The Faith Healing Agricultural Project (FHAP) is an offshoot of the longtime partner of Bread and Water for Africa®, Faith Healing Development Organization (FHDO) in Sierra Leone and operates with mission of helping small farmers achieve food security.
FHAP does this in several ways including providing these farmers, the vast majority of whom are women, with materials to help them getting off to a good growing season with quality seeds and planting materials.
In addition, FHAP provides the farmers with hands-on training at its demonstration farm, an established support network and even helps them to prepare their land for planting.
FHAP is making a huge difference in the lives of these women farmers, notes FHDO executive director Rev. Francis Mambu.
During the last planting season, over 78 bushels of rice was planted, he reported. The yield was 806 bushels – a return of more than 10 times!
“From the yield during the last planting season, we were able to support about 330 women farmers in different villages,” said Rev. Mambu, adding, “It is also worth noting that the project distributed rice to vulnerable women in the communities to feed themselves and their families.”
Rev. Mambu and FHAP have also been recognized from the highest levels of the government of Sierra Leone for their efforts.
“The Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security, Professor Monty Jones thanked FHAP and its partners for the laudable strides they are making in the country, noting that the FHAP rice project is the largest in the entire country,” said Rev. Mambu.
Rev. Mambu noted in the 2018 FHAP Annual Report that about 75 percent of all Sierra Leoneans are engaged in agriculture in one way or another, accounting for approximately 40 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
“Agriculture is the daily life occupation of most of the people in Sierra Leone, especially for those residing in the rural areas,” he said.
Thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa®, 315 women were provided with micro finance loans to start their own farming businesses for seed loans and also received technical assistance for their farms.
The women farmers reside in the Yankansa village area in the Bombali District in the northern region of the country which suffered greatly during the decade-long civil war in the 1990s when farms and farming equipment was destroyed.
The land is fertile for farming, and the weather is favorable for crops to thrive, but Rev. Mambu and the women he helps continue to face great challenges.
“The people living in Yankansa and other surrounding villages are poor – they don’t have the money to invest in agricultural activities,” he told us. “Even though almost all of these people are engaged in farming, their output is small because of the lack of funds for expansion.”
For the future, Rev. Mambu and FHAP will continue to empower women in villages throughout the Yankansa community.
“These women groups are doing well and their farms are expanding,” he told us. “Hopefully in the next planting season more women groups will be able to register for support.
“Our deep appreciation goes out to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® for their support of FHAP for touching the lives of Sierra Leoneans striving to make better lives for themselves and their families.”
Access to clean, safe and unpolluted water is a valuable commodity in many places in sub-Saharan Africa. It is estimated that 90 percent of all serious illnesses in Africa can be linked to contaminated water and poor sanitation.
For decades, Bread and Water for Africa® has made providing access to clean water a key priority by digging wells, ensuring that thousands in the surrounding community no longer have to walk miles fetching water, and literally risking their lives drinking it.
Such was the case in the community of Rutile in Sierra Leone where years ago, working our local partner there, Faith Healing Development Organization, we were able to fund the construction of a well on the grounds of an orphanage providing safe water for all.
But that was before the mining operation “whose activities have resulted in the pollution of all source of drinking water” arrived, we were told by FHDO Executive Director Rev. Francis Mambu.
Sierra Leone is one of the leading producers of bauxite, an aluminum ore and the world’s main source of aluminum, and nearby mining operations have caused the water to be unusable.
However, there is hope. It is possible that with a processing plant, the contaminated water in the well can be filtered and packaged into what are known in the country as plastic “sachets” which can contain between 8 and 12 ounces of water.
“These sachets are commonly bought and sold in all of the markets and streets throughout the country,” said Rev. Mambu who is proposing, with the support of Bread and Water for Africa®, to construct such a plant to not only restore access to safe, unpolluted drinking water for the community, but also provide a means of support to the orphanage where the well is located.
“From all indications, this project will be a lucrative one that will greatly sustain itself due to the demands of clean water in our mining communities, especially now that the dry season is about to begin,” Rev. Mambu told us.
The estimated cost for the processing plant is $16,000, and we at Bread and Water for Africa® are committed to supporting the project in the knowledge that not only will the processing plant restore safe water to those in the village of Rutile, it will also provide much-needed income to the orphanage so that orphaned children in the community will have a home to go to for years to come when there is nowhere else for them to turn.
With your help this summer, Bread and Water for Africa® hopes to raise enough funds to construct a plant in Sierra Leone to process cassava into gari.
So exactly what is cassava?
While most Americans may not have heard of cassava, an edible starchy tuberous root, it is more commonly called “yuca” in Spanish and in the United States.
Cassava is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in tropical countries after rice and maize, and is a major food staple in the developing world, providing a basic diet for more than a half a billion people, including millions in Sierra Leone.
