With the Program me of Action adopted by the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), population issues have been placed at the centre of the development agenda by emphasizing the close relationship between population and sustainable development as well as the need to improve the population/food supply balance through a holistic approach to agriculture and rural development, which will include gender, environmental, population/HIV/AIDS and sustainable rural development issues. The Program me of Action places the well-being of women and men at the contra of sustainable development, rather than focusing on demographic concerns and targets.
The shift from family planning to reproductive health has resulted in added interest in sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV/AIDS from a population Program me perspective. Major efforts are under way to integrate STD/HIV/AIDS prevention and mitigation activities into reproductive health programmes. It is against this background that a number of concerns for rural populations and the role of agricultural extension services are presented and discussed.
The purpose of the present paper is to help population specialists at the regional and country levels carry out the following specific tasks:
· promote awareness of population/HIV/AIDS and rural development linkages and related issues through appropriate rural development policies and agricultural extension programmes;
· assist to integrate population/HIV/AIDS concerns and considerations into agricultural development and extension policy analyses;
· assist in the design and implementation of data collection and rapid rural appraisal (RRA) studies on population/HIV/AIDS issues;
· initiate the design and implementation of population/HIV/AIDS-related research in support of agricultural production systems and sustainable rural development studies in HIV/AIDS-affected areas.
For this purpose the paper reviews relevant articles and/or publications and provides factual information on HIV/AIDS issues as they affect agricultural extension services and proposes agricultural extension strategies to prevent the disease and to mitigate its impact on rural people in cooperation and coordination with relevant technical services.
It must be noted that the knowledge on the impact of HIV/AIDS on agriculture/ rural development is drawn from studies carried out in eastern Africa, therefore, impacts could be different in other regions. Still, it is believed that the type of issues raised could be useful for other regions as well.
This paper will be addressed to UNFPA Country Support Team Directors, Regional IEC Advisers, UNFPA Country Representatives and FAO regional, subregional and country offices. Suggestions for further distribution will be welcome.
Erich G. Baier
FAO/UNFPA TSS Specialist (Agricultural Education and Extension)