In many poverty-stricken communities, village members face a season of little or no harvest. There are several reasons for the lack of growth, but often times it comes about because of the lull between harvest and the first plant of the following season. During this time, communities slip deeper into poverty. Not only do they lack food, but often when families have no produce to sell and no field to work in, they no longer have any source of income. We call this period of time the lean months.
For some countries, the lean months mean a lack of rainfall, a cold season allowing for little harvest, or inadequate soil. However the community defines it, it yields one result: poverty.
Who experiences the lean months?
Outreach International is currently working in 7 countries experiencing the lean months:
The Philippines—Because rice is a main source of food and income, the rice fields accrue a majority of time and effort spent in local communities. But when harvest ends, work is finished and income comes to an abrupt stop.
A Solution: While it is possible to buy rice loans locally, interest rates are excessively high. Outreach International offers rice loans with extremely low interest rates and disperses that accumulated interest into other communities beginning the same project or funding a local project that benefits that entire community.
Malawi—Because of deforestation in poverty-stricken communities, soil erosion deters harvest growth.
A Solution: Planting roughly 15,000 trees in nine different communities, Outreach International has been working diligently to repair conditions to soil.
Zambia and DR Congo—The main source of nutrition in impoverished communities in these countries comes from grain production; so when harvest begins and labor comes to an end, farmers are left with nothing to provide income.
A Solution: Finding and facilitating a means to a high-protein, highly nutritious “super flour,” Outreach International has begun utilizing this resource in African communities. It is especially useful during the lean months.
India—During harvest season, when rice and other staple foods are no longer as readily available, income depletes.
A Solution: Outreach International began a water buffalo project that not only provided nutritious milk and increased income during the lean months, it also doubled the income of those involved year around.
Bolivia—Because communities situated in the mountains tend to have cold Winters, village members are unable to sustain growth year around. Before working with Outreach International, many families had never eaten vegetables other than potatoes.
A Solution: Helping these communities build greenhouse-like structures for the Winter months, Outreach International will allow families to continue eating vegetables and selling produce throughout the year.
Nicaragua—Experiencing what they call a “dry season,” community members often migrate to Costa Rica in order to generate income for their families.
A Solution: Utilizing the rainfall during the remaining months of the year, Outreach International is planning to implement a pilot project to develop an irrigation system that will allow them to grow crops during this “dry season.”
Each of these communities has the ability to take a step out of poverty with the right tools. We can help these families provide for their children with systems that will continually give back for generations.