There is no doubt that the countries faced with HIV/AIDS have to put forth their own resources for fighting against the epidemic. However, since HIV/AIDS is now seen as a cross-sector development issue, the bilateral and multilateral donors may provide assistance to national extension organizations in handling the present situation and in avoiding the future impact of the epidemic. Such assistance may be provided under umbrella programmes of donors for, for instance, sustainable livelihoods, poverty alleviation, peoples participation, and possibly others. The key areas in which assistance is needed include:
Training of extension staff in HIV/AIDS.
Development of suitable extension strategies and methodologies.
Launching of anti-AIDS extension campaigns.
Conducting studies on extension-AIDS aspects.
Establishing intercountry extension networks on HIV/AIDS through electronic information technology.
Integration of HIV/AIDS in ongoing extension programmes and relevant projects.
Formulation of new programmes and projects keeping in mind the latest socioeconomic situation in AIDS-affected areas, potential AIDS-related effects of intended field activities, and the provision of safeguards against them at project identification stage.
The present priorities of donors have to be reviewed in light of the fast changing situation in the continent because of the epidemic. The reviews should be done with the following objectives:
National extension systems should receive serious consideration for financial and technical assistance both in view of badly needed HIV/AIDS education for rural masses and the increasing danger of food shortages and poverty due to negligence of farms.
The current trend to reform extension organizations through privatization of extension services in Africa may make sense under normal conditions but under current circumstances, its justification needs to be re-examined in earnest.
Similarly, while extension workers and farmers are struggling to stay alive by combating both the epidemic and an imminent famine threat, the reforms like mandatory down-sizing of public extension services through structural adjustment measures and charging subsistence farmers for extension advice should be reassessed and adjusted in light of the abnormal situation.