SAHARA-J (May 2006)
Impact of AIDS on rural livelihoods in Benue State, Nigeria
This study addresses the socio-economic impact of AIDS on rural livelihoods in Benue State, Nigeria, where HIV prevalence is 9.3% but the number of AIDS cases is still relatively low. About 6% of the study households had experienced illness and death classified as AIDS, and reported high costs in terms of expenditures and time spent on care, funerals and mourning. These demands on time affected income and productivity, while the diversion of resources had implications for investments and savings. Coping strategies varied between households, mainly as a reflection of asset levels, which were often related to the gender of the household head. Reported coping strategies also differed between ethnic groups. First-line relatives were the most important source of support for households under pressure. Erosive coping strategies that undermined the sustainability of livelihoods were used by more vulnerable households following multiple cases of illness and death. Mourning practices, rules of inheritance and stigma tended to increase a household's vulnerability. Currently, Benue State is facing growing adult morbidity and mortality because of HIV infections. A context-specific study of its possible impact in a setting with a still relatively low number of AIDS cases is therefore important for informing local policy development and for building advocacy.