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The impact of HIV and AIDS on agriculture and food security in Lesotho
2006
Prepared for FANRPAN by: Thope A Matobo, Makhala B Khoeli, Regina M Mpemi
National University of Lesotho


Introduction

The HIV and AIDS scourge has been with us for over 20 years and it continues to challenge us globally. In the years since their discovery, HIV and AIDS have aroused more concern than any other health conditions from research and media coverage and yet the epidemic is still progressing and no cure has yet been found. Since the onset of HIV epidemic more than 60 million people have been infected with HIV.

Although HIV and AIDS have now been identified in nearly all the countries, the prevalence or scale of infection varies widely both between and within countries. The virus reached the global regions at different times and has spread faster or slower in various populations, depending on different factors. In Sub-Saharan Africa - the worst affected region in the world, HIV/AIDS represents a severe development crisis. According to UNAIDS (2003), even if exceptionally effective prevention, treatment and care programmes take hold immediately, the scale of the epidemic means human and socio-economic toll will be massive for many generations.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, over 29.4 million people are infected with HIV (8.8% adult prevalence), making the region the worst affected in the world, with an estimated 3.3 million new infections in 2001. It was further indicated that ten million young people (aged 15-24) and almost 3 million children under 15 years were living with HIV (UNAIDS, 2003). Of the 34 million children who were orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1/3 of them lost their parents due to HIV and AIDS. In Southern Africa, seven countries: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe are reported to have adult HIV prevalence of more than 30 percent. In these countries, life expectancy was projected to decline from 60 to 70 years to 30 to 40 years (Shapouri and Rosen, 2001). Thus, if the pandemic is not checked, population levels in these most highly affected countries would be in decline by the end of this decade. Apart from this, in most highly affected countries, slow growth in agricultural productivity and the overall economy resulted in growing food insecurity over the last two decades. The escalating scourge of HIV and AIDS in Lesotho and worldwide, warrants that stringent measures be put into effect to curb the spread and effects of HIV and AIDS.

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