WASHINGTON (Jan. 23, 2014) — Congressional chiefs of staff from seven states and a group of journalists traveled to Ethiopia with the global poverty-fighting organization CARE to see how U.S. investments in food and nutrition security are enhancing the resilience and self-sufficiency of smallholder farmers.
Undeveloped transportation infrastructure in Zambia is a major constraint to improved productivity for the estimated 800,000 smallholder farmers living in remote, rural areas of the country.
Without transportation, these farmers either have to pay inflated prices for local goods, or travel up to 120km to access affordable seeds, fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and other farming essentials.
Currently, some 2 billion people worldwide do not have access to clean, safe cooking fuels.
This contributes to economic, health and environmental problems, including deforestation, and places an enormous burden on poor families.
CARE has significant experience introducing clean energy products in vulnerable communities.
In Darfur, Sudan, for example, CARE introduced fuel-efficient stoves to reduce demand on the region’s scant supply of firewood – a source of communal tension and violence.
In Bangladesh, one of the biggest problems people face is increasingly frequent and severe flooding. This affects access to food and clean water, as well as people’s ability to earn a living.
CARE worked with community leaders to create innovative counter-measures. Many of their ideas were as simple as they are effective. For example, raising poultry is a common livelihood strategy – especially for women. Unfortunately, chickens often drown during protracted floods; this can be a major blow to household economies.
One of hunger’s cruelest tricks is that it reinforces and replicates itself. Yanka says that when forced to choose between school for her children and food, she chose food. In that circumstance there is no good choice.
In developed countries like the United States your earning potential is often based on the number of diplomas you have. But in rural Malawi, completing even a primary education is one of the most precious things anyone can achieve. For most girls there, getting even that single diploma is a rarity.
With a higher value placed on working in the fields, fetching water and helping take care of younger siblings, education lags behind for girls.
Bouvanna Nhem crosses a river during her 8-mile hike to school. Arriving late and out of breath, it's hard to concentrate in class. Making the long trek each day wears her out. For Bouvanna, the daughter of a poor farming family in Cambodia's remote Ratanakiri province, school seems to be slipping further out of reach. She eventually drops out because of the distance and cost of secondary education.
CARE is committed to both food security and climate change adaptation as programming and policy advocacy priorities.
In the year since the United Nations declared a famine in parts of Somalia, much has been accomplished. Large-scale humanitarian interventions by CARE and other agencies have helped save many lives. But families still struggle to feed themselves, and remain highly vulnerable to future events such as poor harvests, conflict-related displacement or a rise in commodity prices. Many who survived the worst of the crisis have been left without the reserves to withstand further shocks.