LWR’s Blog http://blog.lwr.org Sustainable development. Lasting promise. Wed, 29 Jul 2015 15:54:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.3 Provide Solutions to Hunger and Poverty http://blog.lwr.org/2015/07/provide-solutions-to-hunger-and-poverty/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/07/provide-solutions-to-hunger-and-poverty/#comments Wed, 29 Jul 2015 15:54:35 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=6046

When Rick Peyser traveled to Western Uganda, he was haunted by the sight of so many hungry children.

What chilled him the most were their faces — many had the face of a 5- or 7-year-old, but the body of a much younger child. It was clear that years of hunger and malnutrition had stunted their growth and development.

Rick’s heart broke for these children, but he did not give in to despair.

Like you, Rick is fueled by a desire to help, and to see God’s hope come to life for all families. And like you, he has faith that, together, we can make a difference. Rick is our coffee and cocoa expert at Lutheran World Relief.

Seeing the faces of those hungry children, urged my colleague to ask a fundamental question: could Lutheran World Relief’s success with coffee farmers be applied to this community of cacao growers?

As he walked through the village, he noticed something else — no one was growing food for their families or any other crops to sell. This community was putting all its resources into cacao, the fruit that eventually becomes cocoa.

Rick immediately identified this lack of diversification as one reason for the hunger he saw around him. And after coupling this insight with what he learned about the local cacao production, he helped the community develop a thorough plan.

Your commitment to ensuring this process unfolds in one community after another is so inspiring! It gives me enduring hope that there are solutions to poverty, hunger and human suffering.

Putting your faith into action makes these solutions to poverty and hunger possible! Will you help bring more hope to life with your gift today?
donate now
Rick understands why farmers were putting all their resources into growing cacao. They figured if they could just grow and sell more cacao, they could eventually make enough to feed each year when the harvest is small or has run out and hunger is most prevalent.

More is not always enough

It seems logical, but the truth is not so simple — and that’s why it’s such a blessing to have experts like Rick working alongside these farmers. Certainly, farmers could work to grow and sell more cacao. But the global market is fickle and out of the farmers’ control; prices are set in far away countries. So more is not the sole key to resilience. When prices dip, even selling more cacao won’t help farmers through the lean times.

Rick quickly realized that the farmers needed to embrace a two-fold solution: maximizing production and profit from their existing cacao operation and adding other crops so they would have food to feed their families and to sell for income at local markets.

Rick figured that, based on current production practices, these cacao farmers were only earning about 25% of their crops’ potential.

Correcting the cacao quality greatly impacts the price farmers are able to get for their crops. Often small improvements to production practices will also improve the quality. Organizing farmers into cooperatives strengthens their buying power for seeds and plants, plus gives them more prominence in the marketplace when selling their crops. And most importantly of all, if families are trained to grow food crops — there will be no more hungry children!

Ensuring Sustainability and Success

Building community strength and resilience by educating farmers, investing in infrastructure, and helping cooperatives succeed and thrive … it’s not the easy way. But it is the best way to ensure sustainability and success for the long-term.

Thanks to your support, Lutheran World Relief has already seen holistic plans reap a harvest of hope for families in Latin America, Africa and Asia.

And today, putting Rick’s plan into action for cacao farmers and families in Western Uganda can impact almost 14,000 lives!
donate now
Lutheran World Relief is building communities of hope around the globe. Please help us
bring more solutions to poverty and hunger to communities with your most generous gift now!

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New book answers questions about God, supports LWR work to fight poverty http://blog.lwr.org/2015/07/new-book-answers-questions-about-god-supports-lwr-work-to-fight-poverty/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/07/new-book-answers-questions-about-god-supports-lwr-work-to-fight-poverty/#comments Fri, 24 Jul 2015 16:13:15 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=6032

 “Questions Kids Ask About God,” is a book inspired by the questions the kids at Peace Lutheran Church in New Lenox, Illinois, are asking.It is now a hardback children’s book, with a portion of sales proceeds donated to Lutheran World Relief. To learn more about this book and its companion resources, visit the QKA Publishing website.

To accurately convey why the very premise of this book excites me, I have to tell you a story.

I’ve always enjoyed helping out with Sunday School in my congregation. As a class helper, usually my duties include picking up loose crayons and hushing chatty children.

But one day, while in a class of third graders, a boy raised his hand and asked a very important question. “I understand that God made us, but who made God?”

I looked at the teacher. The teacher looked at me. We were both thinking the same thing. How do we answer this question?

Thankfully that day God stepped in quickly. Our pastor poked his head in to say hello and we happily passed the question on to him, and he turned it all into a wonderful teaching moment.

That day affirmed for me that kids are, in fact, on their own faith journeys and that they will have questions – and it’s important to answer them!

The “Questions Kids Ask” Box

The congregation at Peace Lutheran Church, in New Lenox, Illinois, recognized the same thing. The church keeps a children’s question box (pictured above) where kids can write down any questions they have.

Their pastor, Dave Hedlin says, “Kids are not afraid to ask some of the questions even adults wonder about. During church services, we have a special time when I answer ‘Questions Kids Ask.’”

After seeing how much the children enjoyed getting their questions answered, Eric Sperstad, a creative church member, suggested they compile the questions and write a book. It was quite a collaborative effort. The questions came from the kids, the theological basis for the answers came from Pastor Dave, three local high school students created the illustrations, all the legwork was done by a church committee.

“We knew we didn’t want to do this book as a fundraiser for the church though,” Eric notes. “Eventually we decided to support two causes: Lutheran World Relief and Feed My Starving Children.”

“How Old is God?” (And other questions…)

Questions Kids Ask About God is available on the QKA Publishing website. You can learn more by clicking this image. A portion of sales proceeds support the work of Lutheran World Relief.

Questions Kids Ask About God is available on the QKA Publishing website. You can learn more by clicking this image. A portion of sales proceeds support the work of Lutheran World Relief.

The book covers many different kinds of questions – from “What is the Bible?” to “How old is God?” Each question has a child friendly answer and a vibrant illustration. Bible references are also included to help connect kids’ questions to God’s word.

They started selling the book at their own church and throughout the New Lenox community.  Then, through churches, schools, grandparents, book fairs, farmers’ markets, pastors, senior centers, women’s events, synod assemblies, libraries, bookstores and more, this ministry has caught on and just keeps spreading.

Now the book is on its third printing. So far they’ve sold 2,300 books in all 50 states and several foreign countries. They have donated $4,000, including $2,000 to Lutheran World Relief. There is a companion coloring book that is fun for kids to use alongside the hardcover book.  It is also great for Sunday School classes or in church busy bags. The hardcover book sells for $14. The coloring books cost $1 each.

What started out as a fun way to help kids on their faith journey has grown into much, much more. Now parents, grandparents, Sunday School teachers and others have an invaluable resource to answer kids’ questions, and a unique way to share their faith. By purchasing this resource, they are also helping support ministries like Lutheran World Relief.

“This is only the beginning,” Dave says. “I hope this book gives families an opportunity to talk about God, explore the Bible, become closer to Jesus – and ask more questions!”

Questions Kids Ask About God would make a great addition to any Sunday School library and the companion coloring book to any congregation’s “busy bags.” To learn more about the book, visit the QKA Publishing website

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We’re at ELCA Youth Gathering. Are you? http://blog.lwr.org/2015/07/well-be-at-elca-youth-gathering-will-you/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/07/well-be-at-elca-youth-gathering-will-you/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 15:18:03 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=6021

We are live and coming to you from the COBO Center where we have a space set up to welcome youth groups and leaders for Proclaim Community Day. We’re so excited!

Left to right: LWR staffers Lauren Bauer, Will Doyle, Chandler Carriker and Loretta Ishida are ready to greet you at the ELCA Youth Gathering 2015!

Left to right: LWR staffers Lauren Bauer, Will Doyle, Chandler Carriker and Loretta Ishida are ready to greet you at the ELCA Youth Gathering 2015!

Aside from the thought of thousands upon thousands of young people descending on Detroit all raring to share Christ’s love with their neighbors, we’re also excited because we have a truly unique opportunity to share.

The Game of Lasting Promise

When you visit us in the COBO Center on Proclaim Community Day you’ll take part in the Game of Lasting Promise. That’s a brand new resource LWR has developed that lets you experience this work you support around the world in a whole new way.

You’ll be able to play in teams – from within your group or competing against other groups – and will represent one of three LWR country teams: Tanzania, Nicaragua or the Philippines. Your objective: to see who can make the biggest, most lasting impact in communities living in poverty around the world. You’ll get to learn more about communities living in poverty around the world, what development work is like, and how your group can reach out as Christ’s hands with Lutheran World Relief.

Proclaiming Global Community

But that’s not all. What is Proclaim Community Day without some proclaiming? You’ll also have the chance to share messages about the work we do together as people of God. I don’t want to give too much away but…there will be props involved…and a selfie stick!

So be sure to stop by and see us in the BUILD BRIDGES section of Proclaim Community. Group Leaders, you’ll also be able to sign up to receive a free copy of the Game of Lasting Promise for your home congregation.

Youth, Leaders, volunteers and staff – we’re excited to meet and worship with you. Let’s Rise Up…and share God’s love with a world in need!

