> Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Communications Assistant, CFI

Last week, the world celebrated World AIDS Day. Since its inception in 1988, it has bolstered action towards ending the AIDS epidemic, generated support for those affected by the disease, and commemorated the lives of those that have been lost to it. Although the last few decades have brought progress that at one time looked impossible, there remains much to be done in the fight against the disease. Roughly 34 million people around the world are living with HIV, and 2.5 million people were newly infected with the virus last year. More can be done to protect people from infection. More can be done to improve our understanding of the disease and how to treat it. And more can be done to support the lives of those that are already affected.

When it comes to financial services and money management, those living with HIV/AIDS are different from others in terms of their personal and economic vulnerability. Living with HIV/AIDS can constrain the work one can conduct, disrupt one’s income stream, and increase one’s dependency on others. Financial services have a role to play here. Initiatives supporting how individuals earn and save money could help prevent their sliding into deeper economic vulnerability, improve their health and welfare, and reduce their risk of spreading the disease.

The recently released Guidance for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Programming from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) stresses household economic strengthening. The Guidance outlines a number of financially supportive interventions, along with evidence-based insights on the contexts in which they will likely be most successful. The interventions are divided into the categories of consumption support, money management, and income promotion. The Guidance states that PEPFAR programs should prioritize the following:

  • Money management interventions for savings, access to consumer credit, and fostering knowledge and behaviors for better family financial management.
  • Income promotion using low-risk activities, such as formal employment or casual labor, to diversify and stimulate growth in household income.
  • Integration of household economic strengthening activities with complementary interventions, such as parenting skills.

As an example of the third recommendation, you may wish to learn about the Urwaruka Rushasha project in Burundi. Funded by USAID’s Displaced Children and Orphans Fund, the project targets vulnerable boys and girls in two rural provinces through the combination of family-based discussion groups and a savings and loans program. To learn more about the Urwaruka Rushasha project, you can find the report on its mid-term impact evaluation, here.

Image Credit: UNAIDS

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