UN: 28 November 2007 – To help children who are made ever more vulnerable by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UN World Food Programme (WFP) has launched a new manual on how to establish farm schools to teach orphans crucial skills.
“Children and youth are charged with the heaviest burden of the AIDS crisis,” said Marcela Villarreal, Director of FAO’s Gender, Equity and Rural Employment Division. “Without their parents, they become more vulnerable to hunger and poverty, disease, conflict, sexual exploitation, forced migration and environmental degredation.”
The new manual advises on how to create a Junior Farmer Field and Life School to educate children on how to create sustainable livelihoods and long-term food security.
The schools are an attempt to give orphans the means and confidence to survive in an often very difficult environment,” Ms. Villarreal noted.
In sub-Saharan Africa, there are over 40 million orphans, with some 11.4 million of them having lost their parents due to AIDS.
The programme has targeted several thousand youth in 11 African countries – Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe – since 2004.
The initiative aims to teach children practical skills such as local agricultural skills that may not have been passed down due to their parents’ deaths, but also how to protect themselves against HIV/AIDS and other diseases.
WFP supplies key food support and forms an essential part of the initiative.
“Providing a nutritional meal to children in the schools is both an incentive for them to attend lessons and gives them an energy boost to participate actively,” said Robin Jackson, Chief of WFP’s HIV/AIDS service.