Action Research

The third phase of RENEWAL activity (RENEWAL 3) began in 2007 and is winding down in 2010. The twin goals of RENEWAL 3 are to further extend and deepen understanding of the two-way interactions between HIV/AIDS and food and nutrition security, and to improve the effectiveness of food and nutrition-relevant policy and programming in the context of HIV and AIDS. Activities in this phase have focused its activities on the following three themes:

  • Theme 1: AIDS, Agriculture and Livelihood Security
  • Theme 2: AIDS, Community Resilience and Social Protection
  • Theme 3: AIDS and Nutrition Security

In 2010, as RENEWAL 3 winds down, activities will focus on the completion of ongoing research projects and the synthesis of research results and review of impacts of RENEWAL over its 10 years of existence.

Theme 1: AIDS, Agriculture and Livelihood Security

Theme 1 is concerned with key household, community and institutional interactions between HIV and AIDS, vulnerability and livelihoods - particularly livelihoods that are dependent on agriculture, and livelihoods that are most important for the poor. In particular the theme considers the options for responding to these interactions so as to ensure household food and nutrition security in the context of high HIV prevalence. One important component concerns dynamic urban-rural livelihood linkages and the ways in which these links condition people’s susceptibility to HIV and vulnerability to AIDS. A three city study (Addis Ababa, Johannesburg and Windhoek) considering urban-rural linkages has been completed with a smaller follow-up study tracking rural "sending" households underway in Johannesburg. A related study in East Africa considering HIV, mobility, vulnerability and commercial agriculture in Great Lakes region has been completed in the form of a comprehensive literature review. Another component of this theme is a study looking at HIV and agricultural extension services in Malawi and Zambia. The Malawi research is due for completion in 2010 whilst the Zambian study is being widely disseminated in-country through the national network.

Theme 2: AIDS, Community Resilience and Social Protection

AIDS, Community Resilience and Social Protection: Theme 2 examines the role and potential of community-driven development for enhancing resistance and resilience of the poor to HIV and AIDS, and the important complementary and enabling role of the state in AIDS-responsive social protection. This theme is undertaking research to assess the effects of cash transfers and community mobilization on young South African women. The main objective of this project, a collaboration between RENEWAL, the University of the Witwatersrand’s Reproductive Health and HIV Research Unit (RHRU) and Agincourt Health and Population Unit (AHPU), and the University of North Carolina, is to determine the effect of an innovative, multi-level HIV-prevention intervention on vulnerability to HIV among young women and adolescent girls in South Africa.

Theme 3: AIDS and Nutrition Security

AIDS and Nutrition Security: Theme 3 aims to clarify options for strengthening the "missing link" between individual clinical nutrition approaches and broader food security approaches, by focusing on the issue of nutrition security. The perspective throughout is one of livelihood security, and food and nutrition security as being two key outcomes (and inputs) into these livelihoods.

RENEWAL 3 emphasized rigorous operational and evaluative research. Reflecting this emphasis, RENEWAL undertook operational and evaluative research on interventions with The AIDS Service Organization (TASO) in Uganda. Studies undertaken with TASO attempt to address issues that implementers across Eastern and Southern Africa are interested in: a) what is the potential for food and nutritional assistance to delay the need for antiretroviral therapy, b) how best to design a program that integrates food and livelihood interventions with HIV care and treatment, and c) what is the impact of food assistance, on several individual and household level impacts?

Past RENEWAL Research

First Phase (2001-2005)

The first phase of RENEWAL (2001-2005) encompassed a series of collaborative brainstorming "Think Tanks" along with two capacity strengthening workshops. A call for proposals led to the selection and development of proposals and the initiation of the action research studies shown in Table 1.

