HIV/AIDS infection, thus affecting indigenous land tenure institutions. Increasing dispossession of women of land as a consequence of HIV/AIDS epidemic also affects agricultural productivity, as women are the major producers. Particularly when brothers-in-law grab land from AIDS widows and leave the land idle without any farming activities, this may lead to under-utilisation of land thus decline in agricultural production.

There are a number of issues to be examined in relation to HIV/AIDS and land tenure issues especially in the areas that are experiencing increasing land pressure, land scarcity, commercialisation of agriculture, high potential areas for investment and intensifying competition and conflicts over land. The HIV/AIDS epidemic seems to add another dimension, exposing vulnerable groups including women to even more vulnerable situations in relation to land. In relation to women’s land rights, there seem to be two key issues in the impact of HIV/AIDS on women’s land rights. The first is land grabbing by male relatives after the husband’s death, which leaves women landless and destitute, taking away their means of livelihood. The second is whether the grabbed land is used for productive purposes or under-utilised or left idle for speculation purposes by male relatives.

Key questions

Key questions on HIV/AIDS and land issues include:
  • The impact on and changes in land tenure systems (including patterns of ownership, access, and rights) as a consequence of HIV/AIDS with a focus on vulnerable groups.
  • The ways that HIV/AIDS affected households are coping in terms of land use, management and access, e.g. abandoning land due to fear of losing land, renting out due to inability to utilise land, distress sale of land, etc.
  • The consequence of such coping strategies on security of access and rights to land.
  • The changes in land tenure, access and rights to land among different categories of people as a consequence of HIV/AIDS are affecting agricultural productivity, food security and poverty with a focus on women.
  • The future implications for land tenure arrangements for HIV/AIDS affected households and individuals particularly of AIDS widows HIV orphans.
  • Priority areas for policy interventions with concrete recommendations for securing the land rights of people affected by HIV/AIDS.
  • The areas for research.
Methodological issues and data collection method

Research on HIV/AIDS issues are often more complex due to stigmatisation of the epidemic. Methodological issues will include:
  • What are the most appropriate methodology to conduct a study on HIV/AIDS and land issues?
  • How to separate the consequences induced by HIV/AIDS and by other non-HIV/AIDS related factors
  • Method on qualitative analysis on various forms of transactions in land (renting in and out, sales, etc.), changes in the size of land holding, a change in agricultural production as a result of land transactions and other factors (land use, cropping pattern), and changes in the total land holding and its impact on food security and poverty: sampling method, selection of valuables, isolation of HIV/AIDS from other valuables, actual measurement of the impact of HIV/AIDS on various aspects (poverty, food security). (To what extent conventional economic method could be applicable?)
  • The extent to which generalisation could be made.
  • How to manage the stigmatisation, how to get families acknowledge the death was caused by HIV/AIDS.
  • What are the most appropriate data collection method on qualitative analysis and who should be the informants?
    • Interviews with NGOs (legal aid organisations and HIV/AIDS NGOs) working with HIV/AIDS victims
    • Informal individual interviews with traditional leaders and group leaders
    • The families of HIV/AIDS affected people and HIV/AIDS affected men
    • Women (married, divorced, abandoned, widowed, single)
    • Orphans, different socio-economic status (e.g. marital, profession, type of farming - small, middle and large, crop and livestock farming, size of land, etc.)
    • Focal group interviews to review preliminary findings
    • Personal history
Strategies and action plan

By the end of the workshop, a strategy and action plan will be prepared on future work on various aspects including:
  • Legal and policy issues
  • Legal aid
  • Documentation and further research
  • Sensitisation.
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