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Sustainability

Reforestation and Tree Planting in Ethiopia

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In the Machakel region of northeastern Ethiopia, the grass grows well and the hills are green during the rainy season. However, there was also significant soil erosion on the hills. Due to the erosion, deep channels stripped of vegetation were worn into the otherwise green landscape. Almost all of the native forest on the hills was cut down and the soil depleted, resulting in crop failures and food insecurity.

Since 2017, The Hunger Project Ethiopia and WeForest have been working together to fight erosion in the area. WeForest is an organisation that empowers communities to sustainably advance and implement lasting solutions to restore forest landscapes.

“Population pressure has increased. Large areas of forest have been cut to create more agricultural land. As a result, the soil isn’t retained as well. Because of climate change, the rains are getting heavier — large areas of land simply wash away,” says Dr. Aklilu, Forestry Expert at WeForest.

“WeForest has a lot of expertise about forest planting and forest management. The Hunger Project is strong in engaging and mobilising the community. This is desperately needed, because we need action from our village partners in the area. It is ultimately in the interest of the people themselves that erosion is tackled, and we want to achieve that together,” he says.

Our village partners in Machakel play a crucial role in the collaboration, contributing with:

1. Land – they make communal land available for forest planting, instead of grazing cattle

2. Time – they unite in committees, assist in planting seedlings and protecting plants

3. Selection of trees – instead of planting popular, exotic trees such as eucalyptus, they now plant protected, native trees

“The most important thing for me is that we create a better living environment for all of us and counteract the effects of climate change. The children that I will probably have [in the future], must also be able to live here” – Gizachen Buyu, The Hunger Project village partner.

Now, grass has regrown to knee height and trees have grown where erosion channels used to be. The countryside has recovered.

AS OF DECEMBER 2019:

• Seedlings were grown in three nurseries in the region

• Our village partners formed 60 farmer committees

• 530 hectares of community land was made available for forest and planting (where previously it had been used for livestock grazing)

• More than 1 million trees have been planted

• Farmers have planted 735,000 fruit trees and fruit-bearing shrubs on their own land, so that 270 hectares of land is now used for agroforestry

Invest in a sustainable future and food security for families here.

Meet Mr. Henderson

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We met Mr. Henderson on the Unlock Leadership Immersion Program in Malawi in November 2019.  

 Mr Henderson is 22 years old and is from Nsondole Epicentre. After receiving training from an Animator (local volunteer leader) trained by The Hunger Project, Mr Henderson began planting seeds in his garden.  

 Now, he proudly grows beans, peas, Chinese vegetables and tomatoes. Mr Henderson also sells the surplus vegetables that he has grown so that he can earn an income.  

“I planted different varieties, so it gives my family different nutrients. Now I don’t need to buy vegetables from other people”, he said.  

Mr. Henderson has also become a Nutrition Animator because he is passionate about passing on what he learnt to other community members including how to grow your own nutritious food and how to make compost manure.  

Mr Henderson’s garden acts as a demonstration for his neighbours and community that they too, can transform their lives.    

How The Hunger Project is working to combat climate change.

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The Hunger Project’s mission is to end hunger by 2030 through sustainable, holistic solutions. Due to climate change, levels of people living in hunger have been on the rise since 2015. Understanding how climate change affects the communities where we work is critical to provide the resources and capacity-building needed to better prepare the communities to respond to climate risks.

Climate change and poverty reduction are intertwined. The vast majority of people in hunger live in rural regions. They rely heavily on agriculture and their well-being closely tied to the natural environment. They are especially vulnerable to extreme weather events like droughts and flooding, which are often exacerbated by climate change. Weather-related events linked to climate change affect food availability in many countries and contribute to the rise in food insecurity. Climate-related events can limit food accessibility and availability through a number of channels. Drought is especially dangerous to communities as it diminishes livestock and agricultural productivity, thus instigating more broadly held grievances.

Improving environmental and climate resilience in rural communities is crucial to our work. We empower the communities we work in with the tools, skills and resources they need to adapt to climate risks and protect their future through our Climate Resilience program. This includes working on environmental sustainability, sustainable agriculture, climate adaption and risk management. These are some of the initiatives that we work on with our village partners.

