In 1992, the author led a participatory rural appraisal (PRA) exercise for a community fisheries project in Kagera region, on the western side of Lake Victoria, Tanzania. The PRA team visited four settlements: the prime harbour settlement on Kerebe Island; N’toro beach, in Bukoba district, near the Ugandan border; Chamkwikwi landing site in Muleba district; and Buzirayombo bay settlement in Biharamulo district in the south. This article draws on that research, to give an outsider’s analysis of the ways in which AIDS was changing livelihoods in poor fishing and farming communities. On the lakeshore and islands, adults were falling ill and dying. This loss of men and women in their prime was causing major economic and social stresses for the single parents, grandparents, and orphans whom we met. They showed resilience and adaptability in the face of this threat to their already precarious livelihoods. The article ends by suggesting ways in which development policy makers and practitioners should support livelihoods in the era of AIDS.
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