Using Empirical Information in the Era of HIV/AIDS to Inform Mitigation and Rural Development Strategies: Selected Results from African Country Studies

July 25, 2005 - D. Mather, C. Donovan, T.S. Jayne, and M. Weber

IDWP 84. D. Mather, C. Donovan, T.S. Jayne, and M. Weber. American Agricultural Economics Association Annual Meeting, Principal Paper Session 1: What Role for Agricultural Economists in Addressing the HIV/AIDS Pandemic? Providence, Rhode Island, July 25th, 2005. 36 pp. Using Empirical Information in the Era of HIV/AIDS to Inform Mitigation and Rural Development Strategies: Selected Results from African Country Studies

It is widely believed the HIV/AIDS epidemic will have substantial socioeconomic impacts in
Sub-Saharan Africa, including on the agricultural sector. While the implications of the disease
for research in the health fields are well established, there is a growing awareness that the spread
of HIV/AIDS is influenced by economic and social conditions, and the economic consequences
of the disease can be influenced by policies and institutions that affect behavior. Agricultural
economists have an important role to play in anticipating these consequences and identifying
their implications as part of the work needed to better inform agricultural and rural development

The determination of mitigation policies has lacked an empirical foundation regarding which
households are most affected, how those households respond to illness and death, and the
interventions that would best fit into their needs. While the few available micro-level and
purposive studies have provided valuable information, such insights are limited in their ability to
be extrapolated to the national level, due to small, concentrated samples, often without a
representative non-affected population to provide a counterfactual or a context for interpreting
the demographic and welfare characteristics of affected individuals and households.

This paper summarizes empirical results from a synthesis of a set of country studies undertaken
by Michigan State University and partner institutions in five African countries, each of which is
based upon large-scale rural household surveys. The results demonstrate that the post-death
land/labor ratios and income of rural households directly affected by prime-age adult mortality
are more heterogeneous than implied by some of the literature and discussion among
development practitioners. Although affected households may well have suffered negative
effects on household crop production and income, most affected households have similar ex post
demographic characteristics, land/labor ratios, asset levels, and household incomes as compared
to households without a death. However, there are some categories of affected households which
appear to be in greater need of interventions, for those which have suffered the death of a
household head or spouse tend to have lower ex post land/labor ratios and income relative to
households without a death, and thus are more likely to be in poverty.

Results question the usefulness of a homogeneous conceptualization of ‘affected households,’
especially in the context of proposals for targeted assistance and technology development. The
implications of this heterogeneity are important for the design of HIV/AIDS mitigation
strategies, as well as for considering the HIV/AIDS epidemic within the context of rural poverty
alleviation and growth strategies.

Results also highlight the value of representative survey research in investigating the
characteristics of individuals and households affected and in measuring impacts of adult
mortality within the context of a representative sample of the non-affected population.
The general approach taken in these studies demonstrates that including a mortality/morbidity
component in an ongoing large, representative rural household survey is a relatively costeffective
way to investigate the (pre-and/or post-death) characteristics of affected individuals and
households and measure mortality impacts.


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