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HIV/AIDS and Food Crises: Next Steps for RENEWAL

There is some evidence and growing recognition that the spread of HIV/AIDS has increased the sensitivity of agrarian society, so that small shocks can precipitate crises for many people. A May 2003 SADC FANR study1 suggests that the impacts of HIV/AIDS on food security, in the context of the 2002 food emergency, are strong and negative. It also suggests that these impacts are complex and require urgent, innovative and sustainable responses.

But just what is the role that HIV/AIDS is playing in the current food crises? To what extent, and in what ways, is AIDS exacerbating food crises? To what extent are food crises accelerating the spread of HIV? And what does this mean for the ways in which different people at various levels need to respond - now, and for years to come?

The RENEWAL2 network in eastern and southern Africa is embarking on a new phase of work that will address these questions. Networks are now up and running in Malawi (HASARNET) and Uganda (HASNET) and, with this initiative, it is hoped others will form in the region. The joint purpose of these networks is to show that fresh thinking in agricultural and livelihoods research, along with development policy and concerted action, can help prevent HIV infection and lessen the impact of AIDS.

Another main purpose of this initiative is to promote convergence between humanitarian and development thinkers and practitioners around the issue of AIDS and its two-way interactions with chronic and acute food insecurity. Given the nature of the virus, and the different waves of AIDS impacts, this will be critical. Short-term relief has to be embedded within a broader vision of multi-level response.

Key concepts and principles underlying RENEWAL's focus and approach are described in a recent paper by Michael Loevinsohn (ISNAR )3 and Stuart Gillespie (IFPRI )4. This, and other papers and workshop reports, are available on the RENEWAL website: www.isnar.cgiar.org/renewal. For further information, email: S.Gillespie@cgiar.org.

Show footnotes

1SADC (Southern African Development Community) FANR (Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources) Vulnerability Assessment Committee (2003). Towards Identifying Impacts of HIV/AIDS on Food Insecurity in Southern Africa and Implications for Response: Findings from Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Harare, Zimbabwe

2Regional Network on HIV/AIDS, Rural Livelihoods and Food Security (RENEWAL) is an emerging regional network of national networks of agricultural institutions, public, private, NGO and farmers' organisations, together with partners in AIDS and public health.

3International Service for National Agricultural Research

4International Food Policy Research Institute

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HIV/AIDS and Food Crises: Next Steps for RENEWAL. Field Exchange 19, July 2003. p19. www.ennonline.net/fex/19/renewal

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