On October 11, ADRA facilitated and coordinated a food distribution drive to feed one million people. The effort, which was designed to not only provide food aid for those most in need, but to encourage a culture of activism, mobilized more than 800,000 volunteers in countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, including Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, French Antilles, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, and the Dominican Republic.
"Today I become an ADRA volunteer," said Horacio Serpa, governor of the Colombian department of Santander and former Interior Minister, to participants in Bucaramanga before 15 trucks loaded with meals left to distribute food throughout low-income areas.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), food prices have risen 52 percent since 2007, helping to push millions of vulnerable people around the world over the brink into extreme poverty. Worldwide, 2 billion people are currently struggling to survive in the face of skyrocketing food prices, while 967 million are expected to fall victim to malnutrition by the end of 2008, according to the World Bank.
In response to strained food access in Haiti, ADRA recently distributed food to an estimated 112,000 individuals, in addition to nearly 3,000 AIDS orphans in the Nord-Ouest department. Plans are underway to implement an emergency food aid response for nearly 3,000 people in southern Haiti, after the deadly 2008 Atlantic hurricane season devastated many parts of the country, displacing hundreds of thousands, flooding entire cities, and exacerbating an already desperate situation.
In Brazil's arid northeastern state of Bahia, farmers are learning how to improve food production through polyculture, a method of farming that uses multiple crops close together in the same plot. This approach helps crops conserve and retain moisture, produce greater yields, fight disease, and enrich the soil, producing in turn higher quality produce. This has already allowed many farmers to improve food production and increase family incomes.
"Before this project began, many families in this region were so poor that they had to sell their livestock in order to put food on the table," said Herver Kalbermatter, director of ADRA Bahia. "Now, families don't have to do that."
Project participants have learned new methods that enable them to preserve the food that they grow, added Kalbermatter, so that they can maintain substantial food resources, and earn a monthly income from the crops that they sell, further increasing their families' financial stability. At present, an estimated 10,000 farmers have benefited from this project.
Through a two-year agricultural project in the war-torn Upper Nile State, in Southern Sudan, ADRA is helping 2,000 households increase their access to food. The project, which provides farmers with food aid, farming tools, and seeds, is also training them on improved agricultural technology, which will ultimately increase their productivity.
"About half of the project beneficiaries are returnees who fled their homes over 20 years ago, and are now returning, destitute, with no tools, no food, no skills, and no assets," said Emmanuel Chigogora, director for programs at ADRA South Sudan. "The other half is made up of families who remained in the region, but who are worse off than those returning."
The ADRA project seeks to assist both groups, not only with immediate food, but also to help them rebuild their lives. With the valuable tools they receive, both groups will be able to live together in peace, moving towards a brighter future in Sudan.
In Cambodia, ADRA is working to provide food security to more than 62,000 individuals through the HARVEST Integrated Rural Development project. This initiative, which targets rural families, will improve their quality of life by increasing the effectiveness of crop production, processing, and marketing. The project also builds capacity in the local communities, among local farmer associations and women empowerment groups, and the local and provincial government. In addition, HARVEST will improve access to clean water, health care, veterinary services, and increased sanitation.
ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race, or ethnicity.