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December 2004

Announcement of a new publication

Strengthening institutional capacity in mitigating HIV/AIDS impact on the agricultural sector - potential mitigation interventions

Poverty continues to be an endemic problem in Zambia. According to the living conditions monitoring survey of 1998, 73 percent of the population were classified as living in poverty. While poverty has long existed in Zambia, it is clear that diseases, including HIV/AIDS, have exacerbated this poverty by contributing to decreased agricultural productivity and to increased household food insecurity. Currently, it is estimated that 16 percent of the population of Zambia aged between 15 and 49 years is HIV positive.

The sustained and long-term impacts of the HIV/AIDS epidemic are slowly eroding food security, damaging rural livelihoods and increasing poverty. The linkages between HIV/AIDS, food security and rural livelihoods have been explored by the FAO Integrated Support to Sustainable Development and Food Security Programme (IP), an interdepartmental programme involving eleven FAO Services, through baseline studies in Zambia, Uganda and Namibia. Results from the FAO baseline study in Southern Province attribute a strong decrease in agriculture production (less land cultivated; decreased use of agricultural inputs) and lower nutritional status among vulnerable households - households with chronically ill members, households headed by widows and households fostering orphans to HIV/AIDS.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives (MACO) recognises that HIV/AIDS is seriously undermining all its efforts in developing a sustainable and viable agriculture sector. Under the Agriculture Sector Investment Programme, a special budget was allocated for HIV/AIDS activities. MACO trained HIV/AIDS focal persons in prevention and counselling at national level and in the Provincial Agriculture Coordinator Office (PACO) and the District Agriculture Coordinator Office (DACO) and equipped them with condoms. Presently, HIV/AIDS is mostly regarded as a health issue and MACO technical staff are insufficient aware what mitigating strategies might be introduced as concentration has been mainly on prevention and counselling.

There is therefore a strong need for raising awareness among agricultural policy-makers and senior staff in MACO for HIV/AIDS and food security linkages and for possible responses that will mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS on the agricultural sector. Thus, the Government of Zambia, through the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, has requested FAO Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) assistance in awareness raising and capacity building of senior agriculture staff in the Ministry for addressing HIV/AIDS concerns and mitigating the negative impact of HIV/AIDS on agricultural production and household food security. Given the cross-cutting nature of HIV/AIDS, it is important to identify possible interventions that are within the mandate of MACO. Therefore, this document will outline an Integrated Framework for Mitigation that would guide future action by MACO.

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