One of the poorest countries in the world, Liberia has suffered years of civil war, an Ebola epidemic and numerous other challenges. Chronic malnutrition affects one-third of children under age 5, no surprise in a nation where 54% of families live in poverty.
In fact, the people of Liberia have the opportunity to create dramatic change if they are supported in taking advantage of their country’s many natural resources and the abundant rich land available for agriculture. Save the Children is acting as a catalyst to help them utilize these resources so they can move away from reliance on imported food, a practice that is both costly and unsustainable.
Using a social enterprise model rather than a traditional NGO approach, we have already taken steps toward building the capacity of Liberians to provide themselves with healthy meals, at the same time empowering farmers, families and communities to contribute to their local and national economies. To that end, we established a partnership with Kawadah Farms, a Liberian company that manufactures and distributes Power Gari, a fortified, cassava-based porridge packed with high levels of protein, carbohydrates and essential vitamins and minerals.
Working in Ganta, the second most populous city in Liberia, we propose to support this enterprise ultimately building a business that is financially and operationally self-sustaining. In so doing, we will help reduce hunger, malnutrition and food-related illnesses for a greater segment of the population. Equally important, growing the project will create livelihoods opportunities that will make communities more self-sustaining and enable them to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. It should also be noted that evidence shows better nutrition improves learning outcomes by fighting developmental delays and decreasing the number of school days lost to illness.
Supporting an existing food processing facility and distribution business in Liberia will have sustainable, long-term impact beyond improved nutrition. It will not only create jobs, but also the need for ancillary services such as transportation, processing, packaging and administration, providing a new range of livelihoods options that foster local economic development.
Ultimately, through improved access to reliable, high-quality ingredients and improved infrastructure and transportation, we will expand the reach and market presence of this enterprise. As a result, children and adults across the country will have access to locally produced, nutritious meals, improving health and learning and building the long-term wellbeing and self-sufficiency of the Liberian people.