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Water, Farming & Finance: Community Non-Profits Impact Sustainable Business

Water, Farming & Finance: Community Non-Profits Impact Sustainable Business

Tapping into the social needs of the continent, many non-profits are boosting African business and economics, equipping citizens with skills and tools to increase sustainability.

These organizations use initiatives like job creation, vocational skill instruction and agribusiness tools to leave a lasting impact for communities to further develop. Non-profits like The Samburu Project, Project Mercy and The Hunger Project aim to equip African farmers, women and entrepreneurs with the skills to support themselves and their communities.

Agriculture alone accounts for almost 41 percent of Ethiopia’s GDP, according to the International Finance Cooperation, and 70 percent of the nation’s employment. Innovations, like those of Project Mercy’s in the country, work towards increasing stability and maximizing yields and profits. Project Mercy’s biggest impact is in Ethiopia’s agricultural industry.

As proximity and quality of water impacts a community’s economy, The Samburu Project’s mission is to reduce the distance Kenyans, most often women and children, need to travel for fresh, clean water. Through microfinance training, The Hunger Project empowers women and men to end their own hunger.

Tackling Child Malnutrition Through Crossbreeding 

“Great strides have been made to increase the quantity of milk the new Jersey-cross cattle provide resulting in crossbred heifers now being distributed to local farmers who have helped to train in animal husbandry and forage production,” Project Mercy Chief Operations Officer Randall Dodge told AFKInsider.

Project Mercy was founded in 1977, and is creating economically independent communities in Yetebon, almost 90 miles southwest of Addis Ababa. One way it does this is through farming initiatives in cattle breeding and drip irrigation.


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Ethiopian indigenous cattle yield about two quarts of milk a day. Funded through a partnership with the U.S. government, Project Mercy bred indigenous cows with a Jersey breed that yields upwards of twelve quarts of milk daily.

Last year, the first five pregnant Jersey crossbred heifers were distributed in November to five of 83 trained farmers. In January of this year, U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) traveled to the Chacha District of the Northern Shewa Zone to deliver more pregnant heifers to trained farmers. The farmers that received the bred cows were also trained in improved dairy farm management.

In a country that loses 16.5 percent of its GDP annually to the long-term effects of child malnutrition — according to the World Food Program — improved cow milk production could not only ensure meeting the nutritional needs of the community, but boost family income as the milk surplus is sold.

Other initiatives of infrastructure development include the training of farmers in drip irrigation, a process that saves water directing flow directly to plant roots.

“The drip irrigation program is being demonstrated in our compound gardens and the necessary equipment has been distributed to a sample of about 50 local farmers,” Dodge said.

“We believe that this is just the beginning of a positive ripple effect that will be life-enhancing for rural families for generations to come.”

Project Mercy also teaches vocational skills to rural women who sell their woven baskets online. Their compound in Yetebon sits on 52 acres, offering additional opportunities for the training and practice of community members in construction.

People Just Need Water

“When clean water doesn’t exist, sustainability or development or living a human life is impossible,” said Kristin Kosinki, executive director of The Samburu Project.