Self Help Africa

October 3, 2018

Outline the vision and mission of the Organisation
Self Help Africa's vision is for an economically thriving and resilient rural Africa. We support agricultural development as it is a critical driver of poverty eradication because up to 80% of people in the region where we work rely on small-scale farming for their survival. In sub-Saharan Africa we also know that most farms have the potential to produce more than they do at present. In our work we also support poor households to earn more from their land - we achieve this by promoting market oriented agricultural production, and by assisting small-holder farmers to source profitable new markets where they can sell the crops that they grow. Our mission is to support sustainable livelihoods for Africa's smallholder farmers.
How has the Organisation developed and tackled issues?
Self Help Africa was established in the early 1980s in response to the terrible Ethiopian Famine of that time. It was created to assist rural poor farming households provide a year-round supply of food for their families. By promoting and introducing new crop varieties, providing training and technical skills by supporting farming communities to work together in cooperatives and producer groups, by linking farmers to markets, and by promoting small enterprise development, Self Help Africa has assisted millions of rural poor households across Africa to grow more and earn more from their land. Self Help Africa has targeted much of its work at rural poor women, who produce most of the food on small farms, yet frequently receive only a fraction of the available support. The organisation has focussed not just on the quantity, but also on the quality of food that is grown, so that households can improve the nutritional quality of what they have available to feed their families. And Self Help Africa is helping vulnerable small-holder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa to adopt farming methods that help them to adapt, and mitigate the effects that changing climate has on food production in the region.
What has the overall impact of the work been?
By assisting rural poor families to grow more on their land, Self Help Africa has assisted hundreds of thousands of households across sub-Saharan Africa to work their way out of a life of poverty and dependence. As a result of increased production and farm earnings, households have improved their dwellings, have been able to invest in the health, education and wellbeing of their families.Studies undertaken in a recent project with 80,000 households in remote Northern Zambia showed that over a short period, stunting caused by poor nutrition in early childhood was reduced from more than 40% in U-5s to a level of 31% in under four years. In Nsunda, one of the districts where this project was carried out reported that the number of families able to provide for their households basic needs had increased from 58% to 88%, while the number of families who reported having cash and other household assets had increased from 0% to 30%.
What makes this Organisation unique?
Self Help Africa is Ireland's longest established international development organisation working through agriculture and rural enterprise development to end extreme hunger and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. The organisation adopts a 'self-help' approach to development, and gives nothing away for free apart from knowledge. Increasingly, the focus of our programme activities is on the potential of Africa's small farms not just to produce more, but also to earn more for the families who farm the land. For this reason we are focussed on the enterprise potential of small farms, and on connecting rural poor communities to profitable new markets - at local, regional, national and international levels, so that they can earn more and provide more for their families. All statistics show that farming families who increase their incomes are most likely to invest in their family's welfare, in their children's health, and in improving their farms and small farming businesses. For this reason, we define our organisation as "the pro-profit, non-profit" that helps African families to turn their small farms from loss, to profit.
How can the public support this work?
Self Help Africa runs a busy year-round calendar of events that invite and encourage members of the general public to fundraise to support our work. These include charity walks, runs, cycles and climbs, as well as a host of gala events that take place in different parts of the country. Self Help Africa also has a large network of regular givers who donate to our cause on a weekly and monthly basis. Furthermore, as the chosen charity of the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) we receive funding support from a large network of rural and farming households across Ireland. Self Help Africa also has a network of 23 charity shops on the island of Ireland, and welcomes donations of used clothing and other goods that can be sold in our shops, and also welcomes the support of volunteers to assist us in staffing these outlets.
How is the Organisation transparent and accountable?
Self Help Africa recognises the importance of accountability, transparency and good governance, and has been short-listed for the Irish Good Governance Awards, and has also been short-listed on a number of occasions by the Leinster Institute of Chartered Accountants for the quality of our published Annual Report. Details on our governance, accountability and transparency policies is available, together with copies of our policies, on our website at this link: https://selfhelpafrica.org/ie/governance-accountability-transparency/

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