Slow and Steady Progress Brings Lasting Results
Even extremely challenging areas like the enormous, sparsely populated and under-served Central African Republic (CAR) can move from a food-aid mindset to one of development, with the proper encouragement and commitment. FRB and our partners in the CAR Gamboula program have been working hand in hand since 2003 to help that process along. The program helps local partner CEFA develop and strengthen the skills they need to support more communities on their road to food security.
FRB is one of a very few non-government organizations focused on development in CAR. Aid organizations tend to come in briefly, hand out food or tools, and then leave. At its agricultural training center, CEFA emphasizes empowerment and is seeing real progress as participants share what they learn when they go back home. Communities are becoming aware of the cyclical nature of dependence on outside help and agree to develop from within.
Community representatives from around the country learn a variety of sustainable farming techniques at the center. They take disease-resistant cassava or nursery-raised fruit-tree seedlings back to their communities, sharing what they have and what they know. Participants are forming cooperatives and tree nurseries and learning to depend on each other rather than wait for a handout.
The center is bringing in nearly enough income from pressing and selling palm oil to become self- sustaining. Soon, program monies can be used to expand extension services and outreach across CAR. As more farmers use recommended practices to improve their soil and raise more food they improve their families’ diets and begin to earn incomes from farming.
The process of changing a country-wide mindset from aid to empowerment is slow, but the results are lasting.
Photo caption: CEFA training center visitors
Central African Republic Gamboula program
Led by Evangelical Covenant/Covenant World Relief and local partner CEFA
30 communities, 600 households, 3,000 individuals