Skip to content

ELCA Blogs

2021 Hunger Education and Networking Grants

 

The application period for 2021 ELCA World Hunger Education and Networking Grants is now closed.

Hunger Education and Networking Grants are one of the ways ELCA World Hunger accompanies congregations, synods, organizations, partners and local teams throughout the US and the Caribbean. We know that learning about the root causes of hunger and effective responses is key to ending hunger locally and globally. That’s why we are excited to share that our application for ELCA World Hunger Education and Networking Grants is now open!

ELCA World Hunger Education and Networking Grants support work that

  • educates and engages ELCA congregations, groups, and/or synods;
  • provides leadership development for people passionate about ending hunger;
  • builds relationships locally, regionally and nationally; and
  • equips ELCA members and neighbors to work toward a just world where all are fed.

Previous grantees have included:

  • synod-wide bike rides to promote hunger awareness;
  • service learning events for youth and young adults;
  • online and in-person workshops;
  • community organizing training;
  • creation of new resources to help participants learn about hunger; and
  • local research projects to help others learn more about hunger, health and housing in their community.

The work of grantees in the past has focused on a wide variety of areas, including climate change and sustainability, housing security, racial justice, worker justice, reducing food waste and economic justice.

To be eligible for an ELCA World Hunger Education and Networking Grant, proposals must be:

  • received through the ELCA’s online Grantmaker portal;
  • submitted by a 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization;
  • focused on education, engagement and networking toward a just world where all are fed; and
  • consistent with ELCA World Hunger’s values and priorities (https://elca.org/domestichungergrants).

If you are interested in applying, you can pre-register on ELCA GrantMaker to access the grant application. Approval of registration may take up to ten business days, so register now at ELCA.org/grants, and submit your application by December 1, 2021.

If you have any questions, please email Ryan Cumming, program director for hunger education, at Ryan.Cumming@elca.org.

Share

Hunger at the Crossroads: New Webinar Series

 

banner with title of webinar series

We know that hunger is about more than food. Understanding hunger – and working to end it – means seeing the many ways hunger and poverty intersect with so many other issues, including climate change, food production, access to housing, racial justice, gender justice and more. In “Hunger at the Crossroads,” a webinar series hosted by ELCA World Hunger, we will explore these intersections and the ways we can be part of God’s promise of a just world where all are fed.

New webinar sessions will be posted below. Participants do need to register beforehand, so check back and register to attend!

Who

The webinars are open to anyone passionate about ending hunger and eager to learn more. In each session, we will dive deeply into the topic, with presentations from ELCA World Hunger staff and partners and time for questions and conversation.

Upcoming Webinars

graphic with title of upcoming webinar on Housing and Hunger scheduled for June 29 at 6pm central time

“Housing and Hunger” with Brooke De Jong (ELCA World Hunger) and featuring a NEW! resource on housing – June 29, 2022 at 6:00pm Central

Previous Webinars

“Sexuality, Gender Identity and Hunger” with Rev. Heidi Neumark (Trinity Lutheran Church, New York, New York) and Rev. Joe Larson (Fargo, North Dakota) – August 12, 2021 at 6:00pm Central

“Climate Change and Hunger” with Ryan Cumming and Brooke De Jong (ELCA World Hunger) – October 27th, 2021, at 6:00 pm Central

“Hunger and Poverty by the Numbers: Where Are We at Now?” with Ryan Cumming (ELCA World Hunger) – December 9, 2021, at 6:00pm Central

How

Registration for “Hunger and Housing” is now open! Visit https://forms.office.com/r/Qeixntchp8 to register. Registration for future “Hunger at the Crossroads” sessions will be available soon. Follow ELCA World Hunger on Facebook and Twitter to get up-to-date information, including dates and links for registration. Questions about “Hunger at the Crossroads” can be sent to hunger@elca.org.

Watch the recordings of previous “Hunger at the Crossroads” webinars here: https://vimeo.com/showcase/8758461.

 

We hope to see you “at the Crossroads”!

