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Food & Hunger

Becoming HungerFree

Photo: Maxwell Moser, Graphic: Alana Espineli

If you were to stand at the edge of Nelly’s family’s fields, you would see earth that looked a lot like a checkerboard. Every few feet there is a rectangle where the ground is a little lower.

The checkerboard is actually zai pits, a farming technique that involves mixing the dirt with fertilizer and leaving the pits several inches lower than the earth around them. This allows water to accumulate to better grow crops like kale and corn.

Nelly’s family lives in rural Kenya. When Nelly’s mother was young, crops were easier to grow; farmers could confidently know the rains would come. But they were also harder to farm. Digging the earth took more work and yield was small.

Now, rains are intermittent and unpredictable. But with zai pits, it’s easier to be sure that food will grow. In fact, the technique has doubled the crop production for the community.

Becoming HungerFree-Zai Pits new2.jpgImage: Photo: Chetra Ten, Graphic: Alana Espineli

HungerFree is helping families generate food for today and tomorrow through programming commonly referred to as Cash for Assets. Farming techniques – like zai pits – allow families to more efficiently grow food to both eat and sell, ensuring resilience during periods of drought.

Becoming HungerFree-Cash for Assets new1.jpgImage: Photos: Joe Were, Alyssa Bistonath, Philip Maher; Graphic: Alana Espineli

And farming isn’t the only way Nelly’s family has more economic stability. They also help care for their community’s goats, and Nelly’s mother participates in a savings and loan group with their neighbors.

One of the challenges of food assistance is the balancing act between immediate assistance and long-term stability. Often, hungry communities urgently need food to be able to continue learning and farming. But they also need the tools to continue to support themselves.

We’re not just called to help create a hungerfree family. We are called to help create a hungerfree world. Nelly’s story is just the beginning.

This is the time to accomplish great things. Are you on board?
GC Becoming Hungerfree-B3.jpgImage: Photo: Maxwell Moser, Graphic: Alana Espineli


The views expressed here are not necessarily those of each of the partners of Global Citizen.