HIV/AIDS, food and nutrition security

impacts and actions

This paper first reviews the potential pathways through which HIV/AIDS affects nutrition, food security, and the livelihoods of households, particularly those dependent on agriculture. With regard to nutrition, HIV/AIDS significantly impacts individuals and households — through accelerating the vicious circle of inadequate dietary intake and disease, and through diminishing the capacity to ensure the essential food, health and care preconditions of good nutrition. The impacts on agriculture relate to labour and knowledge losses and institutional weakening. The question of how the public sector can and should respond to these challenges is then addressed. The focus is primarily, though not exclusively, on mitigation….Nutritional support has the potential to significantly postpone HIV/AIDS-related illness and prolong life…..Food aid has significant potential for improving the situation of HIV/AIDS-impacted households and communities. Important considerations here include the need for appropriate community-driven targeting mechanisms, and the need for food assistance to form part of a broader package, as far as possible integrated with activities such as training, income-generation or microcredit. Considering the response of the agriculture sector, as labour becomes depleted, new cultivation technologies and varieties need to be developed that do not rely so much on labour, yet that allow crops to remain drought resistant and nutritious. And as knowledge becomes depleted, innovations such as farmer field schools have to emerge to facilitate the transfer of community-specific and organization-specific knowledge within generations and across them. The paper concludes with a description of research priorities. These comprise the development of mechanisms for information sharing, and for the assessment of capacity; the evaluation of attempts at HIV/AIDS mitigation through food, agriculture, and nutrition interventions; and more basic research on the dynamics of shocks. Finally, a re-examination of the policymaking process is needed to understand the ways in which existing policies and programmes may be modified to reduce their effects on either the spread of HIV or the downstream impacts of HIV/AIDS on households and communities.

Author: 
Gillespie, Stuart
Haddad, Lawrence James
Jackson, Robin
Published date: 
2001
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