Over a year has passed since the Ebola outbreak began in West Africa. After 14 years of civil war and this further, significant disruption to the social and civic infrastructure, Liberia is faced with the task of rebuilding the social services that are crucial for continued survival. Living in the wake of the outbreak poses a unique set of challenges that often cannot be addressed by any one group. Life will never be the same for survivors, and the first steps toward stability include meeting basic needs, like having access to nutritional foods.
Most of us are single parents left with children to support. The Ebola virus out-breaks have increased our problems. Most of the women here are supporting Orphans who parents died from the Ebola virus, we don’t have any skill and are not letter [able to read and write]. — Maima
One of the many problems that surfaces during trauma counseling is the question of basic sustenance or inadequate food for mothers and children. When a person is traumatized, one of the ways to avoid a relapse when under psychosocial treatment is to ensure that their basic needs are met. — Ms. Miatta, Church Aid’s Women’s Empowerment Program Director
SPI recently coordinated a stakeholder meeting for our gardening program in Liberia, hosted by Christine Norman, Mayor of Bentol City and Executive Director of SPI partner organization REAP. This collaborative gathering is a testament that hope is emerging for the families and communities who continue to struggle with the long-term effects of Ebola.
Bringing together SPI’s Liberia partners and other community-based organizations in Liberia who support small-scale farmers and gardeners, the group collectively assessed their needs, challenges, solutions, and resources in order to maximize the collective efforts and reach of this program. Based on this assessment, working groups were created to develop training programs and recruit trainers, integrate women’s empowerment, and coordinate seed distribution and extension visits.
Just giving women the same access as men to agricultural resources could increase production on women's farms in developing countries by 20 to 30 percent. — FAO
In addition to working groups, partners also created action plans to ensure that women are included in the project’s decision-making and governance structures. Courageous woman are taking the lead in disaster relief, and gardens are no exception!
The First Seeds
Project partners will initially receive 20,000 seed packets to be distributed among their networks. The program itself will focus on training and supplies, which will begin to address the needs outlined by the project partners and participants:
SPI should extend to other parts of the country and expand partnerships, so as to reach out to ever farmers in most effected communities. — David, Food Bank Liberia
I would like to recommend that SPI conduct more training for farmers in seeds management and productions. — Joseph, Movement For The Promotion Of Primary & Secondary Education
I recommend that there should be additional training for partner to continue building their capacity. — Ansumanah, Restoring Our Children’s Hope
We're planning a follow-up meeting in six months, where we’ll gauge the progress of the project participants and make any course-corrective changes necessary to improve collaboration, inclusion, and reach. As this program develops, we hope to seed a broader conversation that continues encouraging women’s empowerment and sparks collective action by our partner organizations and their recipients.
If you'd like to help us continue this work, consider giving through our GlobalGiving campaigns.
After Ebola, Gardens Help Rebuild Lives: Working with three in-country partners to reach those most isolated by poverty and disease, we are providing more than 25,000 packets of tested, appropriate vegetable seeds, along with support and training.
Seeds and Skills for Women to Grow Vegetables: We join with women's gardening efforts in the most impoverished countries worldwide, including Madagascar, Guatemala, and Liberia. By providing top-quality vegetable seeds and locally-driven support, seed programs give women a path to empowerment, income, and nutrition.