An agriculture that is practiced in a protected and preserved environment can satisfy the needs of poor communities
ERB is using multiple modern approaches widely disclosed by FAO and other partners involved in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. The achievement of the objective of food and nutrition security is incremental and goes through all important phases depending on the target groups and the results of rapid or long-term impacts on vulnerable households. The ERB facilitators (trainers) are trained on the approaches by experts in food and nutrition security and are provided with training modules on the different approaches.
In its intervention for chronically and even acutely malnourished children in the provinces of Bubanza, Cibitoke, Ruyigi, Makamba and Karuzi, ERB uses the “FARN” approach: Nursery for Learning and Nutritional Rehabilitation”. To implement this approach, ERB first begins to set up a place capable of accommodating between 8 and 12 malnourished children under the supervision of Enlightenment Mothers identified as “positive deviants” and recognized by their community as good examples and role models in the health of their children. The ERB facilitators, themselves trained on the FARN approach by the Experts, train the Enlightenment Mothers ( Model Mothers ) on essential family practices, hygiene and sanitation, nutrition and the proper management of the FARN (Foyers d’Apprentissage et de Réhabilitation Nutritionnelle in French ) and are equipped with the necessary materials. Then, these Model Mothers become active actors in raising awareness on good food and nutrition practices and become reference persons for all matters related to food, hygiene and child care. The more complicated cases of acutely malnourished children are transferred to the nearest health Centres with intensive medical and nutritional follow-up before returning to their homes.
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In order to provide rapid access to food in vegetables and even fruit to poor families suffering from malnutrition, the first victims of which are children under five, the FARN approach is combined with the Kitchen Garden approach. Adequate nutrition does not only depend on the amount of food available. The range of foods should provide the range of vitamins, minerals and essential oils in addition to protein and carbohydrates.
Gardens provide many nutrients essential for adequate nutrition for a healthy life. Depending on how the Kitchen garden is laid out in the rural or even urban or semi-urban environment, one can have in the garden (1) the carbohydrate starches come from root vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, yam; (2) carbohydrates come from many types of fruit; (3) Proteins and oils come from beans, seeds and nuts; (4) Vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables. Generally, we limit ourselves to the production of vegetables for a simple reason. The production is done in a short time and a quick impact for families whose children suffer from malnutrition. The combination of two approaches has enabled ERB to save human lives in the provinces of intervention.
The integration of three approaches leads to the achievement of food security in beneficiary communities. Some households do not have children who are malnourished, but are food insecure. Those who have malnourished children are automatically in the category of households who need food of sufficient quality and quantity. Thus, the CEP approach complements the other FARN and Kitchen Garden approaches to ensure food and nutrition security. Why the FFS approach? What is its added value?
Traditional, classic agricultural extension approaches following a top-down linear pattern; or from decision-makers, from researchers to animators and extension workers, and from these to farmers has been shown over the years to be counterproductive, unsustainable, inefficient and unable to address the principal and real concerns of farmers. The “Farmer’s Field School” or “Champ-Ecole des Producteurs” (CEP) approach; took its origin in Indonesia. The farmer Field School is called “Sekolah Lapangan” which means “field school”.
This approach is disclosed in West Africa especially and very recently in Burundi. The Farmer Field School (FFS), a school “without walls”, is a meeting and training environment for a group of 20 to 32 producers, which takes place in a field, throughout a growing season. It is a framework for the exchange of experiences and knowledge where producers who share the same interests, research, discuss and make decisions on the management of a field, starting from its real situation.
The Farmer Field School gives producers the opportunity to learn by doing, by being involved in experimentation, discussions and decision making. It provides producers with tools to analyze their practices and identify solutions to their problems. The FFS values the expertise of the producer and places him at the center of all stages of the training: problem diagnosis, identification and testing of the best solutions, evaluation and sharing of the results obtained, and actions post-. Thus, the FFS approach complements other FARN and Kitchen Garden approaches to ensure food and nutrition security. In Burundi, FAO becomes the leader of its dissemination in partnership with associations or local NGOs including ERB.
In addition to FARN, Kitchen Garden and CEP, this approach integrates two aspects: financial and social for a sustainable food and nutritional security. The Resilience Fund approach includes three pillars implemented in an integrated manner within the same group or associations of household members.
- Financial: support for the endogenous financial system through village savings and loan associations (VSLAs) which are similar to improved tontines;
- Technical: improvement of technical agricultural skills through an adapted approach of “Farmer Field Schools” (FFS);
- Social: promoting social cohesion through group discussions on topics such as conflict management, children’s rights, gender-based violence, nutrition and health, etc.
The technical, financial and social aspects allow synergy and achieve to sustainable food and nutritional security. Thus, the groups made up by VSLAs and FFS have an impact on social cohesion and socio-economic mutual aid (mediation, economic support, advice, moral support, etc.). This approach has benefits to link short-term humanitarian assistance with medium and long-term sustainable development by supporting vulnerable households through the distribution of inputs, while strengthening their technical capacities and improving their access to financial resources.