A World Away From Wall Street, It's a Real Market Crisis
October 16, 2008
Today marks World Food Day, and in Mozambique, people are rallying in the streets to demand international action on a food crisis that has gripped impoverished countries around the world in the past year.
In the town of Chimoio, the effects of the crisis are profound. Extended families who are trying to care for AIDS orphans struggle to feed the extra mouths. Johanna Macumbe started a small organization here in 2002 to support vulnerable children. She is distressed by the rising food prices that threaten her efforts to expand the program.
"There is a lot of need," said Macumbe, whose group receives assistance from Melbourne's Burnet Institute, which works in Chimoio on various HIV/AIDS initiatives. Macumbe said she can only assist 60 children, even though at least 200 more are in need of support.
Henrique Vincente, who runs an organization for people living with HIV/AIDS, said poor nutrition is forcing many HIV patients to stop taking their antiretroviral drugs. The medicines can have brutal side effects, and if they are not taken with proper nutrition, the cure can feel worse than the disease. An estimated 16 percent of Mozambicans are HIV-positive.
According to Dr. Mike Toole, chief of the Burnet Institute's Center for International Health, the food crisis in Africa is fundamentally different from those in other poor regions in Asia or Latin America. "The problem Africa has that Asia hasn't is the high rate of HIV infection," he said. "The disease itself leads to under-nutrition."
Over the next week, farmers from around the world will travel to Mozambique's capital of Maputo. There, they will grapple with the issue at the most basic level: identifying what crops they need to grow to survive.
The Age (Melbourne)
10.16.2008; Jo Chandler