BATH, United Kingdom — Ripple Effect is a charity that works with farmers in Africa to help them grow enough food to eat and sell, using sustainable and organic methods. Their mission is to “create a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive and fulfilling life.”
By providing local livestock, seeds and practical training in sustainable farming and business skills and supporting farmers’ access to education, health care and markets, they encourage farmers to pass on their knowledge and gifts to their friends and neighbors. This provision creates a ripple effect of positive change that helps the whole community.
Ripple Effect was formerly known as Send a Cow and was founded in 1988 by Devon dairy farmers who sent cows to Uganda. Today, they work in African countries with experienced and committed African staff and have fundraising and resource support from the UK and the U.S. This article explores how these charities work diligently to reduce poverty in Africa through innovative approaches and sustainable solutions. The name Ripple Effect highlights their work as their influence propagates through Africa to create a better life.
Issues African Farmers Face
Ripple Effect works in Ethiopia, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia. Ripple Effect is transforming Africa with important work. For instance, the World Bank characterizes Burundi’s economy as low-income, with approximately 80% of its population engaged in the agricultural sector, including 2.3 million who are severely food insecure. Ripple Effect has been utilizing its projects and programs in Burundi since 2013. It currently manages two projects in Mwaro and Bujumbura Rural, both focusing on improving nutrition and enhancing resilience in the face of climate challenges. Similarly, Ripple Effect’s projects within Ethiopia have helped approximately 142,796 people in eight projects. This astonishing work is vital in transforming Africa, as approximately 30 million Ethiopians live below the poverty line.
Transformative Household Methodology (THM)
The Borgen Project spoke to Ripple Effect, and they disclosed that their most innovative method for transforming Africa is their Transformative Household Methodology (THM). THM is a tool designed to raise awareness of gender dynamics within households, encompassing the interactions between all household members to minimize the effects of poverty on everyone, especially women. USAID has provided funding for developing a training manual to enhance the efficacy of this essential cornerstone program.
Although women play crucial roles within households and communities, their contributions often go unnoticed by society. Additionally, women have limited access to their household’s resources and finances and are rarely involved in decision-making.
Created by the Gender & Social Inclusion Coordinator in Ethiopia, Ripple Effect transforms Africa by utilizing training sessions to guarantee active participation in discussions. In this method, family members create a grid on the ground using wooden sticks, with each box representing either a household activity (such as fetching water or cooking) or a resource (like food, livestock or cash).
Family members are listed along one axis, and the various household chores and resources are listed along the other. Each family member is encouraged to place stones or beans within the grid, indicating their level of involvement in specific activities or their control over resources. Afterward, the family members tally the number of stones or beans placed in each activity/resource symbol and associate the results with the gender of the individuals involved. This process heightens awareness of disparities in workload and resource control within the family. Subsequently, they engage in a collective discussion and make decisions regarding actions to rectify imbalances in roles, workloads and resource access.
This type of gender transformation has spread to other NGOs. Ripple Effect was instrumental in developing this process in their Ethiopia country program. They are one of very few organizations that do this work at a family/household level rather than a community level. They have learned it creates lasting and transformational change for women in poverty.
Ripple Effect is Transforming Africa
All Ripple Effect programs in sustainable agriculture and enterprise training start with their gender work to address these fundamental family relationships. Otherwise, their work will not be effective.
THM is pivotal in their program because it can encapsulate the unique family dynamics of each household. The THM tool has the remarkable capacity to cater to nuanced differences and offer context-specific tailored solutions.
What makes THM even more remarkable is its inclusivity. It opens its doors to every member of the household, ensuring participation from boys, girls, adults, individuals with disabilities and young mothers. This inclusivity is a foundation of its gender transformation approach, fostering engagement and contributions from all age groups within the household.
A fundamental aspect of THM’s focus is on gender dynamics at the household level, particularly regarding access to and control over resources. The allocation of resources within households often reveals a gendered pattern, and THM delves into this issue by differentiating between access and control. Access refers to the opportunity to utilize a resource, while control is the power to decide how to use it and who has access to it. It is not uncommon for women to have access to resources but limited control over them, highlighting an important aspect of gender disparities.
By recognizing the importance of both access and control over resources, THM empowers households to confront and address gender inequalities effectively, making it a vital tool in Ripple Effect’s program’s mission to promote gender equality and empower all members of the household to reduce the laborious effects of poverty.
– April Plenderleith