In 1993 a study looking at the impacts of HIV and AIDS on livelihoods was conducted in two districts in Zambia—Mpongwe and Teta. Twelve years later in 2005 a restudy of the same areas was undertaken. The aim was to understand what had happened to individuals and clusters in the intervening period in terms of their adaptability and resilience to HIV and AIDS, and to assess whether the “cluster,” or livelihood network methodology was an effective approach to explore the impact of AIDS on farming, livelihoods, and social change. Significant changes had occurred at meso and national levels; Mpongwe had become a district capital, agricultural subsidies had been removed, health services had been decentralized and ART was becoming more available. As predicted by the first study, in 2005 Mpongwe was experiencing the full-blown impact of AIDS. However, the most significant finding of the study, which the livelihoods network methodology helped to highlight, was how social units had adapted and how livelihoods had remained surprisingly resilient. In Teta, AIDS impacts had been much less and a shift back to more traditional farming systems was seen. Because the future holds an inevitable increase in shocks and stresses, with now climate change too, the study highlights the need for more creative and informed approaches for buttressing the social protection functions of livelihood networks.
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