 

Share

New! “River of Life” VBS At-Home Guide

 

We are excited to share that the at-home guide for ELCA World Hunger’s “River of Life” Vacation Bible School program for 2021 is now available for download! This at-home guide is a supplemental resource for the full “River of Life VBS leader’s guide and includes modified activities, suggestions for online and at-home VBS, links to new videos and tips for parents, caregivers and other adults leading VBS with children at home!

Learn more in the video below:

To download “River of Life” VBS, including the full leader’s guide, the at-home guide and the toolkit with images and graphics to use on your website or social media, visit https://elca.org/hunger/resources#VBS.

To watch the story videos or the “Meet Our Neighbor” videos from ELCA World Hunger’s partners and companions, visit the ELCA World Hunger Vacation Bible School collection on the ELCA’s Vimeo page at https://vimeo.com/showcase/7224146.

Share your story! If you use “River of Life” with your congregation or group, let us know! Email Hunger@ELCA.org and share your feedback, stories or pictures!

Looking for more ideas? Join the community-run ELCA World Hunger VBS Facebook group and chat with other leaders from across the ELCA about VBS in 2021!

Share

New! Certificate in Climate Justice and Faith

 

We know that ending hunger will take more than food. Addressing climate change is a critical step in this work. That’s why ELCA World Hunger is excited to share a new opportunity from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary’s Center for Climate Justice and Faith. The Center’s work focuses on helping leaders learn about sustainability, caring for creation and working for justice so that all can enjoy the abundance of God’s creation.

This Center’s new Certificate in Climate Justice and Faith offers a cohort-based, online trans-continental curriculum which empowers participants to cultivate moral, spiritual, and practical power for leadership in the work of climate justice in communities of faith and in collaboration with others.  Topics covered include theology, ethics, and spirituality; climate change knowledge; and social change practices that connect ecological well-being with racial, economic, and gender justice.

Lay and rostered leaders throughout the Lutheran World Federation communion and from other faith traditions are invited to complete an interest form if you are curious to know more about this inaugural, non-degree learning program scheduled for September 2021 – May 2022.  Long-term collaboration and networking are expected to endure well beyond certificate completion date.

Applications are now open and will be accepted until June 15, 2021. To apply or to learn more, visit https://www.plts.edu/programs/certificates/certificate-in-climate-justice-and-faith.html.

 

 

 

Share

COP22 Blog

Ruth Ivory-Moore, Program Director Environment and Energy, traveled to COP22  in Marrakech, Morocco in November as world leaders meet to discuss implementation of the Paris Agreement that went into effect on November 4, 2016.  The first week she is supporting ACT Alliance  of which ELCA is a member by  participating in Side Events that allow for everyone to be directly engaged in discussions addressing the diverse issues surrounding climate change.  The second week she is serving as part of an ACT Alliance delegation as an observer. Below are some reflections and photos of her first week of experiences at this amazing conference where people project to be on one accord to protect and steward all of creation.

In This Together

11/15/2016

“If you want to go quickly, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”  – African Proverb.

This proverb is particularly instructive in describing the events at COP22.   There is a strong sense of diversity and inclusiveness.   Senior level governmental officials negotiate Paris Agreement implementation provisions; civil society observes and seeks to influence; and those most likely to be impacted now and in the future, sought to be heard.   The latter included indigenous people and our children.  These voices were heard in various ways during this session of COP22.21

The indigenous people have contributed least to climate change, but are significantly impacted.  They need the rest of the world’s assistance, but those providing the help must first understand their community dynamics. Those offering assistance must do so in an accompaniment manner.  We must walk and stand with them in partnership – bridging gaps, while laying the foundation for sustainability and resilience. A diverse group of people including the indigenous staged a march to express the need to hear their voices; and to recognize that they must be included in the conversations. (See picture left)

While the indigenous people are likely to be impacted as part of the world’s vulnerable population today, we should not forget that we must leave a vibrant, clean world for our children.  22

The COP presented opportunities for some amazing young people to show the world that they have voices, and deserve better than what we are on course to leave them today. Whether it was the young girl from Senegal speaking about biodiversity. (See picture left)

The students quizzing a panel of experts with questions that challenged the brightest. (See picture left)

Or those students capturing the moments as camera and production personnel for the hour and half, each presented themselves not only professionally, but passionately and 24credibly. (See picture left)

This COP22 cleverly demonstrated the importance of all and the need for complete inclusiveness.  This all-inclusiveness extends to religion.

