Tag Archives: Cote d”Ivoire

Enhanced Homestead Food Production in Côte d’Ivoire

BGR Staff

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Mother and child with recently harvested eggplant

In May 2013, Buddhist Global Relief (BGR) awarded Helen Keller International a three-year grant to support their Enhanced Homestead Food Production (EHFP) and Orange-Fleshed Sweet Potatoes (OFSP) production in Côte d’Ivoire. The project extended from September 2013 to August 2016. The goal of this project was to improve the nutritional status of children and families in the Gebke Region of Bouake District. In this region, as elsewhere across Côte d’Ivoire, people face a constant struggle with food security, availability of micronutrient-rich foods, and accessibility to markets.

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Group members in the garden

With BGR’s support, HKI piloted a three-year adaptation and expansion of its proven Food Production program model. They integrated EHFP into an existing community group and promoted the production and consumption of vitamin A and micronutrient-rich crops, including orange sweet potatoes. In an effort to improve the local group’s capacity to adapt to ever-increasing water shortages that threaten production, the HKI team helped pilot a drip irrigation system on the group’s model farm, which was used to train group members on improved agriculture techniques.

HKI also collaborated with local organizations to implement various other project activities and to provide direct support to the women’s group benefiting from BGR’s support. The women’s group is called “Kolotiolo Hokan”, which means “God Gave Us Grace” in the Senoufo language. Group members learned to apply improved agricultural techniques that have brought them recognition by their village leaders, community, and family members who help them as they have now seen their activities and incomes increase considerably over the life of this project.

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Kolotiolo Hokan members

Members of the group and their neighbors have learned about the fundamentals and importance of improved nutrition and hygiene. The group has formalized their legal status, opened a bank account, and improved their ability to manage and market the surpluses they grow. This has empowered the women and led to increased autonomy. The health status of the group’s families and neighbors has also improved as they increasingly consume micro-nutrient rich food products they grow themselves. They have also learned about Essential Nutrition Actions (ENA) and Essential Hygiene Actions (EHA). The group members have also seen their social status improve as their income has increased as a result of this project.

Home visits to reinforce ENA and EHA intensified over the last months of the project. After the mass awareness campaigns concluded, district health workers and NGO workers conducted 1,140 home visits to reinforce behavior change messaging. Most of these visits took place during this final reporting period. In total, over 700 families benefitted from the behavior change campaign.

Home visits focused on a monthly theme in order to reinforce behavior change messaging provided in months prior. In March 2016, home visits focused on exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. In April 2016, the focus was on the nutrition and feeding of expectant and breastfeeding mothers, as well as complementary feeding of children from six months to two years of age. May’s focus was on feeding sick and malnourished children. In June, the focus was on vitamin A deficiency, in July on iodine deficiency and handwashing, and in August, the home visit focus was iron deficiency.

Group members as well as other community members expressed a great deal of satisfaction with the home visit component of the project. HKI undertook an informal focus group discussion with home-visit recipients, and everyone in the group stated that they enjoyed the visits, learned a lot from them, and would now change their behavior based on the new information they obtained.

For example, one woman said that she did not know that she should not give water to her newborn child in addition to breastmilk and has now stopped doing so. Another mother was not aware that she was not supposed to give her newborn infant porridge until he was six months old and has now stopped force-feeding her baby. Many mothers in the community who are not currently members of the women’s group have also expressed interest in obtaining orange-flesh sweet potato vines from the group members so that they can start growing them at home to provide their families increased vitamin A as well.

Staff at the local clinic that previously benefited from HKI’s ENA and EHA training has promised that they would continue promoting essential nutrition and hygiene actions in the community after the conclusion of the BGR project.

HKI linked members of “Kolotiolo Hokan” to the local “Producers Sales Office” (BVP) in Bouake. BVP is now assisting “Kolotiolo Hokan” members to make decisions about marketing their produce and choosing the best income crops to plant. Group members know the importance of maintaining a healthy, nutritionally-balanced diet and they also see great opportunity in being able to increase their incomes from growing produce. The support of BVP will help to improve the household income of the group members for years to come.

