Business Day, 06 November 2002, Agencies reassess to approach to crises

UNITED Nations agencies begin a two-day meeting in Johannesburg today to reassess their approach to the southern African humanitarian crisis, as the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic worsens the effect of the regional food crisis.

UNAIDS official Bunmi Makinwa said in a statement yesterday that the UN needed to decide how best to help families affected by HIV/AIDS and to "reassess our whole approach to HIV/AIDS and this humanitarian crisis".

A UN official said the standard World Food Programme (WFP) household ration pack could be changed to take into account the increased size of family units and the rising number of orphans due to the epidemic.

The composition of the ration pack will be discussed. Nutritionists advise that people with HIV/AIDS should increase the amount they eat and increase their intake of proteins and foods rich in micronutrients.

In a recent assessment, the WFP said about 14,4million people in the region would require emergency assistance from December to March.

The number of needy people amounts to a quarter of the combined population of Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.