If you know Lutheran World Relief, you already know we are passionate about partners. Local institutions and organizations in the countries we work form some of our most important partnerships.
LWR’s value of accompaniment states it clearly: “we support, encourage and learn together within long-term relationships of trust and reciprocity.”
But LWR doesn’t only work with small partners in small communities; we have lots of other types of partners, too. One key partner is InterAction, the umbrella organization for U.S. NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and a “united voice for global change.” We work together on public policy issues that affect organizations like LWR and its local partners around the world. Working together with the other 186 organizations that belong to InterAction we can (and do!) produce meaningful change.
LWR and InterAction work closely on many things; agriculture and food security policy is one of our most important shared priorities. We advocate for rural development, small-scale farmers and policies that support local systems and institutions.
Earlier this year, I decided it was time for our partners at InterAction to meet our partners overseas. Over the past couple weeks Katie Lee, InterAction’s Advocacy and Policy Coordinator, and I visited some rural communities in Niger.
In Niger, upwards of 80 percent of the population depends on rain-fed agriculture for its primary source of income. The climate is arid, the rains unpredictable and the soil in many places is seriously depleted.
We asked a group of farmers, “What would you have us the tell the people in the United States about farming in Niger?” Three of the things they said:
“Farming is our only opportunity.” If things are going to improve for us, we need to invest in our land and in ourselves as farmers;
“Water for food is our first priority.” We can no longer depend on rainfall like we once did and we need to find new ways to harvest and retain rain water when it is available;
Women want to be more involved. “We would like to receive training about agricultural techniques and field work,” said one woman. “Men go to the field here but not the women.”
We were impressed with the clarity of their vision and the simplicity and practicality of their message. We’re already dreaming of the many ways we can continue working together to bring this message to policymakers and the NGO community in the United States.
Do you have questions about InterAction, or LWR’s partnerships? Ask them in the comments below.