Paris- France (PANA) -- The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) said they hoped to work together to ease the impact of AIDS on rural poverty and insecure livelihoods through joint efforts in promoting sustainable rural development.
According to a memorandum of co-operation signed after the two UN agencies held discussions, UNAIDS executive secretary Peter Piot expressed concern over food insecurity as being a major cause of vulnerability to HIV/AIDS patients.
He said the impact of HIV was felt in reduced agricultural production, thus generating increased fragility of affected households.
Experts say AIDS has killed around seven million agricultural workers in the 25 worst hit African countries.
"As links between urban and rural areas increase, trade and migration are rapidly pushing HIV prevalence rates upwards in rural areas," said Piot.
Areas earmarked for joint efforts under the co-operation agreement between the two bodies will therefore include IFAD field projects where the best practice to IFAD's work will be applied, exchange of information on AIDS-related IFAD projects and technical assistance by UNAIDS to IFAD.
By working together the two organisations expect to help those whose lives are being devastated by the epidemic, they said in the statement.
IFAD President Lennart Bage indicated that the memorandum would provide a clear framework for their agencies' complimentary roles.
"Our goal in working together is to alleviate the impact of HIV and AIDS on rural poverty and insecure livelihoods and to reduce vulnerability to AIDS through sustainable rural development," said Bage.
The impact of AIDS on rural communities is said to be devastating as it has struck people in their prime, reducing economic activity.
And rural families hit by the epidemic are forced to sell productive assets to pay for funerals and health care, say health workers.