HIV/AIDS & Conservation

HIV/AIDS is having an enormous impact on the quality of life in many parts of the world. Not often discussed, however, are the impacts of HIV/AIDS on natural resource management and conservation.


  • Portrait of user
    by Private on Jan 19, 2009
    For everyone's information, we started a discussion on the potential roles of women in fisheries management on the African Inland Fisheries community that I would invite members of this group to contribute to.

    Two questions regarding the role and organization of women in relation to fisheries management ?
  • Portrait of user
    by Private on Jan 19, 2009
    An excellent conversation, to which I would like to contribute my thoughts. I would agree with the notion that fisheries communities are particularly hard hit by HIV/AIDS as mobility, distance from family, and regular access to cash certainly facilitate sexual promiscuity.  Sensitization programs can be useful here and need greater investment.

    However, I would like to underscore the other factor mentioned by several respondents - poor access to testing and treatment, and relate this to a larger problem of poor governmental provision of services to fisherfolk.  In some cases, this neglect is certainly influenced by their remote locations and difficulty in accessing fishing communities (which is not unlike the challenges faced by forest communities). However, due to their being identified as "fishing communities" I would argue that some governments may also assign a lower priority for provision of development funding and extension services to these communities.  Many fisherfolk are stigmatized as being naturally more promiscuous, spendthrift, unreliable as loan recipients, uneducated, and unwilling/able/interested to pursue any other livelihood activity other than fishing. These issues have a number of spin off effects:

    Limited innovation in agriculture and poor access to microcredit limits the amount of livelihood diversification out of fishing. This in turn:

    perpetuates their over-reliance on fishing, thereby reinforcing their need to be mobile in seeking fish catches, contributing to increased spread of HIV/AIDS.
    limits the value of education (assuming that they have reasonable schools) for many fisherfolk children who see few attractive alternatives to fishing livelihoods, contributing to truancy and, again the spread of HIV/AIDS. 

    Due to their low prioritization, fishing communities also tend to have poorer access to clean drinking water - which has been described as the single-most limiting factor for development in rural areas of developing countries by the UNDP.  If children have a lot of water-borne paracites, this raises a significant cost burden for parents, plus children do less well at school.

    I disagree with Tabo Mbeki on a lot of things - but I do have to say that I agree that you can only address AIDS if you address the range of issues that limit rural socio-economic development. In case studies from Lake Malawi, I have found that fisheries co-management institutions are most successful where fishery leaders have better education and diversified livelihoods.
  • Portrait of user
    by Private on Jan 8, 2009
    HIV/AIDS & Conservation: AIDS and Fisheries by Nancy Gelman on 03-07-2007 
    Nancy Gelman
    Posts: 6 
    Thanks to Baraka for sharing all the results from the PEACE project in Tanzania. He makes a very important point about fishing communities being particularly vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.

    In many parts of Africa, fishing communities have higher than average HIV prevalence rates. Not only is there a high occupational risk of exposure to HIV, but these communities tend to live in remote areas with poor health services, and often have poor access to HIV/AIDS awareness and preventive measures such as condoms; or voluntary counseling and testing; or treatment. Fishing communities along African coastlines and some of the great lakes and rivers are particularly affected. There is evidence that AIDS can cause increased pressure on parts of the fishery – for example, a fisherman who is sick may not go so far out to sea, and shallow waters (which are often fish breeding areas) may become over-fished.

    Much more information can be found in documents such as:

    HIV/AIDS in the fisheries sector in Africa by Ann Gordon:


    Proceedings of the International Workshop: Responding to HIV and AIDS in the Fishery Sector in Africa held in Lusaka, Zambia in February 2006


    a number of items on HIV/AIDS and fisheries based livelihoods on the FAO website:


    "Examining the linkages between AIDS and biodiversity conservation in coastal Tanzania" by Elin Torell, James Tobey, Melissa Thaxton, Brian Crawford, Baraka Kalangahe, Ndalahwa Madulu, Abdulrahman Issa, Vedast Makota and Rose Sallema, 2006, Ocean & Coastal Management: 49(11): 792-811, www.sciencedirect.com

    It would be good to hear of other experiences on linkages between fisheries and HIV/AIDS.

