who we work with: Find Your Feet
Find Your Feet work in remote rural areas of Asia and Africa to help families grow enough food so they don’t go hungry, to strengthen their voice so they can speak out against injustice, and to earn enough money so they can find their feet. They believe that empowering people to take control of their own development is the best way to provide a long-term solution to hunger and poverty, which truly meets the needs of the people they seek to help.
In the last three years they have helped 124,000 families to lift themselves out of poverty, and expanded their work from India and Malawi into Nepal and Zimbabwe. Over the next five years, they will focus their work on the same four countries – working with communities who truly are the most neglected in their societies, living in places where daily life is a struggle that is made worse by discrimination and exclusion.
We first started working with Find Your Feet back in 2004 supporting rural communities in India. Over the last 11 years Find Your Feet has used seed funding from the innocent foundation to (among other things) teach people about sustainable farming practices to fight hunger, to support poor rural women to set up small businesses to provide for their families, to teach indigenous families about their rights to land and basic services like education, and even to lay the foundations for exploited brick kiln workers to set up their own trade union and secure their rights to minimum wages and safer working conditions. We are extremely proud of our long association with this small organisation that punches above its weight.
In 2015 we started our seventh project with Find Your Feet in Zimbabwe. It will reach 1,050 rural farmers (50% female), and their 3,150 family members, who rely on subsistence agriculture for their food and income.
Once one of the breadbaskets of Africa, Zimbabwe has been ravaged by disease, failed governance, and violence which has left much of the population living in dire circumstances. Zimbabwe’s hunger crisis is rated as “serious” by the Global Hunger Index. In Mutoko district, where our project is located, 88% of smallholder families are unable to grow enough food throughout the year. The land quality is poor and the area suffers prolonged droughts and erratic rainfall that make it hard to farm successfully.
Seed shortages leave farmers reliant on fewer crops, like maize, that aren’t drought resistant. This also means farmers can’t grow a varied and nutritious diet for their family. Stunting affects 35% of children in Mashonaland East where Mutoko is located, seriously impacting on their development and leaving them vulnerable to diseases which worsen the situation.
To address these issues the project is:
- Supporting people to set up farming groups in which they can learn new skills and tackle problems together. 50 Lead Farmers, selected by their peers because of their farming skill, will be responsible for facilitating a group of at least 20 other “Follower Farmers” who live locally to them. Lead and Follower Farmers will receive training in sustainable agriculture techniques such as soil and water conservation, natural pest control and compost making. In turn, the groups will hold open days, demonstrations and other learning events for the wider community to teach others about these farming methods, which boost yields and increase resilience.
- Promoting seed conservation and the use of traditional seeds by training people in seed storage and linking them with local seed banks. Having timely access to high quality seed means families can grow a range of foods necessary for a healthy diet.
- Teaching people about nutrition and food preparation so they can make the best use of new and traditional crops, as well as disseminating information on key issues such as HIV/AIDs and gender inequality.
- Helping farmers add value to their crops and market their goods so they can earn a living, and setting up Village Savings and Loan Groups so people have access to low-interest credit to start small businesses on their farms.
Mr and Mrs Mugano struggled to provide for their family properly. When Find Your Feet came to their area, Mr Mugano was selected by his community to be their Lead Farmer because of his inventiveness and determination to make the most from his land. Now he runs a farmer group with other local people to help everyone grow more food.
“Before our training there was nothing to grow on the land. Now I can grow a variety of crops, fruits and vegetables. We work very hard as a family and are always busy in the fields. Together we have improved the land and my wife and I teach each other.”
Mr Mugano has received training and guidance to develop his knowledge further and was encouraged to set up an experimental plot on his land which he now uses to train the group.
“I am teaching my fellow farmers rainwater harvesting and inter-cropping techniques so they can grow more on their land. Before the farmer group came together not much was done - water was draining away, but now my group have learnt how to keep water in their fields.”