Role of household energy in mitigating HIV/AIDS
AIDS undermines people’s ability to engage in agriculture, and to benefit from rural development. As the current crisis in southern Africa has shown, those living with or affected by chronic illness can work less, or spend time caring for others, or have decreasing experience and skills. They may have to sell off productive assets, or leave them under-utilized. For this reason, there is an increasing realisation that development, relief and rehabilitation must be addressed together.
Many of those affected by HIV/AIDS need special support to help them participate and benefit from interventions. Children and young people need the opportunity to develop their own skills and resources by staying in school; they should not have to drop out to keep their families alive. Those most affected by AIDS simply don’t have the time or ability to engage in development efforts, and need relief, social protection or welfare over an extended period in order to survive.
By providing basic energy solutions, ProBEC simultanously promotes health and longer life, and this is the primary way that it can contribute to HIV/Aids mitigation. Through the process of “mainstreaming” HIV/Aids into its work, ProBEC hopes to achieve a cross-sectoral response to HIV/AIDS.
While "integration" of HIV/Aids work involves the introduction of HIV/AIDS issues and interventions into a sector or organisation as a component among others, "mainstreaming" is the process of incorporating HIV/AIDS issues and interventions into the “core business” of a sector or organisation, thus modifying it. It involves bringing HIV/AIDS issues into all the strategic planning and day-to-day operations of a sector or organisation and in its relationships with others.
The magnitude of the epidemic, the severity and scope of its impact, touching all sectors of society, and the inadequacy of solely health sector-based responses, have clearly demonstrated the need for a cross-sectoral mobilisation and collaboration against the pandemic.
Mainstreaming is the process by which programme such as ProBEC systematically and adequately addresses HIV / AIDS within its mandate and its activities based on its comparative advantage. The basic energy sector will surely not resolve the HIV/AIDS issue – but could make a particular contribution to mitigating its impact.
This is not only an imperative of GTZ, but is also prioritised by the SADC political leadership at all levels, which has demonstrated continued political commitment and put measures in place to combat the epidemic. SADC has implemented an "HIV and Aids Strategic Framework and Programme of Action, 2003 - 2007" which is a multi-dimensional response. It is aimed at intensifying measures and actions to address the devastating and pervasive impact of the HIV and AIDS pandemic in a comprehensive and complementary way.
Infected patients and affected care givers will all benefit from a reliable access to energy and devices that use it efficiently. The first step towards winning the battle against HIV/AIDS for the infected and the affected is their ability to conserve enough energy to keep people going. We ALL need food to live and since most food needs to be cooked, conserving biomass and adopting basic energy technologies will help to mitigate diseases.
Role of energy in care and support:
- Cooking meals
- Boiling water for drinking
- Cooking herbal remedies, hot compresses
- Warm water for bathing
- Sterilizing utensils for patients
In many ways, the adequate supply of fuel wood and the minimisation of its use through energy-efficient devices can contribute to HIV/Aids mitigation. For instance, in order to live healthier with HIV/Aids, patients have reported the following necessities: Income (resources), seek early medical advice, acceptance, desire to be productive, support from others, good ventilation, no air pollution, energy, physical fitness, good nutrition, good hygiene and sanitation, avoid infections, avoid stress and worries.
When they were asked "What is good nutrition?", the responses included: frequent meals, timely meals, steamed or boiled food, less frying, nutrients preserved, use of locally available food, adequate small amounts of food, variety of food, safe and clean drinking water, warm, soft and palatable food, less cooking time.
Whent patients were asked: "How does one avoid infections?" the responses included: avoid smoke, less respiratory infections by good ventilation, avoid infection through improved nutrition and hygiene, reduce burns, less ash, cleaner food, reduce vulnerablity to re-infections.
In order to avoid physical stress, but maintain physical fitness, patients reported the following: avoid carrying heavy loads, get gentle exercise, collect twigs with little effort, get adequate rest, spend less time on cooking and getting firewood, avoid stress from cooking, avoid too much heat, avoid walking long distances.
Likewise, for a caregiver to benefit from saving energy, there must be less exposure to heat and smoke, mobile feeding, less stress and burn out, time to care for other family members, time to mobilize resources for the household, less food wastage, reduced time conflicts, save money for food and others, less time for collecting firewood and cooking.
Since the energy-efficient cooking devices promoted by ProBEC can assist with these requirements because they have been proven to minimise wood use and therefore cut-back on the harvesting of wood. They also reduce indoor ambient air pollution and hence the chances of respiratory infections are minimised, as are burns and exhaustion from collecting lots of wood.