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Abstract

The view that widows and their dependents face greater livelihood risks in the era of HIV/AIDS is indeed supported by nationally-representative survey results from Zambia. Efforts to safeguard widows’ rights to land through land tenure innovations involving community authorities may be an important component of social protection, poverty alleviation, and HIV/AIDS mitigation strategies. Several of the findings reported show the influence of local traditional authorities in affecting the extent to which widows are able to retain land. Increased government commitment to ensure security of widows’ access to land is another approach, but initial evaluations of government efforts provide mixed evidence (see Izumi, 2006). Government decrees appear to have little impact if local community authorities are not part of the agreement. But certainly, national governments, donors, and NGOS have an important role to play in developing programs to work with local authorities to protect widows and children against property grabbing by relatives of the deceased as well as to institute property rights that are more compatible with social protection and anti-poverty objectives in the era of AIDS.

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