Sessions incorporated diverse religious personnel.  An Islamic cleric spoke of the importance of ecology, emphasizing that the Islam mandates that people must protect all. The universe is to show gratitude to God, who is beauty. God loves beauty, not war. A Buddhist leader spoke of how all life is interdependent and that we were born on this earth not to be part of the destruction. COP demonstrates that caring for 23creation is a stewardship requirement that is shared by the faith-based community in general.

We are commanded by God; and have a duty to our children.

Prayer: Oh God of Heaven and Earth, you desire a reconciliation of the whole creation.  We confess that we too often make choices that separate and destroy.  Forgive us our selfish ways.  Help us to seek justice, oh God, and to walk humbly beside you as we seek life that is centered on you and as we protect your creation.  Help and guide us to joyfully seek your wisdom and guidance.  Amen.  

(Prayer adopted from Creation Justice Ministries, https://salsa4.salsalabs.com/o/50750/images/Gods%20World-1.pdf?key=85797681.)

——

Gender and Equity

11/10/16

“There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”  (Galatians 3:28, NRSV)

It is unfortunate that being “one in Christ” is not recognized  universally in the world as we live our lives today.   The Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW) a Malaysian based organization sponsored an interactive discussion session at COP22 entitled “Paris Agreement and Women – Locating Health in Climate Change Discourse”.    The reality is that women are disparately impacted by the effects of climate change.  The time has come to acknowledge and integrate the gender rights issue into the discussions addressing climate change.

The Paris Agreement in the preamble states:  “ Acknowledging that climate change is a common concern of humankind, Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity…”   At the COP22 where the representatives from the many nations are beginning to hammer out the implementation rules and guidelines of the Paris Agreement, the hope is that key linkages between women’s health and climate change will be considered and incorporated in the implementation discussions.

ARROW has captured the stories of women on post cards.  Here are the stories of two of them.

Supl’s story is:12

 

Gladys’ story is:13

 

These women’s stories are unfortunately not atypical particularly in developing countries.  ARROW representatives gave the example of  Bangladesh which is a densely populated country with a poverty level that is very high. Bangladesh is experiencing more severe weather in the form of increased frequency of floods and cyclones where women are impacted the most.   The women do not want to leave their homes for fear of property losses, but are often forced to leave and migrate internally walking through high flood waters that results in gynecological illnesses that can impact the reproductive system.  These women can also be the targets  of sexual violence.  Living through situations such as these can cause depression which impacts mental health.

This ARROW presentation at COP22 was unique in that the end of the session was all about hearing what the audience had to say.  The session facilitators engaged the audience in a robust conversation.  Questions raised included: (1) How will women’s health issues be incorporated in the Paris Agreement implementation; and (2) What can be done to make this happen?  The consensus of the group was  that the time has come where gender issues needed to be integrated into the talks and be given the same weight/status as other issues.

Women in a marginalized society, are the most vulnerable among us.

Share

Caring for Shishmaref and all of God’s creation

By Nathan Detweiler

shorelines
Shishmaref’s receding shorelines. Photo credit: HelenMarie Bessi Sinnok

“Climate change is the biggest challenge that we face. Because of climate change we are forced to relocate within three decades,” Esau Sinnok said during a recent phone interview about Shishmaref. Esau was born and raised in this village in Alaska. He has recently become an outspoken advocate for Shishmaref and environmental conservation.

The island village has recently gained national attention for its historic decision to relocate. On Aug. 16, by a narrow majority of 11 votes, the village decided to move to the mainland.

Shishmaref residents were driven to this decision because of the unique and challenging circumstances of its environment. Located north of the Bering Strait, the Inupiat island community has struggled for decades with receding shorelines. Rising temperatures have reduced the sea ice, which has historically protected Shishmaref from storm surges.  “The ice has started to melt a lot earlier [each] year,” Sinnok said.

