** Food security and nutrition
Abstract of paper presented at the Equinet conference, Durban, 8-9 June 2004, by Mickey Chopra, David Sanders, School of Public Health University of Western Cape
Food security and nutrition Mickey Chopra, David Sanders, School of Public Health University of Western Cape, The lack of household food security, and the subsequent poor nutrition, continues to blight the lives of millions of people in Southern Africa. Adequate food and nutrition is a basic right. The deprivation of this right has immense consequences for addressing inequities across the region. Poor nutritional status stunts educational development as well increasing the risk of acquiring, and the severity of, infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS). The lack of household food security has led to increased vulnerability, especially of women, to diseases such as HIV. If the huge of burden of disease suffered by the poorest is to be tackled addressing lack of household food security and malnutrition is essential. Despite a widespread recognition of the integral relationship between AIDS and poverty and under-development, little systematic investigation has been done into the impact of AIDS on underdevelopment, and virtually no studies have been undertaken on HIV/AIDS, food security, famine, and nutrition. However the recent food crisis in Southern Africa has been far more widespread and impacted much more severely than predictions based upon rainfall patterns had anticipated - illustrates the destructive effect AIDS is having. There are a number of ways in which AIDS increases the impact of such external shocks: (1) household-level labour shortages result from adult morbidity and mortality, as does the rise in numbers of dependants; (2) loss of assets and skills result from increased adult mortality; (3) the burden of care is large for sick adults and children orphaned by AIDS; (4) vicious interactions exist between malnutrition and HIV; (5) institutional capacity (e.g. health and social services, agricultural extension services) to respond has been lost.. These factors are in turn over-determined by the worsening macro-economic context in most Southern African countries. An understanding of the causes of increasing food insecurity and malnutrition must include an analyses of macro level factors such as trade relations, domestic food and agricultural polices and micro level factors such as intrahousehold food distribution, gender roles, caring practices. This paper will delineate some of the more important macro and micro level factors and attempt to show how they are inter-linked. It is only after developing an integrated understanding of the causes can comprehensive responses be formulated. The paper will conclude with examples of such comprehensive responses in the region.