ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — In many cases, it is well known how to help struggling regions pull themselves out of poverty. From supporting small farmers and agricultural workers, to protecting the rights and wares of market women, it is necessary that poverty and hunger reduction strategies have multifarious results, meaning that the consequences must intentionally have or lack a positive influence on more than one aspect of an individual’s life. Nevertheless, many anti-poverty or hunger reduction strategies encompass only one issue; solving the problem of immediate hunger, but not addressing the issue of food insecurity, chronic malnourishment and unemployment, all of which undoubtedly have an effect on the impoverished.
If anti-poverty reduction plans are to have maximum results, they need to be multifaceted and cross over social and/or governmental sectors. USAID’s ENGINE stands as a successful example for those needing to ramp up their anti-poverty and anti-hunger efforts.
ENGINE began its work in rural regions of Ethiopia in 2010, as a part of the Feed the Future Initiative program and the government of Ethiopia’s National Nutrition Program, with the bulk of on-the-ground support coming from USAID and Save the Children. The five-year program, set to end next year, has benefited women and children in 100 woredas, or districts of Ethiopia.
ENGINE is multi-sectorial in the sense that it focuses on the development of education, health and agricultural sustainability. It aims to improve the nutritional status of women and children, teaches farmers sustainable agricultural techniques and teaches women how to improve their families’ dietary habits.
According to USAID, “ENGINE provides young mothers from vulnerable, food insecure households with seeds for a variety of nutritious foods and teaches them techniques for planting and growing a homestead garden as well as ways to safely prepare the new produce. The program also supports improved livelihoods and increased access to sources of protein by providing women with poultry or small livestock.”
Women were given seeds that are high in nutritional value and will yield in southern Ethiopia’s soil. These include Swiss chard, carrot, mango, papaya, apples and cabbage.
In Ethiopia, where around 29 percent of women are malnourished, improved nutrition and nutrition education are essential to ensuring that their children do not suffer the same consequences. While previous nutrition efforts made by the government of Ethiopia only addressed the obvious problem of nutrition, the newly developed National Nutrition Program has taken the multi-sectorial approach to address nutrition but also market based agriculture and food security, both of which have direct effects on nutritional status.
Of ENGINE’s efforts in agricultural education, “ENGINE strengthens institutions by offering pre-service training to health/agriculture workers and program managers, and by enriching the nutrition curriculum in MSc and PhD degree programs, continuing education, and farmer training centers,” Save the Children said.
A study done three years after the implementation of ENGINE showed positive outcomes: 160,000 less children were stunted and 85 percent of participants utilized the agricultural training practices.
Not only is ENGINE an example of how partnerships among agencies can lead to positive development, but it also demonstrates how important it is for multiple social sectors to be involved in the eradication of poverty, malnourishment and chronic hunger. Health, education and agriculture are important in the development of every nation; therefore, initiatives like ENGINE demonstrate what can be done when these sectors are actively engaged, supported and genuinely working to improve the livelihoods of citizens.
– Candice Hughes