Climate change has led to increased flooding and erosion. In addition, the permafrost, on which the island stands, is slowly melting. As a result, Shishmaref is one of the most dramatic examples of a population effected by climate change. Shishmaref is  “two good storms away from being underwater,” said one resident.

baptism
The Rev. Thomas Pastor Richter performs a baptism.
Photo courtesy of Thomas Richter

Thomas Richter, a Lutheran pastor, shepherds the only congregation in town, which on a typical Sunday morning sees around 50 people in worship. The relocation vote has left the village “a community divided,” he said. Many residents feel that the outside world has abandoned them.

So what are the options available to Shishmaref? Old Pond and West Tin Creek Hills are two potential sites on the mainland that could house the village. But relocating would be an expensive endeavor, costing an estimated $180 million. And just relocating would not immediately solve all the problems. Amenities and infrastructure would take time to develop, and the suggested site doesn’t have barge access, a critical flaw for a population that is isolated from traditional transportation.

“Our battle is not unique nor is it something that only applies to those in far off, hard to reach places. The sinking sands of Shishmaref are the same sinking sands of the rest of the world. This is our planet that is melting because of us. If the people of Shishmaref become climate refugees, we are all climate refugees.”

The residents are also concerned that relocating risks diluting or losing aspects of the community’s unique culture. Pastor Richter said of the challenges facing the community, “The biggest challenge is preserving the culture.” The traditional language has slowly been lost as more residents interact with other parts of Alaska and the world. Shishmaref is also a renowned hub for art. The carvings of bone and walrus ivory are sought throughout the United States. Moving to new locations may frustrate this carving industry as the resources become more difficult to acquire.

Not all are against relocating. Sinnok thinks the relocated community could be preserved. While the current location holds many dear memories, he emphasized how grateful he is for the chance “to move as a community so that [we] can still be called Shishmaref. And our 4,000-year culture can stay alive.”

fishing
Fishing in Shishmaref. Photo credit: HelenMarie Bessi Sinnok

Residents of Shishmaref are part of a growing group of “climate refugees.” Earlier this year, a community in Louisiana received a $48 million federal grant to relocate because of the effects of climate change on their environment. As climate change is increasingly felt by communities around the world, climate refugees will increasingly be displaced from their homes.

While support for Shishmaref has been shown by some church groups, more support from other people and groups will be needed for relocation. Pastor Richter said that support from the lower-48 states is paramount to helping Alaska transplant Shishmaref. Thinking more broadly, Sinnok emphasized the importance of everyone recognizing their impact on the environment and trying to reduce it. He encouraged people everywhere to raise awareness of the effects of climate change with their peers and to be more social in the outdoors. Being outdoors reduces the energy resources used and improves sustainability.

The Rev. Shelley Wickstrom, bishop of the ELCA Alaska Synod, said the synod will accompany the community through prayer and support as it relocates. In particular, she mentioned the need for a new church and parsonage when the community relocates.

Everyone who was interviewed emphasized the importance of raising awareness of Shishmaref. As people of faith we are called by our social statements to recognize that “care for the earth [is] a profoundly spiritual matter.”[1] In raising awareness of Shishmaref, we are both fulfilling our duty to love our neighbors and committing to care for all creation. This commitment to creation involves us as individuals, congregations, advocates and members of a larger community.

coastline II
Shishmaref’s coastline. Photo credit: HelenMarie Bessi Sinnok

One way to raise awareness is by writing to lawmakers about the importance of supporting legislation that helps communities affected by climate change. ELCA Advocacy has an easy-to-use toolkit for writing your members of Congress. Please consider advocating for Shishmaref and other communities like it. By encouraging policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, encourage using renewable energy resources and promote energy efficiency in all sectors of society, we send a message that Congress needs to act. In addition, if you or a community you know faces challenges associated with climate change, please contact us at washingtonoffice@elca.org. Finally, we can advocate for Shishmaref through prayer. We may face despair, but we remember that as people of faith we are called to be hopeful while committing to doing God’s work through our hands.

Pastor Richter’s parting remarks carry a call to action and an affirmation of the interconnectivity of all of God’s creation: “Our battle is not unique nor is it something that only applies to those in far off, hard to reach places. The sinking sands of Shishmaref are the same sinking sands of the rest of the world. This is our planet that is melting because of us. If the people of Shishmaref become climate refugees, we are all climate refugees.”

