The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) concluded the USD 42 million, 5-year PEPFAR – the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief project. A George W. Bush era legacy, the project titled Urban HIV Nutrition and Food Security impacted thousands of citizens from predominantly impoverished areas of the country.
“The historic grant has helped us, not only to significantly improve the health of people living with HIV (PLHIV), but also to boost their economic status,” John Aylieff, the country director of WFP said at a conclusion ceremony at Hilton Addis on March 29, 2017. “Better economic status has greatly increased the standing of people living with HIV in their communities.”
The mega project, the largest ever single donation to an HIV/AIDS program for the WFP worldwide had four components to it, including nutrition assessment, counseling and support, community nutrition care and food assistance to HIV positive pregnant and lactating women, orphan and vulnerable children, economic strengthening intervention and integrated nutrition activities.
The project is believed to have benefited more than 600,000 households through economic strengthening and mentorship, training PLHIV on leadership to establish and manage their own village saving and loan associations and through clinical nutrition care provided food vouchers for more than 250,000 clients. It also promoted the mechanism needed to teach local residents the wisdom of saving money, the idea of entrepreneurships, instead of relying on aid.
“Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day,” Meherete Selassie Menbere (MD) told The Reporter, borrowing an ancient Chinese proverb. “Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”
She explained the long-term vision of the effort and how it moves Ethiopia closer to the sustainable goal of proving a sustainable system to the vulnerable and help people become self-sufficient. At the initiation of the program, 95 percent of the targeted PLHIV were food insecure but that has not reversed and only five percent of the targets are now food insecure.
The program had a pioneer program, the Village Saving and Loan Association’, where it helped create financial access to PLHIV, providing basic understanding of financial planning and management. It helped PLHIV address their food nutrition needs, better access vital health and social services, significantly improved their economic situation and their adherence to treatment.
“The economic strengthening component of the project went beyond just providing food,” Ritu Singh of USAID said. “When people living with HIV/AIDS are food secure, they adhere to their medication and live healthier lives”.
The program was implemented in the 10 sub-cities of the capital and 89 weredas of other regions.