When AMPATH first responded to the AIDS pandemic, we discovered that providing anti-retroviral drugs and support for their safe administration did not fully solve many of the patients' problems. AMPATH began providing food support to our most vulnerable patients and their dependents. Once an AMPATH nutritionist finds that a patient is food insecure, they are provided with a nutrition prescription assuring access to 50% of daily nutrition requirements for themselves and their dependents for up to 1year or until they regain their strength to provide for themselves.
The WFP/AMPATH partnership started in July 2005 with a total of
557 clients being fed and 3 metric tons of food distributed.
More than 250 metric tons of
food was being distributed to over 30,000 beneficiaries in 27 distribution points. Every month each client receives 6 kgs of maize perperson, 1.8 kgs of pulses per person and .45 kgs of vegetable oil per person.
The food distributionwas set up to provide patients and their families with a six month supply ofsupplemental nutrition hoping to get them back on their feet This did help, but it also created dependency issues and was not a long-term solution. AMPATH also helped patients to farm passion fruit vines at their home which was then harvested and sold to juice companies as source for earning income. But the passion fruit growers were quickly stigmatized as HIV patients. In the next step toward self-sustainability, AMPATH began training patients to farm their own land-either as individuals or a community. Today, as support for food distribution is coming to an end, patients are taught farming techniques such as the best vegetables to grow in their unique climate, how to produce their own seeds and how to deal with pests and disease. Sack gardens-a simple garden made out of an empty grain sack, filled with dirt and vegetables planted in holes cut in the sides and top-are a good solution for those who live in the city or have no land. Three sack gardens will provide vegetables for a family, and five will allow enough surplus vegetables to sell or trade for dairy, grain, or meat at the local market.
Today, Dow Agro Sciences is partnering with AMPATH and
is allowing a rotating employee to spend 4-6 months living in Eldoret, learning about the AMPATH food security program, and accessing best practices to help patients increase productivity in farming, harvesting, or storing produce. Training people to raise their own crops has been a giant leap forward to self-empowerment and sustainability. Some farming groups have even been able to produce enough surplus to create a municipal storage-or enough produce to share with those in their community that have nothing.
Progress is being made; however, there is still much to be done. The program continually faces many challenges. But the team at AMPATH is moving closer to the goal of assuring that every household is food and income secure.