May we heed his words and work for God’s justice throughout creation.

 

[1] ELCA social statement “Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope, and Justice” (1993)

Photo credit: HelenMarie Bessi Sinnok and Thomas Richter

Share

Get Ready for World Food Day – October 16, 2016

 

 

web-banner-wfd2016-english

World Food Day is a day of action against hunger.

On October 16, people around the world come together to declare their commitment to eradicate hunger in our lifetime. Because when it comes to hunger, the only acceptable number in the world is zero.

Each year, people around the world mark World Food Day as a special occasion to take action, learn more and join together to fight hunger.  World Food Day 2016 falls on a Sunday, giving Christians concerned about hunger a special opportunity to worship, pray and serve together.  Below are some suggestions for actions your congregation can take.

GIVE

ELCA World Hunger supports projects in nearly 60 countries, including the United States. These projects include job training programs, food pantries, agricultural training, health promotion and care, and much more. Together, our Church accompanies communities around the world toward a world of justice where all will be fed.  Prayerfully consider supporting ELCA World Hunger with your gifts.  Visit https://community.elca.org/hungerdonate to make a gift.

World Food Day 2016 is on Sunday October 16.  Use the occasion to host a special offering for ELCA World Hunger in your congregation.  Order posters and envelopes at http://resources.elca.org/Products-Hunger.html. You can also use a blessing like the one below to dedicate your offerings to the work God is doing through the ELCA.

Blessing of Offering

Abundant God, all creation displays your goodness.  For the hungry, you provide food.  For the thirsty, you give water.  To the wandering, you promise a home.  You have blessed us with your gifts that we may be your hands and feet to share these gifts with our neighbors.  Bless these offerings, that they may be signs of your grace in our world.  As we share with others, keep us mindful of our own need – for food, water, shelter, and community.  May our gifts be an invitation to deeper relationship with each other and with you. In the name of Jesus Christ, your gift to the world, Amen.

ADVOCATE

Last year, ELCA Advocacy, Lutherans across the Church and ecumenical and interfaith partners across the US joined together to advocate for the Global Food Security Act. After long months of advocacy and policy negotiations, the Global Food Security Act is now a law. Together with partners, ELCA Advocacy worked tirelessly on this legislation for nearly two years, and we are grateful to see that all our prayerful efforts have led to this moment. The Global Food Security Act means the U.S. will be better equipped to combat food insecurity around the world. THANK YOU FOR YOUR ADVOCACY!

But our work is far from over. Sign up for e-advocacy alerts at ELCA.org/advocacy to learn more about the important work of ELCA Advocacy and to be part of a voice for justice for all.

LEARN

This year’s message for World Food Day is “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must, too.”  Host an education event at your church to help others learn more about climate change’s effect on hunger.  You can download a communication toolkit, posters and other resources from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations here: goo.gl/OFcz6D .

To learn more about projects supported by ELCA World Hunger that are responding to a changing climate, read “Three Ways ‘The Poor’ and Communities of Faith Are Leading the Way on Climate Change” on Huffington Postgoo.gl/L3MtiH.

Also, check out these resources from ELCA World Hunger and our partners:

Rooted in God’s Word and Lands: A Celebration of the Earth That Nourishes Us

This resource from Creation Justice Ministries encourages Christians to treat land as the special gift that it is.  It has ideas for sermons, Sunday School activities, and adult study and contemplation exercises. Download it for free at goo.gl/kjT5P6.

Sustainable Food in a Changing Climate

This 2015 resource from Creation Justice Ministries offers prayers and liturgies for worship, ideas for educational programs, and suggestions for personal food choices that raise awareness about and encourage action toward sustainable choices about the foods we eat.  Download it for free at goo.gl/KxddNC.

Just Climate: Study Guide for Adult Christian Education

Creation Justice Ministries’ popular 2008 resource is as relevant today as it was when it was first released.  This three-session study guide is perfect for audiences new to studying climate change.  It has discussion and reflection questions, a leader’s guide to the issues, and fact sheets on several countries to help your group see the concrete effects of climate change around the world and in the United States. Download it for free at goo.gl/ySPgkw.