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Greek Debt Crisis: LWR President Speaks Out http://blog.lwr.org/2015/07/greek-debt-crisis/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/07/greek-debt-crisis/#comments Mon, 06 Jul 2015 20:39:04 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=6014

After Sunday’s oxi (read: no) vote on a referendum to accept additional austerity measures, Greece’s leaders are in tough negotiations with creditors. Lutheran World Relief’s president and C.E.O., Daniel Speckhard, served as U.S. Ambassador to Greece from 2007 to 2010.

Ambassador Speckhard has taken to the press this week to talk about what’s going on, and how it affects both Greeks living in poverty and the security of the U.S. and Europe. On LinkedIn’s Pulse, Speckhard wrote:

Greece’s referendum on Sunday will likely become a case study for years to come as one of the worst possible ways to invoke the people’s voice. That it comes from the birthplace of democracy makes it only more salient and sad.

The government made a monumental miscalculation by rushing to a referendum to increase its leverage in negotiations with creditors.

On Bloomberg Television’s Bloomberg Surveillance this morning, he talked about how “the politics are overtaking the economics of this. As each side plays to its domestic audiences, it gets very difficult to solve this.”

But Speckhard’s also careful to talk about the impact this crisis has on people living in poverty.

I think the real problem — and you see this in any country that goes through a catastrophe like this — is that it’s the very poorest who suffer the most. It’s not equally across society. And already, after five years of austerity, the people at the bottom of society are the ones that are hurting the most.

A Greek exit from the European Union would increase security concerns for the United States and Europe, as it would push Greece to a more radical and nationalistic stance. Greece could also become a real obstacle to “crafting a united American-E.U. approach to a host of international challenges, including Ukraine, Iran, Syria, and Afghanistan, and create problems for cooperation on counterterrorism, trade and commercial issues more generally.”

Speckhard concludes:

The Greek leadership – if they truly love their country more than their tenuous grip on power – should tell Greeks the truth: in spite of what they intended, Sunday’s referendum is a vote on whether to stay in the Eurozone. The die has been cast and either path will be fraught with more pain and hardship. The Greek people deserve to know the real choice before them.

Whether Greece stays in the Euro or is forced by the crisis to introduce its own currency, Europe and the United States have a vital national security interest in keeping Greece as an ally and a constructive member of the European Union and NATO. A lot is at stake. Regardless of how the referendum turns out, we have a strong interest in keeping Greece on life-support until the political dust clears and then helping them chart a new path forward.

Greeks should understand when they go to the polls on Sunday that they are voting on their membership in the Eurozone — not whether to remain partners with Europe and the United States. Leaders in Washington and Europe need to send strong public messages that whatever their choice on Sunday, we will remain allies and partners. We will help them to find a way forward to get their banks reopened, their economy moving again, and avert a humanitarian crisis.

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Emerging Lessons from Nepal: Thinking About Resilience http://blog.lwr.org/2015/06/emerging-lessons-from-nepal-thinking-about-resilience/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/06/emerging-lessons-from-nepal-thinking-about-resilience/#comments Wed, 24 Jun 2015 11:00:07 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=6001

LWR has a long history of development programming aimed at building the resilience of vulnerable communities affected by multiple shocks and stressors, such as natural disasters, conflict, and climate change and variability. This blog series, Reflections on Resilience, will examine emerging issues, innovative approaches and new resources in resilience work. It seeks to stimulate learning, reflection and dialogue among development practitioners, researchers and decision-makers interested in the linkages between resilience and development practice. Read part one. Read part two.

On April 25th, a devastating earthquake changed the lives of millions of Nepalese people. As we start to come to terms with the loss and devastation that has taken place, remarkable relief and recovery efforts are underway. Stories emerge every day as testimonies to human endurance, and evidence of the vital role collaboration plays in the pursuit of recovery and development.

In the aftermath of this disaster, how is the concept of “resilience” helpful?

Resilience is about strengthening local capacities.

Building resilience strengthens the ability of individuals, communities and/or institutions to better cope with shocks and adapt to change. Participatory methods[1] that seek to improve community groups’ access to knowledge, and that help these groups mobilize in pursuit of their own development priorities, are closely linked to resilience.

Accountability and transparency are integral to building local trust, fostering local engagement, and strengthening the communities’ ability to self-organize. After Nepal’s earthquake, LWR’s Technical Advisor for Emergency Capacity Building completed a two-day training with our long-term partner COPPADES. This training focused on how international humanitarian standards can be used during emergencies to improve the quality of programs, and improve accountability to our beneficiaries and other stakeholders.

Participatory assessments and vulnerability mapping with community members are two methods used as part of resilience initiatives. These methods will play a crucial role as relief and livelihood recovery efforts move forward in Nepal. For example, LWR — in close collaboration with local NGOs — conducted a household-level needs assessment to identify the most urgent needs and form baseline data.

Resilience focuses both on short-term coping and on long-term transformation.

Mr. Anand lives in Chakratirtha Village. Two families with more than 10 members lived in this house for a long time.

Mr. Anand lives in Chakratirtha Village. Two families with more than 10 members lived in this house for a long time. The recent earthquake damaged his house fully and now all the members — including small children, elderly and women — are staying in makeshift arrangements outside the house. Anand’s biggest challenge is the shelter that poses security threats, protects family members from rain, cooking and managing day-to-day life.

Resilience is not only about surviving the impacts of a disaster, it is about improving the long-term quality of life of those who are most vulnerable. This involves improving communities’ ability to mitigate and respond to immediate shocks like earthquakes or floods, as well as to adjust to long-term change, such as seasonal or temperature changes that affect the productivity and/or viability of their crops.

Nicole Hark, LWR’s Deputy Regional Director, Asia & the Middle East, explains the importance of thinking about the long-term implications of natural disasters on local livelihoods:

“The catastrophe in Nepal disrupted agricultural cycles. When the earthquake hit, the growing season was already underway. Now the planting and harvesting seasons have been disrupted, threatening the main livelihood of rural communities, and posing new challenges to food security. In this regard, LWR’s support will complement disaster risk reduction (DRR) activities with livelihood strengthening, including seed and livestock provision.”

Focusing on resilience allows us to think about immediate relief and transitional needs (such as food and shelter). But it is also about recovering livelihoods and rehabilitating communities over time.  Maintaining a long-term perspective is key when working in post-disaster settings. We must ensure that interventions contribute to sustainable growth.

Resilience requires collaboration among stakeholders at multiple levels (local, regional, national and international levels).

Building resilience allows us to design, implement and assess our work from a more holistic, system-wide perspective. A key component of this broader lens is to acknowledge that in order to effectively respond to complex development challenges, there must be collaboration across sectors, and collaboration from the local to the international level.

Umer Khan, LWR’s Senior Director for Emergency Operations, explains:

“LWR is working in close coordination with the UN-OCHA cluster mechanism, the Nepal Red Cross, the Government of Nepal, other NGOs and UN agencies. We are active participants of the Food, Shelter, and Early Recovery clusters to ensure that our efforts are coordinated. This collaboration has been crucial for an effective response, and to avoid duplication of efforts.”

Communities in rural areas of Nepal are dealing with limited accessibility and difficult transportation due to the avalanches and landslides caused by the earthquake and its numerous aftershocks. Addressing these challenges requires close coordination among communities, government bodies and multi-lateral organizations.

There are many valuable lessons that will continue to emerge as the international community’s efforts to support Nepal move forward. These efforts provide us with a valuable opportunity to “bridge the gap” between short-term responses and long-term development strategies.

Resilience approaches can be useful to address this gap. Participatory approaches and community engagement help ensure that interventions are meaningful and relevant. And effective collaboration among actors from different sectors helps ensure that interventions are sustainable in the long-term.

Building resilience provides us with an opportunity to strengthen vulnerable populations’ (women and men, girls and boys) ability to withstand shocks and better navigate an uncertain future.

[1] Olwig, M. (2012). Multi-sited Resilience: The mutual construction of “local” and “global” understanding and practices of adaptation and innovation, Applied Geography 33 (2012), p. 112-118.

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LWR Staff Member Rick Peyser Stands With Coffee Farmers http://blog.lwr.org/2015/06/rick-peyser-usa-today/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/06/rick-peyser-usa-today/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 16:35:13 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=6008

We’re proud that our very own Rick Peyser was featured in USA Today on Sunday as the man “instrumental in creating the outreach programs for coffee farmers that would allow Green Mountain Coffee Roasters to emblazon its semi-trailers with the slogan, ‘We realized good coffee could be good for the world,’ and actually mean it.”

Peyser joined LWR’s staff last year as LWR’s Senior Relationship Manager for Coffee and Cocoa. His experience in the soft commodities industry spans several decades, including nearly 27 years with Keurig Green Mountain. He spoke of getting his “dream job” at Green Mountain Coffee in 2006, director of social advocacy and coffee community outreach:

“When I got out of bed in the morning, honestly I couldn’t wait to get to work,” Peyser said.

Peyser wasted no time in revealing one of the dirty secrets of the specialty coffee business. Small-scale coffee farmers were not only poor, they were starving for significant stretches of the year.

“When this role came in 2006 I thought I had a pretty good sense of what was going on in these farming communities, in the households,” Peyser said. “At the same time I recognized this was my own experience, kind of anecdotal. If I’m going to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars at that time, which grew into millions of dollars, I wanted to make sure we were not just hitting the target but that we were really hitting what would benefit the company and the farmers.”

