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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
MALAWI: Fish Versus AIDS

September 17, 2007
The Economist (London) (09.01.07) - Monday, September 17, 2007

The nonprofit Malaysia-based WorldFish Center has helped 1,202 families in southern Malawi who have lost an income-earner to HIV/AIDS to dig and run fish ponds. The country relies heavily on subsistence farming but HIV/AIDS, erratic rain, overpopulation, and soil erosion have taken their toll on farmers. Malawi's main lake is overfished, and people have lost a major source of protein. In the 1970s, they ate 14 kilos of fish per person per year; today, they consume four kilos.

The fish ponds cost $200 to make and $10 to stock with fish. They are filled from the water table or nearby streams and rain keeps them going. Fish eat farm waste and by-products such as chicken manure and maize bran. According to WorldFish, families with fish ponds have doubled their incomes and now eat 150 percent more fresh fish. Children's malnutrition rates have dropped from 45 percent to 15 percent in three years.

Pond owners sell most of their fish and vegetables (watered from the pond during droughts) locally. Pond owners are also learning how to make smoked fish, which preserves it for two weeks. Daniel Jamu, WorldFish's regional director, said the next step is to help farmers work together to market their produce in towns, where prices are higher.

WorldFish is expanding the aquaculture project to reach another 26,000 families in Mozambique and Zambia as well as Malawi.

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