Although making a large and rapid impact on our understandings of the interactions between famine and HIV/AIDS, the new variant famine hypothesis has had little critical scrutiny. This paper uses a case study of the Malawian food crisis of 2001/2002 to contribute to understandings of new variant famine (NVF). The critical approach argues that a consideration for gender — the socially constructed relationship between men and women — needs to be central to understanding the interactions between HIV/AIDS and famine, which the NVF hypothesis seeks to explain. Evidence from the Malawian crisis is highly suggestive, although not conclusive, that NVF is best understood as mediated by gender inequalities.
Keywords: agricultural impact, coping strategies, disasters, female-headed households, food security, gender issues, household behaviour, southern Africa
African Journal of AIDS Research 2008, 7(1): 9–17