A serious drought is having “immense impact” on people’s lives and livelihoods in Ethiopia, stated a United Nation Emergency Relief Coordinator who visited the country in January.
The UN News Service reported that Ethiopian farmers are “still living on the brink…and struggling to sustain themselves and their families. Farmers are already fleeing their homes in search of water.”
And this is the case in a region of the country known as Kombolcha.
“Tragic,” you might say to yourself in sympathy for those affected. “But what can I do?”
For one thing, you can participate in the Bread and Water for Africa® Generosity Series 5K to be held Sunday, June 11, at Anacostia Park in Washington, DC. At only 3.1 miles, the event accommodates runners of all ages and abilities, walkers and the differently-abled as well.
Our mission has long included bringing clean, safe water to those communities in Africa most in need.
Through the 5K run/walk, Bread and Water for Africa® is hoping to make our goal of $11,500 to dig a water well in a region of the country known as Kombolcha. The well would serve an estimated 130 families – each with an average of six family members – providing water to 780 children, women and men.
“Woha hiyiweti newi” means “Water is life” in the Amharic language spoken in Kombolcha. The “Woha (Water ) for Kombolcha” 5K will help us in our mission to give water, and indeed life, to families in Ethiopia.
As the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator stated after seeing the dire situation in the country, “We need to act now before it’s too late. “We have no time to lose.”
For more information on the “Woha (Water ) for Kombolcha” 5K Run/Walk, or sign up to participate, please click here.
Ever since mankind made the transition from hunter-gatherer to agrarian society about 10,000 years ago, most of the world’s population relies on farming and other agricultural activities for food.
In many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Zambia many millions are reliant not just on farms for food, but must rely on themselves to grow enough food for themselves and their families, and hopefully have surplus crops to be able to sell at local markets.
The challenges for these small-holder farmers, a large percentage of them women, are many and great – especially regarding having adequate rainfall during the growing season in these times of climate change which cause extensive drought leaving farmers with nothing as all they can do is watch the crops wither and die.
But in these countries Bread and Water for Africa® has been working for two decades to support agricultural programs leading to food self-sufficiency and economic independence on both large and small scale projects.
For example, in Kenya, working with our longtime international spokesperson Phyllis Keino and Jos Creemers, manager of the Baraka Farm, over more than 20 years we have been witness to their efforts in transforming 500 barren acres into a thriving agricultural and dairy producing operation which supports Phyllis’ mission as director of the adjacent Lewa Children’s Home.
In Sierra Leone, after years of a brutal civil war and the tragic, deadly Ebola outbreak in 2014/15, Bread and Water for Africa® longtime partner there, Rev. Francis Mambu, director of the Faith Healing Development Organization, is not daunted – in fact he is more determined than ever to restore agricultural production to his country.
Bread and Water for Africa® supports FHDO’s own large-scale rice farming operations through the purchase of farming equipment including tractors and more recently following the Ebola outbreak when farming activities all but ceased in the country, thanks to our supporters, we were able to provide Rev. Mambu with a rice planter/harvester which allowed him to greatly increase production on his land.
In addition, through FHDO programs, Bread and Water for Africa® has provided support to hundreds of small holder farmers – again almost all women struggling to raise their children – by providing seeds and seedlings for plants such as groundnuts (peanuts) at the start of the growing season.
Most recently we are working on a program to provide women with cassava (yucca) plants which, when mature, they sell to a processing plant owned by FHDO which converts the cassava into flour. The women then buy the flour at wholesale prices which they sell at their local markets – in effect making two profits on the same product.
In Zambia, Bread and Water for Africa® supports the efforts of our partner there the Kabwata Orphanage and Transit Centre to have a banana plantation to support the orphanage, similar to the model created by Phyllis for Baraka Farm and Lewa Children’s Home. The banana plantation, started in 2007, was so successful that a few years later Bread and Water for Africa® provided funding for Kabwata director Angela Miyanda to double the size of the planation.
Then, in 2015, Angela came up with the idea to expand her food producing activities with pisciculture, more commonly known as “fish farming.” Bread and Water for Africa® provided her the “seed” money to construct ponds each containing 3,000 tilapia fish which mature in 90 to 120 days not only providing fish for the children, but making thousands of dollars in profits annually.
And in Zimbabwe, Bread and Water for Africa® partner, Shinga Development Trust, is not set up using modern farming mechanisms such as Baraka Farm, but instead utilizes a more traditional farming method known as “Farming God’s Way.”
