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There is a close link between HIV and livelihoods, as health effects of HIV are often disruptive to livelihoods and income generation. HIV can affect livelihoods in many different ways. Periods of illness can result in loss of labour, both of the sick individual and their carer. This may lead to food insecurity and poor resource management, as natural resources may be overexploited as a source of nearby food and income. Death of an individual can prevent knowledge transfer between families, leaving younger generations without the knowledge and skills to continue the family business. Orphans and widows may also find themselves without land or houses due to land grabbing and inheritance traditions. Families affected by HIV may become isolated from their communities, as a result of stigma or lack of time to invest in relationships.

The project

Think Livelihoods! (TL) was developed in 2009 in partnership with Samaritan’s Purse and was tested in Ethiopia by Tearfund’s partners. TL is based on the sustainable livelihoods approach and aims to help vulnerable people to make the best possible use of their skills and resources, and to gain insight into and understanding of their local situation and vulnerabilities. In Ethiopia the training is incorporated into the self-help group programme, although it can also be run with support groups of 20-40, and encourages discussion and input from members.

TL focuses on 6 topics following an introductory session to explain the TL training.


The Think livelihood! toolkit intends to help individuals identify their assets and apply them as a source of sustainable and resilient income. The TL program encourages follow up support and teaching local people how to train others, and therefore equips communities to independently provide training and support.

The TL training was evaluated in 2014 by comparing self-help groups which had received TL training those which hadn’t.

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