Program Turns Drought-Ravaged Villages into “Gardens of Eden”

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    [captionpix imgsrc=”” align=”left” captiontext=”Food for Assets is not an emergency relief effort. It’s a long-term development intervention that helps reduce a community’s vulnerability to future droughts. “](NewsUSA) – In the Horn of Africa, barren landscapes and dirt fields surround large riverbeds that are totally dry. Herds of goats and camels, tired and emaciated, walk through parched lands in search of food and water. It’s the worst drought the region has seen in 60 years.

    As ChildFund International continues its drought emergency operations across this region, it also remains focused on long-term development projects aimed at minimizing food crises.

    In Kenya’s Turkana region, the Food for Assets program, operated by ChildFund International in conjunction with the U.N. World Food Program, is producing crops in a desert.

    “In the vegetable gardens, women tend spinach, tomatoes, green peppers, okra, watermelons, kale, maize and cowpeas,” said Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO of ChildFund. “It’s amazing to see how smart farming practices have transformed this community. In the midst of drought, we’ve discovered the Garden of Eden — it’s green everywhere!”

    Six communities in the region are involved in the Food for Assets program, which sustains 3,000 households by teaching pastoralist communities techniques for irrigation and farming. The program provides families with food and goods in exchange for their work to build irrigation systems and community gardens.

    Improved access to water for both humans and livestock increases crop production, reduces environmental degradation and improves pasture for livestock. In areas that lack access to permanent rivers, people are taught to use special pans to catch water that is used to grow crops like maize and sorghum.

    Long reliant on food aid, people enrolled in the Food for Assets program receive their food rations for one year while they learn to utilize their new skills to provide food for themselves. Food aid is then reserved for the most vulnerable.

    “Food for Assets is not an emergency relief effort,” Goddard said. “It’s a long-term development intervention that helps reduce a community’s vulnerability to future droughts. We’re strengthening communities and giving people the resources and training they need to rely on themselves.”

    Easy Ways To Give Back

    [captionpix imgsrc=”” align=”right” captiontext=”Head to the local park for a clean-up. Get friends to chip in to help the community as well.”]There are people all over the world who are struggling and in need of help. One could be right next door. While it’s not always possible to help out financially, or donate a large amount of time to a cause, there are easy ways to perform simple acts of kindness every day. Not only does the person performing the good deed feel great, but these small gestures add up to make a big difference.

    Contribute to the community with these simple deeds:

    * Gather gently used books. Contact schools, libraries and other institutions, such as hospitals and senior centers, to see if books are needed. Involve a book club or other community organization to increase the donation.

    * Call area schools and ask about volunteering. Many schools are looking for mentors and tutors. Depending on each school’s policy, sometimes volunteers need to attend a short training session before starting. For parents, lending time to chaperone a field trip is both fun and rewarding.

    * Consider donating blood through an American Red Cross blood drive. The need for blood is constant as approximately every two seconds a patient in the United States needs a blood transfusion. Just one donation can save up to three lives. After each donation, Red Cross donors are treated to Keebler cookies, beverages and other snacks as a way to say “Thank you” for their act of kindness. To learn more about the “Be a Good Cookie. Get a Good Cookie.” campaign and for blood donation eligibility, visit

    * Head to the local park for a clean-up. Get friends to chip in to help the community as well. Separate trash from recyclable items and dispose of each appropriately. See efforts materialize in a clean green space.

    * Organize a clothing drive with co-workers or friends. Schedule home pick-ups for a specific day, and donate gently used clothing to local charitable organizations. You’ll be helping others, and you’ll have more room in your closets.

    * Collect those canned fruits and vegetables, and take them to the local food bank. Check with them to see if they have a “wish list” of items that they need. Some of those things, shelf-stable or non-perishable, may already be sitting around your house. It’s also great way organize your pantry.

    There are so many ways to give back. Simple acts of kindness are often the most valuable to those in need, and they are the easiest to perform. Whether saving a life, feeding a family or mentoring a student, every kind gesture brings a smile to more than one face.

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