Support Food Security in Kigutu, Burundi

by Village Health Works
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Support Food Security in Kigutu, Burundi
Support Food Security in Kigutu, Burundi
Support Food Security in Kigutu, Burundi
Support Food Security in Kigutu, Burundi
Support Food Security in Kigutu, Burundi
Support Food Security in Kigutu, Burundi
Support Food Security in Kigutu, Burundi
Support Food Security in Kigutu, Burundi
Support Food Security in Kigutu, Burundi

Poverty and poor health are strongly intertwined. In Burundi, where nearly 65% of the population lives in poverty, many families are trapped in a cycle of poverty little hope of progress. Our economic development programs address the determinants of poverty by empowering community members with skills and tools to start small businesses. Cooperatives such as agriculture, sewing, baking, and fishing allow community members to generate incomes while providing important services and products to the community. With input from community members, we will continue the expansion of our economic cooperatives. 

Our economic development program empowers community members to participate in the local economy in order to alleviate the health burdens of poverty. 

In 2017:

  • $9,359 USD in gross profits benefited the local community 
  • 5 economic cooperatives running to support the local economy: 
  • 48 people trained at bakery co-op 
  • 30 farming and livestock co-ops, and 50 household gardens 
  • 18 people trained at sewing co-op 
  • 17 fishery co-ops 
  • 2 beekeeping co-ops 

Imelde is a 62-year-old farmer and member of the Jijuka fishing cooperative who is raising her four grandchildren on her own. Working with the fishing co-op has been a blessing for Imelde, enabling her to pay for her grandchildren’s school expenses in addition to improving their diet and buying them new clothes. Imelde now hopes to save money and purchase cows so that her grandchildren can have access to nourishing milk on a daily basis. 

Our agriculture and nutrition program provides healthy food for our patients, educates the community on farming practices, and empowers people to nourish their bodies via a diverse diet. 

  • 624 farmers, both agriculture and fish, are now applying improved farming methods and management practices 
  • 39,000 pounds of food produced by our onsite food security program and distributed to patients at the clinic or sold for profit 
  • 1,000 people participated in nutrition education seminars 

Our agriculture programs are essential in the promotion of healthy communities and in breaking the cycle of poverty. Through our new Nutrition Education Center that opened in 2017, community members and patients learn how to cultivate a home garden rich in nutrients, empowering them to expand their diets beyond the cassava root. We promote sustainable land use to preserve the longevity of farming possibilities and assist the community in raising animals for a reliable milk source. Also in 2017, we had a breakthrough in the introduction of artificial insemination at our fish farm on campus. This means that the farm will yield more fish, enabling the community to have even greater access to this protein-rich food and to sell the excess for profit. Healthy bodies and minds depend on quality nutrition, which is why our agriculture program is invaluable in advancing our health and education efforts. 

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Community member with plants for her garden
Community member with plants for her garden

Poverty and poor health are strongly intertwined. In Burundi, many cannot afford medical services or fresh food such as fruits and vegetables. Needs such as school expenses take a back seat on a family’s list of priorities to stay alive, and limited employment opportunities leave some people with almost no chance for financial reprieve. Families become trapped in a cycle of poverty with poor health, little or no education, and limited hope for the future.

Empowering community members

Our economic development programs address this cycle of poverty by empowering community members with skills and tools to start small businesses. Cooperatives such as sewing, baking, and basket weaving allow men and women to generate incomes while providing important services and products to the community.

Evelyne Batakanwa credits our sewing coop with an improved capacity to care for her family. She hopes to generate enough income to expand her business, having learned that investing revenue to scale up will help her business achieve greater impact in the long term.

We strengthened our economic development programs in 2016 with additions such as a tailor from Bujumbura who brought increased skill and professionalism to our sewing program and a baker who helped us open a baking cooperative that has since expanded to 4 localities.

All of our economic development programs empower community members by giving them a voice in decision making within each cooperative, as well as training in revenue-producing ventures that are culturally relevant. These tools are necessary for participants to lift themselves out of poverty.

Improving access to nutritious food

Through collaborative community programs, we aim to prevent and treat malnutrition, as well as help farmers and fishermen generate income through the sale of livestock, produce, and fish.

Renewed philanthropic support has allowed us to grow our fishing program, helping participants generate income and support their families.

Elias Sindayihebura says joining a fishing cooperative has been the ‘most important decision’ of his life. “The cooperative has helped me earn money, allowing me to purchase 23 chickens and a goat,” says Elias. “I can now pay for my children’s school fees and improve their diet.”

Laying the foundation for sustainable impact

We have increased agricultural productivity by adding an agronomist to our team. The agronomist has provided training in agricultural best practices which has motivated more farmers to incorporate composting and contour lines into their methods. In addition, a nutritionist from the clinical team has helped us collaborate more effectively across our programs. We harvest crops from our on-site demonstration gardens to feed clinical patients and their families, the chickens and cows provide eggs and milk to the patients in the clinic and to students in our Early Childhood Development Program, and students from preschool to grade 3 receive nutritious meals every school day. In partnership with the community, we are increasing the availability of nutritious foods in households, helping our patients recover faster, and raising awareness among community members of how to achieve a balanced, nutritious diet.

