Self Help Africa - Newsletter 2019

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Janet Bugaru, MANZO Youth Empowerment Project, Uganda, 2018

Meet the le Peop

ROSEMARY Seeing her children gather around the kitchen table twice a day is a sight that Rosemary Chate says she is still getting used to.

When Self Help Africa started working locally, she seized the chance to take part in a ‘training of trainers’ programme, and was appointed as a lead farmer in Malela.

Not long ago, Rosemary’s family were eating just once a day. For much of the year, their resources were so thin that they needed to ration their food supplies to just a single family meal.

Rosemary learned how to plant and tend her crops more efficiently, and also took part in a pilot programme to grow new food crops, including groundnuts and soya beans.

A farmer from Malela village in northern Zambia, Rosemary struggled to produce enough food on her two acre plot.

Today, Rosemary is passing on her knowledge to her neighbours. Her family are also benefitting from the improvements that have occurred on her own farm.

whatbacks we do africa BBC appeal A BBC Radio 4 Charity Appeal generated close to £22,000 (€25,000) to support a project assisting community-based seed development, in Ethiopia. The Radio 4 appeal was made by BBC Food Programme presenter Sheila Dillon, who told listeners about Self Help Africa’s work, and the vital role that local seed producers are playing in helping rural poor families grow more food on their land. “I visited Self Help Africa’s projects in Ethiopia close to 20 years ago, and I saw at that time the critical role that they were playing in supporting rural poor families to produce more on their land.”

“I was delighted to help with the campaign, and was really pleased that it raised so much money,” said the radio presenter. Thank you so much to the more than 300 listeners who made donations in response to the appeal.

Farmer training is vital ‘Training plays a vital role in improving farm productivity’ says national farmers’ union president. Speaking about the huge potential of farming to improve the standard of living for millions of African people, the president of the Irish Farmers’ Association, Joe Healy, said that many people had few alternatives to farming for their survival. “I knew that agriculture was significant but I was surprised to actually see just how important farming is to the lives of

people,” Mr Healy said, as he visited Self Help Africa’s programmes in Ethiopia and Kenya. “Self Help Africa’s work really is an illustration of the saying that you should teach a man to fish rather than give him a fish,” the IFA president said. Self Help Africa has been the chosen charity of the Irish Farmers’ Association for many years.

Meet the le Peop


Kokebe Kokebe Ababa is amongst nearly 60,000 people in Ethiopia to benefit from Self Help Africa’s savings and credit cooperatives (RuSACCOs) in 2019. This work is funded by the Irish League of Credit Unions Foundation. After saving for two years, Kokebe - from Hitossa village - rented a plot of land, diversified her crops and purchased livestock. As a result, her family are now

enjoying an improved diet, and Kokebe has also extended her house. She’s saving for her children’s future, and believes that her new-found business and financial skills are setting a good example. Across the RuSACCO programme as a whole in 2018, the proportion of participating households who now have access to credit increased to 78% (from 56% last year), and savings increased by 36%.

what we do

Participants on a training course in Kenya use an app to scan cassava

DIAL UP DEVELOPMENT From digital tools that track commodity prices to applications that monitor pest infestations, the role of technology is assuming importance for Self Help Africa like never before. Although many of the people we work with live without electricity, the work we are doing across Africa is being transformed by digital technology. Mobile phones are now being used to disseminate information to farming households on a range of subjects, from commodity prices and weather forecasts, to providing advice on plant and animal disease treatments and other farming practices. We do this to ensure that we can provide the most appropriate targeted interventions, in the correct order, and during the right season. At the same time, smart phones and tablets with internet

connectivity are supplanting pen and clipboard in gathering data from the fields. Self Help Africa is also currently investigating the use of remote sensing technologies to predict crop yields, and even nutrient deficiencies in crops. The potential use of technology to detect levels of contamination, such as possible carcinogens (aflatoxins) in certain crops, and the use of imaging technology to analyse soil types and quality, is also under review. These innovations - together with a host of others - are set to transform farming as we know it in sub-Saharan Africa.