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Seed distribution group

In July 2016, members of HKI staff held a series of meetings with the members of “Kolotiolo Hokan” to help them plan for the end of the project. The meetings were very productive. The “Kolotiolo Hokan” members expressed their gratitude to BGR for the tremendous help that has been provided over the past three years.

This article is based upon Helen Keller International’s Final Progress Report to Buddhist Global Relief.

Projects for the Next Fiscal Year—Part 2

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

3. Cambodia: System of Rice Intensification
Rachana is a Cambodian organization dedicated to improving the socio-economic well-being of poor and vulnerable communities in Cambodia. Rachana promotes the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), an ecologically sensitive agricultural methodology that increases yields of rice from an average of 2 tons to 4.75 tons per hectare. BGR has already partnered with Rachana over the past three years in spreading the use of SRI, with highly favorable results. The program has enabled farmers to feed their own families better and obtain a surplus to sell on the market. As a result, SRI has substantially boosted family incomes. The annually renewable program will promote SRI in eight villages, five old ones and three new ones.

4. Cambodia: Giving Girls Access to Education
Since 2009, BGR has been partnering with U.S.-based Lotus Outreach International in support of its life-transforming Girls Access To Education (GATE) program, intended to ensure that girls remain in school. In Cambodia the education of girls is considered unnecessary, but LOI and BGR promote a new perspective. To encourage families to keep their girls in school, Lotus Outreach provides 50 kg of rice monthly during the school year to the families of poor girls in Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey. Students enrolled in the GATE program are more likely to stay in school, lowering their likelihood of returning to exploitative labor. In 2013, 90% of GATE scholarship recipients passed their exams and advanced to the next level.

With support from BGR, Lotus Outreach has extended rice support to GATE graduates who enroll in college or university programs. These graduates, who have risen up from poverty to enter university, are called GATEways scholars. The grant from BGR will provide rice support to 52 impoverished families of the poorest girls in the GATE program and to 89 university students enrolled in the GATEways scholarship program. With continued scholarship support, these young women will rank among the exclusive 1% of Cambodia’s female population to receive a college education. An annually renewable program.
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A New Slate of Projects–Part 1

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

This is the first of a four-part series of posts giving brief summaries of the BGR projects approved for fiscal year 2013–14. Thanks are due to Patti Price, chair of the Projects Committee, and Jessie Benjamin, Carla Prater, Jennifer Russ, and Khanh Nguyen who all helped to prepare the material used in this series. Projects are arranged alphabetically by country, with the U.S. projects to follow the international projects.

DSC06272Over the first weekend of May, months of hard work by BGR team members came to fruition at the annual general meeting and projects selection board meeting, both held in the Woo Ju Memorial Library at Chuang Yen Monastery, Carmel, New York. The general meeting, on Saturday, May 4, was attended by team members from as far away as California, Colorado, Illinois, and Texas. At the board meeting on Sunday, May 5th, the board considered a slew of applications for partnership grants. Twenty-one projects were approved for the next fiscal year, at a total cost of $285,000. The projects are both international and domestic in scope. They include renewals of existing projects and a substantial number of new undertakings with partners both new and old. Their fields range from Cambodia and Vietnam, through India, Sri Lanka, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Cote d’Ivoire, to Haiti, New York, and California. Distinctive about this year’s register is the number of multiyear projects that are to be launched. Experience has taught us that projects extending over several years provide a better timeframe for accomplishing more ambitious objectives than is possible with a one-year project, our usual mode of operation. Here are brief summaries of the projects approved for implementation.

1. Bangladesh: Making Markets Work for Women           NEW

HKI-Bangladesh MarketsHelen Keller International, established in 1915, works in 22 countries to save the sight and lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged through programs in vision, health, and nutrition. BGR will be partnering with HKI on a three-year program in Bangladesh called “Making Markets Work for Women.” The program aims to uplift 75 extremely poor indigenous households in five villages in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), one of the poorest regions in the country. The project will train women in agricultural skills such as pest management, organic fertilizer use, and intercropping, as well as food processing techniques. It will also establish community marketing groups for women so participants can work together to process and sell their products, thus helping to combat discrimination at local markets. Courtyard sessions will focus on gender and nutrition issues relevant to both men and women, including optimal feeding practices for children from birth to two years of age. Year one of a three-year project.

