Transforming Lives: Can Savings and Credit Group Membership Work for Women Affected by HIV/AIDS?: A South African Case Study

Annie Barber


This study investigates the role of Savings and Credit Groups (SCGs) in improving the coping strategies of women affected by HIV/AIDS in a poor rural district of the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa. In a country severely hit by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, there is a lack of practical livelihood strategies for people to weather the debilitating shocks caused by the disease. These shocks force vulnerable households to employ irreversible coping strategies and threaten to trap them in poverty. This study presents important evidence of consumption smoothing and improved coping mechanisms among women affected by HIV/AIDS who are members of SCGs. Stable levels of consumption among participants suggest that they are more protected from insecure and volatile flows of income and are more able to meet basic household needs. With this target group being largely typical of rural populations affected by HIV/AIDS in South Africa, it is likely that the same impact can be achieved on a much larger scale and there is thus great scope for project replication in other areas.


Saving and Credits Groups; HIV/AIDS; women's empowerment; livelihood; Eastern Cape; South Africa; poverty

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