As explained by Shinga director Margaret Makambira, “Farming God’s Way” stresses teacher farmers to build a sustainable farming method by managing the land, maintaining minimum wastage, no ploughing, and rotation of the crops.
From large scale modern farming to assisting small holder farmers subsisting on the small tracts of land, Bread and Water for Africa® places a high value on agricultural programs, and rightly so as so many lives depend on the success of farmers, big and small.
A recent report in the Concord Times of Sierra Leone confirms what we already knew here at Bread and Water for Africa® — that cassava, along with maize, has been identified “as two of the main pillars of West Africa’s food security that could form the backbone for a thriving agro-industry in the sub-region.”
That’s why we are working with our partner in Sierra Leone, Faith Healing Development Organization (FHDO), to construct a plant to process cassava into flour, known as gari, which is a food staple in the country.
As FHDO Executive Director Rev. Francis Mambu explains, FHDO will provide 500 female farmers with cassava seedlings to plant on their small tracts of land, who will then sell the mature cassava root to FHDO, which will process the cassava into gari. Then the women will purchase the gari in bulk at wholesale prices which they can sell at their local markets – effectively making two profits on the same product.
The study recently released by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development entitled “Rebuilding West Africa’s Food Potential” pointed out that countries in West Africa such as Sierra Leone, one of the poorest in the world, “can realize full agricultural potential if they boost productivity, foster competitiveness and ensure than small-scale farmers have greater access to markets.”
And that is exactly what FHDO with help from our supporters here at Bread and Water for Africa® is working to accomplish.
Bread and Water for Africa® supports programs in countries such as Cameroon providing all types of assistance to people from the youngest of infants to the most senior of citizens.
But, first and foremost, regardless of age, we cannot let them go hungry.
During the past year, Bread and Water for Africa® provided thousands of dollars in grant funding for an agricultural food sustainability project for our partner there, Hope Outreach International Ministries.
Using 13 acres of land available in the Bueu region of Cameroon, the project will grow basic staple foods – such as plantains and rice – to benefit 250 children who live in four area orphanages in the area as well as 225 elderly local residents and destitute families.
While Hope Outreach International Ministries does not operate those orphanages, it partners with a local children’s home to provide the basic necessities of life.
While the immediate goal for the project is simply to ensure that the children and adults don’t go hungry, in keeping with Bread and Water for Africa®’s priority of self-sufficiency, the long-term goal for the project is to generate revenue to support Home Outreach International Ministries’ programs, such as health care and education, and then reinvesting into the farm’s operations.
In Zambia, fresh, clean water is a precious commodity.
And not only is ensuring there is enough safe water for people to drink and for domestic and hygiene purposes difficult enough, it is even harder to create available water resources to adequately irrigate crops.
That is why in October, 2014, Bread and Water for Africa® awarded a $20,000 grant to our partner there – Kabwata Orphanage & Transit Centre – for a water well for its gardens.
Kabwata founder and executive director Angela Miyanda reported in December that the crops have been planted and a reservoir has been constructed to make sure there will be a steady supply of water. The reservoir will ensure that those crops not only survive, but thrive, during their two-month growing period.
“With the reservoir in place, the project will manage to get enough clients that will support the project,” Mrs. Miyanda told us.
“Water is being shared amongst so many residents,” she added. “The area where the project is situated is a farming one and many people have shifted here. After having three wells in place, water was still not adequate for the project. The project has since set up the water reservoir for storage for irrigation.”
The wells, reservoir and irrigation project have paid off in multiple ways.
“Older children have been participating in the daily works around the farm project,” Mrs. Miyanda said. “This opportunity is used as a practical lesson for them to appreciate and learn a skill which may be an advantage to their future. It has inspired and motivated many people who are willing to assist in their own ways. Over the last two years, the program has proven to be a steady source of income. Proceeds made from the sale of garden crops have either been used to sustain and develop the project and/or to assist individuals as reasonable need arises.”
Local communities have been integrated in the program by empowering them with a sense of community participation. Instead of expecting only to receive benefits from the project, they now offer their services willingly to aid in the growth and sustenance of the project. The biggest strength has been the formal training of two staff members for the project. Irrigation and plant maintenance have been formally organized and are being implemented by Kabwata’s own staff.
Despite the success, Mrs. Miyanda is realistic that it is still going to take some time before the garden project can be completely self-sustaining.
“In order to take the project further, we may encounter some challenges which may need your support,” she said. “However, our intention is to have the project stand on its own.”
And thanks to supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® like you, she is well on her way to realizing that goal.