Overcoming Obstacles in Dominican Republic
Written by Plant With Purpose on June 23, 2016 in Annual Report, Overcoming Obstacles
Plant With Purpose partnering families are overcoming some tremendous obstacles. From imposing politics, ethnic tensions, limited resources, lack of services, and feeling emotionally defeated, roadblocks to brighter futures present themselves at every turn.
Yet, as Plant With Purpose walks alongside vulnerable families, reality is changing. Despite the obstacles, hope is breaking through as lives and land are transformed.
Obstacles in Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is known for its beautiful beaches and tropical weather. However, it is easy for tourists to overlook the many issues the country faces. The island has taken on new challenges over the past few years. Limited water supply, disease, deforestation, and soil erosion threaten the livelihood of its people as well as the environment. According to the government, forty percent of the island’s 10 million residents are estimated to live in poverty. The severe drought that struck the Caribbean in 2014 continues today has worsened the situation by limiting its potable water and causing agricultural losses and food insecurity. Anti-Haitian sentiment has created tension with its neighboring country, resulting in the deportation of hundreds of Haitians, and leading to an unstable society and political distress between the two countries.
Despite these conditions, Plant With Purpose partnering families are learning to utilize their resources to improve their circumstances. Small businesses are developing and increasing incomes. Diversifying crops and cultivating improved varieties offers stability. And a deep understanding of God’s call to steward the environment is bringing about transformation in rural Dominican communities. Dominicans are rising above their obstacles.
Andrés plans to replace his family’s wooden home with a cinderblock house. He desires his children to hold professional careers. Because of Plant With Purpose, Andrés is accomplishing his goals.
Partnering farmers are experiencing a 55 percent increase in gross income on a per hectare basis according to a 2015 yield study. The study concluded that participating farmers apply an increasing number of sustainable farming techniques over time including compost, green manures, and soil conservation barriers at a more frequent rate than the nonparticipating farmers. These applied techniques improve soil quality and ultimately produce higher yields.
Cacao farmers like Andrés (pictured) are seeing a 77 percent increase in cacao production in contrast to the comparison group. This increase in yield means an increase in income.
Not only are these cacao trees beneficial to Andrés’ economic wellbeing but they are also restoring the environment. Andrés sees himself as a protector of his community’s streams and land. “Genesis 3:19 says, ‘For you are dust, and to dust you shall return,’ so by taking care of the land, we are taking care of ourselves,” says Andres.
As a member of the “Progressing” savings group, Mr. Cheo (pictured) is improving his life. He shares, “This group has liberated us from slavery. We were forced to turn to ‘loan sharks’ who charged high interest. Now we are free and use our own savings. We own the interest rate!” To earn additional income Mr. Cheo started a small grocery store out of his home. A cement foundation has been poured next door—symbolizing the expansion of his business and financial freedom. In the Dominican Republic, 100 percent of partnering households are VSLA members (2014 Impact Evaluation).
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The Reversing Deforestation and Redemptive Agriculture sections originally appeared in the 2015 Annual Report. View the complete report here.