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Friday 24 February 2006
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SOUTHERN AFRICA: HIV/AIDS, hunger a security threat, WFP warns

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

©  WFP

Food aid needs are rising, as funding dries up, warns WFP

JOHANNESBURG, 1 July (PLUSNEWS) - World Food Programme (WFP) executive director James T. Morris has warned that the 'triple threat' of chronic hunger, the impact of HIV/AIDS and weakened government capacity could lead to instability in Africa, but singled out Southern Africa as particularly hard hit and thus deserving of international attention.

"The greatest humanitarian crisis we face today is the gradual disintegration of the social structures in Southern Africa," Morris told the UN Security Council in New York on Thursday.

"A lethal mix of AIDS, recurring drought and failing governance is creating insecurity. Last year alone, one million lives were lost to AIDS in the region, and we are only now entering the peak impact period for the pandemic," he stressed.

Morris added that AIDS was undermining the capacity of communities to produce enough food and in many rural villages the land lay fallow with nobody to till it, spurring migration to urban centres where increased unemployment fed social instability.

He estimated that 3.5 million people had been in need of emergency food aid in Southern Africa earlier this year, but with the return of drought conditions to some areas the number had risen to 8.3 million: 4 million in Zimbabwe, 1.6 million in Malawi, 1.2 million in Zambia, 900,000 in Mozambique, 245,000 in Lesotho, 230,000 in Swaziland, and 60,000 in Namibia.

WFP has noted that it might be forced to reduce both rations and the number of people it has been feeding in Zambia, rather than extending its assistance to over one million people as requested by the government.

Without an immediate injection of money, "rations to thousands of people would be slashed in July", WFP said in a statement.

"Women, malnourished children, the elderly and people affected by HIV/AIDS would be among those to suffer. WFP needs US $25 million to feed 820,000 people this year, but only has contributions to feed half that number," the aid agency pointed out.

In Angola, WFP told IRIN that pockets of deepening vulnerability were emerging as erratic weather and the resultant poor harvest forced people to move to urban centres in search of food aid, but the agency's programmes faced severe funding constraints.

WFP's deputy director in Mozambique, Karin Manente, told PlusNews that their food stocks were beginning to run out, at a time when shortages had increased the number of people needing aid.

"The situation is very worrying. If new donations are not made, we will have to scale down our activities rather than increase [them], despite the situation. Our food stocks will start running out in July at this rate," Manente commented.

The southern and central parts of Mozambique were most affected by the dry spell. "Scaling down will be very difficult ... as even before the current shortage, we had not been able to meet the requirements of everyone who is in need of food [aid]," Manente said.

She noted that the agency would have to focus on the areas that were worst affected by the food shortages and had high HIV prevalence rates, and cut assistance elsewhere. "WFP's ongoing operation ... has only received 20 percent of [funding] requirements needed."

The Mozambique National Statistics Institute (INE) showed that the HIV/AIDS pandemic was worsening, with the prevalence rate among people aged 15-49 years now at 15.6 percent, compared to 8.2 percent seven years ago.


Armed forces to tackle impact of HIV/AIDS,  13/Feb/06
AIDS-prevention policies promote stigma - expert,  28/Oct/05
HIV/AIDS eroding region's development, says UN report,  7/Sep/05
Farm workers neglected in HIV/AIDS prevention efforts,  11/Aug/05
New approach to aid required, says report,  20/Jun/05
· AIDS Media Center
· The Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria
· International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
· International HIV/AIDS Alliance

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