    Best wishes,

    Judy Oglethorpe

    Director, Community Conservation

    Global Support

    WWF US

    1250 24th Street, NW

    Washington, DC 20037, USA

    phone: +1 202 778 9770

    fax: +1 202 861 8377


    www.worldwildlife.org; www.bsponline.org
  • Portrait of user
    by Private on Jan 8, 2009
    RE: HIV/ AIDS and Conservation by Nancy Gelman on 03-08-2007 
    Nancy Gelman
    Posts: 6 
    **Posted on behalf of Cecilia Mgana (TANAPA)**

    I would like to share my views as follows,

    I just want to argue that TANAPA does not have the POLICY which separate couples as Kalaghe says, when one of the couple is transfered, automatically his or her fellow is also transfered, this is done for those who have official marriage certificates, but some of the couples decided to stay separately willingly, and they put it in writing.

    I also want to share something to Philip's comments especially on SANAPA's issue, its true that many people do not stay with their family in the park, I don't think this is TANAPA's issue, since education issue is beyond TANAPA's ability, however the organization has observed and measures has been taken, by raising awareness about HIV/AIDS.

    Curently we have trained 9 staff on counseling and voluntary testing, we are expecting to train 7 more staff. In order to reduce poverty to communities surrounding parks, TANAPA through Outreach departments supports different groups of which women are among them so that they become independent even when their partners can not support them.

    Its our Policy to improve wellbeing of infected and affected staff, including their family members so as to enable them continue to be productive and make sure that those who are not infected remain uninfected and those who are infected do not infect others.

    I do support that HIV/AIDS has affected much the HR of the conservation society, if we dont take measures, it will be difficult to preserve our beautiful natural too, since capacity building can not be done in few days.


    Cecilia Mgana

    Personnel and Administrative Officer --responsible for training and HIV/AIDS

    Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA)

  • Portrait of user
    by Private on Jan 8, 2009
    RE: HIV/ AIDS and Conservation by Baraka Kalangahe on 03-07-2007 
    Baraka Kalangahe
    Posts: 5 
    Dear Colleague
    In addition to what i posted in the morning I would like to share with you what the PEACE Project experienced in term of documenting impacts of AIDS on natural resource management and conservation capacity. During year one we conducted a threats assessment that defined the linkages between HIV/AIDS and biodiversity conservation with an emphasis on demographic and gender dimensions. The analysis also tried to understand the current coping strategies used by HIV/AIDS-impacted households and identify if and how their behavior toward terrestrial and marine resources changed when they were struck by AIDS. The assessment used participatory and gender-balanced approaches to examine four project focus areas: HIV/AIDS, gender, population and biodiversity conservation.
    The threats assessment confirmed that the direct impacts of HIV/AIDS on biodiversity are:
    1. Accelerated rate of extraction of natural resources due to increased dependence on wild foods and wildlife, medicinal plants, timber, and fuel wood. There is a trend towards increased destructive practices – especially woodcutting and charcoal making – among HIV affected households. As a coping strategy some household have engaged in charcoal making business, cutting forest which is already under pressure. Tuck loads can be seen transporting charcoal to Dar es Salaam; some are ferried by dhows to nearby island of Zanzibar.
    2. Decreased availability of labor due to sickness and death within the villages. Most coastal villagers are fishery and agriculture dependants. These two livelihoods are all labor intensive. Though we could not establish statically data on how agriculture productivity has been affected, but by interviewing household, most affected household admitted that productivity has gone down and faced food insecurity.
    3. Decreased management capacity among conservation staff due to sickness and death. Both Tanga Coastal Zone Management Program and the Pangani and Bagamoyo District Council lost trained staffs.
    4. The death of elders in the villages due to HIV/AIDS has resulted into loss of traditional knowledge and skills especially in fishery.
  • Portrait of user
    by Private on Jan 8, 2009
    RE: HIV/ AIDS and Conservation by Baraka Kalangahe on 03-07-2007 
    Baraka Kalangahe
    Posts: 5 
    I support Philipo's comments. Most of national parks staffs in Tanzania are vulnerable to HIV/AIDS. For the last three years our organization has been implementing a PEACE ( Population Equity AIDS and Coastal Conservation ) project . This project focuses on investigating the role that HIV/AIDS, population and gender play in the current overexploitation of coastal resources in an area covering eight coastal villages in the Bagamoyo and Pangani Districts, Tanzania. These eight villages border the Saadani National Park. Our observation concurs with Philipo's observations. Most of the staff at Saadani have their families in Dar es Salaam. This is due to the fact that the park has no  school, and even the schools in nearby villages are not of good standard and the staff prefers to have their spouse stays in Dar es Salaam where they can access good education. Through TANAPA has developed a policy to address HIV/AIDS at workplace but still it has not yet addresses this core issues that assures that couples stays together.
    SANAPA staff are even more vulnerable that any staff in other parks in Tanzania due to the parks being surrounded by fishing villages. Saadani, Mkwaja, Buyuni, Matipwili. We have observed that fishers in the coastal area are mobile. They migrate according to fishing seasons and in search of fish abundance. In most cases they stay out for three months. While away they socialize and have second partners and their spouses left behind who in most case are economically poor are tempted to have sex with park staff who by virtue of being salaried use their economic power to seduce poor women. This vicious circle exacerbates the spread of HIV/AIDS in the area.
  • Portrait of user
    by Private on Jan 8, 2009
    HIV/ AIDS and Conservation by Philipo H Malley on 03-07-2007

