Peace Corps Volunteer M. Meyer Empowers Community on Food Security

Community Empowerment by Peace Corps Local Trainer
Community Empowerment by Peace Corps Local Trainer

Food Security Reinforcement

By Mariko Meyer

Eric, our local trainer, approached me in late 2013 with a project idea to improve food security in 3 nearby villages. He independently reached out to village leaders and identified the community members who were most motivated to participate in training sessions. We then worked together in 2014 to schedule trainings and discuss lesson topics. In total, 43 agriculture producers received training in food security topics concerning soil preservation and gardening and 30 individuals among them showed evidence of increased skill sets through implementing the techniques. Additionally, the trainer and other members of the association’s bureau gained skills as they learned about the process of organizing, registering, and running a community organization. The 30 individuals who implemented at least one new practice succeeded in improving food security for their families. This exceeded our original goal. There was a particularly high implementation rate in Tanwoko, the village with the lowest soil quality. I was encouraged by the producers’ enthusiastic adoption of zai holes and rock lines and I feel confident from their comments that they will continue to expand those practices in coming years. The greatest impact of the project can be appreciated by what it did for individuals. For example, Eric gave two lessons on tree planting to a few students from the village secondary school and one of the students, Larba, was so inspired that he set up a tree nursery in his courtyard. By the end of the rainy season, he had planted over 500 trees for woodlots and shade and had trained several other community members on how to plant trees. In the end he earned over 200,000 cfa (a little more than $400) which is a huge amount of money in his village. Given his success and enthusiasm this year, it is certain that he will continue his tree planting business next year and will continue to educate other community members on the importance and practice of tree planting.

This project is highly sustainable. Project funding was mainly used to buy a few basic materials so activities are not dependent on outside support. The trainer and project participants formed a registered agro-ecological association and administered identification cards to all of its members. The group already set up to continue their activities in the future. Now that they have a training center and a garden, they will be able to carry out more training sessions in the future and involve more and more members of the community.