Care of Creation Lectionary Reflections

Lutherans Restoring Creation offers an online archive of commentaries on the Revised Common Lectionary that is perfect for developing a sermon, a children’s sermon, or an educational forum.  The archive can be found at goo.gl/wrxb8z.

Hunger and Climate Change Connections Toolkit

ELCA World Hunger’s toolkits are easy-to-use, adaptable for a variety of settings and suitable for intergenerational audiences.  The activities can take as little as 15 minutes, or as much as one hour, depending on your needs.  Learn about climate-related disasters, the effects of climate change on vulnerable populations and actions your congregation can take.  Download this toolkit at goo.gl/x2JEBK.

Hunger and Climate Change: Agriculture and Food Security in a Changing Climate

From biofuels to gender justice, from political stability to farming in the United States, this fact sheet from the ELCA highlights the wide-ranging effects of climate change.  With ideas for what your congregation can do to support farmers and others impacted by climate change, this fact sheet is perfect for Lutherans concerned about agriculture and hunger.  Download it at goo.gl/aqnuLg.

Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice

The ELCA’s social statement on care for creation, adopted in 1993, remains an important reflection on our role as stewards in God’s world.  Read it here: goo.gl/0rFHQM.

HOST

Host a Hunger potluck or banquet after worship services to highlight the challenge of hunger in our world. Read how congregations in Ohio used “Potlucks to End World Hunger” to  support ELCA World Hunger and projects around the world – http://earthandcup.com/potlucks-to-end-world-hunger/.

The Oxfam America Hunger Banquet is a memorable, interactive event that brings hunger and poverty issues to life. Hunger Banquets have been going strong for nearly 40 years and can be a meaningful way to learn more about the challenges we and our neighbors face in a world of hunger – and what we can all do to change it.  Learn more at goo.gl/8a5ASG.

PRAY

When Lutherans pray for “daily bread,” Martin Luther reminds us that we are asking God for all of the needs we have each and every day, from food to shelter, from healthy families to good government.  This Fall, help your family remember these good gifts of God with free table blessing magnets from ELCA World Hunger.  Order for your family or congregation by emailing Hunger@ELCA.org.

 

Share

Three Ways “The Poor” and Communities of Faith Are Leading the Way on Climate Change

(A version of this post previously appeared on the Huffington Post Impact blog – http://goo.gl/L3MtiH.)

ILFE Small.jpg

New reports suggest climate change could push more than 100 million people into poverty in just the next 15 years.  “Climate change hits the poorest the hardest,” says World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, “and our challenge now is to protect tens of millions of people from falling into extreme poverty because of a changing climate.”

The impact is a “two-way street.” Climate change makes it harder for farmers to grow crops, on the one hand, and some farming practices, on the other hand, damage soil, pollute water supplies, and create harmful emissions. But change is happening in small farming communities around the world, especially in communities of faith.  Here are three ways poor communities around the globe are adapting to climate change with the support of ELCA World Hunger.

Cleaner Cooking

Ramoni Rani and her husband, Nor Uttam Hawlader, live in the village of Rajakhali in Bangladesh with their two sons. Like many Bangladeshi farmers, Ramoni and Nor use wood-burning stoves to cook food in their homes. The cost for fuel is steep, and the continued need for it threatens the country’s already-depleted forests. Ramoni, Nor and their children suffered from respiratory illnesses and eye problems because of the carbon emissions and smoke in their homes. In fact, a 2009 profile of Bangladesh from the World Health Organization found that indoor air pollution contributes to nearly 50,000 deaths every year.

“Bondhu chula,” a more efficient cookstove, was developed to combat some of these problems.  But many Bangladeshis have been reluctant to use them, mostly because they don’t know how.  Lutheran Health Care Bangladesh has stepped in by working with over 250 women to help them get familiar with the cookstoves and the positive impact they can have.  For Bangladeshis like Ramoni and Nor, efficient cooking in the home means better health and more money for themselves and a path away from deforestation for their rural community.

small biomass pellets.jpg

In this picture, a man holds biomass pellets similar to those that will be used in the project in Padhar.

