Lesotho + 4 more

Famine and HIV/AIDS: Julia Taft accompanies mission to southern Africa

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The convergence of multiple crises in southern Africa is destroying communities and undermining political stability in the region. Extreme poverty and erratic climatic patterns affecting harvests and creating severe food deficits have been compounded by a gloomy and hazardous spread of HIV/AIDS. There are an estimated 73,000 orphaned children under the age of 15 who live in Lesotho without parents who have died from AIDS and malnutrition. Food shortages in these regions affect millions per day and the HIV/AIDS pandemic is endangering the lives and livelihoods of whole communities and generations.
From 22-29 January 2003, the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery's Assistant Administrator and Director, Julia Taft joined a mission to Southern Africa hosted by the World Food Programme (WFP). The mission was made up of senior officials of UNDP, WFP and other UN agencies. The target countries visited were Lesotho, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

Said James T. Morris, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa, "While responding to the severe food crisis in southern Africa, an even greater disaster has been unearthed. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is compounding the premature death of thousands of productive people-particularly women."

In the coming months, food aid will be essential and the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery will work with UNDP country offices in southern Africa to implement an immediate recovery strategy in disaster management, contingency planning and mitigation. UNDP is providing UN Volunteers to work with the governments in training and to build up the capacity of the communities themselves. This will include consultations with local and women's groups and NGO's, government officials and academics.

UNDP will work alongside other UN agencies to address issues of governance, capacity development, agriculture and food security, health, education and social welfare, and support to policies and programmes including mainstreaming issues of women and HIV/AIDS into multi-sectoral initiatives.

For further information, please contact Tala Dowlatshahi, tala.dowlatshahi@undp.org, Public Information Specialist, BCPR.