Africare's Growing Solution to Hunger


June 4, 2012

Rainfall is scarce in the Sahel region of Africa, resulting in an all too familiar food crisis in Niger. This perfect concoction for disaster is forcing the people of this region into a hunger epidemic, making international assistance in food aid an urgent necessity.

This is the third time in a decade where extreme drought has left millions of people vulnerable to malnourishment, sickness and ultimately death. As a result, Africare, is administering immense effort in bringing awareness to the importance of this year’s World Hunger Day, while simultaneously formulating an approach to establish food security and farming as a business in countries such as Niger.

“Niger’s had a lot of pilot projects and initiatives. It’s like a laboratory for different attempts to improve production, nutrition, and irrigation,” said Africare’s Country Director to Niger, Jackie Johnson who was interviewed during the episode A Hunger that Never Ends on “Dan Rather Reports”.

During the interview, Johnson explained the workings of an Africare “model village” in which a water well, corn refining mill, food bank and lessons on preparing nutritious meals eventually propelled the village into self-sufficiency. “We’ve been able to put together a number of interventions and activities in this village over the past several years,” Johnson said. “But there are always neighboring villages that have no chance of receiving this type of support.”

Securing a way for millions of Nigeriens to feed one another amidst a hunger crisis may very well be an uphill battle, but addressing the issue of hunger by educating people in Niger and elsewhere is something that Africare is determined to accomplish.

In Ghana, a three-year plan to enhance productivity and sustain the environment is already underway for Africare’s department of agriculture. Efforts to ensure smallholder farm productivity through sustainable agronomic practices are being coupled with plans to help farmers gain access to credit, which will help stimulate the local economy.

Africare is also promoting farmer innovation through funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in the Zvishavane district of Zimbabwe. Here, lead farmers are identified and given demonstrations on diversifying crops and avoiding old traditional methods of farming such as "slashing and burning”.

As climate change continues to threaten food security in Niger, Ghana, Zimbabwe and other African nations, the need for Africare to intervene and address the topic of agriculture intensifies. Therefore, this year’s World Hunger Day marks a new beginning for what we’re calling, Africare’s Growing Solution to Hunger.

Guest Writer: L. Edward Street