Without proper nutrition, people can become trapped in a cycle of poverty. That is why tackling hunger and increasing people’s access to food, underpins all our work. Over 1.8 million people benefited directly from our food, income and markets programmes, and over three million were indirect beneficiaries. Of the total over 50 per cent were women and girls.
We help the poorest farmers grow enough to feed themselves and their families by distributing seeds and equipment, improving access to resources and training them in innovative and sustainable farming techniques. This helps to fulfil their short-term food needs as well as building their resilience to future shocks such as drought. We run skills training for marginalised people, helping them to become numerate and literate or learn a basic trade in order to secure a sustainable, independent future. We help people gain access to markets by improving infrastructures, such as building roads and bridges, and by linking them to cooperatives so that they can act collaboratively and secure better trade terms. We also give financial assistance to those who need it most, and offer microfinance schemes and grants to help get small enterprises off the ground. Our cash-for-work schemes help people earn a basic wage while assisting their community, such as by repairing roads. We also advocate for land, water and other resource rights, as well as better government support of agriculture and enterprise development for the very poor. Below, we give some examples of our work in 2013.
Helping the most marginalised
To ensure our help goes where it is needed, we work with communities to identify those who are the most vulnerable, such as women, the elderly, people living with HIV and AIDS or those who have been displaced. Our aim is to provide them with the tools and skills to support themselves in the long-term.
In the Republic of Sudan, over 2,300 vulnerable households, comprising mainly of people returning home and internally displaced people in the Jebel Moon area benefited from the distribution of seed and irrigation equipment. We also worked with the government to facilitate training for 710 farmers. This support led to an increase in the number of households planting and harvesting a greater variety of crops, and growing cash crops to sell at markets.
In Tanzania, as part of our work to help the poorest households acquire title deeds for their lands, 14 land rights awareness meetings were conducted in 11 villages, reaching over 3,900 people. In Bangladesh, we worked with our partner, Coalition for Urban Poor, to advocate for the rights of pavement dwellers to access voter registration, national ID cards, birth certificates and education for their children. To date, 3,507 children have received birth registration certificates.
In Ethiopia, we helped almost 800 people living with HIV set up Community Self-Help Savings groups, enabling them to build their own financial safety nets for their future.
Improving food security
We work with some of the world’s poorest people, increasing the resilience of households, reducing their vulnerability to shocks, and helping them to cope in times of disaster.
In the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) of Ethiopia, we distributed fresh food vouchers and carried out cooking demonstrations, enabling 690 children and over 2,600 pregnant and lactating women to increase their access to fresh food. In the Wolayita zone, over 1,300 households benefited from seed interventions and more than 1,600 poor and vulnerable households were provided with goats and sheep using a revolving loan system.
In Liberia and Tanzania, we helped establish Farmer Field Schools, with farmers benefiting from training in improved agricultural techniques such as crop diversification, conservation, and the use of organic fertilisers and pesticides. Some of the poorest farmers were also trained in poultry production.
Food insecurity is a complex issue, and in order to be most effective, many of our livelihood projects are integrated into other programme types. In Zambia, the Irish Aid and Kerry Group funded RAIN project (Realigning Agriculture to Improve Nutrition) provided support for women’s groups in an effort to increase the availability of diverse and micronutrient rich food in households. In 2013, the RAIN project reached in excess of 11,700 people with assistance including agricultural training and small livestock support, nutrition and health education, and the provision of water through the rehabilitation of boreholes.
In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, our conservation agriculture programme was scaled up in five new counties, benefiting over 3,000 households.
In Rwanda, in an effort to improve the diet diversity of pregnant and lactating women and children under two, we provided 799 households with tools, seeds, goats and chickens. As well as increasing the consumption of animal protein, the goats will enable the households to earn extra income.
In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Concern supported a goat‘s milk processing unit that produced 20,043 kilos of milk products, which were distributed to groups in clinics, hospitals, nurseries, kindergartens and schools. We assisted the completion of a soybean factory in Kumchon town that produced 483,000kg of soybean paste, sauce and oil. This facility is now providing enough soybean products to meet the requirements of over 22,000 people.
Building sustainable, independent futures
We help people to develop sustainable incomes to support themselves in the long-term, through training, financial support and increasing their access to markets.