Furaha’s journey: from fear to farming

Work in with g Refug ees

Supporting hundreds of displaced refugee households to become self-sufficient small-scale farmers is the aim of an innovative Self Help Africa project in one of Africa’s oldest refugee settlements. Self Help Africa is working alongside the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), providing refugee families with agricultural training so that they can escape a life of aid and reliance. Many, like Janet from Burundi, have lived in the UNHCR’s Meheba refugee camp in Zambia for over half their lives. For others, like 20-year-old Furaha from Democratic Republic of Congo, it has provided a safe haven after over a

decade of living hand to mouth. Self Help Africa’s programme applies a graduation approach, where participating refugee households are assigned a plot of land and provided with agricultural training, as well as seed, equipment and livestock, to help them establish their own small farms. Farmers are also provided with assistance to access markets for their produce. The programme is already transforming lives, as the stories of Furaha and Janet will n Janet Singilangabo with daughters Odette and Melissa.

Furaha Mwisha, Meheba refugee camp, Zambia, 2018

attest. Furaha spent more than half of her life fleeing violence, starting at age nine when she was orphaned in an attack that killed both of her parents.

of the crop in the country - the United Nations.

Self Help Africa has trained farmers to produce, dry and store grain to meet the standards required 38-year-old Janet is rearing “For the by the UN, who are currently goats, and recently first time in my supporting an estimated 1.4 established a butcher’s life, I have my million refugees living in the business, and a stall where own farm.” country. she sells barbequed meat in Meheba camp. Furaha “The UN is a huge market for maize, and a project like this, Meanwhile, in Uganda, a new working with 3,000 households, has huge project is supporting small-scale farmers, potential in the future”, said Engorok Obin of including some refugee families, to grow Self Help Africa Uganda. maize to sell to one of the biggest buyers

Me e the t Peo ple

Ethel Mother-of-four Ethel Khundi knows only too well that the best laid plans can be easily derailed, after losing her entire drove of pigs to an outbreak of swine flu. Fortunately Ethel, who farms a small plot in Whunachu village in central Malawi, wasn’t totally reliant on her pig rearing to earn a living. The implementation of new conservation farming techniques she learned on a Self Help Africa training course

enabled her to produce almost three times as much maize than just a year earlier. This increased harvest ensured that Ethel’s plans to extend her home and set up a small shop in the village were kept on track. Her plans don’t end there – she also hopes her 13-year-old daughter Memory can finish school and pursue her dreams of becoming a doctor. (Ethel Khundi is pictured with her daughter Memory, and insert, a year earlier when she was a proud owner of pigs).

Huge response to kenya AGRI-BUSINESS call Close to 200 agri-businesses responded to the first funding call issued by a new project seeking to create profitable new markets for over 100,000 rural poor farming families in Kenya. Crop producers, processors and service businesses in the agriculture, fisheries and food sectors in Kenya responded to the launch of the AgriFi Kenya Challenge Fund, a groundbreaking new Self Help Africa project that will invest €18m in agrienterprise development in the coming years. Backed by the European Union and Slovak Aid, the AgriFi Kenya Challenge Fund is seeking to establish viable new markets where 100,000 smallholder farmers and pastoralists in Kenya can sell their produce. AgriFi Kenya estimates that the fund will provide investment and support to over 50 agri-enterprises, and create approximately 10,000 new jobs in Kenya’s agri-food sector. More than a dozen companies are being shortlisted in the first round of applications, with AgriFi expected to allocate a total of up to €6m in funding to successful applicants. Business proposals must have match funding in place. In 2018, Self Help Africa was awarded the contract to implement the European Union initiative, providing investment support to agri-businesses as a means to creating new markets for smallholder agriculture in the country.

The fund will provide investment and support to over 50 agri-enterprises, and create approximately 10,000 new jobs in Kenya’s agri-food sector. Self Help Africa is managing the fund, which is being implemented in parallel with a planned European Investment Bank (EIB) facility being provided to local banks. AgriFi Kenya project manager Jenny Lofbom said that the response to the first funding call was heartening, and had received many strong submissions from different stakeholders within the agriculture sector, including from private businesses, agricultural cooperatives and others. The project runs until 2022.



MARKETS AND A GENDER DIVIDEND A trading platform designed to provide farmers with a reliable route to market and a fair price for their produce is having an unexpected added dividend - it has made it safer for women to sell their crops. Using a payment system that operates via mobile phone - reducing the risks associated with cash - the Self Help Africa-owned social enterprise TruTrade has encouraged more women to bring their produce to market. TruTrade’s digital transactions also provide smallholder clients with verifiable income records to establish credit ratings with banks and micro-finance lenders – which isn’t possible when working solely in cash. Additionally, the expanding network has allowed TruTrade to contact - via SMS - tens of thousands of farmers, providing them with information about new opportunities to trade, and advice from buyers regarding sourcing plans.