“I wanted to be right in the dead center of that bull’s-eye.”

Rick Peyser meets with Mayan women coffee farmers, in Sotzil, El Quiche, Guatemala, to discuss a food security project funded by Green Mountain Coffee. (Photo: Courtesy)


During his time there, he interviewed coffee farmers to hear about their experience. He recalls interviewing one woman, in particular, who wept as she described the hunger her family faced every year:

The woman explained that the coffee harvest starts at the end of October and usually ends in February. By May all of her earnings from coffee were depleted, and the prices of staples like corn and beans were going up because the harvest doesn’t come in until fall.

Peyser asked the woman how she coped. One of three ways: eat less; eat different food that might be growing on their land, like bananas or other fruits; or borrow from friends, neighbors or relatives, creating a cycle of debt year after year.

“Anyway, I’m thinking maybe her family is an exception,” Peyser said. “The next guy comes in. I get to that last question. Same answer. I heard the same answer all week long.”

Peyser’s commitment to working for the good of farmers around the world permeates his work at LWR. Working toward lasting change does not happen overnight. Sustainable development takes time. “It’s not a question of going into a community and saying, ‘Listen, here’s some seeds, here’s how you plant your garden, see ‘ya.'”

We are proud to call Rick one of our own. He’s already jumped into the lives of cacao farmers in Uganda with the same passion he brought to Keurig Green Mountain.

Continue reading about Rick’s journey at USAToday.com»

Ground Up

Ground Up: LWR’s Coffee and Cocoa Initiative

Lutheran World Relief is working with coffee and cocoa farmers around the world to increase production and income and reduce poverty.

Learn more about Ground Up: LWR’s Coffee & Cocoa Initiative.

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Where does your chocolate come from? Meet Nevardo. http://blog.lwr.org/2015/06/where-does-your-chocolate-come-from/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/06/where-does-your-chocolate-come-from/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 11:00:14 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5994

Almost 90 percent of the world’s cocoa originates from small-scale farmers (producers who farm less than five hectares, or about 12.4 acres, of land). These farmers face considerable challenges to maximize their yields, including changing weather patterns, disease, aging trees and limited access to improved varieties, inputs and technical assistance.

On average, they earn less than 10 percent of the international price per pound. Yet as global demand for cocoa outpaces supply, there are opportunities for these farmers to benefit from increased incomes through improved cocoa production and sustainability.

Meet Nevardo Gomez. He and his family grow cocoa in Nicaragua. Waking up around 4:30 or 5 a.m., they start their morning routine, growing and harvesting cocoa.


Reading this via e-mail? Watch the video on YouTube

Nevardo and other farmers in Latin America, East Africa, and Asia are learning how to better manage their crops and their businesses, so that they can earn more income for their families.

With training, you are opened up to new knowledge that makes you think about different ways on how you could develop your farm. A farmer that [sic] does not have the knowledge, I think, is missing a lot.

Nevardo farms, so that he can provide for his family.

Our family comes first, and we have to be thinking about them, about our children, and seek to have better conditions in the future. And to enjoy this effort that is made in life.

Ground Up: The LWR Coffee and Cocoa Initiative

Learn more about Ground Up: the LWR Coffee and Cocoa Initiative

LWR believes that satisfying global demand for coffee and cocoa and improving the incomes and food security of the producers who grow them can, and should, go hand in hand.

Learn more about how LWR works with coffee and cocoa producers around the world.

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Limited-Time Offer: Double Your Gift http://blog.lwr.org/2015/06/double-your-gift/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/06/double-your-gift/#comments Tue, 16 Jun 2015 11:00:42 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5988

You can transform an entire community by simply giving them the gift of water.

Right now, a group of generous friends will double the value of your gift — dollar-for-dollar — between now and July 31, up to $100,000.

This means that your gift today of $50 will be matched with another gift of $50 to provide a total of $100.

Donate Now

Cecilia and her family struggle to grow the food they need in the Andes Mountains where the soil is not ideal and there is little water. Because there is not much water, families have to collect rain and river water that is often contaminated and makes people sick.

Children often miss out on the opportunity to learn, or even worse require medical attention, because of waterborne diseases. The absence of proper latrines only contributes further to the water pollution.

Water is essential to health, education and long-term sustainability for these farmers and their families. That is why Lutheran World Relief works with families like the Salazars to conserve limited water supplies for agriculture, provide clean water for use at school and in their homes, implement hygiene practices that reduce waste and water contamination, as well as establish a maintenance and operations committee to manage the ongoing needs of their water distribution systems.

Remarkable Results

Thirteen natural water sources have been protected, while completely removing contaminants from the water. Constructing water collection units and improving water distribution systems have increased water availability for farming during the dry season. Where municipal governments were not able to administer and support clean water systems, the community is now able to support and maintain their own water sources.

Cecilia beams with pride as she shares, “I’m in third grade at school, we all drink disinfected water, we wash our hands before eating and after using the bathroom, and we come to school clean — all of my friends are doing the same. I also am doing all of the things I learned at home too.”

Students look on as their classmate demonstrates what he has learned about food preparation and hygiene, and prepares snacks for visiting guests.

Students look on as their classmate demonstrates what he has learned about food preparation and hygiene, and prepares snacks for visiting guests.

And your gift today to Lutheran World Relief creates a ripple effect.

In Bolivia, we discovered that educating teachers and children first was beneficial since they took the lessons they learned home with them. That is why we make sure to implement that same process when we combat childhood illness and polluted water sources in other countries where we serve.

Plus, we carefully monitor each project and continually fine-tune our approach, magnifying the impact on the next community, multiplying the power of your gift even further!

Through all of our water programs, we are able to help 19 communities in 9 countries successfully build sustainability by ensuring that the essential ingredient of water is present and protected for generations to come. We know that ensuring equal access to water to irrigate farm fields — as well as safe uses for basic sanitation and hygiene — reduces child mortality and poverty while improving health and education.

That is why we are excited about this wonderful gift from our matching gift donors.

  • A gift today of $26.50 automatically increases to $53 to provide Personal Care Kits to 20 children to provide some of the basics they need to be healthy, safe and clean which will help them be more productive and fully realize their potential.
  • Your gift of $95 becomes $190, providing an emergency water filtration system to a community reeling from the devastation of a natural disaster.
  • When 10 people give $125 — each doubling to $250 — you help provide an irrigation system to water an entire community’s fields.
  • If you are able to send $300 it will automatically increase to $600 to transform a family through a water system that provides access to water for drinking, sanitation and hygiene.

When you give a gift, you fight poverty and foster sustainable development. So please, be as generous as you can and watch your gift double in value today!

Donate Now

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Nepal Earthquake: LWR’s Long-Term Response http://blog.lwr.org/2015/06/nepal-earthquake-lwrs-long-term-response/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/06/nepal-earthquake-lwrs-long-term-response/#comments Thu, 04 Jun 2015 13:00:04 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5973

It’s been more than a month now since a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal, claiming lives, destroying homes and leaving thousands of people in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.

With your support, our staff and partners on the ground have been carrying out immediate emergency response – providing food, shelter items, water filters, quilts and personal care kits to affected families.

We’ve also been working with our partners and other organizations on a longer-term response. We are pleased to share with you our Nepal Earthquake Strategy Report, outlining what we’ve done so far and what we plan to do in the future.

Below are the highlights of our planned, two-year earthquake response. To learn more, please download the full report (.pdf).

Initial Emergency Relief

Omar Rahaman, LWR's Senior Director for Asia and the Middle East, distributes LWR Quilts to people in the Lamjung district of Nepal.

Omar Rahaman, LWR’s Senior Director for Asia and the Middle East, distributes LWR Quilts to people in the Lamjung district of Nepal.

These activities began immediately after the earthquake, and will continue through August 2015, and will focus on:

  • Food Security by distributing food packages to families and providing opportunities to earn income to meet basic needs.
  • Transitional Shelter like high-quality tarps that provide temporary shelter against the elements.
  • Non-food Items like LWR Quilts are helping protect families against cold nights.

Early Recovery

Through livelihoods rehabilitation work, LWR helps people and communities affected by disaster to restore crops, plant new crops and find alternative sources of livelihoods. This is Hashim Sindato, from the Philippines. After Typhoon Bopha struck, LWR helped him re-establish his livelihood as a rice farmer.

Through livelihoods rehabilitation work, LWR helps people and communities affected by disaster to restore crops, plant new crops and find alternative sources of livelihoods. This is Hashim Sindato, from the Philippines. After Typhoon Bopha struck, LWR helped him re-establish his livelihood as a rice farmer.

These activities are scheduled to begin in September 2015, and will continue through April 2016, and will focus on:

  • Food Security and Agricultural Livelihoods by helping farmers reestablish crops, plant new crops and replenish livestock.
  • Shelter by helping families repair their homes so that they are sturdier and more capable of withstanding future emergencies.
  • Disaster Risk Reduction will help families and communities organize and plan for future emergencies and reduce their risks.

Community Rehabilitation

Bijaya Gurung, the Program Manager for LWR's project with COPPADES, shows us the large area within Lamjung District covered by the project, and the location of the field office where we were visiting.

LWR will work with local partners in Nepal to carry out our long-term response. This is Bijaya Gurung, a staff member from LWR local partner COPPADES, outlining a large area where our organizations were working together in Lamjung District, in a meeting held prior to the earthquake.

