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Ethiopia: HIV+ Mother Pulls Family Back from Brink

With the help of WFP's food support and livelihood assistance programmes, Belaynish Dabe and her HIV-positive husband no longer struggle to feed themselves and their children.  WFP's food support to people living with HIV helps ameliorate the double burden of lack of income and deteriorating health. 

DEBRE ZEIT--Belaynish Dabe, an HIV-positive mother of six children, used to struggle to feed herself and her children due to a lack of regular income.

She grew only maize, which she could harvest once a year—not enough to feed the whole family. When her HIV-positive husband became severely weakened from the disease, the neighbours used to say, “Why are you even taking him to the hospital? It seems that his death cannot be prevented anymore.”

But Belaynish remained optimistic.

She and her husband began receiving nutritious food rations from WFP for six months. With a full stomach, they were able to improve their nutritional status, regain their strength and better adhere to their treatment. WFP’s food support to people living with HIV, which includes wheat, corn-soya blend, fortified vegetable oil and pulses, helps ameliorate the double burden of lack of income and deteriorating health.

In addition to receiving food rations, Belaynish began participating in WFP’s livelihood assistance programmes, which act as social safety nets for people affected by HIV. She is one of 2,800 people living with HIV in Debre Zeit, where WFP, together with the NGO RATSON, supports the HIV-affected population through community-led activities and trainings like urban gardening.

woman with a bag of maizeIn Ethiopia, the rate of people living with HIV in urban centres is up to 7.4% - much higher than in rural areas. Throughout the country, WFP supports 126,000 people affected by HIV with food support and livelihood assistance to help them return to a socially and economically stable life.

For more than a year now, Belaynish and her family have not had to rely on food assistance to survive, as she and her husband are strong enough to grow their own food. “I used to struggle before, when we only had tomatoes,” said Belaynish. Now, they are able to sustain themselves through their own urban garden: bananas, peppers, cabbage and sugar cane. Moreover, they have a surplus that they sell to their neighbours. Last year they were even able to buy a cow with their savings, who just gave birth to a calf. What’s more, her children are able to attend school.

Now, Belaynish and her husband go to the hospital only once every two months now and have resumed their normal lives. “Thank God, we’re alive,” she says.

Belaynish is proud of her achievements, but she’s not done yet. Belaynish’s next goal is to further diversify her income by planting and selling tree seedlings.


WFP's Response to HIV and AIDS

Good nutrition is vital for the health and survival of all people, but it is particularly important for people with HIV and AIDS.

Learn more