HOTLINE - week of November 16, 2009

Families in Cambodia growing their own vegetables; CWS continues response to severe flooding in Georgia; Sweet potato farmers in Tanzania improving their nutrition and incomes

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Farmer Nou Sareth  
Cambodia--Farmer Nou Sareth waters his vegetable garden, as his son watches, in Kok Sralaov village, Preah Vihear Province.
Photo: CWS


“I can see the benefits with my own eyes,” says Soeurn Sam On, a mother of four from Tropeang Thom village, as she sums up the success of the Church World Service-supported gardening project in Preah Vihear Province. “I no longer have to buy vegetables.  I can grow them myself and I will continue to do so.”

This year, CWS distributed vegetable seeds to 90 households in 18 villages in the province.  In most cases, the families had little experience in home gardening and their yields were low.  With training, families began placing fences around their gardens to prevent animals from eating their crops, and started weeding and watering their home gardens regularly. 

By growing their own vegetables the families saved the money they would have spent to purchase them.  And, many of the families produced surplus vegetables to sell to neighbors to generate income. 

Families are now being encouraged to expand their gardens. The most successful growers are pointed out to encourage others to follow suit.

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Southeastern U.S.

More than six weeks after catastrophic flooding forced President Obama to declare 17 Georgia counties disaster areas, long-term recovery efforts are underway. Damages statewide are estimated at $250 million, with more than 2,800 homes damaged.  Fortunately, recent rains brought by Tropical Storm Ida did not exacerbate the flooding problems.

CWS Emergency Response Specialists are facilitating the CWS Georgia response and coordinating training. CWS expects to play a great coordinating role in the coming weeks in order to better facilitate how national partners work with local long-term recovery groups.  In addition, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has requested CWS provide training to a number of recovery groups just forming.

ERS Joann Hale has been in extensive contact with leaders in Georgia’s Latino community, which has been particularly hard hit in this historic flood. CWS expects to launch disaster recovery projects and other support designed to help the Latino community recover.

In the days following the flooding, CWS provided CWS Blankets, CWS Hygiene, School Kits, and Emergency Clean-up Buckets, and protective latex gloves and masks for the Chattooga County, Georgia, area.

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Sweet potato farmers in eight villages in the Temeke and Gairo regions are organizing and learning better ways to store and market their crop, with the help of Church World Service and partner Trust for Rural Food and Development (TRUFOOD), in a project that directly benefits more than 23,000 people. Sweet potatoes are a major staple food, source of Vitamin A and income source in several regions of Tanzania, and are the traditional crop for subsistence farmers.

Subsistence farmers in the area have small plots of land for growing food and cash crops and generally earn less than $3 a day.  They have been working individually to sell their crops after harvest, flooding the market and not getting good prices. 

With the help of CWS, the growers are learning to work together and to store vines so they are more readily available to farmers for planting.  They are also learning appropriate storage and processing methods to increase the shelf life of the sweet potatoes so they can be sold when market prices are higher--or when the growers need ready cash.  Farmers are also being encouraged to integrate the sweet potatoes with other crops such as cow peas and pigeon peas to diversify incomes and land usage.

Despite continuing drought, sweet potato farmers are applying the skills they have learned to improve their livelihoods.  Some farmers are selling sweet potato cakes, bread and juices. And several groups have set up sweet potato vine nurseries and are preserving sweet potatoes for six months using simple appropriate technology.

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