Cleaner cooking also makes good economic sense for families in Padhar, India.  To address some of the problems older cookstoves create, Padhar Hospital is helping households get access to smokeless stoves that use biomass pellets. The program will not only train the people to use the stoves but will also help them turn their biomass into profit by providing it to a processing plant.  Since no such plant currently exists in Padhar, one will be built.  Thus the program will provide cleaner stoves, help residents earn income, and create jobs for people in Padhar, all while protecting the environment.

“Green-er” Coffee

Farmers in the Rachuonyo District of Homa Bay County in western Kenya know the daily realities of climate change.  They see it in the shortened periods of rainfall, prolonged dry seasons, and increased flooding that washes away valuable crops and seeds.

Most of the farmers in this region focus their attention and limited investment on subsistence farming, trying to grow enough food to feed their families but often not producing crops that they can use for income.  This leaves them with little savings to weather the kind of volatility that comes with climate change.  One bad season can mean a year of hunger for a smallholder farmer.

One group is working to change that.  Members of the smallholder famers’ collective group, APOKO, partnered with Lutheran World Relief (LWR) in 2014 to launch the Kinda Coffee project.  Farmers in the project learn how to maintain the nutrient levels in soil, prevent erosion and increase water retention at model demonstration plots.  This will not only help them increase their resilience to the droughts and flooding but will also help them protect the environment while earning a sustainable income.  Support for this project from ELCA World Hunger will continue into 2016 and will improve the quality of life for hundreds of households.

Smarter Farming

Thanks to the collective efforts of the last decade, over 90 percent of the world now has access to clean water.  Unfortunately, climate change threatens to undermine much of that progress. Longer, more intense droughts for farmers affect everything from what kinds of crops or animals they can raise to the yield they get from their fields.  When families are already teetering on the edge of poverty, these are serious risks.

But communities in Nicaragua and Bangladesh aren’t just waiting around for something to change.  They are adapting to the changes already sweeping their regions and doing what they can to steward their resources sustainably.

In Bangladesh, air pollution and deforestation aren’t the only problems.  The country faces huge disparities in access to safe water, and more work is needed to provide irrigation to the agriculture industry that employs nearly half of the labor force.  RDRS, a locally-run associate program of the Lutheran World Federation, is helping train farmers in Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD), a technique that can reduce by up to 30% the amount of water needed to grow rice.  As a result, they are able to preserve groundwater and reduce risk of contaminating their crops with unsafe water.  And some studies indicate that AWD can actually increase the yields from rice fields, so the process is a win-win.

With an abundance of water on the ground and under the ground, Nicaragua seems like a place where there is enough to go around.  But a 2014 drought – the worst in the country in 40 years – reduced crop yields by more than 70%.  In the area of Somotillo, most of the wells ran dry, and the people worry about another drought down the road.  “In this place,” Pastor Gerzan Alvarez of the Lutheran Church of Faith and Hope (ILFE) in Nicaragua says, “we’re only able to survive.”

With support from LWF and ELCA World Hunger, ILFE is taking steps to manage the crisis.  Since the drought, the community has improved wells in the area, led trainings in proper water usage and management, set up irrigation systems, and planted yard gardens.  Pastor Emperatriz Velasques of ILFE says now, “Each day we’re learning about nature’s behavior, and we need to keep on working and teaching so we can grow our crops with the little water we have and keep home gardens with water from our wells.  This way, we can provide food for the households.”

Policy changes that reduce emissions and change the way we relate to the environment are necessary, long-range solutions to a changing climate, and the recent agreements about climate change and hunger give some hope.  But there is also a lot we can learn from those on the margins, in local communities throughout the world.  In Bangladesh, India, Kenya, and Nicaragua, families are doing what they can to protect their environment and make themselves less vulnerable to the changes that are still to come.

Ryan P. Cumming, Ph.D., is program director of Hunger Education with ELCA World Hunger.  He can be reached at Ryan.Cumming@ELCA.org.

Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/ELCAworldhunger

 

Share