These activities are scheduled to begin May 2016 and will continue through April 2017 and will focus on:

  • Assessment of our response to date, in order to learn what’s working and what’s not, and adjust future plans as necessary
  • Strengthening our partners. We work with local partners who know the context and culture of the areas we serve. Working to strengthen our partner organizations helps them continue to be a valuable resource to local communities long into the future.

We Give Thanks for Our Partners

Our partners in carrying out this response plan are:

Our response is made possible by the generous support of:

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Supporting Nepal through Vacation Bible School http://blog.lwr.org/2015/06/supporting-nepal-through-vacation-bible-school/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/06/supporting-nepal-through-vacation-bible-school/#comments Tue, 02 Jun 2015 15:57:13 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5953

From June 15-19, Sheridan Lutheran Church, in Lincoln, Nebraska, will transform into Camp Everest for its vacation bible school.  This Group VBS curriculum teaches youth to “conquer challenges with God’s mighty power” against the backdrop of Nepal’s most famous attraction.

And with this curriculum comes a unique opportunity to connect VBS lessons to real world issues and the opportunity to serve others.

Sheridan pastor Rhonda Bostrom says, “After the earthquake, as with any international disaster, we turned to LWR to see how we could give. As our leaders of programming met, we felt this “trouble” that we would have this super fun week of VBS with the image of Everest as the theme. It felt discontinuous that we would only celebrate and learn, and yet fail to remember the recent struggles and suffering of the people who call the land of Everest home.”

Learning and Helping

While kids are learning about majestic Mt. Everest, they’ll also be learning about the earthquake and how it affected communities. They’ll also give an offering to support LWR’s response. LWR has worked in Nepal since 2009, helping communities become better prepared to handle disaster. After the earthquake, our staff immediately began working to respond to needs, distributing food packages (made up of things like rice, sugar, oils and lentils meant to last a family of five 15 days), along with shelter materials, emergency water filters, LWR Quilts and Kits. Looking forward our response will continue helping families recover while becoming better prepared to face the future.

“Our children ‘get it’ when it comes to giving,” says Pastor Rhonda. “They hear the stories, the facts, the realities, and they immediately empathize with their neighbors in need – wherever those neighbors are.”

Excited to Serve

Sheridan isn’t the only church connecting the Camp Everest curriculum to the opportunity to reach out to the people of Nepal. Faith Lutheran Church in Valders, Wisconsin, will also guide children through a Camp Everest adventure this summer.

Faith pastor,  the Rev. Nicole Welke, says the opportunity to reach out after the earthquake added an especially meaningful layer to their plans.  “Having a service component was important but the excitement that happened when Nepal was suggested was electrifying.  The ideas of how to make it tangible for the youth started to flow in seamless fashion.”

Vacation bible school is an opportunity for churches to reach out in their community to have fun while learning about God and our call to love and serve one another. Combining the Camp Everest experience with the congregation’s support of relief efforts in Nepal provides the opportunity for youth to learn about a real need and how even they, as children, can do a lot to help.

“I was over overjoyed with their energy to serve the wider church and to help the youth learn about serving those we do not know but are our brothers and sisters in Christ,” says Pastor Nicole.

Are You Using Everest VBS?

Consider adding a real-world element to your program by telling youth about the recent earthquake in Nepal and providing an opportunity for them to help.  (Click here to read more about the earthquake, the people affected and LWR’s response.) And if you do use this information in your VBS, we’d love to hear how it went! Feel free to send pictures and stories to lwr@lwr.org or share them with us through our Facebook or Twitter pages.

Thank you for all that you do to help youth in the formation of their faith and discovery of their God-given gifts!

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Photo Friday: LWR Quilt Distribution in Nepal http://blog.lwr.org/2015/05/photo-friday-lwr-quilt-distribution-in-nepal/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/05/photo-friday-lwr-quilt-distribution-in-nepal/#comments Fri, 29 May 2015 17:59:56 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5955

Just today we received these pictures from Omar Rahaman, LWR’s Senior Director for Asia and the Middle East. He is working in Nepal to coordinate our response to the April 25 earthquake. One part of our immediate response was to ship 9,240 Quilts, 1,000 Personal Care Kits and 100 water filtration units to Nepal to distribute to families and communities affected by the quake.

These photos are of a Quilt distribution in Lamjung district, where 75 percent of homes are reported to have been destroyed. LWR is focusing its response in Lamjung District as well as the remote, mountainous Ghorka district. LWR Quilts provide warmth, especially as the monsoon season approaches, and reminds the people of Nepal that they are not forgotten.

If your congregation has a quilting group, please forward this on to its members, along with our thanks for all they do!

Group with quilts

A family holds the LWR Quilts they’ve received. The Quilts will help provide warmth at night, especially as the monsoon season approaches.

Men holding up quilt

A group of men hold up a Quilt received at the distribution. LWR shipped 9,240 Quilts in response to the April 25 earthquake.

Group folding quilt

Quilts are highly valued items after a disaster. Here two families in Nepal’s Lamjung District fold the Quilts they’ve just received.

Women carrying quilts down hill

A group of women leaving the LWR Quilts distribution. The Lamjung District was hit especially hard by the April 25 earthquake. It is estimated that 75 percent of homes were destroyed.

You Can Help

If you are interested in helping the people of Nepal with Lutheran World Relief, here are several ways you can do so:

  • Pray with us for the people of Nepal and those who work to help them.
  • Give a financial gift to LWR’s Nepal Earthquake Fund.
  • Make LWR Quilts and Kits so that we can continue distributing them during emergencies while fulfilling partner requests around the world.

Thank you for your support!

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Why is “Resilient” Coffee Relevant? http://blog.lwr.org/2015/05/resilient-coffee/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/05/resilient-coffee/#comments Mon, 18 May 2015 11:00:25 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5927

LWR has a long history of development programming aimed at building the resilience of vulnerable communities affected by multiple shocks and stressors, such as natural disasters, conflict, and climate change and variability. This blog series, Reflections on Resilience, will examine emerging issues, innovative approaches and new resources in resilience work. It seeks to stimulate learning, reflection and dialogue among development practitioners, researchers and decision-makers interested in the linkages between resilience and development practice. Read part one here.

Coffee is a product that draws people together. It is deeply embedded in the socio-economic and cultural fabric of more than 60 tropical coffee-producing countries1, and is equally significant to coffee drinkers around the world.

From the remote mountain slopes of Nicaragua, Indonesia or Uganda, among many others, coffee farmers constitute the core of a complex value chain that consumers are often unaware of.

That unawareness is slowly starting to change. Increasing climate-related events are shedding new light on the pressures faced by coffee farmers — particularly small-scale farmers — and on their ability to sustain their livelihoods. Rising temperatures, reduced growth, decreased flowering and fruiting due to erratic rainfall patterns, coffee pests and diseases, are among the challenges faced by producers globally2.

In the face of these challenges, the coffee sector must rethink its ability to withstand short-term shocks, and also transform and prepare itself for long-term change. The notion of ‘resilience’ is more relevant than ever before.

Recent discussions held by a panel of experts3 convened by LWR at the SCAA event held in Seattle this past April provided valuable insights in this regard.

  • Focus not only on surviving, but thriving. That is, the ability of coffee farmers not only to survive the effects of climatic shocks, but to thrive amid long-term change. Examples include strengthening the capacity of producers to identify new market opportunities, and make informed decisions about projected climatic impacts, such as the effects of temperature increase in lower altitudes.
  • Design projects from an all-encompassing supply-chain perspective. Examples include project designs that consider the needs and priorities of farmers, laborers and farmer cooperatives, as well as the role of suppliers, brokers, trade associations, companies/retailers, investors and government stakeholders.
  • Foster knowledge and information sharing by stakeholders at multiple levels. This should include stakeholders at the local, regional and national levels. Examples include the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) to facilitate the access and use of technical information at the local level, fostering the linkages between farmers, agricultural extension workers and researchers.
  • Improve equality and inclusion in the coffee supply chain. Examples include activities aimed at ensuring the empowerment of women in coffee production by strengthening their technical skills, their access to credit and information, as well as the creation of opportunities for young people to get engaged in farm activities, slowing down the migration to urban centers.
  • Adopt a socio-ecological perspective to address climate-related challenges, emphasizing the linkages that exist between natural resource management and the sustainability of coffee livelihoods. Examples include initiatives that strengthen the capacity of communities to protect and maintain local resources that are vital for coffee production, such as water sources.

Strengthening individual and institutional capacities, fostering multi-stakeholder knowledge sharing, adopting a system-wide perspective, and ensuring inclusion, are all integral to the achievement of agricultural livelihoods’ resilience.

For the coffee sector, the achievement of more resilient livelihoods is closely linked to the adoption of long-term development goals. As Rick Peyser, LWR’s Senior Relationship Manager, Coffee & Cocoa, stated:

Public- and Private-sector investments in supply chain resilience need to move beyond short-term enhancements in productivity to strengthening supply chains at their foundations (i.e. access to clean water, nutritious food, education, medical care, and much more).

As the impacts of climate change and variability continue to exacerbate, it is vital for the coffee sector to propose and prepare instead of simply react, to innovate and experiment instead of duplicate, to measure and learn instead of repeating past mistakes.

