Poverty and Hunger

Forty-one-year-old Mustefa Hafiz resides in the lowlands at the bottom of a hill in the village of Medeoda, in eastern Ethiopia. Thirteen years ago, Mustefa’s family, like 79 percent of farmers in his community, relied on wheat provided by the government for 3 months out of the year. Since Mustefa’s farm was at the bottom of the hill, his crops were often ruined by the cyclical flooding that accompanied the rainy season.

“I did not have the skills to rebuild my farm and I could not grow enough food to feed my family,” he said.

In 2005, CRS worked with 1,323 community members to help them transform 500 acres of land that was previously bare, eroded, and unfit for farming. With techniques to conserve the farmland’s soil and to prevent flooding, households like Mustefa’s have improved their land use and ability to produce more crops.

The project also taught community members to adopt new water supply and sanitation techniques, like building restroom facilities to improve health. Techniques like these can improve farming practices around the world and are an important part of increasing farmers’ productivity and harvests.

In addition, farmers received training in local and regional marketing, which allowed them to sell their crops directly to traders for export, vastly increasing their incomes.

Prior to the project, Mustefa was unable to stop the flooding from devastating his crops. “Before, I only had one ox and barely grew enough to sustain my family.”

Taking what he earned, Mustefa invested in more land, cattle, and fertilizer which made his land more productive and enabled him to transition to vegetables that produce more food. Since 2005, Mustefa’s annual profits have increased from $0 to $9,400, the average annual profits for smallholder farmers in the community is $721.

He marvels over the fact that his daughters and son are enrolled in school and his eldest daughter is preparing to go to university. Mustefa is also a community leader. Using the skills gained, he mobilized community members to build modern outhouses. He received an award from the Ministry of Health for his public service.

Teaching farming techniques, like those that helped Mustefa, to farmers around the world will ensure that his story is not a unique one. It is a key part of creating safer, healthier, and more resilient communities.

Your Voice is Making a Difference to Eliminate Hunger:

It was a busy summer for combating hunger and malnutrition. Thousands of advocates in our network lifted their voices in support of international food security programs that serve the most vulnerable around the world, and we have some good news to share about your work.

At the end of September, the House voted on and approved the Global Food Security Act. This is a huge victory and it was made possible by your messages to the House over the summer!

Passing the Global Food Security Act helps ensure that the U.S. has a comprehensive strategy to end hunger and malnutrition around the world and that the Feed the Future initiative will continue to help farmers produce more food and families improve their nutrition.

What about the Farm Bill? The Farm Bill conference committee worked all summer to try to come to a compromise between both chambers. Although they were close to proposing a final bill for the rest of Congress to review and vote on, they were not able to finalize it before the current Farm Bill expired on September 30.

What does it mean for our advocacy? While the conference committee continues to iron out a final bill, we’ll need your action again over the next couple of months. With members of Congress home in-district during the month of October, it’s the perfect opportunity to share your concerns with your legislators.

We must be the steady drumbeat calling on Congress to protect and improve these hunger and nutrition programs.