Mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS: Forestry training and education

HIV/AIDS awareness. Foresters often live in the remotest locations, where no other extension staff from government ministries of health or agriculture visit. FAO has proposed that forestry school curricula and in-service training should contain modules of HIV/AIDS awareness education, including its impact on rural production systems and household structure.

Discussing HIV/AIDS with wood industry workers. Factors raising susceptibility to and spread of HIV/AIDS include mobility, absence from village, workcamps and prostitution. (Photo: S. Kolberg)

Safety measures. All governmental and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and large private companies have safety departments aimed at minimizing the risks and sensitizing workers to better safety in forest activities. Where it does not already exist, FAO could play a role in sensitizing institutions, private companies and NGOs to use their safety department facilities to implement workplace programmes addressing HIV/AIDS prevention and mitigation, health and nutrition counselling, and home-based care and to advise on the best treatments currently available.

Continuing education. As in every other sector of society, professional and technical forestry staff has been and will continue to be affected by HIV/AIDS. At the same time in many countries there are massive retrenchment programmes being implemented. These factors combined leave sorely depleted national institutions. Conventionally, if a staff member is employed as a labourer or technician there is virtually no access to further education or promotion to technical and graduate level grades. It may be useful in the context of staff shortages to design fast track upgrading programmes for those young technicians in the service who have field experience to gain diplomas and degrees. It is proposed to design and create fast track opportunities for those already employed in the service to gain diplomas and degrees in forestry.

Youth. There is an enormous need for youth education in HIV/AIDS awareness. There is also a requirement to support communities in the intergenerational life skills transfer of all aspects of adult life. In the context of farming systems, FAO already has specialized units working with rural youth and agriculture. Forestry does not have a comparative advantage in this area - however the importance of youth programmes in HIV/AIDS mitigation is supported.

Relation to FAO corporate framework. FAO is currently preparing a framework for the agricultural sector in HIV/AIDS mitigation as well as guidelines outlining how to take into consideration HIV/AIDS in field programme design and implementation. All activities relating to the forestry sector will be implemented in the context of these corporate-wide initiatives.

last updated:  Friday, April 23, 2004