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HIV and AIDS, threats to rural development

FAO, with the UN mandate for improving nutrition and food security, sustainable agriculture and rural development, has a unique opportunity to contribute to preventing and tackling the impacts of HIV and AIDS.

The pandemic is shifting from cities to rural areas. In its earlier stages, the HIV epidemic was predominantly an urban problem, affecting more men than women, and those with relatively higher incomes. Now the epidemic has rapidly moved into the rural areas, hitting those who are least equipped to deal with its consequences. Today, 95% of people living with - and dying of - HIV and AIDS are in developing countries. The overwhelming majority are the rural poor, and among them women figure disproportionately.

A threat to sustainable agriculture and rural development. The epidemic is undoing decades of economic and social development and causing rural disintegration. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV is depleting the region of its food producers and farmers, decimating the agricultural labour force for generations to come.

HIV and AIDS: not just a health issue. In spite of the fact that up to 80% of the people in the most affected countries depend on agriculture for their subsistence, most of the response to the epidemic has come from the health sector. The agricultural sector cannot continue with "business as usual" in communities where vast numbers of adults are dead, leaving only the elderly and children. It has to revise the content and delivery of its services, as well as the process of transferring agricultural knowledge.

A new focus on agricultural responses needed. Effective solutions rely on the agricultural sector and its capacity to reduce people's vulnerability to acquire the disease. The agricultural sector is in a strong position to assist in both the prevention and mitigation of the consequences of HIV. Moreover, it has a responsibility to those people who depend on agriculture for their survival.

FAO and HIV. FAO recognizes the urgent need for action to be able to respond effectively to the impacts of HIV on food security and rural livelihoods and is currently developing a comprehensive HIV strategy for the agriculture sector. [ more ]


2006 Report on the global AIDS epidemic released by UNAIDS

FAO's research in the Miombo Woodlands featured in Chapter 4 - The Impact of AIDS on People and Societies and FAO's JFFLS featured in Chapter 8 - Mitigating Impact.

[ read the report ]


New FAO Web site targeting Italian youth - talks about AIDS
FAO's work on AIDS is explained in a new FAO website (in Italian) that targets Italian youth.

Visit the site
AIDS 2006 - XVI International AIDS Conference -- Time to Deliver
The world's largest conference on HIV/AIDS will take place in Toronto, Canada the 13 - 18 August 2006.

Visit the site




arrow.gif (1K)  New Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools Programme Leaflet


arrow.gif (1K)  The impact of HIV/AIDS and drought on local knowledge systems for agrobiodiversity and food security


arrow.gif (1K)  Rural women, dynamisation of networks and the fight against HIV/AIDS in rural areas


arrow.gif (1K)  Agricultural Workers and their Contribution to Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development


arrow.gif (1K)  Toward multi-sectoral responses to HIV/AIDS: Implications for Education for Rural People (ERP)

  [ more publications]

By 2020 the epidemic will have claimed the lives of one-fifth or more of all those working in agriculture in many southern African countries


Over two thirds of the population of the 25 most-affected countries live in rural areas


AIDS mostly devastates the productive age group -- people between 15 and 50 years


The loss of productive members of society severely affects household capacity to produce and buy food

2006 Report on the global AIDS epidemic (UNAIDS)
The Global Coalition on Women and AIDS
Junior Farmer Field and Life Schools. FAO and WFP, leaflet (pdf)
HIV/AIDS, food security and rural livelihoods. A leaflet on impacts, implications and agriculture sector responses (pdf)
  contact:   © FAO, 2006