Promote sustainable farming practices

At our epicentres in Africa, partners create community farms where villagers learn composting, intercropping and other methods to improve crop yields, restore soil fertility and make the best use of scarce resources.

Increase access to sustainable agriculture technology

The Hunger Project provides training and credit, mobilising people to adopt sustainable agricultural technology and practices, and encouraging them to demand agricultural extension services from their government.

Raise awareness of and build capacity to adapt to climate change

In India, The Hunger Project and its partners hold workshops to build our partners’ capacity to exercise leadership, take steps to reduce their vulnerability and formulate strategies to mitigate climate change risks. At the regional and international level, we also advocate for the conservation of natural resources, the mitigation of the harmful effects of extractive industries, and the recovery and promotion of traditional knowledge and technology that is highly adaptable to changing climate conditions.

Facilitate reforestation and tree-planting campaigns

Throughout our program countries, trained village partners establish tree nurseries to reforest their communities and control soil erosion. These can also become entrepreneurial village businesses, supplying families with fruit trees that not only capture carbon but also provide nutrition and income.

Form Climate Committees

Along with training all of our Animators (local volunteer leaders) on climate change in their communities, Climate Committees are formed across our epicentres in Africa. These committees are made up of at least 50% women as well as youth participants who lead activities, promote and create partnerships, support farmers to adapt to changes and help produce and review the communities action plan against climate change.

The communities we work with have proven their resilience in the face of harsh conditions time and time again and, equipped with the right tools, will continue to do so. 

 

How Climate Change is Causing Levels of Hunger to Rise

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Despite increased efforts to end hunger by 2030, the amount of people living in chronic hunger has risen since 2015. The number of people living in hunger is now 821 million people, which corresponds to roughly one in nine people. One of the main culprits? Climate change.

When you think about climate change, it brings about images of melting ice caps and barren land. You may not associate it with world hunger.

However, as global warming increases, levels of hunger become more prevalent. Vulnerable communities are the most likely to suffer the effects of climate change. They lack the appropriate resources and skills to adapt and find solutions to its ever-changing effects. Furthermore, as the effects of climate change build, they cause entrenched issues that contribute to chronic hunger and will take sustained effort to reverse. Like chronic hunger, climate change is complex and multi-faceted with numerous effects. It is creating uncertainty about what the future will look like. This makes it difficult to plan and respond to environmental changes.

The UN’s latest annual report shows that the prevalence and number of undernourished people is higher in countries that are also highly exposed to climate extremes. These also tend to be the countries where the majority of the population depends on agricultural systems that rely on rainfall and consistently optimal temperatures, such as African and Latin American countries.

So how exactly does climate change contribute to world hunger?

Global Warming

It’s no surprise that temperatures are rising. The Earth’s global surface temperature in 2018 was the fourth warmest since 1880. This has a direct impact on crop farming. Each crop has an ideal temperature for growth. If the rising temperatures then exceed that optimal temperature, the yield of that crop will decline, causing a decrease in available food. Furthermore, warmer air holds more moisture and can make precipitation more intense. This can directly damage crops, resulting in decreased yields.

Unpredictable Rainfall

Patterns of rainfall are much trickier to predict than temperature. It is this unpredictability of rainfall patterns in the coming years that is making it difficult to detect patterns and adjust agricultural patterns accordingly. Unlike rising temperatures, the effects of climate change on rainfall will depend on the country. Scientists predict that rainfall will become more extreme based on current patterns, so already wet regions will become wetter and dry regions in the subtropics will become even more dry. With rising temperatures increasing the level of precipitation,  it is likely that warmer climates will experience heavier rainfall, however this will come in less frequent, more intense weather events. This could lead to more flooding and longer dry spells, both which have the potential to damage farms.

