The World Food Programme (WFP) brings food and related goods to people in need; and many of these lifesaving supplies move by truck. At the time of the 2004-2006 southern Africa food crises, WFP procured more than 30% of the region’s transport business, delivering approximately one million tons of food aid. In many regions in which WFP works, however, truck routes are linked with the movement of goods, and also of HIV.
As WFP recognised that its operations might inadvertently create conditions for the spread of HIV, the global express delivery company TNT was also taking notice of the human and economic impact of the disease. Building on previous partnership activities, WFP and TNT embarked on a new public-private initiative to improve the health and well-being of transport workers. Working together, WFP and TNT mobilised cross-sectoral support to establish two wellness centres for truck drivers, one at the Mwanza border and the other at the WFP warehouse in Blantyre.
WFP and TNT also realised early in the project that the effectiveness of the wellness centres would depend on drivers having continued access to care and treatment along their routes. Because the project’s growth targets were beyond the resources of either WFP or TNT, the two joined forces to establish the independent North Star Foundation (www.northstarfoundation.org), to mobilise the transport sector to promote the health and well-being of its employees. North Star is continuing to develop the network of wellness centres along major transport corridors in southern and eastern Africa. The foundation recently established a new clinic in Swaziland, and is currently working on new clinics in Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The willingness of both WFP and TNT to actively promote the contribution of all partners has helped to ensure broad support for the wellness centres from the Malawi government, UN, business, civil society and donors.