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The West Africa program works to improve production of, access to, and use of food in over 70 villages. Training encompasses conservation agriculture, tree preservation and reforestation, gardening and nutrition, village savings and loans, small business management, raising animals, as well as health and hygiene. Through these combined approaches and by focusing on increasing the knowledge and capacities of partner staff and local facilitators, over 2,400 participants are improving their food security. The local partner, SEL, is a small organization whose goal is to “show everyone love” regardless of their religion or ethnicity, by helping people improve their food security. Due to the challenging security context in this region, the program partners request that we do not publicly share information regarding their specific location for the safety of their staff.
Farm Radio: Effective Teaching Tool
For years, farm radio has been a great way for U.S. farmers to learn new information. In West Africa, Todima has found radio to be an important way for her to learn too.
Although a long-time farmer, in recent years her yields have decreased and her soil has become drier, harder and less fertile due to frequent droughts. Says Todima, “When it rains, the soil does not hold the water but lets it run downhill. A dry period would damage my seed and prevent the soil from producing. I worked hard but, in the end, I harvested little without knowing why. Elsewhere, I saw others get better results. One day, while listening to the radio, I found a solution.”
Local partner Showing Everyone Love (SEL) recently began producing radio broadcasts on agriculture. During the farm radio broadcast Todima heard, the SEL agent explained the importance of zaї holes and drove home the message with testimonials, skits and additional advice by experts. Zaї holes are pits dug and filled with compost. When it rains, the farmer plants seeds, and the strategically-placed holes capture the water, absorbing both what is falling and what is running downward from higher on the slope. When planted in the moist soil and compost, the seed has enough moisture to germinate and grow. The compost supplies the nutrients to sustain the plant.
Todima understood how it was possible to grow crops on her hard-baked ground. She dug the holes and, during the rainy season, sowed millet in them. Villagers thought she was crazy, but she’d heard enough on the subject that she was confident she’d get a good yield. Indeed, when it rained the soil and compost were thoroughly soaked and the millet grew quickly because the soil stayed moist. Her neighbor noticed her results and she told him about the method. He’s using it successfully now, too.
SEL broadcasts in three languages on two different radio stations and reaches three countries. A recent survey found that about 44% of men and 32% of women interviewed had listened to the show. They reported that the format really helped them to remember what they’d learned in the past, and encouraged them to try new techniques. Others who don’t have radios are saving up, but also learning from neighbors like Todima. She says, “I just wanted to testify to the importance of radio broadcasts, because they have helped me a lot.”
West Africa Program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner Showing Everyone Love (SEL)