The Impact of HIV/AIDS As a disaster on the population structure of Lesotho

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Master’s Degree in Disaster Management
Title The Impact of HIV/AIDS As a disaster on the population structure of Lesotho
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2010
Page numbers 0-0
This mini dissertation was carried out as part of the requirements for the award of the master?s degree in disaster management at the University of the Free State. The aim of the research was to investigate the impact of HIV/AIDS disaster on the population structure of Lesotho with more attention from when the first HIV case was reported in 1986 to when the last national population census was conducted in 2006. HIV/AIDS is a serious problem in Lesotho. With an adult HIV prevalence rate of 23.2%, Lesotho is ranked the third highest affected country in the world. Within a period of three years (2003 to 2006), the total population of Lesotho decreased from 2.2 million people to 1.8 million people. Without any civil war in the country which could cause such a rapid drop in population, therefore one of the main causes for the population decrease was the effect of HIV/AIDS pandemic. The pandemic did not only affect the total population but the age and sex composition of the population of Lesotho as well. The study was done from a disaster management perspective and the progression of vulnerability (PAR) model was used as the main conceptual framework. By using the PAR model, the researcher was able to explore and explain the economic, social, cultural, environmental and even political weaknesses in Lesotho that the HIV/AIDS pandemic exploited to overwhelm the coping capacity/ resilience in Lesotho leading to the declaration of a national HIV/AIDS disaster in 2000. To assess the damage that the HIV/AIDS disaster had on the population trajectory of Lesotho, the Demographic Transition model was explored in the research. An in-depth literature review was carried out using (in most cases very resent) international, regional and national sources. The literature review first looked at the background of HIV/AIDS, followed by an exploration of the global situation. The HIV/AIDS situation in Africa was examined with much attention on southern Africa sub region which happens to be the epicentre of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Lastly the literature review was funnelled down to the HIV/AIDS situation in the Kingdom of Lesotho, which was the focus of the research. Throughout the literature review, attention was paid on HIV/AIDS parameters such as the prevalence rate, the morbidity and mortality rates, AIDS orphans and the age and sex differential impact of HIV/AIDS. The researcher used a hybrid of both quantitative and qualitative research methods but with more inclination towards quantitative approach. The empirical study was based on questionnaires that were completed by 116 medical personnel in Lesotho. The respondents were recruited using a simple random sampling and seven out of ten districts were covered in the sampling. The recruitment of medical personnel was guided by the fact that they deal with HIV/AIDS cases almost on daily basis. Besides the questionnaires, the researcher also interviewed the chief executive officer (CEO) and the public relation and communication officer of the Lesotho Disaster Management Authority (DMA) on 02 September 2009. The interview enabled the researcher to have a better insight on the role DMA played or is playing in the management of HIV/AIDS as a disaster in Lesotho. Part of the empirical study was done using Secondary Data Analysis (SDA). The SDA examined in the research were the 1976, 1986, 1996 and 2006 national population census data. From these population censuses, the researcher was able to identify the changes in the population structure of Lesotho within the HIV/AIDS era. In order to estimate which of these changes could be attributed to the impact of
HIV/AIDS, the researcher used data from HIV/AIDS monitoring institutions like the UNAIDS, the Lesotho Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW), the Lesotho National AIDS Commission (NAC), the World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as data from the empirical study. The results were analysed and interpreted using simple descriptive statistical techniques. The conclusions and recommendations in this research were based on both the literature review and the empirical investigations that were carried out by the researcher. The key findings from the research include:
? HIV/AIDS has an impact on all the components of the population structure of Lesotho but the highest impact is the rapid increase in morbidity and mortality rates
? Demographers and population geographers would need to redraw the population pyramid of Lesotho and other developing countries that are heavily affected by HIV/AIDS
? The number of AIDS orphans and therefore that of vulnerable children continue to rise in Lesotho. This very vulnerable group of the population may have unmet psycho-social and other needs that warrant further investigation
? HIV/AIDS disaster presently has a different management set up from other disasters in Lesotho
It is however recommended that further research be carried out on the impact of HIV/AIDS on the population structure of Lesotho with a larger population sample and involving all the ten districts. The current ongoing Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) could prove very valuable for such a research. Other research gaps exist such as to investigate the socio-economic and psycho-social impact of HIV/AIDS especially on children in Lesotho as well as ways to improve on positive behavioural changes among adults in Lesotho with regards to HIV/AIDS.

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