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Update from Food Security, Livelihoods & HIV/AIDS Working Group


An AIDS orphan collects her food ration

A second meeting of the Food Security, Livelihoods & HIV/AIDS Working Group (WG), co-chaired by Rebecca Brown (AAH) and Laura Phelps (Oxfam), was held on Tuesday 20th April 2004. The premise for the WG, which first met in December 2003, was to fill a perceived gap and provide an ongoing forum for exchanging views, skills and knowledge about Food Security and Livelihoods in the context of HIV and AIDS1.

The meeting began with a summary by the co-chairs of the main points of the previous meeting, with introductions including Mick Matthews, Secretariat of the UK Consortium on Aids and International Development. New agency members to the group, Concern Worldwide, CAFOD and Tear Fund, gave short presentations on their agency experiences relating to HIV/AIDS, while SC UK presented on a guide to the many issues needing to be considered when carrying out assessments or planning interventions.

Concern Worldwide

Describing Concern's approach to mainstreaming HIV/AIDS, Paul Rees- Thomas outlined a recent internal audit that found an awareness of HIV/AIDS policy within the organisation, progress in terms of personal awareness, e.g. development of a critical illness policy, with further work needed, and ongoing, on mainstreaming HIV/AIDS in programmes throughout the Concern network2.

Other areas considered relevant to the Working Group included:

  • A Livelihoods Policy based upon labour reduction approaches.
  • Consideration of proxy indicators as an aid in targeting vulnerability.
  • Exploring geographical and regional differences.
  • Community based approaches to managing severe malnutrition, may offer a potential entry point to communities of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).
  • Comparing emergency response models as a platform for medium to long-term responses.
  • Looking at local production initiatives since emergency feeding activities are ultimately not sustainable in the longer term.


Ann Smith described how CAFOD is a partnership-based organisation working primarily with and through field partners, with regional offices in Harare and Nairobi. There is a four person HIV Support Section although this is about to be restructured. HIV is now being mainstreamed into thinking in all aspects of CAFOD's work. Since 1994/95, CAFOD have consistently worked at incorporating HIV perspectives into emergency response. However, translating theory into practical implementation has been a slow process. There is still a discrepancy between what CAFOD are saying and what they are doing. Food distribution through home based care programmes has now reached the point where there is uncertainty as to the way forward while efforts are being made to account for HIV in livelihoods programming.

Tear Fund

HIV is Tear Fund's main strategic priority and is mainstreamed across the 4 pillars of the agency's strategy: disaster management, advocacy, community development and pro-poor economic empowerment. Amy Slorach described how this developed from an internal review and pressure from partners for Tear Fund. Demands from partners have included the need for a different type of food basket to address the needs of people living with HIV/AIDS, and the need for more sophisticated targeting of food baskets linked to household size. Ongoing questions for Tear Fund include how to integrate HIV/AIDS into food security and other programmes, how to address the issue of sustainability, and how to address the issues for partner organisations affected by HIV and AIDS. Tear Fund has engaged ACET consultancy to work with partners and a report will be produced shortly which will be shared with other agencies.

Save the Children UK

Michael O'Donnell presented some key points from a draft paper3, intended for both managers and technical staff working on either food security or HIV/AIDS and reproductive health. It focuses on the economic impact of AIDS, highlights the linkages between HIV/AIDS and reproductive health, and considers how to translate these linkages into programming.

The remainder of the meeting explored whether there is a need for a working group and, if so, what should be the focus of activity. Key points to emerge were:

  • Before undertaking external advocacy, the group should carry out some internal research to highlight commonalities amongst the agencies involved. Internal summaries of organisational strengths and weaknesses in terms of HIV/AIDS programming would be useful.
  • There is a need for the WG to focus on more specific fields of activities within the sector. Exploring a specific issue at each meeting was suggested as one way of maintaining focus.
  • The group could provide a forum to stimulate and engage in discussion about how we understand the problems and address solutions. Sharing the Working Group thinking with field partners would be valuable to get guidance on what the group should be considering.
  • Potential joint projects between agencies should be explored, and may simply mean defining pieces of work each is doing and comparing and sharing the results

The meeting concluded that there is a need to document the wealth of field experience, especially in high HIV prevalence areas, and use this to develop an advocacy or programming tool.

It was agreed that operating within the UK Consortium structure would facilitate the working group's activities. The next meeting is scheduled for July 20th, and will likely focus on terms of reference for working within the Consortium, identifying next steps and further sharing of agency experiences.

For further information, or to contribute ideas on what you think the group should be looking at, contact: Laura Phelps, email: lphelps@oxfam.org.uk or Rebecca Brown, email: r.brown@aahuk.org

Proceedings of the working group meetings can be viewed on the UK Consortium website, http://www.aidsconsortium.org.uk

1See Field Exchange 22, HIV/AIDS and Food Security, summary of meeting, p22-23

2Further suggestions from discussions: A Toolkit, Guide for NGOs managing HIV/AIDS in the workplace is produced by the UK Consortium and available from the website http://www.aidsconsortium.org.uk. Also Plan International suggested as a reference for mainstreaming HIV throughout organisations, see http://www.plan-international.org

3Presentation by Michael O'Donnell, SC UK based upon draft paper, Food Security, Livelihoods & HIV/AIDS: A Guide to the Linkages, Measurement & Programming Implications. Available from - Michael O'Donnell, email: m.o'donnell@savethechildren.org.uk

Imported from FEX website


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