IRIN/PlusNews Examines Effect of World Food Programme Pullout in Uganda on HIV-Positive People
The United Nations World Food Programme is withdrawing food aid to some HIV-positive people in Uganda as part of broader cutbacks in the country's aid program that have come after a shortfall in funding, IRIN/PlusNews reports. The decrease in food aid is estimated to affect 1.5 million people, in addition to the children in the school feeding program, which also will be cutback.
According to IRIN/PlusNews, WFP has been providing food aid to an estimated 173,000 HIV-positive people in Uganda and will continue to provide aid to HIV-positive people who fit into certain categories, such as internally displaced people, children in the insecure region of Karamoja in northeastern Uganda and new mothers and their infants. Stanlake Samkange, WFP's Uganda representative, said that the agency has reviewed their programs and is going to provide support where it has "few actors" and "better funding," adding that if "funding becomes available and there is a role for WFP to play, we will be happy to help." Samkange added that it would be "irresponsible" for the agency to "make commitments" to provide food when it is not certain it can do so.
According to James Kigozi, spokesperson for the Uganda AIDS Commission, the food aid was not intended to be permanent and new sources of aid will be needed immediately to ensure that people continue to have support. However, some HIV/AIDS advocates have criticized WFP's decision to withdraw food aid. Lydia Mungherera, an HIV-positive Ugandan physician and HIV/AIDS advocate, said HIV-positive people taking treatment "need food," adding, "They are not strong enough to engage in agriculture to feed themselves." She also noted that the rising food prices and declining agricultural activities in Uganda make food aid necessary (IRIN/PlusNews, 9/24).