Personal illness, caring for sick family members or death of a family member can disrupt household livelihood patterns, reducing food and income flows, and increasing health and other HIV-related costs. The most vulnerable people living with HIV and their families typically cope with these economic shocks by cutting overall expenditure, even for essential items such as medication, transport to clinics and school fees, and reducing the frequency, quality and quantity of food they consume. Other common coping strategies include selling assets and curtailing productive activities. Healthy family members, usually women, often stop working to care for sick relatives. This further reduces household income for food, health care and other basic needs. Children are often taken out of school to help care for the sick or generate cash, negatively impacting education outcomes and future opportunities for food and livelihood security.

The Livelihoods and Food Security Technical Assistance II (LIFT II) project was launched in 2013 by USAID as a follow on to the LIFT project (2009-2013) to end this downward spiral by strengthening the capacity of USAID missions, implementing organizations and host governments to design and implement livelihood and food security interventions that sustainably improve the economic resiliency and health of vulnerable households. LIFT II’s primary goal is to build the continuum of care for people living with HIV and other vulnerable households by increasing their access to high quality, context appropriate, market-led economic strengthening, livelihood and food security (ES/L/FS) opportunities to improve their economic resilience and lead to better health.

To improve nutritional status among patients, the Nutrition Assessment, Counseling and Support (NACS) approach integrates supplemental feeding and nutritional counseling into clinical HIV care regimens. An essential component of LIFT II’s approach is establishing links to integrate economic strengthening and food security activities within NACS programs. Strong linkages between clinical facilities and community-based services are needed to ensure that patients have access to support mechanisms which will help them maintain adequate access to food, which is an important strategy to prevent relapse after the course of nutritional therapy and counseling is completed.

Read more about the LIFT II in our project overview.