Liberian Agricultural Upgrading, Nutrition and Child Health (LAUNCH)

An integrated approach to improving food security

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Summary

In June 2010, USAID’s Office of Food for Peace awarded ACDI/VOCA a five-year, $40 million Title II multiyear assistance program in Liberia. The program, which is called Liberian Agricultural Upgrading, Nutrition, and Child Health (LAUNCH), aimed to reduce food insecurity among vulnerable rural populations. ACDI/VOCA implemented LAUNCH together with Project Concern International, John Snow Inc., and Making Cents International. ACDI/VOCA shipped over 30,000 MT of food commodities to Liberia to support program objectives through both monetization and direct distribution.

ACDI/VOCA trained Liberian farmers on how to use environmentally sustainable production techniques, improve post-harvest practices, integrate cash crops into smallholder production systems, increase access to savings and credit, and develop business skills. Working through farmer associations, LAUNCH built the technical, management and business skills of approximately 10,800 farmers. LAUNCH established 260+ farmer groups and reached more than 7,000 individual farmers, of whom more than half were women. LAUNCH also worked with women’s poultry groups in Bong and Nimba.

LAUNCH used a value chain approach to help farmers identify market opportunities and address constraints. The program targeted commodity value chains such as rice, horticulture, and poultry. It also worked with private sector businesses and formal financial institutions to implement market-oriented strategies to increase beneficiary access to products, services, and markets.

The health and nutrition strategy focused on the prevention of malnutrition, the early identification and treatment of acute malnutrition, and the promotion of high-impact health and nutrition interventions at the household, community, and facility levels. Households receiving supplementary food rations were included in the agriculture and livelihoods activities; the ration was designed to reduce malnutrition without creating dependency or undermining markets. LAUNCH identified 48 food distribution points and registered over 20,000 pregnant or lactating women and children under the age of 2. Over the life of the program, LAUNCH’s supplementary food rations reached more than 10,000 pregnant or lactating women, approximately 17,000 children under 2 years of age, and nearly 82,000 other family members. Direct distribution of 7,700 MT of corn-soy blend packets, bulgur wheat, yellow peas, and vegetable oil also helped mothers care for the health and nutrition of their families.

LAUNCH increased opportunities for youth by developing community capacity to support education and increasing access to livelihoods education that enhanced their employability.

LAUNCH helped develop youth “agroentrepreneurs”—individuals who adopt a commercially oriented approach to agriculture and small business/microenterprise development. The agroentrepreneurs were trained in basic business skills such as analyzing business trends, understanding value chains, and identifying opportunities to add value to goods or services. Graduates of these trainings became eligible for microgrants to help them start small farming operations, microenterprises or other complementary, rural-based business activities, such as providing inputs and services to farmers.

LAUNCH also worked to build capacity in local schools. LAUNCH held trainings for school principals to address communication, work planning, and ways to monitor teachers’ classroom performance. LAUNCH also worked with school administrators and parent-teacher association (PTA) members to promote increased parent engagement in education and assess school performance. When communities identified a specific, appropriate improvement project and agreed to provide labor and materials, LAUNCH provided minigrants that could be used to fill any material gaps that the community could not afford.

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