AIDS-affected households in rural Africa often turn to natural resources as a livelihood safety net. Yet women affected by AIDS have less time for sound resource management, and indigenous knowledge is lost when parents die before educating their children. As demand and inappropriate use grow, resource depletion and land degradation increase. In many countries, widows cannot inherit land. As poverty deepens in the wake of AIDS, women and girls are often forced into prostitution, accelerating the spread of HIV. Multi-sectoral approaches by development, health, and environmental organisations can reduce the impact of HIV and AIDS on women, rural communities, and the natural environment, through health work integrated with alternative livelihoods and women’s empowerment.
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