Fighting Poverty and Hunger – A Pig Issue
by Karen Ford
Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
The pigs which will be given to families
FOR many people in the developing world the connection between poverty and hunger is an everyday reality. The Salvation Army’s development projects seek to provide assistance to help people get themselves out of poverty and ensure they can obtain the food they need to survive. Often these two goals are inextricably linked.
Watching TV news reports and reading newspapers it could appear that the food crisis and all cases of malnutrition today are in Africa. There is no doubt that the situation there is very serious in places, particularly where drought and war have left many communities unable to grow crops or keep their cattle, but severe poverty and extreme hunger are also evident in other parts of the world.
|Pigs are brought together for breeding|
|One of the pigs used in the pig-rearing project|
The South American country of Bolivia, for instance, has magnificent scenery and beautiful countryside. On first view, it would seem to have everything going for it. Sadly, that isn’t the whole story. Bolivia has experienced many economic difficulties and instabilities in its government. Currently, a massive 70 per cent of Bolivians live in poverty. The average life expectancy is just 65 years – lower than Iraq, Fiji, Algeria and 152 other countries – and the average income is less than US$100 a month. Food is in short supply and people are going hungry.
In Tarila, Bolivia, there are very few opportunities for people to earn money and one of the biggest problems is malnutrition. The Salvation Army is working there with the local community to improve nutrition and also to provide sources of income. This will have the added bonus of helping families with such necessities as school fees. The hope is that many more families will have the opportunity to learn new skills so they will be able to take care of themselves.
A number of pig farms have been built, the first in 2001 which proved to be a success with the community. Each family that was part of the project received a pig and was given training in pig-rearing. The participants learned how to use each part of the pig for food – blood for blood sausage, meat for bacon and ham. They were also given training and information about nutrition – the use of water, the need to eat fruit and vegetables and how to prepare food.
After the training course one male and one female pig were given to two families who agreed to allow these pigs to breed in order to continue the cycle by passing on the offspring to other trained families. The scheme will help them increase their income and have money to purchase food and provide better nutrition for their families. At present 21 families have benefited from the project.
|A community member is shown how to look after piglets|
|The site of a new pig farm|
Despite some setbacks in the beginning the project continues to train families in pig-rearing and nutrition, enabling them to help themselves out of poverty. The project is still in the early stages but the families are hopeful that in the near future meat from the pigs will be sold to markets, restaurants and schools, increasing people’s income and releasing them from the cycle of poverty and hunger.
The idea is not limited to pig-rearing. Another project in Corqueamaya, Bolivia, enabled community members living in a very cold, remote mountain village to grow vegetables in large greenhouses, again providing vital income while also making it possible for people to produce their own food.
The South America West Territory is grateful for funding received for the pig-rearing project from the Adult and Family Ministries Unit Helping-Hand Scheme in the United Kingdom Territory – raised mainly through the women’s ministries groups that form a part of most Salvation Army corps (churches).
The United Kingdom Territory continues to support animal husbandry projects around the world through its gift catalogue fundraising scheme which enables Salvationists and members of the general public to buy virtual gifts such as cows, chickens, goats or pigs as presents for friends or family members. The recipient of the present gets a card revealing that the real gift is going to someone in the developing world who really needs it.
In the days when so many people in the developing world have far more possessions than they could ever need, the scheme is proving highly popular among people looking for a present for the person who doesn’t need anything – with the added benefit that they are buying something vital for people who have nothing. For more information go to: www.salvationarmy.org.uk/id
Karen Ford works in the Projects and Development Office of The Salvation Army’s International Headquarters