Dialogue Volume 3 Issue 1: HIV/AIDS pandemic and impact on agriculture and food security in Southern Africa

Sub-Sahara Africa is the heart of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. It is now the leading cause of deaths among the majority of adults in the prime of their working and parenting ages (15-49 years) and in the process impoverishing families and rendering many children as orphans. It is estimated that in 2001, about 36.1 million people were living with AIDS and most of these people were from developing countries. In 1999, sub-Saharan Africa alone accounted for more than 70% (24 million) of the global population infected with HIV/AIDS, and 8.6% of the adult population and more than one million children in the sub region were estimated to be infected with HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS 2000). The cost and the burden of HIV/AIDS on the individual, family and government is huge and has been recognized as a single major threat to the social and economic development of the human race. Consequently, unlike the initial approaches to the control of HIV/AIDS, the scourge can no longer be considered solely as a health problem as it affects all segments of the country's social and economic fabric. The social, economic and institutional consequences of the HIV/AIDS pandemic are wide, interlinked and complex. 

A large number of people living with HIV/AIDS reside in rural areas, and the pandemic is fast spreading into the remote villages affecting the way of life of rural communities (FAO 2001). HIV/AIDS is fast becoming the main cause of morbidity and mortality since the late 1990s. In the SADC alone the number of deaths is projected to grow by a factor of 20 by the year 2015 to more than 10 million.