This week, organizations around the world are highlighting how they are working to #EndHunger as part of Feed the Future Week. For many villages in West Africa, building resilience is key to achieving that goal.
What does it mean to be resilient? When health or weather create crises, can a community bounce back? What systems have to be in place for that to happen?
Resilience is about more than good health, or nutrition, or increasing incomes. It is about bringing all of these together to lift a community.
When we think about resilience in rural villages in West Africa, we think about how all these pieces are integrated. An “infrastructure” of resilience—building the pipes for the untapped resources of the community to flow through and reach the right needs.
The connections from market to farm to mother’s group to family meal are part of the pipelines of resilience. And the Nutrition-led Agriculture model promoted by Feed the Future takes the food system and focuses it on the community.
Farmers like Pierre Larba Yarga in Burkina Faso are part of building those pipelines. Training his neighbors on conservation farming, including mulch cover and compost, his community’s fields were able to retain moisture during the light rains of last year. And using drought resistant seeds, he was able to withstand the bad harvest in his region last year. Pierre learned about conservation farming through the USAID Resilience in the Sahel (REGIS-ER) program, which NCBA CLUSA is implementing in Niger and Burkina Faso.
Pierre, and farmers like him, access the proper seeds and training through other neighbors—Community Based Solution Providers (CBSPs), or village level shopkeepers and trainers with the resources to introduce enriched seeds. These individuals also help to connect farmers to community issues, filling gaps in nutrition with foods like Vitamin A sweet potato and others.
Aissata Thilgome, a CBSP in Senegal, provides her community farmers with good seed and buys back produce and millet, transforming it into enriched flour for children in her village. In Senegal, CBSPs are lifting up the needs of the community after linking to quality services providers through Feed the Future's USAID Yaajeende program.
And those children are set up to be more resilient in the long term by having access to nutritious family meals that keep them healthy. When nutrition is prioritized in agriculture decisions and is supported by demand in the markets—integrating all levels of the village—resilience is fostered from the farm to the family meal.
Mothers like Oumou Oumarou in Niger are transforming early childhood nutrition by increasing demand for these nutritious food options for family meals. Working with mother to mother groups, she is creating a market for healthy products in her village and local farmers are able to supply it. In some places, like Senegal, service providers can also support demand for health choices through their community liaison CBSPs.
At its heart, Nutrition-led Agriculture is about transforming the food system to work for health. And that food system supports resilience by providing the pipelines through which community resources can flow—moving enriched seeds to farmers, transporting produce to markets and driving local demand for nutritious options.