The purpose of this session was to give consideration to the key policy issues that impact on the response to the crisis caused by the confluence of HIV/AIDS and food insecurity. Kathleen Cravero, Deputy Director of UNAIDS, gave a presentation on the linkages between HIV/AIDS, governance and food security. Johann Kristen of the University of Pretoria provided insights on the role of the commercial sector and Margaret Nyirenda, of SADC on the policy determinants of food security response and recovery.
The key outcomes from these presentations and the ensuing discussions were:
HIV/AIDS programming has been improved by joint action at the country level and through effective regional coordination.
HIV/AIDS has a strong connection with food security, and vice versa- bi-directional effects. HIV/AIDS households are vulnerable to food security and food (or the lack thereof) affects those living with HIV/AIDS. Any decrease in nutrition levels accelerates the development of the disease. As the linkages are so strong, the recovery in the region will be fragile at best.
There is also a clear connection between AIDS and governance, as AIDS threatens all development planning, across every sector. The disease is destroying the institutional capacity of governments and of their leadership. AIDS is not only a short-term emergency, but also poses a longer-term development challenge.
There is a need to have further data for sustainable assistance and further quantification of the impact of AIDS on households.
Regarding the role of the commercial sector, some countries in the region have liberal policies, while others have more restrictive practices. In general, those countries that have adopted more liberal trade policies have been better able to meet their overall food requirements. In order to establish the confidence of the commercial sector, there must be liberalization of trade.
The main challenges identified to food security response and recovery are i) the high cost of relief operations in terms of diverting investments from productive sectors, ii) asset depletion, iii) unsustainable recovery based on improved rainfall, subsidized inputs and relief assistance, iv) risk of market distortion, v) widespread poverty, vi) governance and vii) the balance between short term and longer term development objectives.
SADC is developing a strategic plan to boost food availability, to promote fair trade practices, to increase preparedness, improve monitoring and evaluation of projects in the region and to encourage governments to increase investment for longer term development.