4. Cambodia: Food Scholarships for Girls to Stay in School
Lotus Outreach, a trusted BGR partner since 2009, is dedicated to ensuring the education, health, and safety of at-risk and exploited women and children in the developing world, especially in Cambodia. The long-standing BGR-Lotus Outreach partnership provides rice support to primary, secondary, and tertiary students receiving scholarships via the GATE and GATEways programs. The GATE programs provides educational scholarships to girls pursuing primary and secondary education. The GATEways program builds on this by supporting girls who graduated from high school through GATE and are pursuing higher education at universities and technical schools across Cambodia.
Rice support is a critical feature of the GATE and GATEways programs. It not only ensures the girls will go to class with nourished minds and bodies, but relieves families of the pressures that often compel them to force their girls to drop out of school and join the work force. In 2015, 76 percent of GATE scholarship recipients successfully passed their examinations and advanced to the next grade level. Students enrolled in the GATE program are more likely to attend and stay in school, lowering their likelihood of turning to exploitative labor.
In the next phase of our partnership, BGR will provide Lotus Outreach with funding to offer 50 kilograms of rice each month during the next school year to the families of 70 girls who rank among the poorest of GATE scholarship recipients in Siem Reap, and an additional 5 families in Phnom Penh. Likewise, all of the 37 scholars enrolled in the GATEways program will receive a monthly provision of 15 kg of rice support to ensure they have enough to eat during their studies and will not be under constant pressure to drop out of college to find work.
5. Cambodia: Expanding the System of Rice Intensification
In Cambodia, around 80% of the population live in rural areas and most depend on agricultural production, primarily rain-fed rice farming, for their livelihood. Most households hold less than one hectare of land. Women play a major role in rice production and in ensuring the well-being of the family, yet they are often excluded from decision-making at all levels and have less access to resources and services than men.
This project, with long-time BGR partner Rachana, is designed to spread the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and thereby empower women. SRI is an agro-ecological methodology for increasing the productivity of irrigated rice by changing the management of plants, soil, water and nutrients. The benefits of SRI have been demonstrated in over 50 countries (see map). They include: 20%-100% or more increased yields, up to a 90% reduction in required seed, and up to 50% water savings. SRI principles and practices have been adapted for rainfed rice as well as for other crops (such as wheat and sugarcane), with yield increases and associated economic benefits.
The project collaborates with local authorities to ensure food security and increase the annual incomes of 1,065 farmers (female 783) through SRI, vegetables and cash crops, installing household level water harvesting techniques, and saving funds in groups. The project is also expected to increase resilience to climate change and reduce disaster risk.
6. Cameroon: A Food Program for Poor Children
The mission of CENCUDER (Centre for Community Development and Environmental Restoration) is “to enable rural youths and women to acquire survival skills in order to secure a better future for themselves through education and training in life and vocational skills.” Ebase village is amongst the most marginalized rural areas in the Kupe-Muanenguba Division in southwest Cameroon. About 97% of the population are peasant farmers who have trouble affording their basic needs. The majority of the peasant farmers survive through subsistence agriculture and hunting, meaning they remain underemployed for almost a third of the year, driving them further into poverty. Hunger and poverty have colonized most families.
Ebase village operates a local community primary school as the only social facility. Families are unable to send their children to towns and cities because they cannot afford to pay house rents and buy school needs like uniforms and books. Only 58% of children will complete primary school.
The BGR-sponsored school feeding program aims to enhance the education and health of over 95 poor and needy village children, many of them girls and orphans, by distributing meals to them. It promotes literacy among school-age children suffering from chronic hunger and an insufficient diet. Introduced last year with support from BGR, the feeding program has helped solve many problems faced by the local community. Many more children now attend school and parents have seen improvements in their children’s academic and moral output.
The program is expected to further increase school attendance, enhance learning capacity of undernourished children, improve their health, and act as an incentive for more children to attend school. Funding will cover kitchen equipment, consultants, and food for the students, increasing primary school attendance and improving the children’s learning capacity and general health.
7. Cote d’Ivoire: Improving Nutrition among Children in Korhogo District NEW
This project with Helen Keller International (HKI), a long-time BGR partner, aims to improve nutrition for pregnant women, infants, and children in the Korhogo District of Cote d’Ivoire. The project will be funded in its entirety by BGR. Cote d’Ivoire ranks 172 out of 188 countries on the UNDP Human Development Index, making it among the poorest countries in the world. Estimated child mortality under five years is 195 per 1,000 live births and life expectancy is just 54 years. Malnutrition, including vitamin and micro-nutrient deficiencies, is a major contributing factor to the high rate of infant mortality. Chronic malnutrition affects about 33% of children under five years.
The project will implement a program among young girls and women in Korhogo Health District over the next three years. Korhogo, located in the underserved Poro Region in northern Cote d’Ivoire, has 77 health clinics that serve a target population of around 760,000. HKI will use the Essential Nutrition Actions (ENA) framework to reach mothers at the right time with the right message. The ENA framework promotes optimal nutrition practices, including women’s nutrition, breastfeeding, complementary feeding, feeding the sick child, vitamin A, and the integrated control of anemia, vitamin A and iodine deficiency.
This project’s primary goal is to decrease the incidence of malnutrition in children during their first 1,000 days of life by training health workers in ENA in the Korhogo District. Trained health workers will in turn deliver messages and training to expectant mothers at all 77 health clinics in the health district. This will take place over the course of three years. By the end of this project, an estimated 77,000 children and their mothers will have been reached.
To be continued