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LESOTHO: AIDS battle amid food shortages


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


JOHANNESBURG, 6 October (PLUSNEWS) - Lesotho needs food aid for more than half a million people despite a bigger maize crop this year, while the loss of farming skills due to HIV/AIDS is mounting, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Thursday.

The combined impact of AIDS and food insecurity were "taking a heavy toll on the households of the rural poor in Lesotho," said Simon Clements of the WFP's Lesotho office in a statement.

WFP estimated that close to 30 percent of adults were HIV-positive and AIDS mortality among the farming community has slashed food output; many children have been orphaned while the closure of textile factories has pushed up unemployment.

Maize production rose 15 percent this year, but 549,000 people faced serious food shortages until April/May 2006. The WFP noted that Lesotho would need some 20,200 tonnes of maize to bridge the food gap.

[ENDS]

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