In a country where so many already lived on less than $2 a day, Ebola's truly crippling longer-term impact is on the whole population's ability to earn a livelihood and feed their families. The epidemic has caused missed planting and harvesting seasons, price spikes, and food shortages. Working with three in-country partners to reach those most isolated by poverty and disease, we are providing more than 25,000 packets of tested, appropriate vegetable seeds, along with support and training.
During the peak of the Ebola threat, roads were blockaded, curfews were in place, many workplaces were shut down, and gathering in groups to plant and harvest crops was seen as too dangerous. The price of rice spiked 50% last year and remains high. Our partners predict that "starvation season," already an annual occurrence, will be more extreme this year. Many people can access land, but few have good seeds or any excess wealth to travel to where they may be sold and make the purchase.
In the face of limited travel and commerce, growing one's own nutritious food becomes the ONLY solution to feeding families and communities. One household set of 14 vegetable seed packets costs less than $5 shipped, and grows at least 100 pounds of food. Through partnerships with local NGO and faith-based groups, we ensure that seeds reach those most isolated, along with knowledge needed for gardening success. With the help of GlobalGiving donors, more than 25,000 seed packets will be provided.
Seeds=prevention, heading off food shortage before it occurs. When a crisis like Ebola hits a limited-resource country, we can "immunize" the food economy and build resilience against future crises by giving thousands of rural people the capacity to take food production into their own hands. In the longer term, seeds can be saved, expertise maintained, and new vegetable gardening skills can continue to benefit families, schools, and farmers.