about the author
Programme Officer, Nutrition
WFP supports more than 12,000 people affected by HIV in Burkina Faso. In addition to providing nutritional support, WFP helps them start their own businesses so they can sustain themselves and their families.
Christine is in her mid-fifties and lives in south-western Burkina Faso. Few of her friends and family know that she is infected with HIV. She takes great pride in wearing bright, colourful outfits sewn from pagne fabric.
"I'm lucky," says Christine (not her real name). "I’m well-fed, just as an African mother is supposed to be!"
While she exudes positivity, Christine's lot has not been easy. In 2009, she fell ill and lost a lot of weight. When she finally contacted the local health centre, she was informed of her HIV status and began treatment.
WFP provides maize, beans, oil and a fortified blend of corn and soya to 12,000 people living with HIV, as well as to children orphaned by AIDS in the areas of Burkina Faso most affected by the disease. With treatment and WFP’s support, Christine was able to regain her strength and start rebuilding her health and life.
A new business
In addition to providing food rations, WFP partners with non-governmental organisations to help beneficiaries start their own income-generating activities. Following training, Christine was given the opportunity to open her own business and was given a loan to buy her first batch of pagne. This opportunity would change Christine's life. In just one year she was able to earn enough to pay off her debts and start saving money of her own.
"WFP has made it possible for me to give food to my family and children,” she explains. “It makes me happy to see my children eat and thrive, and this gives me peace to sleep at night."
Households affected by HIV are especially vulnerable. Christine looks after six children orphaned by AIDS of family and friends who have died, in addition to her own 10 children.
Thanks to WFP, she is able to take care of her extended family, and they all benefit from group discussions and courses on how to prevent HIV and AIDS. To this day, none of Christine's children is infected with the virus.
Huge progress has been made in recent years in reducing the HIV epidemic in Burkina Faso where the prevalence has dropped from around 7 percent in the late 1990s to around 1 percent today. Many thousands, however, are still infected every year. Through WFP assistance, they are given a chance to regain their health and create sustainable livelihoods for themselves, their families and children.