Social cash transfers to support children and families affected by HIV/AIDS
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In response to the critical need of affected children and families, the compelling evidence for their benefits, and the receptive environment on the part of governments and donors, several local and international organizations are piloting cash transfers programmes as a mechanism to mitigate the impact of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) on affected communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Few programmes, however, are conceptualized or implemented within a broader framework of social protection, socioeconomic development or human rights. This article traces briefly the philosophical underpinnings of social security in Europe, Latin America and southern Africa to illustrate how income transfers, or social grants, can advance development, increase citizenship in evolving democracies and help to realize human rights, especially through the active engagement of communities in the demand for good quality services of benefit to all. Stand-alone cash transfers programmes, motivated to bring relief to destitute families, have immediate benefits for recipients. However, they can be hijacked by local political and community self-interests and encourage perverse household and community adaptations to receive benefits. In contrast, it is possible to design local cash transfer programmes for the benefit of children that speak into and advance the broader developmental and human rights agenda. HIV and AIDS is intertwined with issues of human rights, no less so than in the case of the poorest families affected by the worst epidemics in the world.