Hunger, Poverty & Sustainable Agriculture
Drought and famine affect different parts of Africa sometimes from seasonal changes and lack of rain. In other cases famine is a result of a breakdown in the civil infrastructure. UMCOR supports drought and famine relief in all instances by supporting Action by Churches Together (ACT) in their emergency feeding program. UMCOR also works with local Methodist churches at their request for assistance in providing emergency food to their communities. UMCOR is working to alleviate suffering from the most recent famine in Southern Africa. Additionally, UMCOR is seeking venues to help people who need food aid in East Africa who are displaced due to conflict in Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The Foods Resource Bank (FRB) is the brainchild of two United Methodist farmers who wanted to find a way to use their crops to feed the hungry in distant places. Modeled after the Canadian Foodgrains Bank, the Foods Resource Bank turns crops into cash that support sustainable food security programs overseas and provides hungry people the dignity of feeding themselves.
Urban and rural churches and communities partner with local farmers to support planting, tending, and harvesting crops on land set aside for the community growing project. The harvested crop or other commodities are sold and the proceeds donated to FRB. Instead of paying high shipping costs to send food around the world, FRB supports programming that purchases grain, seeds, tools, and other agricultural resources in or near the countries where it sponsors projects. Buying locally stimulates the area's economy and encourages agricultural initiatives on the part of the local and national governments.
The Sustainable Agriculture and Development program is making a difference in the countries where beekeeping, soybeans and the moringa tree have been introduced and farmer-to-farmer field schools are conducted in integrated crop and pest management. The program provides small scale appropriate agricultural and nutritional training services. Farmers learn from experience how to grow healthier food more effectively. This improves both their health and their income. On average, the farmers who attend training tell 10 other people what they learned. This multiplies the benefits to their communities.
Ten million more people were hungry in 2004 than in 2003, according to Bread for the World Institute's 2004 Hunger Report. At the same time the World Food Program announced that food aid has decreased every year since 1999. Hunger is a growing issue. Hunger and poverty are inextricably linked; if there are no resources, there is no food.
Through the World Hunger/Poverty Advance, UMCOR not only supplies food for hungry people, but also helps poor countries move forward with development. This program supports projects providing direct assistance of food, health, shelter, and education. It also backs long-term solutions that eradicate the root causes of hunger and poverty such as advocacy for appropriate public policies to bring hope to people in despair. Funds are divided between domestic (20%) and international programs (80%).