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African communities face complex challenges that require multilayered solutions: ForAfrika

African communities increasingly face a complex set of challenges that require multisector, layered initiatives that support their efforts to reshape their environments, says ForAfrika, the largest African humanitarian development organisation.

The effects of climate change and war have led to unprecedented numbers of internally displaced people, many of whom are to be found in Africa, especially in the north and east where conflict has led to 9.7-million people fleeing their homes, 6-million in Sudan and 3.7-million in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“Over 40 years of operating as Africa’s largest humanitarian development organisation, we have developed a three-tiered programming framework that helps communities get back on their feet. Repeatedly we have seen it prove its worth,” says Dr Mary Okumu, the organisation’s technical director.

The ForAfrika approach supported Rosemary Anania’s journey from losing everything as she fled from unrest in South Sudan in 2017 to owning a small business in Uganda in 2021.

Anania joined a group of 30 people who were cultivating a market garden they established with support from ForAfrika, which provided watering cans, spades and seeds. ForAfrika also helped the group to establish a village savings and loan association (VSLA), through which members make small monthly cash deposits and can take loans when needed.

Anania used a small loan from the VSLA to boost her business after she started selling surplus from her part of the market garden. She has repaid her loan and now employs a few other people. 

She has also opened a small shop, which has allowed her to acquire some goats and chickens. 


“These assets will help me in case of emergencies so that I don’t remove cash from my business,” she says.


In Mozambique, farmer Tomás Sitoe’s fortunes took off after he received technical training through a ForAfrika partnership with the National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Eduardo Mondlane University.


Before joining a ForAfrika community agriculture project in 2020, Sitoe was struggling to grow surplus crops to sell so that he could support his family. The technical training gave him skills in composting, zero-tilling, agroforestry, early warnings and disaster management as well as how to save money through a VSLA. 


By 2024 he was successfully farming nine hectares of land, growing cassava, maize, groundnuts and vegetables. He earned $10 000 during 2023’s harvest, selling more than 350 bags of groundnuts, each weighing 50kg.


“My success also came from the agricultural knowledge I got from the training. I always dedicated myself to transforming with responsibility and believing in improving my family’s lifestyle,” says Sitoe.


“Without ForAfrika’s support, where I am today would still be a dream; the income from charcoal and firewood selling was very little.”


Dr Okumu says that at each stage of ForAfrika’s developmental transformation model, processes and solutions are carefully and deeply discussed with the community in question so that vulnerable groups are able to drive their own sustainable progress beyond temporary external aid. The sense of ownership that this inculcates in communities is critical. 


“Our proven process model has been developed over four decades of working closely with local communities, listening to grassroots voices to direct localised solutions that are tailored to contexts,” she says.


ForAfrika facilitates a continuum of transformation from emergency aid towards self-sufficient communities, achieving this through an integrated programming approach that is rooted in collaborative partnerships and capability transfers. It is ForAfrika’s goal to ensure that, by 2032, it has helped 20-million people reach self-sufficiency.


“Development is not a one-time event, but an ongoing process centred on strengthening capacities to transform current vulnerabilities into adaptive strengths through locally led innovation,” says Dr Okumu.


All these processes and the programmes that develop from them complement national development plans in the countries in which ForAfrika has a presence: Angola, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan and Uganda.


Anania’s story:


Sitoe’s story:

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