It is vital to translate the increasing risks (climate and non-climate related) into actionable investment opportunities that contribute to strengthening the resilience of those that need it most: the small farmers of the world; the heart of each coffee cup.

Notes:

  1. Ovalle-Rivera O., Läderach, P., Bunn, C., Obersteiner M., Schroth, G. (2015) ‘Projected Shifts in Coffee Arabica Sustainability Among Major Global Producing Regions Due to Climate Change’ PLoS ONE 10(4): e0124155. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0124155.
  2. Ramirez et. al. (2012) ‘A Way Forward on Adaptation to Climate Change in Colombian Agriculture: Perspectives Towards 2050′, Climatic Change, 115:611-628.
  3. The event on Resilience Coffee Livelihoods was convened by LWR on April 9th, 2015 in Seattle, U.S. The panel of experts was composed by representatives of Root Capital, CIAT, Green Mountain, COSA and LWR.
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Nepal Earthquake: “The Lutherans are there!” http://blog.lwr.org/2015/05/nepal-earthquake-the-lutherans-are-there/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/05/nepal-earthquake-the-lutherans-are-there/#comments Fri, 15 May 2015 14:56:57 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5934

One of the best  parts of my job as staff writer at Lutheran World Relief is to sharing our work on Facebook, because I get to share with you the great work you make happen around the world.

I noticed that when we posted information about our response to the April 25 earthquake in Nepal,  many of you shared those messages with your family and friends and said, “the Lutherans are there!”

LWR and partners work to coordinate a food distribution to people in the remote village of Jaubari – Dhansar.

LWR and partners work to coordinate a food distribution to people in the remote village of Jaubari – Dhansar.

In the aftermath of the initial quake, as well as the second powerful earthquake on May 12, the Lutherans are there, indeed. With the support of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, our staff on the ground are reaching out to people in some of the most remote areas of Nepal, distributing food rations, shelter supplies and other essential items.

Staff from LWR and local partner, COPPADES, distribute relief supplies in Ghorka District, after the 2015 Nepal Earthquake. (Photo Credit: COPPADES for LWR)

Staff from LWR and local partner, COPPADES, distribute relief supplies in Ghorka District, after the 2015 Nepal Earthquake. (Photo Credit: COPPADES for LWR)

We give thanks for the enduring partnership of both church bodies. Your suppport expands our efforts to reach more people affected by this disaster. Thank you for once again helping to ensure that, “the Lutherans are there!”

Please support our response to this disaster, and please join our continuing prayer:

God of mercy and justice, in the presence of sustained devastation your promises are lasting. We continue to lift up our voices for our sisters and brothers in Nepal as the ground beneath them shifts. Remain with those who work to bring relief. Sustain those who have lost much and those who mourn. Abide with those whose days are uncertain. Fill us with your Holy Spirit as we endeavor to support the work being done in Nepal. All of this we do because of the grace first shown us by your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.

 

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Meet Krishna, Nepal Earthquake Survivor http://blog.lwr.org/2015/05/meet-krishna-nepal-earthquake-survivor/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/05/meet-krishna-nepal-earthquake-survivor/#comments Wed, 13 May 2015 14:17:00 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5909

This post was written by Umer Khan, LWR’s Senior Director for Emergency Operations, just days before a second 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck parts of Nepal. LWR staff on the ground report they are safe and continue to work to reach out to people affected by the April 25 earthquake. If you’d like to learn more about our response or make a gift, please visit lwr.org/nepalearthquake

Overlooking breathtaking scenery from 4,700 feet, it’s as if a green carpet of rice and maize fields has been laid out for a picture-perfect movie scene. Breathing in the mild cold breeze of the Himalayas, I can see the cloud-touching peak of Mount Everest, standing tall with its pride and refusing to show any signs of what its natives have just gone through.

Yet there I found myself, turning back to the line of men and women waiting for the food and shelter items to be distributed by LWR. That’s where I met Krishna Kumari Dhakal.

A Remote Area

Krishna has lived in the village of Jaubari Dhansar her entire life. Located in the remote Gorkha District of Nepal, it is among the hardest hit by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal April 25.

LWR staff and staff from local partner organization, COPPADES, distribute relief supplies in Ghorka District, after the 2015 Nepal Earthquake. (Photo credit: COPPADES for LWR)

LWR staff and staff from local partner organization, COPPADES, distribute relief supplies in Ghorka District, after the 2015 Nepal Earthquake. (Photo credit: COPPADES for LWR)

In fact, the village is so remote that LWR team had to switch from our regular four-wheel drive SUV to a customized Jeep designed to navigate the rough terrain. It took us more than two hours to drive less than 20 miles, with no sight of paved road for most of the trip.  It takes the villagers more than four hours and costs $2 in bus rides to get to the nearest town.

“It feels like the earth is shaking all the time.”

Krishna says she feels lucky that her family – including her husband, two sons and pregnant daughter-in-law – weren’t harmed in the quake. It struck during a time when many people in the village are usually outside sitting or working.

While Krishna is thankful to have survived the earthquake, she says she’s lost all her belongings. Her family’s food supply is buried under the rubble and she says it will take them years to rebuild their house on the roughly $8-10 per day income her husband and sons bring home from working in the nearby town. As for herself, Krishna says she’s traumatized. “It feels like the earth is shaking all the time,” she says.

Relief and Recovery

Krishna said she’s had to borrow food from those who had some left. The food packages LWR distributed that day are designed to last 15 days for a family of five, but she hopes it will last longer. The family also received a 12- by 15-foot tarp to cover the roof of their house.  This will help protect Krishna and her family from the rains, which will intensify during the upcoming monsoon season, which runs from June through September.

A building in the Ghorka District of Nepal that was damaged during the April 25 earthquake.

A home in the Ghorka District of Nepal that was damaged during the April 25 earthquake.

While these items provide temporary relief to Krishna and 3,600 families like hers, LWR’s programs will work to help these families with longer-term recovery. Our project will provide longer-term food assistance, as well as help families rebuild their homes and livelihoods in order to fight poverty, one of the underlying causes of people’s vulnerability to disaster.

The work we are doing and the challenges we’ve faced remind me of what my elders would say “There is a path to the top of even the highest mountain.”

You Can Help

LWR is working on the ground to reach people affected by this on-going disaster. Here are a few ways you can help.

  • Pray for the people of Nepal and those who work to reach them.
  • Give a gift to support our response. We are working to reach remote areas with food rations, shelter supplies and more.
  • Make LWR Quilts and Kits. LWR Quilts and Kits are needed and highly valued in emergency situations. Your donations help us continue providing them.
  • Share our response with others, especially on Facebook and Twitter. To share, you can simply copy the web address for this post and paste it into a status update.
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Second Earthquake Hits Nepal: Notes from LWR Staff http://blog.lwr.org/2015/05/second-earthquake-hits-nepal/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/05/second-earthquake-hits-nepal/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 14:17:54 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5911

A second, 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal this morning, less than three weeks after the first, 7.8 magnitude quake. Reuters reports that at least 37 people have been killed and panic is spreading. Lutheran World Relief staff are all safe and are continuing to assess the situation.

Nicole Hark, LWR’s Deputy Regional Director for Asia & the Middle East, emailed us this morning from Kathmandu, saying:

It’s been a little over an hour since we felt the second earthquake, now graded a 7.3 by USGS.  I was already walking down the stairs from the hotel meeting room where LWR Nepal staff have been working from since our office was damaged in the first quake.  At first I just thought my own balance was off, but the shout of my name from my colleague upstairs spurred me into a quicker pace down the stairs and out the door, into the hotel courtyard.  Hotel staff and other guests were also scrambling to the courtyard, with a few people calling out to others in other parts of the building.

In the interior of the courtyard is a copper basin filled with water, palm fronds and some flowers.  The whole basin shook and water splashed out onto the tile below, while the birds above cawed out their displeasure at being disrupted by the shaking branches.  We were fortunate that in this area, everything remained stable and everyone is safe.  But looking out over the terrace we could see plumes of dust rising from other parts of the city – the visual evidence of what is presumed to be more buildings collapsing.

It took what felt like forever to get a hold of our colleagues in the rural areas, who had similar reactions to our own and are also, thankfully, safe.  We’ve had two additional aftershocks since then, each time with a rush of folks into the open air, waiting for it to pass, and then slowly getting back to our work.  We’ve set up shop in the hotel courtyard with our laptops and phones, and I’ll continue to keep you posted.

How Can I Help?

Give to the Nepal Earthquake Fund. Your gift will be used to respond to the devastation in Nepal.

Donate Now

Please pray for those affected by the earthquake in Nepal and for all who are working to respond to the disaster.

Make Quilts and Kits. Donating Quilts and Kits helps ensure we have an adequate supply to send around the world to partners who request them, as well as in response to emergencies. The 9,000 Mission Quilts and 1,000 Kits we already sent to Nepal are getting depleted incredibly fast. We need more!

Spread the Word. Other people are more likely to give to an organization that’s been recommended to them by a friend. If you believe in LWR’s work in Nepal, please share this message with others on Facebook, Twitter, or other social networks.

 
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5 Things You May Not Know About Coffee (INFOGRAPHIC) http://blog.lwr.org/2015/05/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-coffee/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/05/5-things-you-may-not-know-about-coffee/#comments Tue, 12 May 2015 11:00:38 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5889

(Reading this via email? View the entire graphic here.)

