New program provides emergency response, lays groundwork for longer-term move out of poverty

World Renew, in collaboration with other Canadian Foodgrains Bank members, will help people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in six African countries by providing emergency food while laying the groundwork for long-term recovery.

The Humanitarian and Early Recovery and Development (HERD) program will serve 89,000 people in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Nigeria, South Sudan and Zimbabwe. It is made possible through a grant of $10 million from the Government of Canada. World Renew is helping 5,000 people in Nigeria overcome food insecurity through this project.

Most hunger responses are either short-term emergency projects or are longer-term development projects. This program combines both. It helps people in need of food immediately, while also providing resources and training to help them move out of poverty in the longer-term. It represents a new way of working for the Foodgrains Bank and its members.

Conflict, unpredictable and extreme weather, and forced displacement mean that accessing enough food is a major challenge for many people in these countries even in normal times—never mind in the midst of a pandemic.

“The pandemic and restrictions on movement have only amplified the struggle that many families face in getting enough to eat each day,” says Foodgrains Bank Executive Director Andy Harrington. “This program will help us to achieve the goal of ending hunger in a new and collaborative way. Working together with our members and their local partners, we’ll be able to have an immediate impact in the short-term in helping people get by, while also looking at the bigger picture of hunger in the community and supporting long-term solutions.”

In the emergency response phase of the program, households are provided with emergency food, cash, or vouchers they can redeem at local markets. Some participants are also offered inputs to re-start agricultural activities, training to improve agricultural production and start new livelihood activities, and support establishing savings and loans groups. Some projects are also paying people to work on projects that will benefit the community, such as improving soil and water conservation.

For Jackie Koster, World Renew’s Deputy Director of International Disaster Response, this represents a new and important way of looking at how international aid organizations come alongside people affected by hunger.

“World Renew is pleased to be a part of this collaborative effort between Foodgrains Bank members, and we are grateful for the funding received through Global Affairs Canada,” says Koster. “This program is particularly important because it not only meets the emergency food needs of displaced families further affected by the COVID-19 crisis, but gives them opportunities to overcome hunger in the long term. We are excited to see this unique, innovative programming reach the next phase on the ground, including our own project in Nigeria.”

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