By Jenise Huffman
It may seem like eradicating extreme poverty (defined as living on $1 a day or less) is a gargantuan and impossible goal, but when it’s broken down into a series of small, practical tasks, it can be achieved.. With this knowledge, Tyson sent me to Millennium Promise to help their Millennium Villages project take some of those steps toward this noble goal. (To learn more about the organization, visit www.millenniumpromise.org and make the promise to end extreme poverty.)
Sub-Saharan Africa has the most ground to cover in order to reach the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by 2015, but it IS achievable. Some of the harsh truths facing Sub-Saharan Africans today include the following:
- 31% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population is chronically undernourished.
- 1 in 16 women die in pregnancy or childbirth in Sub-Saharan Africa. This compares with a 1 in 3,800 risk for a woman in North America
- Over 40% of women in Sub-Saharan Africa have NO access to basic education
- At least one million people in Africa die from malaria each year; 90% of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa.
- Every 30 seconds an African child dies of malaria.
- More than 50% of Africans suffer from water-related diseases such as cholera and infant diarrhea.
- In 1 out of 4 African countries, half the children enrolled in the last year of primary school (elementary school) do not pursue their studies the following year.
- 63% of people in Sub-Saharan Africa lack access to basic sanitation facilities.
The Millennium Villages project offers an innovative model for helping rural African communities lift themselves out of the extreme poverty that allows hunger to proliferate. The Millennium Villages are proving that by fighting poverty at the village level through community-led development, rural Africa can achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and escape the extreme poverty that traps hundreds of millions of people throughout the continent.
Using new advances in science and technology, project personnel work with village residents to create and facilitate sustainable, community-led action plans that are tailored to the villages’ specific needs and designed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Simple solutions like high-yield seeds, fertilizers and modern farming techniques have led to enormous increases in agricultural yields, so farmers are now able to grow enough food to feed their families all year. Other interventions the project brings to the villages include medicines, drinking wells and materials to build school rooms and clinics. The project is effectively combating extreme poverty and nourishing communities, offering a new era of health and opportunity. Improved science and technology such as agroforestry, insecticide-treated bed nets, antiretroviral drugs, the Internet and geographic information systems enrich this progress. Over a 5-year period, community committees and local governments build capacity to continue these initiatives and develop a solid foundation for sustainable growth.
The project is based on the “teach a man to fish” principle, and with this model these villages will be on a path to sustainable economic development within a few years without outside aid. Working on this project is enormously rewarding. I am so grateful that Tyson is deeply committed to achieving the Millennium Development Goal of eradicating chronic hunger.