Legacy of service

In 2008, devastatingly high rates of malnutrition led Village Health Works to develop the food security program. The program initially focused on nutrition education and crop diversification and has since expanded to include training programs; on-site demonstration and production gardens; household gardens; farming, fishing, and livestock cooperatives; and awareness raising events. The economic development cooperatives grew out of the agricultural program. We have diversified the cooperatives in response to community needs. They now include a range of opportunities for training in income-generating programs such as sewing, soap making, basket weaving, and baking.

Looking to the future

We are deeply committed to supporting the food security and economic development programs for the long term, and to keep this expertise in our community. With input from community members, we plan to expand our efforts to increase the number of participants across these diverse programs.

Woman showing us a plant for her garden
Woman showing us a plant for her garden
Woman harvesting corn
Woman harvesting corn
Woman with harvested mushroom
Woman with harvested mushroom

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Coop
Coop

With the help of your generous donations and support in the past year, Village Health Works (VHW) has witnessed exciting growth across all of our programs in cooperative activities, healthcare, and food security. It has been great to witness the resilience of our work despite the challenges faced in Burundi as we have seen overwhelmingly positive outcomes in the strong recovery of our hospital patients, in the growth of our cooperative programs, and among the continued and strength demonstrated by community of Kigutu and the VHW Community Health Workers.

Maternal and Infant Health Has Continued to Flourish

New funding in 2016 has helped us improve maternal and infant healthcare.  Our Maternal and Infant Health Team continued to provide health education sessions twice a week about family planning availability, and pre and post-natal care. Sixty-five women participated in these sessions. VHW continues to improve its capacity to diagnose and treat pediatric diseases. We conducted 2,158 consultations for children under the age of 15.  160 children ages 5-14 and 321 children under the age of 5 were treated for malnutrition.

Cooperative Activities Have Increased

In the first quarter of 2016, we visited 20 local cooperatives. These cooperatives total 243 members and together they raise 191 goats,along with chickens, cows and pigs and grow pineapples, eggplants, onions, tomatoes, beans, and carrots.  We are currently working with 33 fish farmers and 16 beekeepers as well.

Food Security Program Thrives

VHW began the food security program in 2008 because malnutrition was one of the most prevalent diseases in the Kigutu area. Our program focuses on nutrition education, crop diversification, and community training in agriculture, livestock management, and environmental protection. Participants manage on-site gardens and livestock shelters, grow community gardens, and take part in agricultural and livestock cooperatives. During the first quarter of 2016, we have harvested 5,184 Kg of crops, distributed 4,328.8 Kg to patients, and sold 855.5 Kg back to the community.

Your donations have allowed us to treat almost 5,000 patients, distribute thousands of kilograms of food, and educate hundreds of children just this year.  We thank you again for your generous donations and for supporting our efforts to improve the lives of Kigutu’s community members. Please stay connected with us at VillageHealthWorks.org and on Facebook, Instragram, and Twitter, as we continue to update you on our progress!

foodsecurity
foodsecurity

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With the help of your generous donations and support in the past year, Village Health Works (VHW) has witnessed exciting growth across all of our programs in education, healthcare, and food security. It has been great to witness the resilience of our work despite the challenges faced in Burundi as we have seen overwhelmingly positive outcomes in the academic achievement of our preschool students, in the strong recovery of our hospital patients, and among the continued and strength demonstrated by community households and VHW Community Health Workers.

 

The number of malnutrition cases among preschool students supported by VHW education programming has decreased by 64%.

The nutritious snacks aim not only to tackle the issue of malnutrition and minimize distractions caused by hunger pangs, but also to strengthen the preschool students’ foundation in academic readiness. As the young students prepare for enrollment at the nearby Kigutu Fundamental School, the snacks allow them to flourish academically. Academic scores among graduates of our preschool program continue to improve with 15 of 56 graduates now enrolled in first grade, averaging 80% or higher on their overall academic progress. Given the success and measured benefits of the supplemental snacks, the school-feeding program looks forward to expanding its reach to additional grades in primary school.

 

A harvest increase of 167% (9,802.5 kg harvested in 2015 vs. 3,669.45 kg harvested in 2014) has allowed VHW to provide nutritional meals for 1,680 hospitalized patients.

Reinforcing the link between the agriculture and clinical programs, the nutritional supplements ensure that patients recover faster and that their adherence to medications is improved. As a result, patients receiving our care are able to return home sooner. Households belonging to the agricultural cooperatives have also benefitted. Various seeds for diversifying crops and goats meant to provide fertilizer and improve soil quality were distributed to 184 members of the agricultural cooperatives. The higher crop yields have increased the availability and accessibility of high quality diets and help to fight malnutrition in these households.

 

Community outreach by Community Health Workers (CHW’s) has improved as training and follow-up visits continue.

Reorganized under the leadership of a dedicated program manager, CHW’s have helped to improve the nutritional status among inpatients and community members. CHW’s track and conduct follow-up visits at home with children who have been discharged from the clinic for malnutrition. Trained on measuring the mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) to identify malnutrition, CHW’s are now able to detect malnutrition cases outside of the clinic.

 

We thank you again for your generous donations and for supporting our efforts to improve the lives of Kigutu’s community members. Please stay connected with us at VillageHealthWorks.org as we continue to update you with our progress!

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Organization Information

Village Health Works

Location: New York, NY - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @VHW
Village Health Works
Deogratias Niyizonkiza
Project Leader:
Deogratias Niyizonkiza
New York, NY United States

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