AIDS Epidemic Contributing to Food Shortages, Aid Agencies Say
Food shortages will continue to be a problem in Southern African countries, as the AIDS epidemic and Western rules on agricultural subsidies continue to hamper the region's ability to fight drought, aid agencies said on Sunday, Reuters reports. With 22 million HIV-positive people in sub-Saharan Africa, there are fewer workers to feed more people, Greg Ramm, Southern Africa regional director for Save the Children, said. In addition, the pandemic has eroded poor regions' abilities to maintain agricultural infrastructure and cope with droughts, according to Mike Huggins, regional spokesperson for the World Food Programme. "What in 1992 required a major drought to produce this kind of catastrophe now only requires pockets of droughts, and yes, it would be an unusual year now when we didn't have problems," Ramm said. WFP on Friday renewed its July request for an additional $308 million to feed 6.5 million people, including people in Zambia, Swaziland, Lesotho and Malawi. WFP, which provided food aid to 72 million people in 82 countries in 2002, said that international donors had given less than 25% of the money needed to provide aid during the last drought, putting tens of thousands of people at risk of starvation next year, according to Reuters (Harding, Reuters, 9/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.