Table 1: First Phase RENEWAL Studies
Title Country Partners
The Effects of HIV/AIDS on Agricultural Production Systems in Zambia: A Restudy Zambia CARE International Zambia
HIV/AIDS and Community Resilience in Zambia: Understanding the Implications for Food and Nutrition Policies Farming Systems Association, Ministry of Agriculture, Michigan State University, IFPRI
HIV/AIDS, Food and Nutrition Security in South Africa: Understanding and Responding South Africa University of Western Cape, IFPRI
Promoting agricultural innovation In AIDS affected rural households in KwaZulu-Natal Farmer Support Group, KwaZulu-Natal; Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
HIV/AIDS, land reform and land-based livelihoods in three provinces in South Africa Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa
HIV/AIDS, rural livelihoods and depeasantisation in Malawi: finding pathways to social recovery Malawi CARE International Malawi, Center of Social Research, Malawi, University of Leiden, Netherlands
Impact of HIV/AIDS on inter- and intra-generational information flows among smallholder farmers Chancellor College, Malawi, ICRISAT-Malawi, Overseas Development Institute, UK
Farming Systems and Resilience to HIV/AIDS in Malawi Institute for Policy Research and Analysis for Dialogue, Blantyre, Chancellor College

The first phase was deliberately slanted towards AIDS and agriculture, focusing primarily on interactions and impacts. It culminated in the International Conference on HIV/AIDS and Food and Nutrition Security, held in Durban, South Africa, 14-16 April 2005 that was attended by over 200 researchers, policymakers and practitioners. Demand for this conference was high, with a pre-conference call for abstracts generating nearly 300 abstracts, which was followed by 1,300 requests for invitations, exceeding the 200 participant capacity. Following external peer-review of abstracts, over 50 new papers were presented at the conference on interactions and responses. The proceedings and a subset of the best 20 papers have since been brought together in a book, "AIDS, Poverty and Hunger: Challenges and Responses." (Gillespie 2006) The conference was covered by a wide range of African and international media outlets.

Second Phase (2005-2007)

Building on its first phase and on Durban, RENEWAL developed a more proactive focus on policy-relevant research – that is, research that moves from the focus on interactions between HIV/AIDS and food security to an understanding of how to effectively improve the "HIV-responsiveness" of food and nutrition-relevant policies and programs. Following a post-Durban research prioritization exercise and a new competitive call for proposals, a second round of peer-reviewed action research studies were developed in late 2005 and started in early 2006, as summarized in Table 2.

Table 2: Second Phase RENEWAL Studies (2005-2007)
Title Country Partners
Dealing with vulnerability: parents efforts to secure the future of their children Regional University of Cape Town, University of KwaZulu Natal, IFPRI, Southern Africa Vulnerability Initiative (SAVI)
Tuberculosis: An Additional Tipping Stress to Poor Households in South Africa and Zambia Stellenbosch University, S.Africa; University Teaching Hospital, Zambia
HIV/AIDS, Food and Nutrition Security and Urban-Rural Linkages in Southern Africa IFPRI, RENEWAL, Southern African Migration Project
Impact of a Nutrition Program for AIDS Patients and its role in their Coping Strategies Kenya Moi University, AMPATH, IFPRI, Columbia University, USA, World Bank
HIV/AIDS Mortality and the Role of Woodland Resources in the Maintenance of Household Food Security in Rural Limpopo Province. South Africa SUNRAE Program; University of Witwatersrand, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA
Gender Issues in HIV/AIDS and Food/Nutrition security among Internally Displaced People's Camps in Uganda Uganda Makerere University
Land Ownership and Food Security in Uganda: A Study of the Use and Control of Land Among Households of Women Affected by HIV/AIDS in Four Districts Makerere University and National Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
The Effects on Rural Livelihoods of Increasing Rates of HIV/AIDS-related Illness and Death in Zomba South, Malawi Malawi Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Bunda College of Agriculture, Zomba
Stigma/Discrimination within the HIV/AIDS, Food Security and Gender Context in Ethiopia Ethiopia Family Health International, RENEWAL