An estimated 54 percent of Americans over the age of 18 consume coffee on a daily basis. We are so passionate about it we’ve even fashioned a whole dialect around ordering it from coffeehouses.

1. The United States is not the largest importer of coffee

While coffee is the largest food import in the U.S.—and second most valuable commodity behind oil—we aren’t the largest coffee importer. The European Union imports almost twice as much coffee as the U.S.

Both are projected to see an increase in coffee imports in 2015, with estimates that the EU will import 46 million bags and the U.S. 25 million.

2. Coffee is highly profitable… just not for most coffee farmers

Coffee is an $18 billion industry in the U.S. along. However, most smallholder coffee farmers only see an estimated 10 percent of the final retail cost of their coffee.

That’s why LWR works with coffee farmers and their cooperatives to get involved in more steps of the “agriculture value chain” — all the steps of making coffee from crop to cup. The more steps in the agriculture value chain that coffee producers are involved in, the more they can make from their crops.

3. Coffee begins as a cherry, NOT A BEAN!

Actually, to be fair, it begins as a flower, which eventually leaves behind dark green coffee cherries. As the cherries ripen they turn from green to yellow and, eventually — at full ripeness — a rich red. After picking and drying the coffee cherries, the outer layers are removed (a process called pulping), freeing the coffee beans inside.

Good quality coffee starts with good quality coffee trees. A coffee tree can take several years to yield cherries. LWR helps smallholder coffee farmers plant new trees, grow other crops for alternative income and to provide necessary coffee tree shade, and to process their coffee to yield good quality, valuable coffee beans.

4. Many coffee farmers drink a lesser quality of coffee than they grow.

In many coffee growing regions, coffee farmers sell their high quality beans and make do on lesser quality — often instant, freeze-dried — coffee for their own consumption.

5. Healthy farming communities = MORE and BETTER coffee

Healthy farming communities are productive farming communities. With the right tools and knowledge, smallholder farmers can produce good yields of quality coffee, keeping their families healthy and your cup filled. Win-win!

You can support healthy coffee farming communities!

Buy Fair Trade
LWR Fair Trade offers delicious coffee that supports coffee growing communities and sustainable development work to help them. Learn more.

Fund a coffee farmer
Through KindSight, you can directly fund the APOKO coffee project in Uganda. Learn more.

Support solutions from the “Ground Up.”
LWR’s initiative works across three regions (Africa, Asia & the Middle East, and Latin America) to strengthen coffee and cocoa livelihoods to fight poverty. Learn more.

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Why “42” is Good News in the Fight Against Ebola http://blog.lwr.org/2015/05/why-is-good-news-in-the-fight-against-ebola/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/05/why-is-good-news-in-the-fight-against-ebola/#comments Sat, 09 May 2015 11:00:39 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5879

Liberia was one of the countries hard-hit by the most recent outbreak of the Ebola virus, which the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Africa regional office first reported in March 2014. [Source]

Since then, more than 10,000 cases of Ebola have been investigated in the country and there have been more than 4,600 deaths [Source]. With your support, Lutheran World Relief worked with partners at IMA World Health to respond to this crisis by providing critical education and awareness, as well as personal protective equipment to healthcare workers in Liberia.

A healthworker helps clean off another worker in a hazardous materials suit in West Africa

Photo credit: ©EC/ECHO/Jean-Louis Mosser, on Flickr.com, CC-BY-ND

May 9 marks an important milestone in the fight against the outbreak in Liberia. On this day, the country will have gone 42 days without a known Ebola transmission. Why is that significant?

21-Day Incubation Period

Any infectious disease has what is called an “incubation period” – or the period of time between exposure to an infections disease or virus and when symptoms first appear. The WHO notes the incubation period for Ebola as 21 days [Source]. When two incubation periods have passed without known infection, the WHO will declare Liberia “free of Ebola transmission.”

This map, provided buy the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the number of days since the last reported case of Ebola in the countries in West Africa affected by the most recent outbreak.

This map, provided buy the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows the number of days since the last reported case of Ebola in the countries in West Africa affected by the most recent outbreak.

Thank you for support of Lutheran World Relief that allowed us to respond quickly to support our partners on the ground fighting the Ebola virus. Supporting our partners on the ground in educating communities and providing protective equipment are two very real ways you are helping to stop Ebola.

Please join us in continuing to pray for people in all the countries affected by this outbreak.

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Gayle Smith: A Great Choice for USAID Administrator http://blog.lwr.org/2015/05/gayle-smith/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/05/gayle-smith/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 14:30:40 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5872

I could not be more happy with President Obama’s nomination of Gayle Smith to be the next Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Not only is she a consummate leader in the international development world, well-respected by both Democrats and Republicans, she also has ties to Lutheran World Relief!

Gayle worked with LWR during the Ethiopian famine in 1984-85, as part of a consortium called the Emergency Relief Desk, which provided relief, including food aid cross-border, to people in rebel-held areas.  For this work, LWR won The Presidential End Hunger Award, signed by President Reagan in 1986.

“This was during the time when LWR was headed by Norman Barth,” Gayle recalled recently,
“who stepped up at a time when there was dire need but responding to the famine meant dealing also with two wars.”

Gayle went on to achieve great heights in her career, both as a journalist and as a leader in the humanitarian sector, all the way to her current post as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director at the National Security Council. LWR has joined a coalition of humanitarian agencies calling for her swift confirmation as USAID Administrator.

From the letter to members of Congress:

“Given the ongoing humanitarian crises in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, and South Sudan, as well as the recent crises in Nepal and Yemen, it is critically important that the U.S. Senate take quick action to confirm Ms. Smith as USAID Administrator. Moreover, a full-time leader with the ability to represent the agency before Congress and OMB, as well as representing the U.S. in international fora, will only strengthen U.S. leadership on global initiatives focused on helping people in the world’s poorest places become independent and reach their full potential.”

USAID is an important partner for Lutheran World Relief, funding critical work in disaster relief and agricultural development. Gayle Smith will do a great job as its next leader.

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Nepal Earthquake: Why We Must Pay Attention to the Rural Poor http://blog.lwr.org/2015/04/nepal-earthquake-why-we-must-pay-attention-to-the-rural-poor/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/04/nepal-earthquake-why-we-must-pay-attention-to-the-rural-poor/#comments Wed, 29 Apr 2015 16:40:10 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5864

It’s easy to focus on urban Kathmandu and prestigious Mt. Everest in the wake of the earthquake that hit Nepal last week. But what about those who live in less visible places? Two researchers at the University of British Columbia wrote a powerful piece in The Globe and Mail about the importance of reaching the rural poor.

Far away from Mt. Everest’s glamorous peak, early reports suggested high casualty figures and tens of thousands left homeless in the central-western districts of Gorkha, Dhading and Lamjung, where the first quake’s epicenter lay…

They continue:

Calls to our research partners in hill and mountain districts across the country revealed that villagers are reeling from injuries, death and the destruction of already precarious livelihoods on a massive scale. One villager told us that although his family and many others were unharmed, his home of mud and stone, like the entire village, was a pile of rubble. For many of the rural poor, a two-story home is a most prized asset. While their plight may not make the international headlines, rural Nepalis across the country will need long-term support to rebuild their lives.

LWR has been working in Lamjung — a rural district northwest of Kathmandu — for years. And with our local partner, COPPADES, we have committed to continue working in Lamjung and are assessing the needs in nearby Gorkha.

These rural areas are harder to reach, but we cannot only focus on the easiest solutions. We need lasting solutions that incorporate local voices.

While LWR’s relief efforts ramp up over the coming weeks and months, we will continue to invest in long-term, sustainable development. We will continue our work in Lamjung to help farmers become more resilient through climate-smart agriculture and natural resource management.

And we’ll continue helping citrus farmers and other small-scale farmers in southcentral Nepal improve their incomes, as well as building resilience to seasonal flooding along the Nepal–India border.

Recovery in Nepal is about more than short-term needs. It’s about more than the highest-profile areas. At LWR, we agree with the authors when they say:

Between the creativity of Nepalis at home, and the resources and global networks that their compatriots abroad can marshal, there is an opportunity to make this a model relief effort. Nonetheless, donors will need to work carefully to ensure that aid is distributed equitably and that the process is owned by Nepalis from all backgrounds who know their own grassroots needs the best.

How can I help?

REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar, courtesy trust.org

Rescue workers search for bodies as a stretcher is kept ready after an earthquake hit, in Kathmandu, Nepal April 25, 2015. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar, courtesy trust.org

Give to the Nepal Earthquake Fund. 100% of your gift will be used to support efforts to respond to the devastation from the earthquake in Nepal.

Please pray for those affected by the earthquake in Nepal and for all who are working to respond to the disaster.

Make Quilts and Kits. Donating Quilts and Kits helps ensure we have an adequate supply to send around the world to partners who request them, as well as in response to emergencies.

Spread the word at your congregation. Download resources about the earthquake in Nepal to use in worship, like bulletin inserts, litanies and sermons.

Learn more»

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Malaria Is On Its Way Out – But The Fight Isn’t Finished http://blog.lwr.org/2015/04/malaria-is-on-its-way-out-but-the-fight-isnt-finished/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/04/malaria-is-on-its-way-out-but-the-fight-isnt-finished/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 12:31:12 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5859

When Sochele Banou’s three-year-old son, Aly, got sick, she didn’t know what to do. In her remote village in Mali, there was little access to medical services and she couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t getting better.

