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Friday, January 25, 2019

Helping displaced families in northern Afghanistan survive the winter

Families held on as long as they could. But in the end, fighting in their area forced them to flee their homes. They ended up in Aliabad, a dusty town in northern Afghanistan’s Kunduz Province.

Prolonged drought throughout much of Afghanistan in late 2018 has added to the challenges and misery displaced families in Aliabad are facing right now.

Drought-related conditions and crop failures affected the families on two fronts. They were unable to grow their own food, and they were unable to work in their traditional occupation as day labourers on local farms.

Insecurity in the region, combined with severe food insecurity due to crop failures, food shortages, and an inability to earn income during the growing season, has put families at great risk.

Under normal conditions, families would have saved some of their harvest for the winter months and the income they would have earned as farm labourers would have helped see them through the lean times. But there’s nothing normal about life in northern Afghanistan right now.

HOPE International Development Agency has been responding by supporting families facing severe food insecurity in Aliabad. Women and children are a key point of focus right now and are being helped through the provision of essential food items including flour, rice, and butter.

HOPE’s commitment to these families is continuing so that they can survive the winter, and once winter passes, improve their lives in the long term through access to clean water and other supports.

Friday, January 18, 2019

A mother's journey out of poverty began with dinner and a film

Sancha Maya with her latest brood of chickens.

Sancha Maya was at her wit's end when people attending HOPE International Development Agency film premiere and dinners met her in last year's film.

Today, because of the generosity of people attending the dinners, Sancha Maya and her family, along with hundreds of families just like hers, have a different outlook on life.

“I feel I can do things for myself, my children, and my community”, says Sancha, now Chairperson of her local women's group and proud owner of a successful chicken raising business that provides enough income to send her children to school and purchase food to supplement what she raises in her new vegetable garden.

Today, Sancha Maya continues to move people to action by sharing her story and success with others in her community, helping them find ways out of poverty as well.

Join us again this year in Vancouver on Saturday, May 4, 2019 and help transform lives in the Philippines.


Thursday, January 10, 2019

A homegrown solution to poverty emerges among women in Sri Lanka

To say that families living in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota District urgently need help is an understatement at best. Repeated crop failures, coupled with few opportunities to earn a sustainable income, have pushed families to the edge.

There are 20,000 families caught in this desperate situation. Yet there is a solution on hand that will create sustainable incomes through a proven opportunity they themselves have identified: mushroom farming.

Perfectly suited to the climate and available land, mushroom farming is an ideal solution to the problems these families are facing. With a low cost of production and a quick growth cycle, mushrooms can be harvested and sold multiple times a year, generating a sustainable livelihood for households, the vast majority of which are headed by women who are the sole providers for their families.

A gift of $50 provides the initial funds and training a mother needs in order to create a sustainable livelihood that will transform her family.


Friday, January 4, 2019

In Tuticorin, too much water is as big a problem as too little water

Families in southeast India’s drought-prone Tuticorin district face two critical agricultural challenges.

The first challenge is related to an overabundance of water during the raining season, which floods their farm fields and damages or destroys crops.

The second challenge is related to a shortage of water during the dry season, which makes it very challenging, despite the use of crops well suited to arid conditions, to grow food.

Both challenges lead to the same problem; food insecurity. And food insecurity, if it happens frequently like it does in Tuticorin, ensures that families can never be free of the poverty that has held them captive for generations.

In general, there are two different kinds of agriculture: rain-fed agriculture and irrigated agriculture. Rain-fed farming relies on direct rainfall to water the soil and plants. In the right climate, rain-fed agriculture is less resource intensive and is an inexpensive way for farmers to cultivate their crops. Unfortunately, this kind of agriculture heavily depends on rainfall and therefore is vulnerable to shortage of rainfall, a frequent occurrence in arid areas.

Where rainfall is irregular, dry times or droughts are expected. Irrigation is an important way for farmers to ensure adequate water for their crops. Irrigation requires various types of systems (hoses, pumps, sprayers, drip irrigators) to apply water to the soil. There can be various sources of water used, such as ground water, springs, wells, rivers, canals, lakes, reservoirs, surface water, or even other sources like gray water or desalinated water. Whatever the source, it is crucial for the farmers to ensure that the water itself is not contaminated, in order to prevent diseases.

In Tuticorin farmers are using ponds to collect water. The ponds capture runoff water which is then used for irrigation. Each pond collects and holds up to 500 m3 of water. In rainy times, the ponds serve as catchment areas for excess water, preventing flooding and damage to crops. In dry times, the water stored in the ponds enables farming families to irrigate their crops, ensuring a bountiful harvest.

HOPE International Development Agency is helping farming families construct ponds that will ensure that there is the right amount of water available throughout the year - enabling families to improve their agricultural production, become self-sufficient, have additional food to eat, and generate income by selling excess harvests at local markets.