Malawi Facing Widespread Famine Because of HIV/AIDS Prevalence, Drought
October 19, 2005
Malawi is "teetering on the brink" of what could become by January a widespread famine, caused by the "lethal combination" of HIV/AIDS and drought, Toronto's Globe and Mail reports (Nolen, Globe and Mail, 10/18). Many people in Malawi survive on subsistence farming, but an estimated 900,000 of the country's 12 million people are HIV-positive, a situation that exacerbates the "vicious cycle of poverty, hunger and disease," the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports (Nullis, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 10/18). A shortage of rain and a high HIV prevalence have combined to produce the worst harvest in Malawi in 11 years, and about five million people are dangerously short of food, according to the Globe and Mail. "AIDS means that greater numbers of people have less to keep themselves from falling over the edge when they get a shock" such as this year's drought, a World Health Organization spokesperson said, adding that the country already has spent its resources on health clinics and there is nothing left to spend on food. The Malawian government is "doing everything it can to prevent disaster" and so far is the largest donor to the World Food Programme's plan for the country. "We are not just asking for handouts: Malawians believe you must try to help yourself before you can ask anyone else," Agriculture Minister Uladi Mussa said, adding, "But at this stage we need help, and if there was a country on the moon, we would accept assistance from it." According to WFP, more funding is needed immediately to distribute rations to households so they can stay healthy enough to plant crops for next year's harvest. The organization said it needs at least $400 million to feed the entire Southern Africa region but has raised only about half of the total so far (Globe and Mail, 10/18).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.