BALTIMORE, April 16, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A serious food crisis is brewing in the Sahel region of West Africa, a region where more than 10 million people already face the threat of hunger every day. Recent failed rains, drought and rising food costs, among other factors, now threaten an additional 3.4 million people.
Thanks to a generous $1.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lutheran World Relief and partners are initiating Resilience Plus, a project in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger that will help vulnerable families earn immediate income while preserving their long-term agricultural livelihoods.
Cash-for-work activities will provide immediate access to income for 134,000 people and help families to weather the crisis. This community work will simultaneously conserve soil and improve irrigation systems that will help grow food in the future.
"Through this response, LWR is combining short-term emergency assistance with essential recovery and rehabilitation programs to increase community resiliency and reduce vulnerability to future crises," says Evariste Karangwa, LWR's regional program director for Africa.
LWR will also provide free seed distributions and connect farmers' groups to financial institutions, where they can access credit to purchase agricultural supplies. When their crops fail, farmers in poor, developing communities are often unable to purchase seeds and supplies for the next season.
Because women farmers are especially vulnerable to crises and often have to sell assets for their families' survival, LWR will work with 10,890 women to maximize their incomes through improved marketing skills and crop processing and storage techniques. Proper storage for surplus crops allows crops to be sold when demand is highest, instead of right after the harvest when markets are saturated. Livestock distributions and training in animal husbandry will also provide women with skills and resources to earn additional income.
"LWR is very grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for this grant to respond to the worsening food crisis in West Africa," says John Nunes, LWR's president and CEO. "Many families, and especially women and young children, are vulnerable. Resilience Plus will help LWR work with communities to cope through this crisis and become more resilient in the long-term."
To learn more about LWR's response to this crisis, please visit lwr.org.
WHO IS LWR? Lutheran World Relief, an international nonprofit organization, works to end poverty and injustice by empowering some of the world's most impoverished communities to help themselves. With partners in 35 countries, LWR seeks to promote sustainable development with justice and dignity by helping communities bring about change for healthy, safe and secure lives; engage in Fair Trade; promote peace and reconciliation; and respond to emergencies. LWR is headquartered in Baltimore, Md. and has worked in international development and relief since 1945. For more information, please visit lwr.org.
Lutheran World Relief is a ministry of U.S. Lutherans, serving communities living in poverty overseas.
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John Arthur Nunes
Evariste Karangwa Ph.D
SOURCE Lutheran World Relief