In one of the world’s most vulnerable countries, farmers’ associations are a lifeline for many, but they need important resources
By Leizl Eykelhof content manager, ForAfrika
Based on humanitarian reports published by the United Nations Office for Coordinating Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), ForAfrika became aware of large-scale humanitarian needs in the Central African Republic (CAR) and took the decision to move into the country with a response to its ongoing food security emergency.
“OCHA reports that 50% of CAR’s population is not eating enough and only 30% have access to clean drinking water, with 63% of the overall population in need of humanitarian aid. The country, which is among the 10 poorest countries in the world [with the lowest GDP per capita at purchasing power parity as of 2017] is slowly emerging from decades of political instability, including coups, dictatorship and rebel insurgency,” says Charles Wentzel, ForAfrika’s Disaster Response Director.
Despite the dire living conditions, ForAfrika was impressed with the way in which the poorest of the poor organise themselves into small agricultural associations that help each other survive. They do this by pooling resources – to buy livestock or plough fields – for example.
Their efforts, however, are often stymied by animal and crop disease, logistics, lack of know-how and potable water. After engaging with 24 of these associations in the areas of Sibut and Boali, ForAfrika identified ways in which we could immediately support these communities to boost their existing initiatives, in ways that are familiar to them.
“They know what works, they just need more resources,” Charles says.
Working with partners already on the ground, our emergency response team has decided to:
- Fund veterinary intervention to treat livestock timeously to avoid loss of these important household assets;
- Engage the services of a reputable expert to identify disease and dispense best practice information electronically on cell phones;
- Provide training in best practice, veterinary medicine and pesticides that allow farmers to familiarise themselves with diseases and adopt proven techniques;
- Fund pesticides until farmers have adequate knowledge and are economically self-reliant to safeguard their own crops;
- Increase ploughing activities by supplying teams of plough oxen until such time as tractors can be acquired;
- Provide linkages to local markets whereby farmers can sell their surplus produce; and
- Rehabilitate or drill wells where necessary and provide water, sanitation and hygiene training.
Our visits with local veterinarian Tatiana Bako to nine farming associations last week have already been appreciated. Smallholder farmer Poussinga Bienvenu says: “Through our association, we are fighting poverty; we have animals but our problem has been medicines for their protection and an expert to give us advice. We can already thank you for the treatment of our animals that we have received today and we are ready to work in partnership with you!”
“Our work has already had inquiries from other interested associations,” says Michael Gandombi, ForAfrika’s programme co-ordinator in CAR, adding that farmers are keen to be responsible for their own livestock and crops.
In all programmes ForAfrika upholds the critical principle of communities being actively involved in driving their own solutions. You can support this invaluable work by donating today.
“Just know that when you support an association here, it is a whole town that you are uplifting,” says Michael.