Strengthening the Capacity of HIV/AIDS Affected Communities

The impact of HIV/AIDS has been felt in almost every facet of human life in Zimbabwe. The country has an infection rate of over 36% of the adult population. This has resulted in adverse effects on the national economy and has been a major cause for the decline in agricultural productivity in rural communities. Orphan and female-headed households are at the forefront of the debilitating effects of the pandemic.

The viability of subsistence agriculture, a main source of livelihood in the country has been severely undermined by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. At the household and community level, the impact has manifested itself in loss of productive labour, loss of farming knowledge and skills as well as limited access to appropriate seed varieties leading to reduced yields and food insecurity. Practical Action is working to strengthen the coping capacity of effected families to adequately meet the food security and nutritional needs in a sustainable manner.

In order to strengthen the capacity of HIV/AIDS affected communities Practical Action is training farmers to use innovative agricultural approaches and labour savings technologies for improved productivity and diversification. This has included farmer field schools for caregivers in conservation farming, seed selection training and pest control skills workshops.

The project also aimed to stimulate and support field crop production and nutritional gardening for HIV/AIDS affected households and communities in Chimanimani district. It distributed seed pack including tomatoes, Swiss chard and cauliflower, maize and vegetable drying equipment. In addition herbal gardens were established and health training and education was given to orphans and vulnerable children and their families. Another project aim was to facilitate the development of small livestock farming for HIV/AIDS affected households in Chimanimani district. This has included bee keeping and honey is continuing to be sold in the local market as well as used for household consumption. In addition chicks have been donated from local community based organisations to vulnerable households to raise and breed. Other support is given through goat keeping and small livestock keeping is providing a valuable source of income for vulnerable families.

One particular Practical Action project helped a community orphanage set up mushroom cultivation and proceeds go into helping with the orphanage costs. The price of mushrooms are high in the local market and much sort after, therefore more profit is taken by the orphanage to put into taking care of orphaned children due to HIV/AIDS.

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