“My child cried so loudly,” she said, “We got to the hospital to see the doctor, but it was too late. There was nothing the doctor could do to help him.”

Unfortunately, Sochele’s story is not unique. Throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa, too many parents have suffered the devastation of losing a child to a preventable disease. But the picture is changing. As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the President’s Malaria Initiative, and World Malaria Day this Saturday, we’re seeing more access to treatment and smart malaria prevention and education measures making a difference in malaria-affected countries around the world.

What’s unique about the President’s Malaria Initiative is that it began with the notion that while malaria was beatable, it would be an uphill battle. To defeat it, government groups, multilateral agencies, the private sector and NGOs would have to work together.

The Initiative has seen dramatic results. Every one of the President’s Malaria Initiative focus countries experienced a drop in mortality rates for children under five. In some countries, mortality rates have dropped by as much as 55 percent. Malaria is losing ground. Twenty-six countries are close to eliminating malaria. Fifty-five countries have reduced incidence of malaria by 75 percent. The broad coalition working on this effort has taken every opportunity to attack malaria. They’ve coordinated with local leaders, government officials in priority nations, and scientists to determine the best course of action to defeat malaria. The organization for which I work, Lutheran World Relief, has seen great success in our ability to connect with communities of faith. We’ve seen time and time again that when an aid worker tells a mother that her child should sleep under a bed net, that mother might listen. When that same information comes from her pastor or another trusted community leader, the chances of action go up exponentially.

Still with all of this success, the fight isn’t over. We need to continue to address malaria not just as a health issue – but also as an economic one. In endemic countries, malaria accounts for 40 percent of all public health spending and economic growth in those countries is five times lower than in non-endemic countries. By fighting malaria, we are fighting global poverty. It’s a brutal parasite that weighs heavily on communities and finally, we have all the technology we need to end it. We just need .

That is why I am very grateful for the leadership of Congressman Ander Crenshaw (R-FL), Congressman Greg Meeks (D-NY), Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), who co-chair the House and Senate Malaria and Neglected Tropical Disease Caucuses. Their efforts to highlight the progress we have made against malaria ensure the President’s Malaria Initiative has the support it needs to combat this treatable and preventable disease.

NGOs will continue to do their part to stop malaria, but we have to look broader than simply providing health services. By teaching agriculture skills and supporting sustainable economic development in areas at risk of malaria, we’re supporting lasting change that will lead to more medical access, educational opportunities, and more local actions to address malaria.

We’ve taken massive leaps towards ending malaria. In fact, 26 countries are on track to eliminate the virus entirely. But there’s still more to do. It’ll take all of us – NGOs, local leaders in at-risk countries, and continued funding from Congress – to finally see the last malaria death.

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LWR Travel Diary: Four Places I Found Hope in South Sudan http://blog.lwr.org/2015/04/lwr-travel-diary-four-places-i-found-hope-in-south-sudan/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/04/lwr-travel-diary-four-places-i-found-hope-in-south-sudan/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 18:47:06 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5840

When I arrived to Maban County in Northeastern South Sudan, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Just days before, a fresh round of fighting had broken out. This country, just four years old, has been embroiled in civil war since its inception.

And if that weren’t hard enough, the young country is also home to refugees from neighboring Sudan, which is also engulfed in war. Maban County alone is home to four refugee camps: Yusuf Batil, Kaya, Gendrassa and Doro. Currently more than 130,000 people call these camps home.

My recent visit was to monitor a project funded by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM). LWR is working with long-time partner Lutheran World Federation (LWF), which manages the camps. The project has three main objectives:

  1. Make sure South Sudanese and Sudanese kids are protected.
  2. Provide quality education to these children and others, along with life and vocational skills.
  3. Reach out to host communities to make sure their needs are met, in order to promote peace.

There are a lot of reasons to be concerned about the situation in South Sudan. But as I saw on my trip, there are also reasons to be hopeful. Here’s are a few inspiring highlights from my trip.

Women learning sewing skills

MabanCollage1

One component of the South Sudan project is vocational training to both refugee and host community members. On the right is a tailoring class where students learn basic sewing skills which they will hopefully turn into a business once they receive their certificate. The patterns you see on the right are what the women use to learn to make dresses but they will also serve another purpose. LWF plans to partner with the women and employ them to sew uniforms for schools that don’t have them yet.

Ashi Gibril

Ashi Gibril

This is Ashi Gibril, a widow with 5 children who is a refugee in Yusuf Batil. She’s actually from the Northern part of Sudan but came to South Sudan when she married her husband, who is native to South Sudan.  Since she has no family in the area to help her, she decided to join the LWF tailoring class. She told me that she would like to set up a sewing shop in the local market using the skills she has learned.

Early Childhood Development Centers

EDCCollage

On the left is the Early Childhood Development Center,  which serves preschool aged children. As you can see, it’s in severe disrepair and LWF is awaiting more funding from UNICEF before they can make any upgrades. On the right is what a primary (elementary) school classroom looks like when it is first built. The LWR project is adding walls, fencing and doors to make these spaces more inviting and safer for the children.

The Children of Gendrassa Camp

Bendrassa camp 1

These are primary school students in Gendrassa camp. They’re part of a newly established Child Rights Club within the school that monitors and reports violations. This group of young people blew me away. They took their job very seriously and would not let us leave until we heard all of their issues. They recently even reported a teacher who was stealing their play equipment. While we were there they sang a song to us about the right to food, the right to clean water, the right to education and the importance of not getting married too young. In this community, it is a common practice for men to marry girls as young as 11 years old. LWF is also working with community members and leaders to hopefully reduce the occurrences of early and forced marriages.

Thank you!

Your faithful support of LWR makes it possible to continue our work with LWF to protect refugees in South Sudan. To learn more about this work, visit the LWR In-Depth website.

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Fund coffee farmers in Kenya through KindSight! http://blog.lwr.org/2015/04/fund-coffee-farmers-in-kenya-through-kindsight/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/04/fund-coffee-farmers-in-kenya-through-kindsight/#comments Thu, 09 Apr 2015 20:00:22 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5817

Last fall, LWR launched KindSight, a new way to use your time, money and voice to fight poverty around the world. Our first project – the Rural Women Led Vegetable Farming project in India – is going strong. We’re excited to introduce a second project – the APOKO coffee project in Kenya.

Here’s what you need to know to start funding coffee farmers today – and getting your donations matched dollar-for-dollar — with KindSight!

 (Already raring to go? That’s the spirit! Visit KindSight today to sign-up!)

Who are we helping?

Your support will help coffee producers in the South Rachuonyo district in Kenya, through three coffee cooperatives called Orinde, Kabondo and Ogera.

Why Kenya? Why coffee?

Kenya is the East African powerhouse of the coffee world.

In the 1970s, coffee was Kenya’s leading export and today it remains one of Kenya’s most valuable global commodities.  If more farmers had the tools and information they need to grow high quality coffee, they could lift themselves, their families and their entire communities out of poverty.

What help do coffee farmers need?

Global demand for specialty coffee is exploding and the market price for this luxury commodity is high; however, the Kenyan farmers don’t produce nearly as much coffee as they could and their incomes remain very low, mainly because the quality of their coffee isn’t high enough to export to international buyers.

 How exactly will my support help?

By supporting the APOKO project, you’ll help individual coffee producers, along with their cooperatives, to grow high-quality coffee that can be exported for competitive prices and help coffee farming communities rise out of poverty.

Through KindSight, you’ll be able to fund this project piece-by-piece, each completed project phase unlocking the next until together we’ve built a strong program that will help coffee farmers long into the future.

Here are a few of the first activities in need of funding:

  1.  Motorcycle purchase (to allow project staff to visit farmers in their fields and travel to training sites)
  2. Training on coffee marketing systems (to help farmers understand what factors influence coffee pricing and how to negotiate for better pricing)
  3. Hiring of agriculture extension officer (to lead farmer trainings and share his expertise in the best coffee farming techniques)

How can I help through KindSight?

Use your TIME by pledging an occasion, like your birthday or running a 5k, and ask your friends and family to support you and the APOKO coffee farmers by donating to KindSight. (Want some good ideas? Check out what others have done.)

Use your MONEY by making a direct donation or issuing a matching challenge.

Use your VOICE by acting as a social ambassador, sharing this project and its poverty fighting potential with your social networks.

WHAT do I do next?

 Step 1:                  Visit mykindsight.org to sign-up.

Step 2:                  Select the APOKO project.

Step 3:                  Decide how you’ll use your time, money and voice to fund coffee farmers.

It’s that easy! And thanks to Equal Exchange, our Fair Trade Coffee partner, every dollar you raise for the APOKO project will be matched – up to $ 57,135.60!

APOKO3

APOKO2

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Lutheran World Relief Receives $350,000 from Starbucks Foundation http://blog.lwr.org/2015/04/starbucks-foundation/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/04/starbucks-foundation/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 14:40:13 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5809

We are proud to announce that we have received a Starbucks Foundation grant of $350,000 toward a two-year project that contributes to the protection of the local ecosystem, provides sustainable livelihoods, and fosters community in Colombia: Pro-Café: Protecting Ecosystem Services for Sustainable Coffee Livelihoods.

