Myriam Makeba, ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, recently vowed to support the efforts of Congolese charity Alpi, which provides food security and helps women living with HIV/AIDS reintegrate into society, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. Alpi, supported by FAO since 2003, currently provides support to 2,430 people living with HIV/AIDS.
According to the group, each family in the program can cultivate up to 15 plots of land of about 10 square feet. The food grown on the plots is used to balance the diet of HIV-positive people, as well as provide financial support. The surplus of food is sold in markets and can help a family earn up to $250 monthly, the group said. Aline Okongo, chair of Alpi, said the financial support is still insufficient to pay for antiretroviral drugs, which can be expensive and difficult to obtain. She added that farm work can be "very difficult" because people often must travel "far from any roads" to reach the fields. Okongo called for more investment from the government and international donors.
According to Okongo, 80% of people living with HIV/AIDS in the Democratic Republic of Congo are between ages 15 and 45 -- "an economically productive age group." According to Okongo, the disease is hindering development in the country (Bouderbala, AFP/Yahoo! News, 3/15).
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