European Success Story: Self Help Africa

Posted on 22 Nov 2018
Self Help

This European Success Story was kindly provided by Raphaële Ng Tock Mine, Desk Officer at Self Help Africa.

About Self Help Africa

Self Help Africa is an international development organisation working through agriculture and agri-enterprise to end hunger and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. The organisation’s vision is a rural Africa free from hunger and poverty. Our mission is to support sustainable livelihoods for Africa’s smallholder farmers, through farming training, climate-smart agriculture, micro-finance, and more. Last year, we supported more than 315,000 households, impacting the lives of more than 2 million people.

What European projects does Self Help Africa currently have?

In recent years, Self Help Africa has secured several multi-million euro grants from the EU, a recognition of the quality of the projects led by the organisation and its strategy, based on a market-orientated approach of smallholder agriculture.

We are currently implementing seven EU-funded projects in sub-Saharan Africa. They are funded by the European Commission and the “Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa”. These projects cover a broad range of issues including climate-smart and sustainable agriculture, empowerment of women and youth through agriculture, provision of better water and sanitation, and environmental sustainability.

In one Kenyan project, we are working across the cassava value chain, a primary food security crop in Africa. As part of our Better Extension Training Transforming Economic Returns (BETTER), we have been able to bring scale to smallholder farmer training, while also implementing innovative solutions to help farmers to combat the pests depleting crops in Malawi. These and other EU grants have allowed us to work on a larger, nation-wide scale, with an increasing number of beneficiaries. 

What Self Help Africa project would you like to spotlight in this European Success Story?

Currently in its early stages, Self Help Africa’s BETTER project in Malawi has provided training to thousands of community-based ‘lead farmers’, i.e. farmers who are provided with knowledge and skills that they can disseminate in their local areas.

The 16 men and 14 women who are members of the Lusekelo Community Based Facilitators group in Karonga district have received training in how to set up and run a Farmer Field School, providing training in nutrition, gender, agribusiness, livestock care and pest management. The newly trained lead farmers aim to establish their own field schools, and pass on their new skills and knowledge to fellow farmers in their area in the next stage of the project.

Responding to one of the most critical challenges currently faced by smallholder farmers in Malawi, the training included sessions on the cause, spread, and control of Fall Armyworm, a particularly problematic pest impacting crops in the area.

Asimenye Mwafongo is one of the facilitators trained by Self Help Africa. Growing maize and rice on 1.5 acres, the mother-of-four says that she lost half of her harvest this year because of the Fall Armyworm.

“Last year I harvested about 800kgs of crops, but this year I only harvested 400kgs,” she explains. “My children had less to eat as a result, I couldn’t rely alone on my farm’s produce and had to buy food. The project is enabling me to find a solution to this problem by myself.”

What are Self Help Africa’s plans for European funding going forward?

Our recent EU grants have allowed us to make significant progress on our strategic objectives and to be more impactful in our work.  

While we have traditionally focused on supporting smallholder farmers to grow more, we are now increasingly working at higher levels of the value chain, supporting the creation and development of small agri-enterprises and cooperatives, linking farmers to markets, and helping them to add value to their produce.

Our aim is to continue to use EU funding to create inclusive, and sustainable and transparent value chains.

What would you tell people thinking of pursuing EU funding?

In recent years, European funding has allowed us to significantly scale up our work, both in terms of diversification of our activities and of our geographical coverage. Obtaining EU funding can help non-profit organisations to diversify their portfolio and broaden their impact, so we encourage other organisations to apply!

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