Since the signing of the Peace Accords in 2003 by different warring factors and thanks to the UN peacekeeping mission, Liberia has made great progress in political stabilization and physical security. Economic development, however, has been much slower. Infrastructure has yet to be rebuilt, government institutions lack the capacity to provide services such as education and healthcare, and poverty-induced food insecurity is pervasive in both urban and rural areas.
The 14-year war caused the death of some 270,000 Liberians and displaced thousands. It has also been the main culprit of food insecurity. Monrovia, the capital city, has become swollen with refugees who are now permanent residents. According to the 2008 Food Security and Nutrition Survey, it is estimated that about 80 percent of rural households live in poverty, and of those, 80 percent are moderately or highly food insecure. Income-generating opportunities are also limited, as local farming and trading systems were disrupted, causing a loss in personal assets and breakdown of social capital.
SFL has partnered with Opportunities Industrialization Centers International (OICI), the World Initiative for Soy and Human Health (WISHH) and Malnutrition Matters to implement a project that address food security and income-generation.
Transition from Subsistence to Commercial Farming
To break out of the mentality of subsistence farming for survival, SFL is working with farmers to help them grow commercial businesses. In order to inspire entrepreneurship and business creation, SFL has provided numerous individuals with agribusiness and financial literacy training, along with complementary micro credit grants and loans.
Rehabilitating Small-Scale Community Infrastructure
SFL worked with communities to identify eligible infrastructure projects that improve market access. So far, this includes the rehabilitation of feeder roads, bridges, marketplaces and hygiene infrastructure. Using a Food-for-Work (FFW) model, SFL hires local laborers for the construction in exchange for a soy-fortified cassava food product called “SuperGari,” developed by the American Soybean Association.
In partnership with the Opportunities Industrialization Centers International (OICI), SFL is implementing the HANDS project - Health, Agriculture, Nutrition, Development and Sustainability. The program is in Grand Gedeh and River Gee Counties, and aims to encourage farmers to grow beyond subsistence farming into sustainable agribusiness.
Shelter is more than a roof and four walls...