Since the 27th Committee on World Food Security held in 2001, a number of actions have been undertaken by FAO in collaboration with key partners, both in terms of normative work at FAO Headquarters and in direct response to the Southern Africa Crisis. Some of the highlights include:
In terms of normative work:
Policy development, advocacy, training and capacity-building are being carried out on the basis of a FAO/UNAIDS agreement signed in December 2001. The objective of the collaboration is to enhance prevention and mitigation of the impact of HIV/AIDS on food security and rural poverty. Most recently, in December 2002 and February 2003, a series of HIV/AIDS response capacity workshops were held with FAO technical units, and a paper outlining the main elements of a food and livelihood security-based strategic response to HIV/AIDS was prepared.
A number of strategic areas of intervention were identified in a technical meeting on mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS on food security and rural poverty: a framework for the agricultural sector, held at FAO in December 2001 in collaboration with WFP, IFAD and UNAIDS. Such focus areas include: improving food security and nutrition; strengthening social and economic safety nets and protecting access of vulnerable households to productive resources; enhancing labour-saving practises and technologies; ensuring the preservation and transmission of agricultural knowledge, practices and skills; addressing gender-specific vulnerabilities, needs and interests; building the capacity of formal and informal rural institutions; and developing an agriculture-sector response to address the adverse effects of HIV/AIDS on orphans and vulnerable children. More information on the outputs achieved in each of these areas is available from the FAO HIV/AIDS focal point.
An informal meeting of UN Agencies on Nutrition and HIV/AIDS, held in FAO, Rome, 18 - 19 June 2002, provided a basis for harmonising the work of UN agencies on nutrition and HIV/AIDS by focusing on the nexus of household food security, health and family care and feeding practices.
A manual on nutritional care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS, entitled "Living Well with HIV/AIDS" has been published jointly with WHO, and a companion training programme for health workers and other extension agents is being finalised.
Guidelines for the integration of HIV/AIDS considerations and objectives into a) food security and livelihoods programmes, and b) the design and implementation of FAO´s emergency assistance have been developed. FAO, together with WFP and other UN organisations, is actively involved in an inter-agency task force which is presently finalising common guidelines for addressing HIV/AIDS in emergency settings. Also, in efforts to establish common UN positions on the nutritional care and support of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) an interagency statement on infant and young child feeding practices in the context of HIV is under preparation.
A document on measuring the impact of HIV/AIDS on food security and rural livelihoods was prepared. A workshop on integrating HIV/AIDS concerns into vulnerability assessment tools and methods will be held in conjunction with WFP and SADC.
Baseline studies on the linkages between food security and rural livelihoods were carried out in Zambia, Uganda and Namibia by the FAO Integrated Support to Sustainable Development and Food Security Programme (IP). Preliminary results confirm findings from earlier studies in terms of changes in household demography and social capital; decline in agricultural production; changes in income and expenditure patterns; and reduced food access and lower nutritional status. Detailed survey results will be available in May 2003.
As part of a sensitisation and awareness raising campaign, a television documentary on the role of HIV/AIDS in undermining household food and nutrition security in southern Africa has been prepared.
A new programme entity entitled "Analysis and mitigation of the impact of HIV/AIDS on food security and rural development" was incorporated into FAO's Medium Term Plan 2004-2009.
In terms of field operations:
Southern Africa food crisis response: FAO has assisted more than 250,000 families in Southern Africa since the current crisis began. Emergency aid has consisted of distribution of seeds, tools, and fertilisers; provision of treadle pumps to support irrigated agriculture; promotion of cassava production; and restocking small livestock and animal disease control programmes. Support to conservation farming allowed a reduction and better distribution of labour peaks throughout the agricultural season. Rehabilitation and development assistance are also being provided in the areas of policy assistance, food security and nutrition information systems, capacity building and the Special Programme on Food Security.
A number of countries (Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Cambodia) have started developing and promoting mitigation strategies in the agricultural sector, including: less labour intensive agricultural techniques, preservation of agricultural knowledge and technology transfer through extension services, improved nutrition for people living with AIDS, South-to-South networking and dialogue among the agricultural sector and between other sectors, and institution-building.
The Horn of Africa Task Force on long-term food security addressed HIV/AIDS as one of the critical factors affecting food security in the seven famine-prone countries of the region. FAO is implementing a pilot project in Bondo district, Kenya, to reduce chronic hunger and develop practical and replicable approaches that assist rural communities in addressing food security issues posed by high levels of HIV/AIDS.