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Transcending boundaries to improve the food security of HIV-affected households in rural Uganda: a case study

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K. Coon
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Realising food security for all is a complex task that requires attention to agricultural, nutritional, technological, and gender issues. This case study describes the experience of Partners for Food Security (PAFOSE) in Tororo, Uganda, a multi-organisation partnership aimed at better integrating district level organisations to identify and promote ways to improve food security. PAFOSE used approaches that integrate knowledge from work around HIV/AIDS, gender, nutrition, and agricultural extension. The study describes activities undertaken by the PAFOSE Project to forge a multi-agency partnership. They set up farmers' groups which included those with known and unknown HIV status to build solidarity, reduce stigma and expand access. In addition they worked through existing AIDS Community Workers (ACWs) to ensure that local farmers had better access to technical information they needed. Furthermore, they selected appropriate social and technical interventions to implement with farmers' groups. These addressed food accessibility and nutritional issues, were gender responsive and cheap - such as training in household food management and planting hybrid fruit trees. The report outlines the model used by the partnership to improve food security which emphasised the inter-relatedness of farming, household food management practices and gender inequality. It aimed to address women's disproportionate workload, their exclusion from decision-making and cultural practices that create insufficient food for the family. It then discusses key outcomes and benefits of the partnership-building process for institutions involved and describes perceived changes in attitudes and behaviours related to food security and HIV/AIDS by project participants. Finally it highlights key lessons from the project's experience to date. In particular it reflects that men and women are willing to change negative gender-related attitudes and behaviours when they understand, in terms that relate directly to their own experience, how gender inequality perpetuates household food insecurity.