Farm Africa and the communities we serve are currently facing an unprecedented level of disruption and uncertainty.
The twin crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and the desert locust invasion pose severe threats to livelihoods and food security across eastern Africa.
The rural communities we work with need our support more than ever, and we stand ready to redouble our efforts to maintain the momentum of our work driving agricultural and environmental change and improving lives wherever safely possible.
Curfews, restrictions on the use of cars and motorbikes and social distancing requirements made necessary by the COVID-19 pandemic are restricting our ability to reach communities and deliver training. However, we continue to operate wherever possible, helping farmers to overcome the additional struggles they are facing in accessing labour, inputs and markets.
Meanwhile, new locust swarms have started to re-emerge in the greater Horn of Africa region, particularly in Kenya and southern Ethiopia. These new swarms are coinciding with the beginning of the long rains and the planting season, posing an even greater threat to food security than earlier this year, when crops were already mature.
Crises such as these highlight how valuable our work is to build the resilience of vulnerable communities. Everything that Farm Africa does to help those living in rural areas increase their yields, incomes and savings, and protect their natural resources, means that they will be better able to absorb and adapt to the shocks brought by the pandemic and the locust invasion.
During this period, your donations are more valuable than ever for the people we work with.
More information on how we are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in the different countries we work in is below:
In Ethiopia, Farm Africa is working alongside local governments to protect farmers and pastoralists by distributing materials such as infrared thermometers, personal protective equipment (PPE), cleaning materials and water containers to district Health Bureaus. We are also actively raising awareness among project participants of the importance of social distancing, regular handwashing, washing fruits and vegetables, cooking foods and avoiding group meetings.
In Kenya, we are adapting our approach to the Growing Futures youth horticulture project by delivering support to individual farms rather than delivering group training. We are advising farmers to stagger their harvesting and grading schedules to maintain social distancing; improving hygiene standards and helping deliver much needed agricultural inputs to farms.
Additional funding from the Waitrose & Partners Foundation will help develop healthcare and sanitation measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect Kenyan farm workers, with whom Farm Africa has been working since partnering with the Waitrose & Partners Foundation in 2017. The new funds will also be used to improve workers’ access to essential services such as healthcare and childcare and support those on reduced earnings through food packages.
Dusk-to-dawn curfews, and bans on the use of private cars as well as public transport vehicles have restricted our team's ability to reach rural communities. However, where possible we have continued to offer support to project participants on a one to one basis. Group gatherings and meetings have been suspended.
Molly, pictured left, who works on our Commercialising chilli production project, is one of many field agents who continue their work supporting rural communities to increase the quality of their produce and market it more effectively.
In Tanzania, citizens are advised to observe guidelines to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus, such as wearing masks in crowded public places. However, there are no formal restrictions on movement within the country.
Farm Africa continues to support farmers such as Amina, who grows sunflowers in the Babati District, to increase their yields and market their crops.
In the UK, our fundraising income has fallen as a result of the cancellation and rescheduling of events, including the Virgin Money London Marathon, which will now take place on 4 October. Our Laughing Season comedy gig, which was due to take place at the Comedy Store in London on 18 May, has been cancelled.
In order to ensure Farm Africa is able to continue supporting farmers in eastern Africa, we have temporarily furloughed some of our UK staff to ensure Farm Africa has future funds available to continue our work helping rural families grow their incomes while also protecting their local environment for generations to come.
We are still open for business and we very much welcome your phone calls on +44(0)20 7430 0440 (lines are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm), or emails.
We are so grateful for the many supporters who are by our side, enabling us to deliver life-changing work where it is safe for us to do so.
You can help farmers across eastern Africa to thrive, not just survive, by making a donation today.