The impact of HIV/AIDS on rural children's reliance on natural resources within the Eastern Cape, South Africa

by McGarry, D. K.

Abstract (Summary)
The role of natural resources in the lives of rural children impacted by HIV/AIDS remains unexplored. This study highlights wild food use by rural children vulnerable to the impacts of HIV/AIDS as an important and regular activity that supplements their domestic diets. This work found that with an increase in vulnerability to HIV/AIDS, children rely more on wild foods. Through an 18 month project in the Eastern Cape, using a broad quantitative and qualitative school and nonschool survey, individual interviews, food diaries, participant observation, interactive photography, and other participatory techniques, a total of 850 children's coping strategies and livelihoods were examined. The quality of children’s domestic diets was, on average, 60 % lower than the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) guidelines. However, 62 % of the children interviewed were supplementing their diets with wild foods, 30 % having over half their diet supplemented with wild foods. Dietary diversity showed a 13 % increase when wild food supplementation occurred. While traditionally rural children rely on reciprocal networks during times of crisis, we found that these networks were eroding from the pressures of HIV/AIDS. Begging, for some children, was replaced by wild food collection and a significantly larger proportion of children more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS relied on wild foods more than did less vulnerable children. Considering the heightened nutritional and energy needs of children, combined with the impact of HIV/AIDS on household food access, wild foods represent the last freely attainable food sources available to them. Hunting and collection of wild food is a group activity, which was found to have valuable psychosocial benefits. Commercialisation of wild foods was observed among 38 % of the children, with significantly more vulnerable children selling wild foods. The use of wild foods by rural children also had positive influences on the preservation of indigenous ecological knowledge.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Rhodes University

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:environmental science


Date of Publication:01/01/2008

© 2009 All Rights Reserved.