Changing Lives with Food
While much progress has been made over the last thirty years, about 800 million people in our world still struggle with hunger. Even those who have a little land to grow their own food, often find it difficult to harvest enough to feed their families through the whole year. Global climate change has dramatically affected weather patterns causing severe droughts. It is becoming more difficult for subsistence farmers in some countries to know when to plant their crops as traditional seasons of wet and dry are changing. Dealing with elements beyond their control, precious crops fail and people go hungry.
Hunger not only hurts, it leads to reduced immune systems. Undernourishment is the leading contributing factor for world health problems, greater than AIDS, TB and Malaria combined! The good news is that there is enough food to go around. Even with all of the desertification that has taken place, there is still plenty of land to grow enough food so that no one needs to go hungry. We have the knowledge, skills, and ability to feed the world. The time has come to make sure that no child has to go to sleep hungry.
As we think how to solve world hunger, it is important to directly engage the hungry and partner with them to come up with long-lasting solutions. ADRA’s approach goes beyond food-lines and handouts. There are extreme cases when this becomes necessary. Floods, drought, disasters, and war can leave people destitute and we are compelled to quickly respond with compassion. However, beyond these times of emergency, ADRA believes that a better way to feed the world’s hungry in a sustainable way is through agricultural instruction. Hungry people often have enough land to grow more than they would need for their families, they simply lack the knowledge of how to make the most efficient use of their family plot. As part of our community development program, ADRA Canada teaches people better ways to grow better family gardens, right where they live. Not just new varieties, but many more varieties, in much greater quantities!
How do we do that? ADRA workshops bring the agricultural knowledge of the world to villages where no agriculturalist has ever been. We teach new methods and provide strong seed varieties that are proven to do well in their environment. We teach people about organic gardening methods that use natural fertilizers and pesticides. We demonstrate how planting different varieties of vegetables and fruit trees together maximizes the space they have to work with. We show how the mixing of a good variety of vegetables in the same field helps prevents pests and blight. Drip irrigation conserves water in arid climates. Wicking beds and clay pot irrigation methods make maximum use of water, allowing vegetables to be grown, even in the dry season. Crop rotation techniques using legumes, fix nitrogen back into the soil. Greenhouse techniques extend growing seasons. Education classes on nutrition encourage the planting and use of new vegetables that vastly improve diet and nutrition. Storage and preservation methods are taught that help get people through the winter or dry seasons. After just one year in the ADRA program people find that they not only have a bounty of healthy food for their families, they have extra to sell in the market for much needed family income.