Mortality as a factor shaping household use of natural resources in rural South Africa

Lori M. Hunter, University of Colorado at Boulder
Wayne Twine, University of the Witwatersrand
Aaron Johnson, University of Colorado at Boulder

There is a lack of research on the interaction between demographic dynamics and household natural resource use in less developed regions. This information is especially important, however, given the centrality of the environment within rural livelihoods. Further, natural resources act as a buffer against household shocks, offering a potential means of generating income and/or meeting dietary needs. Herein, we focus on HIV/AIDS mortality as a household shock in rural South Africa; We contrast household resource use across households characterized by the death of a household member aged 15-49 relative to those without such mortality. As examples of potential impacts, the loss of an adult household member may yield changes as related to resource use resultant of lost income and/or lost labour; Each entails opportunity costs with regard to the time allocation of remaining household members. The results contribute to emerging understanding of the environmental dimensions of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

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Presented in Session 162: Population and environment