The Role of Forestry Education in Rural Strategies to Cope With HIV/AIDS in SSA
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The HIV pandemic is deeply entrenched in many countries and has had dramatic effects on rural livelihoods. In poor rural communities only a few people have access to treatment due to high prices of conventional medicine, poor health infrastructure and long distance to the health centres. The combination of the high incidence of HIV-related illnesses, high cost of treatment and the scarcity of health services in the rural areas have led to a greater dependence on the natural resources. Forest products are easily accessible to most people and their use has increased over the years. The higher mortality rate of adults has increased the demand for wood, in part to prepare food for increasingly frequent funerals, among others. The impact of HIV and AIDS on household labour has intensified the dependence on forest food products. This paper examines the role of forest education in response to HIV and AIDS, particularly in terms of food, herbal medicines and energy. It is based on the findings of different case studies that have been carried out in different parts of the world over the years. The paper shows that HIV and AIDS epidemic has increased the dependence of communities on forest resources and that the pandemic has environmental and natural resource management implications. Some forest policies and programme interventions that might help lessen the impact of the pandemic on natural resources and the role forestry education can play in the multi-sectoral response to HIV and • AIDS have been highlighted.