WFP targets HIV/AIDS orphans in urban areas

ZAMBIA: WFP targets HIV/AIDS orphans in urban areas


WFP provides fortified porridge to the most vulnerable

JOHANNESBURG, 27 Oct 2003 (PLUSNEWS) - The rise in the number of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Zambia has forced the World Food Programme (WFP) to scale up its assistance programmes in some of the country's urban centres.

WFP information officer Lena Savelli told PlusNews on Monday that although food security in Zambia continued to improve, there was growing concern over the plight of vulnerable children, most of whom were left to support households after the death of a parent.

"We are not feeding nearly as many people as we did last year, but the lack of coping mechanisms among the most vulnerable households, especially AIDS orphans, remains extremely serious," Savelli said.

The urban programme, operational at 135 sites in the capital, Lusaka, Kafue (north) and Chongwe (east), reaches 49,155 children in community schools and 22,790 households. When the programme started in January, WFP was feeding some 30,000 vulnerable children and 10,000 poor households.

WFP provides the children with a hot breakfast of fortified porridge at their school and, contingent upon the child's regular attendance at school, a monthly take-home ration of 50 kg of maize or cereal for the caretaking family.

"It is hoped that the hot porridge the children receive at school each morning will encourage regular attendance, since research has shown that it is often these vulnerable children who are pulled out of school during a crisis. The programme also increases the knowledge and awareness among children and their households of disease prevention. Caretakers of these children are given talks on HIV prevention when they pick up their monthly rations," she added.

Although it was difficult to confirm, it was estimated there were between 1 million and 1.8 million AIDS orphans in Zambia, WFP said.

According to UNAIDS almost 22 percent of Zambians are living with HIV/AIDS.


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