    Philipo H Malley
    Posts: 35823

    Dear Colleagues,

    I has been following some documentation on conservation for some time now. The HIV/AIDS is now becoming a threat in protected areas of Tanzania. This is simply because the policy of Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) do not support couples to work within one station. For example one may be at Serengeti National Park and the partner being say in Katavi National Park which are about 1000 kilometers apart.

    I am not sure whether there is any concrete reason of doing that, but that is main reason as to why most of these couples run with temporary partners in absence of their husbands/ wives. This accelerates the spread of HIV/AIDS among workers as they tend to exchange partners. I dont have statistical data on this but I did observation through my friends who work with TANAPA.

    Unlike other developed nations, Tanzania government encourages the couples to work close to each other to reduce HIV/AIDS threat whichj most of the time leads to loss of staff for conservation. Nevertheles, the Tanzanian culture is abit different from others. Known marriage couples rarely cohibit even if they are far away from their parners. The mariage is highly respected by Tanzanias though there are few cases of cohibition that happen even when/ if are together.


  • Portrait of user
    by Unavailable on Nov 11, 2008
    HIV/AIDS impacts the use of natural resources, causes changes in land use, results in significant loss of conservation capacity, causes loss of institutional memory, has financial costs to organizations, affects community capacity and natural resource governance structures. · The conservation community can do a lot to address the impacts of HIV/AIDS on natural resource management. Examples of interventions include reducing unsustainable use of resources, supporting AIDS-affected households through natural resource schemes such as conservation-based enterprise development, dealing with impacts on land use that affect biodiversity, helping orphans through conservation, promoting HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention for local communities especially by educating women and working with religious leaders to break the silence. · We need to take action NOW to maintain the capacity for conservation in organizations and communities. Efforts include breaking the silence on HIV/AIDS and overcoming stigma, having workplace policies organizational policies and considering issues such as posting professional married couples together, housing for staff so that they can live with their families, and schools for children of protected area staff so that families can staff together which reduces engagement in risky sexual behavior. Developing workplace policies on HIV and AIDS and modifying training programs is also important. It is important to continue to share information, resources, research, and coping strategies on how we can deal with the devastating impacts of this disease on the conservation sector and the contributions that we can all make to help those affected by AIDS. Some positive upcoming opportunities include implementation of the IUCN resolution (CGR3.RES013) on HIV/AIDS pandemic and conservation and the chance to scale up on efforts internationally. We have also heard from UNAIDS that they are interested in working with organizations outside of the health sector. -Judy Oglethorpe (World Wildlife Fund), Nancy Gelman (Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group), and Daulos Mauambeta (Wildlife & Environmental Society of Malawi).
    -- Updated Mar 30, 2011 --

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Date CreatedTuesday, November 11, 2008 2:33 PM
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