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), aims to reduce food insecurity among vulnerable rural populations. ACDI/VOCA implements LAUNCH together with Project Concern International, John Snow Inc., and Making Cents International. To date, ACDI/VOCA has shipped 30,015 MT of food commodities to Liberia to support program objectives through both monetization and direct distribution. ACDI/VOCA expects to ship an additional 1,570 MT of food aid over the remaining project years.
Increasing Availability of and Access to Food
ACDI/VOCA trains 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 will build the technical, management and business skills of approximately 10,800 farmers. To date, LAUNCH has established 260 farmer groups and reached more than 7,000 individual farmers, of whom more than half are women. LAUNCH also works with women’s poultry groups in Bong and Nimba.
LAUNCH is using a value chain approach to help farmers identify market opportunities and address constraints. The program targets commodity value chains such as rice, horticulture, and poultry. It also works with private sector businesses and formal financial institutions to implement market-oriented strategies to increase beneficiary access to products, services, and markets.
Reducing Chronic Malnutrition of Vulnerable Women and Children
The health and nutrition strategy focuses 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 are included in the agriculture and livelihoods activities; the ration is designed to reduce malnutrition without creating dependency or undermining markets. To date, 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 will reach 10,281 pregnant or lactating women, 16,770 children under 2 years of age, and 81,749 other family members. Direct distribution of 7,700 MT of corn-soy blend packets, bulgur wheat, yellow peas, and vegetable oil will also help mothers care for the health and nutrition of their families.
Increasing Access to Education
LAUNCH increases opportunities for youth by developing community capacity to support education and increasing access to livelihoods education that enhances their employability.
LAUNCH helps develop youth “agroentrepreneurs”—individuals who adopt a commercially oriented approach to agriculture and small business/microenterprise development. The agroentrepreneurs are 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 are 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 works to build capacity in local schools. LAUNCH holds trainings for school principals to address communication, work planning, and ways to monitor teachers’ classroom performance. LAUNCH also works with school administrators and parent-teacher association (PTA) members to promote increased parent engagement in education and assess school performance. When communities identify a specific, appropriate improvement project and agree to provide labor and materials, LAUNCH provides minigrants that can be used to fill any material gaps that the community cannot afford.
For more information, contact Mark Stevens at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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