Mainstreaming HIV within a livelihood programme (Nutrition Gardens)

Four years ago Concern began distributing food to rural Zimbabweans affected by drought. However, it became clear that short-term humanitarian responses needed to be reinforced with longer-term programmes to meet the needs of the most vulnerable subsistence farmers, particularly in areas of high HIV prevalence. Increasingly, male farmers have opted to leave their families to work on commercial farms, or to engage in other activities, such as illegal gold panning or petty trading in neighbouring Mozambique and South Africa in order to support their families. Households headed by women, the elderly and children have been left to cope with little support to work the land, much of which is not arable in its present state. They lack water sources, fertilizers and different varieties of seeds as well as other agricultural extension services. In addition, many are struggling with the HIV virus either because they themselves are sick, because they are caring for the sick or because they are looking after the children of relatives who have passed away. To help these subsistence farmers survive, Concern promotes a livelihood programme, managed by its suboffices in three of the most isolated and under-resourced rural districts, Gokwe South, Gokwe North and Nyanga. The programme provides seeds and tools, runs a conservation farming component and a micro-irrigation scheme as well as nutrition gardens. This case study highlights how Concern has included a nutrition garden project within a broader livelihoods programme to help meet the rights of people directly affected by HIV and AIDS without fuelling discrimination.