In addition, it is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, capable of growing in marginal soils. It was introduced to Africa by Portuguese traders from Brazil in the 16th century and is now an important staple food, replacing native African crops, and is sometimes described as “the bread of the tropics.”
And what is gari?
Gari is cassava root, dried and ground into flour and, according to our partner in Sierra Leone, Rev. Francis Mambu, executive director of Faith Healing Development Organization (FHDO), is a popular West African food constituting a daily meal to some 150 million people worldwide.
Rev. Mambu tells us gari is not only rich in starch, but also very high in proteins and some essential vitamins and is very high in fiber which makes it very filling while preventing bowel disease.
One could say it’s the “superfood” of Sierra Leone.
But why would FHDO want to operate a cassava processing plant?
The answer is simple, to provide income to women farmers – many who have taken orphans whose parents died in the tragic Ebola outbreak into their homes – as well as generating income for FHDO itself to operate its clinics and schools.
Already, FHDO has planted more than 10 acres of cassava to be distributed to women in the Yainkassa Village in the Bombali District who will plant them on their own land and tend to them until they mature and are ready to be harvested in six months. After the initial harvest, the women farmers will be able to continue harvesting the cassava at three-month intervals.
Once the processing plant is in operation, FHDO will be able to purchase all the cassava the women can grow, guaranteeing them a reliable place to sell what they produce at fair prices.
But then what will FHDO do with all the gari it produces?
And here’s the beauty of this whole plan – FHDO will sell the gari back to the farmers who grew it at wholesale prices so they can go out and sell in their local community markets, in effect selling the same product twice and making two profits.
Why is this processing plant so necessary?
“The people of Sierra Leone were seriously affected by the Ebola virus disease outbreak,” says Rev. Mambu. “Especially the women and children.”
Rev. Mambu told us that women from 11 villages – totaling about 500 farmers – have been targeted to participate in the project.
That amounts to 500 households with thousands of children, many of whom are Ebola orphans who would have nowhere to go except for the caring and compassionate women who have taken them in and given them a loving home.
These women need a steady income to provide for their own children, as well as the ones they have taken in. They need to be able to put food on the table for them – every day – pay their school fees and purchase school uniforms, to be able to pay the medical bills when they get sick.
And the cassava process plant will enable them to do just that.
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Tragically, thousands of children die every year from water-borne illnesses that are easily preventable. Where there is unsafe water, there are diseases. In the rural communities of Africa, the need for clean water is extremely urgent and a top priority for Bread and Water for Africa®. Clean water. It should be simple, really. And you know this. Or do you? Take our quiz to find out.
Water is life! We support programs that provide access to clean water and educate Africans about the vital importance of clean water for the prevention of diseases.
Bread and Water for Africa® supports the following programs for clean water development:
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Local Partner: Ndegbormei Development Organization
Local Partner Director: Yema Ganda/Executive Director
Area Served: Bumpeh Ngao Chiefdom, Southern Sierra Leone
Program Goal: Provide quality healthcare to children and pregnant women
Program Services Provided: Vital healthcare services to pregnant and lactating women and children under the age of five, a supplemental feeding program, the services of a traditional birth attendant, and HIV/AIDS education.
Number of Program Beneficiaries: Clinic services to a population of approximately 31,000 throughout the communities they serve; vocation training and resources for 50 women.
Current Needs: Program vehicles, an ambulance, and motorbikes to increase the reach of the health clinics to the more remote villages in the area. Without vehicle transportation, it is difficult for the very sick or injured to travel to the clinic for treatment – some are too weak to survive a trip on foot in the blazing heat! – and it is equally difficult for nurses to reach each of the remote villages, some of which are up to 10 miles away, on a regular basis. Motorbikes or an ambulance would allow for much more consistent treatment in local communities and would also provide for the transport of serious patients to the clinic for ongoing treatment. In addition, they are looking for a solar light system that would allow them to generate electricity for sterilization equipment and refrigeration as well as a light source for when patients are attempting to locate the clinic at night.
NDO operates a rural clinic specifically serving the needs of pregnant and lactating women and children under the age of five. In addition to pre-and-post natal care, the clinic also offers 24-hour emergency treatment, supplemental feeding, and nutritional care for local community members in need. Without NDO’s clinic, many women and their children would be forced to walk in excess of 18 miles to receive treatment at the “nearest” government clinic.
One full-time nurse and one full-time traditional birth attendant, our resident “super-women” if you will, are on duty to treat patients and emergency cases. A volunteer doctor is also available part-time to assist with serious cases.
They also do outreach visits to the various communities served so that the care might be more accessible in the more remote villages.
NDO also operates a training center for women and youth to encourage entrepreneurship to reach self-sufficiency. These programs focus on gender-based-violence, leadership, business management, micro finance and agriculture to empower these women towards a better future.