Extreme Weather Events

The UN have identified extreme weather events such as droughts, floods and heatwaves as key drivers in causing levels of hunger to rise. Like the unpredictability of rainfall, as the climate reacts in a way that hasn’t been seen before, it is difficult to predict weather patterns in different areas. Whilst developed countries are far more equipped to respond to weather crisis’, a natural disaster is a huge burden on developing countries that may not have the adequate resources and funding to respond to the damage. Responding to a weather crisis takes a toll on the resources that families and communities may have been building to help pull themselves out of hunger, as they now have to direct these to the new problem at hand.

Rise of market costs

As a roll-on effect of rising temperatures, erratic rainfall and extreme weather, produce is taking more resources to grow. As such, this might mean a higher cost when it does finally get to the market stall. If food becomes more scarce, it will become more of a valuable resource, and therefore less accessible to those who need it most.

The solution?

We can still reach our goal of zero hunger by 2030 if we take urgent action on climate change and continue to educate and empower the people living in hunger to create their own solutions to these complex problems. That’s is exactly what we do at The Hunger Project — find sustainable and holistic solutions to end hunger. Find out more about how we work and invest in a sustainable end to hunger.

This village forest is in danger of disappearing forever

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Imagine spending hours every day in the forest gathering food for your family and fodder for livestock. 

Now imagine that, one day, the forest is gone.

What would you do? 

For the women of Uttarakhand, the forest is an important symbol of life and part of the everyday culture to which they are strongly connected – and it is in danger of disappearing forever.

“Women have been entrusted with the responsibility of fetching firewood, collecting leaves, branches and fruits and other forest produce for sale.  Fodder for cattle also comes from these forests. It is an important source for our livelihood, for our children.” 

Increased global demand for products has led to large corporations cutting down trees and causing deforestation which, as a result, diminishes the supply of provisions for families and villages.

Roads that used to be lined with trees are now framed by a desolate sea of stumps. The deforestation in Uttarakhand has led to rising temperatures and erratic rainfall, resulting in depleted natural resources.*

In a community with limited access to natural resources, conservation is crucial. If the environment is compromised, so too is the food and firewood they rely on.

In the face of this, Basanti is working tirelessly to strengthen the age-old and unique Uttarakhand institution of “forest councils” to protect the forests for generations to come.

 

 

“Our engagement with the forest makes it inevitable for us to feel more responsible for protecting what we consider living, breathing creatures.”  

The elected women of Uttarakhand have banded together to relentlessly fight the increased deforestation that has led to environmental degradation. By vocalising the imminent threat to their environment, they have re-established 50 forest councils to educate government workers about the threats and ensure the forest is protected in government policy.  Under their supervision, thousands of saplings are being planted to help repair the damage that has been done to their local ecosystem. 

“We are the carers of the forest.” 

Women like Basanti depend on the forest to feed their children and animals. These women are the ones who will fight against the impending deforestation and ensure a sustainable future for every family in their village.

 

Yours in ending hunger,

 

 

Melanie Noden

CEO, The Hunger Project Australia

*Government of Uttarakhand

Progress is made when we all work together: The Hunger Project & The 17 Global Goals

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We’re clear that it will take more than The Hunger Project working alone to achieve the end of hunger. That’s why we were thrilled when the world’s leaders in 2015 agreed on 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. The Global Goals confirmed what we’ve always known and advocated for – that hunger and poverty are complex issues that require a holistic approach; that it will take everyone working together in a strategic way to succeed; and that it IS possible to end hunger – by 2030.

The 17 Goals include No Poverty and Zero Hunger – and also cover areas from education and gender equality to climate action and peace, justice and strong institutions. As you know, despite our name, The Hunger Project works not only in food- and farming-specific education and training, but also across many diverse sectors that on first glance may seem unrelated to food or farming at all – like sanitation, gender equality or leadership. However we deliberately work in those sectors too because we know that when all these elements are addressed, it creates an environment in which people have the agency and power to lift themselves out of hunger.

Below you can see a snapshot of the breadth of The Hunger Project’s work, and how what we do addresses all 17 of the Global Goals. When The Hunger Project and others strategically work together within the framework of the 17 Global Goals, we can achieve the end of hunger in a sustainable way.

Click here to find out more about The Hunger Project’s impact in 2017.

You too can help The Hunger Project achieve the 17 Global Goals, invest now with a one-off or monthly investment.