Several notable features arise from the household data on farm workers. First, the gender distribution of the heads of the households surveyed is significant. Some 22 per cent — nearly a quarter — of the households are female-headed and given the concentration of women among seasonal workers, this implies that they and their households receive a lower and less regular income. Most job losses have been among seasonal workers. Similarly, the access of this group to housing and other services on the farms is much more precarious.
A new development is the phenomenon of child-headed households. They constitute 1.4 per cent (13) of the households surveyed. This shows the growing burden of HIV-AIDS on farm worker communities. While a farm orphan support programme exists under the auspices of FOST and extended family networks also look after orphaned children, these can no longer cope adequately. Hence the increasing number of child-headed households which, by their nature, are very vulnerable because they have neither a source of income nor food security. Their coping strategies require a special study in their own right.