Coffee growers’ livelihoods and quality of life in central Colombia are at risk due to deteriorating environmental conditions caused by both a changing climate and poor community hygiene and sanitation practices. As profitability of traditional coffee production and agricultural activities decreases, farmers often adopt unsustainable practices that further deteriorate the natural environment. As the negative spiral continues, migration away from the coffee-producing communities increases, and conflict erupts over use and control of natural resources — in particular over water and land — threatening to reignite forced displacement in the region.

Over the past 40 years, Starbucks has been dedicated to helping improve the lives of farmers and their families around the world who grow their coffee. Through a comprehensive approach to ethical sourcing Starbucks is paying equitable prices, providing access to farmer loans and technical assistance to help farmers to navigate the complexities of agriculture – a long term process.  In total, Starbucks has invested more than $70 million in collaborative farmer programs and activities over the past 40 years. In 2015, Starbucks will achieve the goal of 99 percent of its coffee being verified as ethically sourced. Additional details about Starbucks initiatives in coffee and tea communities are available at Starbucks.com/Responsibility/sourcing.

»Read the entire announcement

Ground Up: The LWR Coffee and Cocoa Initiative
The global coffee and cocoa markets are worth more than $175 billion per year combined. But small-scale producers capture just a fraction of that value. With expertise developed over decades, LWR brings a unique perspective and skill set to improve producers’ lives, from the ground up.

Read more about Ground Up: The LWR coffee and cocoa initiative.

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What I Learned Visiting LWR Projects in Honduras http://blog.lwr.org/2015/03/what-i-learned-visiting-lwr-projects-in-honduras/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/03/what-i-learned-visiting-lwr-projects-in-honduras/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 16:04:18 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5791

Dr. William J. Craft is a member of the Lutheran World Relief board of directors and is the president of Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. Recently Dr. Craft, along with the entire LWR board, traveled to Honduras to see LWR’s work there, especially with coffee farmers. The following is an excerpt from Dr. Craft’s reflection on the trip. You can read his full reflection by visiting the Concordia website

Two years ago, I was very glad to be asked to serve on the governing board for LWR.  Founded at the end of World War II to help the homeless, starving, and destitute in war-ravaged Europe, LWR is best known now for the way it responds to the suffering induced by natural disasters—like Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines in November of 2013. But day in and out, LWR works far beyond emergency operations.  In particular, LWR staff partner with local farmers around the world to help them grow crops more effectively—both to sell and to feed their own families. This is the work I saw in the steep, wooded hills of coffee and cocoa country at the western end of the country.

Honduras is a place of great beauty, widespread poverty, and all too often, violence, most of it gang and drug cartel ignited. You can read on the LWR website that nearly two-thirds of Hondurans live at or below the national poverty line. The average annual income is $2,180.[i]  For an account of how the violence there threatens the young, see this story.

The Pew Research Center tells us that “the number of unaccompanied minors from Honduras apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border shot up from less than 7,000 in fiscal year 2013 to more than 17,500 through July of this year, making Honduras the country of origin for the highest number of those minors.” It was that flood of young people from Honduras that heightened the already intense debate about immigration into the U.S.

We spent the first two full days of our trip on LWR board business: setting the direction for a non-profit whose work benefits millions of people around the globe. Once board business concluded, we headed in pickup trucks up, and up, into the hills, on narrow dirt roads around sharp bends—no guardrails, but breathtaking green vistas. What we found atop the hill was a village: homes, individually owned family gardens, and larger hillside plantings of coffee.

Adam Canan

Adam Canan talks with us about three years of training to improve soil quality, farm planning, organic fertilizer making. His wife, Francisca Perez, tells us about improving family nutrition and hygiene—worked in between coffee picking labors that the community shares.

Jorge Martinez

Jorge David Martinez Reyes and his family show us their small but strikingly varied set of crops—cabbages, pineapples, and more.

Cecilio Sosa

Cecilio Sosa, a father and grandfather, talks us through the growing of cocoa, and then breaks open one of the pods to reveal a milky, gelatinous tower encasing the cocoa beans. We’re all prompted to reach into that tower and try the sweet taste of the pulp. We find out that when the beans are fermented in the pulp, they absorb its sweetness—otherwise they’d be very bitter.

Maria Sosa

Cecilio’s daughter Maria, a trained and gifted cocoa farming agent, shows us how a poorly producing tree can be given new life by grafting onto it the branch of a more fruitful tree. While I am at the farm with some LWR folk, others are learning how the cocoa beans are fermented, dried, and sold through the village cooperative.

What did I learn on my journey? Too much to tell. But I will settle on two things in closing. I saw very clearly what I had heard about so often at LWR board meetings: this is an organization at once idealistic and tough-minded. Only what works to sustain farmers and families is funded; what doesn’t, isn’t.

I expect that when Concordia students traveled in May of 2014 to coffee and cocoa farms in Nicaragua, they saw the same thing: that the world becomes a better place not merely by wishing it so, but when idealism meets the discipline to solve unscripted human problems with imagination and courage.

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Why Growing More Isn’t Enough for Cacao Farmers Living in Poverty http://blog.lwr.org/2015/03/why-growing-more-isnt-enough-for-cacao-farmers-living-in-poverty/ http://blog.lwr.org/2015/03/why-growing-more-isnt-enough-for-cacao-farmers-living-in-poverty/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 20:17:55 +0000 http://blog.lwr.org/?p=5776

I recently visited Western Uganda, as part of the process of designing a project to help farmers improve their production of cacao, as well as family food security. (Wondering the difference between “cacao” and “cocoa”? This article explains it well.)

We often get to hear about how our work – and your support – makes a phenomenal impact on those living in poverty around the world. I thought this brief glimpse into my visit will paint a picture of what we see as we begin to work with communities.

The Thin Months

From my experience working with coffee farmers, particularly in Central America, there is a phenomenon in farming communities which I’ve heard called the “thin months.” This is a period of about two to three months after the harvest has ended and cash from the previous harvest has run out. In this time, families don’t have enough to feed themselves adequately. My LWR colleagues in Africa tell me this is also sometimes called “the lean season.” Both names give you an idea of how challenging access to food can be during this time.

Long view of a cacoa growing village I visited in Western Uganda.

Long view of Bundibugyo, a cacoa growing village I visited in Western Uganda.

Like small-scale coffee farmers, cacao farmers in this region of Uganda have devoted virtually all of their land to the production of cacao, with the intention of using their earnings from this cash crop to purchase food and other necessities.  As we walked through parts of the community I did not see one vegetable garden of any size, planted to provide families with food at least during these months.

The theory has been that if cacao farmers can increase their yields enough, they will have enough income to comfortably purchase their food, pay school fees, etc., and will have a better quality of life.  There is no doubt that growing more cash crops  will help farmers earn a better income , however coffee and cacao are commodities, with global market prices set thousands of miles away from the farmers and their parcels.  The farmers are “on the tip of the dog’s tail.”  They have no control over pricing, and in years of moderate and low market prices, they are very vulnerable to periods of extreme food insecurity.

Why Growing More Isn’t Enough

In many ways, food security tracks market prices, at least in theory if not in practice.  The higher the market price of cacao, the more farmers stand to earn from their crops and the more food secure families may be.  The lower market price, the less they earn and the more vulnerable they may find themselves.  This is all too common in coffee, and it was distressing, though not surprising, to find this true with cacao farmers as well.

A group of  farmers bag dried cacao to be sold in local markets.

A group of farmers bag dried cacao to be sold in local markets.

Many projects in Uganda, implemented by a range of development organizations or the government, focus on increased productivity and link those increases to reduced poverty. And that approach works for a short period of time – about a year or two. However, after the funding stops, and the program comes to an end and – God forbid – the market price drops, farmers may find themselves struggling once again, holding their children home from school to save on school fees so that they can buy food, among other coping tactics.

A sole focus on increasing productivity is a short-term solution. No doubt it may seem appealing, but to make a sustainable impact, we have to do more.

Diversify Crops, Increase Food Security

In my work in coffee, the only real success stories that I have seen over years, have been those that combine maximizing coffee production with income diversification on the farm – growing food that can be both consumed by the family (lowering food costs by growing it vs. buying it), and sold in the local market as another source of income.

This provides families with a good safety net should the global market price of their primary commodity be low, and nutritious food all year, regardless of the market.  In coffee, even in the best of market conditions, small-scale farmers rarely earn enough to advance out of poverty when projects are geared solely toward increasing production. During market downturns, they often cannot afford needed inputs, such as fertilizer and quality seeds, and their productivity regresses as they choose to feed their families before “feeding” their coffee.

cacao kids

These are a few curious children I met when visiting a cacao growing village in Western Uganda. If we support cacao farmers in improving and diversifying their crops, we can create a lasting impact that will benefit people for generations to come.

While I was concerned with what I saw in Uganda, I am also hopeful. LWR is designing a balanced project that takes a “whole farm” approach to increasing productivity not only of cash crops, but also alternative crops that can be consumed by families and sold locally. This approach has the potential to make a real and lasting difference for farming families, improving their lives and futures and building resilience to face the future.

Lutheran World Relief is working with coffee and cocoa farmers around the world to increase production and income and reduce poverty. Learn more about our Ground Up Coffee & Cocoa Initiative.

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