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Poverty Times #2

Hiv/aids and the environment

The impacts of hiv/aids on the envir-onment are becoming more prominent among the longer-standing socio-economic analyses. For example, food security may be threatened as reductions in the labour force may reduce agricultural productivity, whilst poor nutrition renders people more susceptible to hiv infection1.

The Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group2 envisages additional impacts, including over-use of natural resources such as medicinal plants, timber for coffins, and wildlife for food; loss of traditional knowledge of sustainable land and resource management practices; and loss of human capacity for natural resource management in government, non-governmental organisations, academic institutions, communities, donor organisations, and the private sector

However, according to the group, just as the environment may be impacted, it may also offer solutions. For example, medicinal plants may be used to treat infections and diseases in aids patients, and may be marketed commercially to provide additional incomes to rural communities where the labour force has been impacted, and agricultural diversity may be increased to improve food security.

This will require a shift in governance and management of natural resources, and greater integration between the health sector, the pharmaceutical industry, and natural resources-based community groups. Traditional knowledge of medicinal plants and agricultural and conservation practices should be documented, and policies should be developed in partnerships using this knowledge.

  1. Ifpri 2004. The Impact of aids on Food Security to 2020.
  2. Hiv/aids and Natural Resource Management Linkages workshop proceedings. 26th and 27th September 2002 Nairobi, Kenya. Organized by the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group, Hosted by wwf-earpo, and Facilitated by the College of African Wildlife Management, TanzaniaAfrica