In Bangladesh, we offered vocational and entrepreneurship training to squatters and pavement dwellers, and supported them with small grants to increase their income and employment opportunities. By 2013, the proportion of pavement dwellers employed in small businesses had increased from 4.5 per cent in 2011 to 18 per cent.
In Kenya, we recruited 585 individuals into vocational training, with courses including carpentry, masonry, computer maintenance, electronics and catering. In order to increase future employment opportunities, we are exploring a partnership with the Kenya Private Sector Alliance which runs apprenticeship programmes through their member organisations.
In Ethiopia, a self-help project targeting women in some of the most remote rural areas has trained 1,656 women in income generating activities. These women are now able to meet their household needs and cover educational expenses for their children. Over 600 women are also participating in an adult literacy programme, and are learning to read, write and calculate their household expenditure and business income.
In Haiti, through our community tourism project, we are working with the community and local organisations to develop tourism to benefit those with little or no income. The project includes training, road building and the construction of four guesthouses.
In Kenya, we gave loans to over 1,400 people to expand their business, helped them to open bank accounts, and provided basic training in business development and management, book-keeping, marketing, and branding. In Sierra Leone, we assisted five business groups in setting up community savings and loans schemes.
In South Sudan, we helped establish 45 women’s groups, and supported them in vegetable production, improving their access to food and a source of income.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, we are helping to improve the income and status of over 23,248 vulnerable individuals in the Manono area with a combination of agricultural distributions and cash-for-work on the rehabilitation of roads and bridges, and the management of sustainable water systems.
In Afghanistan, Concern supported 37 micro-hydro power systems, benefiting just over 23,500 people who previously did not have access to electricity.
In Mozambique, the poorest farmers suffer from low food production and often depend on local markets to buy their food as they are not able to grow enough to feed their families. We work with poor farmers to help improve their food security by increasing the amount of produce they grow to feed their families. In 2013, the farmers we worked with produced almost half of the food they consumed, lessening their reliance on markets.
Leading the way
Many of our initiatives are recognised as best practice.
In Kenya, our cash transfer model was adopted by the government for its social transfers to the urban poor. Our nutrition and livelihoods work was featured in the “Global Hunger Index 2013” as an example of resilience building. In Burundi, our cash transfers work has allowed us to engage with the World Bank and Burundian government in the development of a national social protection programme.
In Zambia, Concern is part of a consortium responsible for the management of the multi-donor Scaling Up Nutrition Fund which will invest over $27 million over two years and support the Government of Zambia to pilot the scaling up of nutrition interventions.
Concern Zambia received an award for their support in setting up the CSO-SUN Alliance and for ‘Nutrition Development’ at the first Zambia Nutrition Awards.
A lasting legacy
In 2013, Concern wound down its programming in Zimbabwe, India and Cambodia.
In Cambodia, Concern’s lasting legacy is perhaps best encapsulated in the story of the micro-finance institution, Angkor Mikroheranhvatho (Kampuchea) Co. Ltd, (AMK). Concern piloted the AMK project in 1997, as a small provincial credit scheme with a couple of hundred clients. By 2003, AMK was functioning independently, and ten years later, is one of the largest financial institutions in Cambodia with over 340,000 customers and a nationwide network of 128 branches. Concern also leaves behind a number of community based organisations in Cambodia, which strive to ensure that the poorest people are included in the long-term development of their communities and country.
In India, our efforts to ensure that the poorest and most vulnerable people have access to food entitlements and pension schemes, mean that they are now included in future government social protection programmes, going some way to ensuring they have a more secure future. On leaving, our focus has been to ensure the sustainability of programme activities. This was achieved by linking partners with other donors and our Alliance2015 partners.
We also leave Zimbabwe with much to be proud of. We led the way in many respects, including being the first NGO to pilot cash distributions instead of food distribution schemes on a large scale with the World Food Programme, and the first to give farmers the choice of receiving agricultural vouchers instead of direct donations of seed and fertiliser. We pioneered the first community complaints response mechanism in Zimbabwe.
In each of the countries we are departing, the impact of our programmes on the poorest has been carefully measured. All that we have learned has been shared widely, leaving behind a lasting legacy.