The loss of the middle ground: the impact of crises and HIV and AIDS on 'skipped-generation' households

Series title: 

Poject briefing no 33


The loss of the middle ground: the impact of crises and HIV and AIDS on 'skipped-generation' households

HIV and AIDS has led to an increase in ‘skipped-generation’ households (SGHs) – households made up of the old and the young (Box 1). Such households as a result of negative shocks that fuel demographic changes by raising mortality and migration among the middle generation, including conflict, war, epidemics and natural disasters. With emergencies, particularly those associated with climate change, expected to increase and intensify, particularly in Africa, the concern is that the existing vulnerability of SGHs as a result of their structure/ composition, may increase. However, relatively little is known about a) the livelihoods and coping strategies of such households, b) how they are affected during emergencies, c) the role of community based support structures in assisting these households and d) how emergency preparedness and response could better address their needs.

To address these gaps in knowledge, HelpAge International (HAI), the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Joint United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS), carried out a study to improve understanding on how these households cope during emergencies, and to provide recommendations on how emergency preparedness and response can better meet the needs of such households in the East and Southern African region. A literature review was followed by country case studies in Northern Uganda and Zimbabwe (Box 2) in which members of SGH households, both older people and children, and organisations involved in the emergency response were interviewed. This Project Briefing presents some key findings and policy recommendations from this study.