By Ashley Kirsner
Buddhist Global Relief (BGR), our encore Challenge the Gap beneficiary, partners with organizations in Asia, Africa, and the United States to combat hunger. What sets them apart from many other nonprofits attempting to tackle the broad issue of hunger is that BGR focuses its efforts on grassroots projects that address underlying causes of hunger and poverty, and they do so in a sustainable manner. For instance, as we covered in a previous blog post, BGR has funded several education projects that empower people, especially girls and women, to lift themselves out of poverty in the long term via better job opportunities.
In addition to these school-based programs, BGR has funded several food programs that fight hunger in sustainable ways:
- Cambodian NGO Rachana and the International Cooperation Center of Thai Nguyen University in Vietnam both run programs that train farmers in the System of Rice Intensification (SRI). The SRI approach requires 70-75% fewer seeds, 30% less chemical fertilizer, 50% of the labor for transplanting, and 40-50% less water than farming without SRI. These practices result in productivity increases of 13-29%, and they increase farmer income 8-32%. Importantly, SRI does not incur any additional costs to farmers, so they can provide food for their families more easily and spend their money on other needs.
- Lotus Outreach International provides cash crop seeds and farming tools to help impoverished families in the Cardamom Mountains of southwestern Cambodia generate income. The indigenous people of the Cardamom Mountains often have to resort to illegal logging, poaching, slash-and-burn agriculture, and foraging in order to survive. Lotus Outreach provides economic opportunities for those individuals by offering them seeds and farming tools to establish cash crops and home vegetable gardens. After harvesting, beneficiaries are asked to give the same amount of seeds they initially received to another family in need.
- In Kenya, Ecology Action of the Mid-Peninsula trains women to teach others the Grow Biointensive method of farming. The system yields more crops while conserving resources and nurturing healthy soil fertility.
- Helen Keller International promotes proper breastfeeding techniques in the Diffa Region of Niger. Their program is twofold: They organize community-level breastfeeding support groups and they train nurses in optimal breastfeeding techniques. Utilizing proper breastfeeding techniques vastly increases an infant’s chance of survival, but women in this area of Niger often are not aware of optimal breastfeeding practices.
BGR’s long-term approach based in furthering the position of women, supporting farmers, and promoting education empowers people in need to overcome hunger on their own. You can learn more about BGR’s projects on their website.