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Fish farms help families in Africa hit by AIDS

SOUTH AFRICA - Tiny fish farms have helped 1,200 poor families hit by AIDS in Malawi to raise their incomes and improve their diets in a scheme being expanded to other African nations, a report showed on Monday.

About $90 can enable construction of a small rain-fed pond that can be stocked with juvenile fish costing $10. Once the fish grow and reproduce, the ponds produce food with far less back-breaking work than subsistence farming.

The project, run by the Malaysia-based WorldFish Center and targeted at families where some members have died from AIDS or are suffering from the epidemic, has doubled income for 1,200 families in Malawi and improved diets, WorldFish said.

"These small fish points offer tremendous benefits to struggling farming families in rural Africa whose many challenges have been greatly compounded by AIDS," Stephen Hall, director general of WorldFish, said in a statement.

Many families in the project were headed by widows or grandparents caring for orphans.

About one in five adults in Malawi, among the world's poorest nations, are infected with HIV/AIDS and tens of thousands of the 12.1 million population die every year from the disease. A cocktail of drugs can help control infection, but there is no vaccine and no cure.

WorldFish, a non-profit research group, said it was expanding the scheme to neighbouring Mozambique and Zambia with a goal of reaching 26,000 households.

Source: Reuters