1. Zimbabwe: Farmers want more involvement with World AIDS Day (by Zenzele Ndebele, for Farm Radio Weekly in Zimbabwe)

| December 13, 2010

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Mrs. Sihle Ndlovu can tell you many things about HIV and AIDS.  But she knew nothing of World AIDS Day until November 2010 when she was asked about the Day. She says, “I know that AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease. Almost everyone in this village has been affected in one way or the other by this disease. But I really do not have any idea about World AIDS Day.”

Mrs. Ndlovu is a farmer from Plumtree, in southwestern Zimbabwe.  She is convinced that farmers in her area would like to be involved in activities on World AIDS Day if properly sensitized. She explains, “Different people come to teach us about HIV and AIDS, but no one briefed us about World AIDS Day. We would love to do something because people are dying every day.”

Mrs. Alice Ndlovu (no relation) lives in Nyamandlovu resettlements, 40 kilometers south of Bulawayo. She explains that farmers need thorough knowledge on the aim of World AIDS Day if they are to play important roles on the Day.  She says, “Programs and activities for World AIDS Day are prepared by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.  Farmers are just invited to attend and we do not even know the aim behind the activities.”

But not every farmer is unaware of this Day. Mrs. Senzeni Maphosa from Marula explains, “World AIDS Day is a day set aside to remember people living with the virus.” She continues that she knows little about the activities  on World AIDS Day, but “ … my thinking is that it is merely commemorated to recognize the presence of people who are suffering from AIDS within our society.” However, there have not been any activities for World AIDS Day in Marula for many years. There is no local organization which works with HIV and AIDS.

Mr. Thabani Moyo is a resettled farmer in Mguza district. He says communal farmers can play a key role in the fight against HIV and AIDS during the commemoration. “The World AIDS Day aims to unite those with AIDS and those without. I have taken part in workshops in which we source food for distribution to people living with AIDS and orphaned children, but I think there is more that still needs to be done to ensure that farmers are informed adequately.”

Contrary to what many farmers say about World AIDS Day, HIV and AIDS advocacy groups in Zimbabwe say that farmers have sound knowledge about the AIDS pandemic.  They hold celebrations yearly to commemorate World AIDS Day.

Mr. Fred Sibanda is the Behavior Change Programme Officer for Matabeleland AIDS Council in Zimbabwe. He says, “Small-scale farmers are aware of the World AIDS Day commemorations in Zimbabwe because we tell them about such important dates during our outreach programmes and awareness campaigns in rural areas.”

Mr. Orirando Manwere is the National AIDS Council Public Relations Officer. He says the theme for this year’s World AIDS Day is a continuation of last year’s theme: Universal access and human resource. Together we will make it. Mr. Manwere said commemorations will be held in different areas. He explains, “Campaigns catering for everyone including farmers have been organized to share information in rural areas of Zimbabwe.”