Food insecurity threatens the poor
The current widespread drought in the United States is the worst in nearly a half-century and threatens to increase food prices and lead to worries about global food costs. Already millions of people do not have enough to eat and their number may increase if harvests fail. The consequences will be dramatic for the poor in developing countries, who spend a large share of their incomes on food. Dorcas' Sustainable Livelihoods programme contributes to increased food security and incomes for the worlds' poor so that they become less vulnerable to rising food prices.
Mitigating the negative effects of high food prices
Dorcas aims to achieve and maintain high social and ecological returns on its project investments, even in times of swelling food crisis. Dirk Jan Otte, programme coordinator Sustainable Livelihoods at Dorcas explains: ‘Even though Dorcas is a small player in the world of food, it aims, together with its international partner organisations, to contribute to increasing food security by stimulating subsistence farming and better access to markets. Families who partly grow crops for their own consumption, will be less at risk for food insecurity if the food prices rise. On the contrary, they may be able to earn some extra money.'
Dorcas has a wide approach to food security. Otte: ‘Besides the food itself, we focus on efficient use of scarce resources such as water. For that reason drip irrigation is applied, which enables crops to make optimal use of the available water.' Further, people are supported and educated to increase their household incomes, for instance through micro-credit schemes, facilitating employment opportunities, and stimulating farmers to cooperate so that they have a stronger position on the market. A household with a higher income will be better able to secure sufficient food, even when prices increase.
The case of Ethiopia
Ethiopia was among the countries in the Horn of Africa that was affected by extreme drought. Many people lost their livestock and with that their means of living. Dorcas main focus is not on restocking, but on promotion of horticulture. In collaboration with the University of Addis Ababa, demonstration plots are established to convince the local population of the benefits of agriculture. The characteristics of the area are not fit for keeping livestock, and therefore Dorcas and its partner organisations encourage residents to find alternative means to earn a living.