Extreme poverty, AIDS, civil war, and corrupt governments are pushing hundreds of thousands of African families to the brink of starvation. Deforestation, irregular weather patterns, frequent droughts, and few crop alternatives only serve to exacerbate these life-threatening social, political, and economic problems causing desperate farmers to turn to “slash-and-burn” agriculture in an attempt to feed their families. Plant With Purpose circumvents these problems by working directly with local communities to make micro-credit available to small farmers. Some 66 village community banks, or "VICOBAs," with a total of 1,932 members have been established to provide secure savings and loan opportunities. Members of these self-governing groups raise and distribute their own funds, and thus far have successfully generated almost $455,169 of loan capital that they are using to improve their farms, send their children to school, and begin small businesses.
Plant With Purpose’s Tanzania program has seen unprecedented growth since we began working there in 2006. Traditionally, when families need farmland and fuel wood for cooking or heating, they have resorted to cutting down trees in Tanzania’s original forests. Plant With Purpose works with 38 communities in the regions surrounding Mount Kilimanjaro to create alternatives to deforestation, and share the tools needed to replenish the land and improve lives. Over 2,000 families have created vegetable gardens and collectively planted 1,036,576 trees in farming and reforestation efforts. Watch this video about composting in Tanzania
The end of 40 years of civil war brings with it a new set of challenges. Large numbers of refugees have started returning to their homeland, exacerbating the need for ethnic reconciliation, food security, and economic development. Due to the unique situation, Plant With Purpose has expanded its work to include training in peace and reconciliation, working in partnership with local churches. By working to restore relationships between farmers and the land they depend on as well as those between rival ethnic groups, Plant With Purpose is bringing a much needed message of hope, peace, and reconciliation to the people of Burundi. Read this blog post to learn more about our work in Burundi.