Vancouverites take steps to fight poverty with World Partnership Walk
Josephina Mugogo kneels beside her new silo, which was built from local materials thanks to a program initiated through the Aga Khan Foundation Canada. (PHOTO SUBMITTED)
For Vancouver gardeners, pests that chew up your perfect basil leaves are annoying.
For Josephina Alberta Mugogo, a farmer living in Nova Zambezia, pests — ranging from insects to worms to rodents — ravage crops and devastate her entire family.
Living in one of the most impoverished provinces in Mozambique, Mugogo’s community struggles with high rates of poverty, illiteracy and infant mortality, with 63% of the population living below the poverty line and the average life expectancy sitting at under 50 years of age. Since her family lives off the crops she grows, and the money she earns selling the surplus, the problems stemming from pests impact people’s survival.
The Aga Khan Foundation Canada helps raise people out of this poverty by implementing programs and supplying funds that allow communities to take charge of their own development. AKFC also helps them develop their entrepreneurial skills to improve their incomes. And they do this with support from Canadians through the World Partnership Walk, which takes place this Sunday in Vancouver.
Mugogo’s circumstances are not unique. Many families in the developing world live in villages lacking the tools and resources to support themselves, their families, and their farms. For example, without a good crop yield, Mugogo would be unable to feed her family nutritious food — both from her own crops as well as from foods purchased. Without the ability to ensure the survival of her crops, she — like many others — are kept in a cycle of poverty.
Funds raised from the walk assist health, education and rural development. For example, the foundation’s programs help improve food security and livelihoods for an estimated 35,000 households (approximately 165,000 people). This means that farmers like Mugogo will be able to make more money and put aside savings to provide for their families.
In Mozambique, famers come together in “field schools” to explore methods of improving productivity in a range of both food and cash crops. They test improved seeds, fertilizers, and agriculture methods that protect soils. They also learn about practices such as living fences, mulching, and crop rotation that can increase yields while enhancing resilience to climate change. They also learn how store their harvest for longer.
For Mugogo, this meant building a clay silo to protect her harvested crops.
“My life and my family’s life has improved,” Mugogo said. “We have more food to eat now, and we are able to earn money and improve our house.”
Others in the community have started building their own silos. This is just the beginning.
The 30th World Partnership Walk takes place on Sunday at Lumbermen’s Arch in Stanley Park at 10 a.m. Registration is free by visiting worldpartnershipwalk.com. People can also follow @WPWVancouver and #WPWalk on Twitter, or find information at facebook.com/wpwalk.