This allows large food companies to ‘speak’ to smallholder famers as never before, providing information on when and who the produce was purchased from, and how much farmers were paid. Agri-trading previously meant rural travel or waiting in a bulking station for farmers to arrive with their crops - both involving large amounts of cash, meaning that women were often reluctant to get involved. Self Help Africa will continue to work to further develop TruTrade, to encourage even more women to join the agricultural value chain. The TruTrade digital payment system was also recognised for a national charity award in Ireland for innovation.

Photo: TruTrade

Uganda’s young farm entrepreneurs A training programme in Uganda is creating rare job opportunities for young people in the country’s West Nile region. Ben Aziau points to the three figures digging in a distant field. “They work for me. I am now an employer,” the 28-yearold from Maracha District in Uganda’s far north says proudly. Since he started his business 18 months ago, Ben says that he has created parttime work for 10 people. He has one fulltime employee. Ben breeds pigs on a 1.5 acre farm that he inherited from his father, and is leasing a piece of land where he grows vegetables to sell. A member of Por Piggery Group, Ben is participating in a Self Help Africa enterprise development project that is creating local business and job

a brigh t futurer e

Lydia Ponga, Lawara village, Uganda, 2018

Gladys Otiru (left), with Ben Aziau (right) with members of Por Piggery Group

opportunities for 3,000 young people in Uganda’s West Nile region. There are 20 similar youth groups in Maracha District, providing training and support to young people with livestock rearing, fruit and vegetable growing, as well as agri-processing, marketing and other local businesses.

to education. “I’m studying for a general certificate in agriculture. When I finish I want to get my degree,” she says.

“I left school when I became pregnant. Now I have the chance to follow my dream, and become a tailor”

20-year-old Gladys Otiru is also a member of Por Piggery. She’s the only woman in the group, and has used the sale of piglets to fund her return

In Lawara village, 25-year-old Lydia Ponga has bought a sewing machine and is saving for another.

The money she earns from the sale of tomatoes has allowed Lydia to enrol in a Lydia tailoring course in a nearby town, and has enabled her to rent a small business unit where she has started making dresses that she sells in the local market.

supp in Ac ort tion

Change-Maker’s Ball, Boston

Shrewsbury Firecracker Ball, UK

Electric Picnic Festival, Co. Laois Change-Maker’s Ball, Dublin

Croke Park Challenge, Dublin

BTYS winners at Áras an Uachtaráin, Dublin

Strictly for Africa, Dublin

The Race, Donegal

Africa Day at Farmleigh, Dublin

From left, Gastone Ndisasirwa, Asasira Prime, Atuhaire The Best Prime, Atuhaire Scovia, Ibanda District, Uganda

LEAVE A LASTING LEGACY Like you, Self Help Africa wants a world free from hunger and poverty – by leaving a legacy gift in your Will, you can support this effort and make an impact for generations to come. A generous legacy gift to Promise, Prime, Scovia and Gastone from Uganda (above) provided the family with training, seeds and livestock, which has transformed their lives. We understand that a Will is personal and private, and that your family and

loved ones always come first. There are a number of different forms that Legacies can take. For more information, visit our website:

run, walk or climb for charity Each year, Self Help Africa organises a host of events that allow our supporters to mobilise to support our work. 2019 is no different! To find out how you can help - or for helpful suggestions about how you can get involved and make an impact - why not get in touch?

Contact any of our offices and we’ll be happy to chat to you about how you can get involved. Alternatively, drop a mail to us

DUBLIN Kingsbridge House, 17-22 Parkgate St, Dublin, D08 NRP2 Tel. +353 (0)1 677 8880 (CHY No. 20008895)

SHREWSBURY Westgate House, Dickens Court, Hills Lane, Shrewsbury, SY1 1QU Tel. +44 (0)1743 277170 (CHY No. 298830) London 14 Dufferin Street, London, EC1Y 8PD Tel. +44 (0)20 7251 6466 (CHY No. 298830)

Angella Atim, Kapelebyong, Teso, Uganda, 2018

BELFAST 41 University Street, Belfast BT7 1FY Tel. +44 (0) 28 90 232064 (CHY No. 298830)

farming for Africa's future