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Big Congrats and Bon Voyage, Wendi!!/attending "HIV/AIDS and Agriculture" Conference in Benin

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  • Janet Feldman
    Dear All, Big congrats to Wendi Losha Bernadette of Actwid Kongadzem in Cameroon, who has been chosen to attend this conference in Benin--a first of its
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 28, 2007

       
       
      Dear All,
       
      Big congrats to Wendi Losha Bernadette of Actwid Kongadzem in Cameroon, who has been chosen to attend this conference in Benin--a first of its kind--on the links between HIV/AIDS, agriculture/nutrition, and food-security. Wendi will be speaking about the uses of artemisia--which she has helped to pioneer in the communities Actwid Kongadzem serves--especially in relation to the mitigation of HIV/AIDS and malaria symptoms, and also as a source of income-generation for those who grow it.
       
      I'm honored to say I had a hand in helping to organize the event, and Jeff made a wonderful suggestion on a field trip (to view a sustainable agricultural project which addresses the conference themes)--a place called Songhai Farms--which will be an invaluable learning opportunity. I see that a play (theater) on the linkages between HIV/AIDS and agriculture will also be performed! 
       
      I'm sorry that Jeff or Kafui could not attend this event (as OVF had applied for participation, I believe), but I hope there will be opportunities for all of us linked into this endeavor at some point to work together in future.
       
      I hope that Wendi will give us a report abt the conference, and that we might find connections to the MyFoodStory project which can be discussed and explored.
       
      With great excitement and a rousing "bon voyage", and please know that we will be with you in spirit!!  Blessings always, Janet
       
       

      As the largest employer in Africa, agriculture is particularly affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic. In West Africa, the statistics on HIV prevalence do not reflect the true picture because the available statistics underestimate the prevalence, while some countries are increasingly being affected by the pandemic.

      The interrelationships between HIV/AIDS, agriculture, nutrition and food security are complex and the potential impacts of this growing crisis for West Africa�s rural households and communities are serious. HIV/AIDS has several serious agriculture-related impacts, including the loss of family labor for production and resource management, loss of livelihoods, assets, and local ecological knowledge, and the adoption of increasingly unsustainable coping strategies and technologies. These devastating consequences highlight the grim reality of the pandemic as a development challenge, and underscore the urgent need for strategic action.

      The linkages and relationships among the community of actors in HIV/AIDS mitigation, including community based implementing organizations, policy makers, funding agencies and research institutions have not generally been strongly accentuated in development practice. Highlighting such linkages will foster collaborative learning and enhance the incorporation of such learning in the design and the delivery of future programs.

      In West Africa in particular, there is very little empirical knowledge on the particular needs of HIV/AIDS affected households, especially with regards to agricultural and nutritional maintenance and improvements. A further issue which emerges in the field is the practical difficulty of implementing training, outreach and agricultural extension work with often illiterate, elderly people.

      Across Africa, many innovative projects and models responding to these challenges are being implemented to mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS. Experiences that have been gained provide a rich opportunity for learning and exchange among the practitioner and research community in West Africa. These in turn can usefully inform and guide new programs and policies at various levels.

      This forum will be one of the first international events of its kind in West Africa to focus on the inter-related nature of HIV/AIDS, food insecurity and malnutrition as well as practical strategies for mitigating their devastating human and economic consequences. Stakeholders will have the opportunity to share experiences and gain knowledge in effective programming strategies in the areas of mitigating HIV/AIDS, and its effects on agriculture and food security, and scaling up best practices and policies.

      Business leaders and government representatives will be fully involved to help inform programmatic decisions based on frontline experiences in the struggle against HIV/AIDS. It will also be an occasion for scientists, NGOs, extensionists and farmers to reflect on and identify what the future challenges would be for research institutes in terms of technology development and adaptation to affected households and farmers.

      The goal of the conference is to provide a platform for exchange, sharing of knowledge and learning about best practices/technologies for mitigating the agricultural, food security and nutritional impacts of HIV/AIDS on rural communities in West Africa.

      The objectives are:

      1. Enhance learning and information sharing between program implementers on best practices/technologies and lessons learned through presentations, workshops and site visits.

      2. Build and strengthen partnerships for continued learning and research.

      3. Identify ways of improving collaboration among a wide array of entities (project, governments, nonprofits, donor and private sector) as a sustainable strategy to address the food and nutrition requirements of people infected with, and communities affected by HIV/AIDS.

      4. Explore ways to provide short term relief and map out strategies for scaling up promising pilot projects on HIV/AIDS, agriculture, food security and nutrition.

      5. Bring together policy makers and people with practical experience in scaling up these experiences

      6. Launch a capacity building effort in collaboration with partners in SSA..

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