2. Bangladesh: Educating Children in
the Chittagong Hill Tracts          NEW

Moanoghar 2013-GirlMoanoghar was founded in 1974 by a group of Buddhist monks to provide shelter to children of the Chittagong Hill Tracts affected by conflict or living in remote areas. There are currently more than 1,250 children sheltered at Moanoghar, approximately 40% of them girls. Many of the children were left homeless or orphaned as the result of a decades-long ethnic conflict. All children at Moanoghar receive free or highly subsidized education. BGR will be sponsoring a three-year project to establish a sustainable educational system that can generate income to support the institution and support the children being schooled there. The program has three components: (1) to build a computer lab to teach the children IT; (2) to provide stipends for the children for general and technical education; and (3) to plant trees and bamboo orchards that will provide economic returns to Moanoghar. Year one of a three-year project.

3. Cambodia: System of Rice Intensification

Rachana 2013Rachana is a Cambodian organization dedicated to improving the socio-economic well-being of poor and vulnerable communities in Cambodia. Rachana has been promoting the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), an ecologically sensitive agricultural methodology that increases yields of rice from an average of 2 tons per hectare to 4.75 tons per hectare. BGR has already partnered with Rachana over the past two years in spreading the use of SRI, with highly favorable results. The program has enabled farmers to feed their own families better and obtain a surplus to sell on the market. As a result, SRI has substantially boosted family incomes. The annually renewable program will promote SRI in eight villages, five old ones and three new ones, up to December 2013. 

4. Cambodia: Giving Girls Access to Education

GATE 2013Since 2009, BGR has been partnering with U.S.-based Lotus Outreach International in support of its life-transforming Girls Access To Education (GATE) program, intended to ensure that girls remain in school. In Cambodia the education of girls is considered unnecessary, but LOI and BGR are trying to promote a new perspective. To encourage families to keep their girls in school, Lotus Outreach provides 50 kg of rice monthly during the school year to the families of 50 poor girls in Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchey. Without such assistance these highly vulnerable girls would almost surely be forced to leave school for work; many would wind up in brothels. With support from BGR, Lotus Outreach has recently been extending rice support to GATE graduates who enroll in university programs. These graduates, who have risen up from poverty to enter university, are called GATEways scholars. The grant from BGR will enable 33 additional GATEways scholars to receive 15 kilograms of rice for each month they attend classes during the year or live away from home due to their individual circumstances. With continued scholarship support, we hope to see these young women rank among the exclusive 1% of Cambodia’s female population to receive post-secondary education. An annually renewable program.

5. Cambodia: Helping Women Escape the Sex Trade

NFE 2013

Driven by desperate poverty, with no other opportunities in sight, many girls in Cambodia find themselves compelled to turn to the sex trade to support themselves and their families. Lotus Outreach’s Non-Formal Education program offers these women and their children a light in the dark. By teaching them basic literacy, health education, life skills, and vocational training, the program helps young women escape exploitation while discovering their own strength, self-worth, and competency. The renewed grant from BGR will provide non-formal education, vocational training, and life skills to approximately 30 sex workers and their children. Daughters of sex workers receive scholarship packages so they can return to school. Many of these women and children will learn to read and write for the first time in their lives. An annually renewable program.

 6. Côte d’Ivoire: Enhanced Homestead Food Production       NEW

HKI Sweet PotatoesBGR will be partnering with Helen Keller International on a three-year expansion of its innovative Enhanced Homestead Food Production program in Côte d’Ivoire’s Bouaké District (Gbèkè Region), an especially poor district where families struggle with food security and lack access to food markets. The project is designed to improve the food security and nutritional status of vulnerable households, with special emphasis on women and young children. A model of enhanced food production through the establishment of year-round gardens and farms will be taught to community gardening groups comprised mostly of women. A key component of the program is growing orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, a food rich in micronutrients especially good for children and pregnant women. The project will improve gardening practices, irrigation systems, and income generation, while empowering women. Farmers will also learn marketing strategies for selling their crops. Successful small-scale irrigation systems will be of use not only to programs in Côte d’Ivoire but throughout the region, especially to areas vulnerable to climate change. Year one of a three-year program.

To be continued