Practical examples

Achieving food security

We want everyone on this earth to be able to have a decent and healthy diet

The main cause of hunger is not that there is too little food, it is poverty. People just do not have enough money to buy food. In many developing countries, it is mostly the rural population who find themselves in this terrible predicament.

With its development cooperation work, Germany wants to see every man, woman and child have access to the food that he or she needs for a healthy development, physically and mentally. And we pay particular attention to the needs of women. In many countries, it is the women who are chiefly responsible for taking care of their families' nutritional needs. Yet, despite this vital role, they are often disadvantaged. Whenever women's educational opportunities, access to seeds, water, fertilisers and finance, and their land ownership rights improve, so does the situation of their entire family.

Alexandra Ditti, agricultural engineer from Benin

Alexandra Ditti is an agricultural engineer and founder of the company Sahel Enterprise in Benin. With the help of a German programme that supports agriculture, Ditti passes on her knowledge about nutrition and agriculture to local women.

Ditti says: "Women play a key role in improving the food situation, for it is they who decide what the family will eat, and who pass on dietary customs and habits to their children as well as to other women. It makes me happy to be able to support them in this way and to see how, in the process, they improve not only their knowledge but also their social standing and self-confidence."

Strengthening resilience

We are helping people and institutions to overcome famine more quickly and to prevent famine in the future

People who are suffering from hunger are especially vulnerable in times of political crisis or violent conflict, and to the effects of droughts, flooding and climate change. Our "ONE WORLD – No Hunger" initiative provides support to these people so that they are better able to cope with such challenges and to adapt to new conditions. Thus, for example, measures under the initiative help them to restore soil fertility, improve irrigation methods, increase storage capacities for grain and rice, and diversify the sources of income that families have. In addition, communities and their politicians receive help in responding to famines more adequately and with more foresight. This helps them prevent famines, or at least cope with them better, in the future.

Improving food and nutrition security as well as resilience

There is a new programme under Germany's special initiative with which are helping twelve countries to ensure that their people have access to adequate amounts of nutritious food. But that alone is not enough. For a healthy diet, people also need to know about food hygiene and how to use, store and prepare food. We are supporting our partners in disseminating such important knowledge. In addition, we are also involved in improving safe drinking water supplies and healthcare systems, as well as in setting up social protection systems in these countries.

Our programme focuses on households where the diets are especially poor, in particular on families with pregnant women and small children. The lack of a nutritious diet in the first 1000 days of a child's life has an effect on that person's entire physical and mental development.

Supporting innovation

We are examining the entire value chain in the food sector – from the farm to the table

In order to improve the food situation in a country long term, and to raise the income and employment levels of people living in rural areas, agriculture must become more productive and sustainable. It is also important that small farmers are able to sell their products more easily. However, these improvements by themselves are not enough. A large proportion of the food stuffs produced in developing countries today spoil as a result of incorrect storage or during transport to processing facilities or consumer markets.

That is why we look at the entire delivery or value chain. We support innovations in all areas of the food sector – from the fields where food crops are grown to the facilities where they are stored or processed, all the way to the consumers' plate.

Innovation centres for the agriculture and food sector

A productive and environmentally sound agricultural sector can drive the development of rural areas. The prerequisites for this are education, extension services and research; the use of suitable technologies; and efficient state institutions.

With our "ONE WORLD – No Hunger" initiative we are providing support for the establishment of fourteen 'innovation centres' for the agriculture and food sector. Through this initiative and these centres, we want to create income for farmers and jobs in the food processing industry.

The innovation centres will provide assistance in increasing yields; will support smallholder farmers in their efforts to link up with markets and to organise themselves in cooperatives and associations; and will help protect the water supply and the soil. They will also support agricultural training, applied agricultural research and extension services, and will help people and institutions in the sector network with each other. Government departments will receive advice, both at national and local level, on programmes that promote agriculture in a sustainable manner.

Supporting rural development

We are helping to improve the prospects of people living in rural regions

The rural areas of the emerging economies and developing countries have a key role to play in achieving food security worldwide. This is where most of the poor live, and where hunger is most widespread and malnutrition most severe. Together with our partner countries we are working to make rural regions into areas that are viable, attractive and sustainable. Our activities there focus on supporting small farmers. It is important that as much further processing of food crops as possible is done in rural regions. In this way, we are able to help create employment and income opportunities outside actual farming. In order to develop rural regions successfully, it is important to improve the infrastructure there by building schools, health posts and roads, and by upgrading power and water supplies. These are the projects that we support.

Abebech Mideksam, beekeeper in Ethiopia

Abebech Mideksam has taken a course in modern beekeeping, which was funded with the help of a German development cooperation programme.

Mideksam says: "I am a beekeeper, just like my father was. There is a long tradition of beekeeping in Ethiopia, but that doesn't mean the methods of doing so are old-fashioned. Even here in the countryside, we are able to keep pace with new trends like the use of modern smokers. As a result of employing these modern devices, our honey no longer smells of manure, as it used to. Besides learning the technical skills, I also took special courses which taught me everything I need to know about running a business, for example how to make top-quality honey while at the same time increasing my profit margin. I am now passing on the tricks and techniques of modern beekeeping to my father and the other beekeepers."

Protecting livelihoods

We are helping to protect the fields farmed by smallholders so that their soil remains fertile, and to restore fertility to land that has become infertile

Agriculture in developing countries must become more productive so that our planet can grow enough food to feed the growing global population. However, at the same time, we must protect and conserve the planet's vital natural resources, i.e. water, land and biodiversity.

Currently, around six million hectares of land become infertile each year. Fields become parched, saline, worn out or degraded because they are farmed incorrectly or over-intensively. And climate change exacerbates this problem.

As part of our "ONE WORLD – No Hunger" initiative we have launched a programme to protect soil. In five countries, we are testing new ways of preserving or restoring soil fertility. The findings made there will be rolled out across other regions.

Making fields fertile again

The aim of our soil protection and restoration programme is to protect or restore the fertility of the fields being farmed by smallholders. The programme focuses on issues such as irrigation, organic fertilisation and crop rotation.

At the political level, we work to create financial incentives for the smallholders to use their fields and treat their soils in a responsible manner.

Securing access to land

We support reliable and fair land use and ownership rights

For the rural population in developing countries to be able to survive, it is vital that they have access to land for the cultivation of crops and the grazing of cattle. Unfortunately, interest in land has soared in recent years. Thus, investors are buying up or leasing huge tracts of land in order to grow food crops for export or for use as renewable sources of bioenergy or biofuels.

The interests of these investors are often at odds with those of local farmers and shepherds who were formerly using the land. This is because, often, the latters' land rights were never officially recognised and therefore not adequately protected.

We support our developing partner countries in their efforts to deal fairly with land ownership and land use rights, and to take into account in particular the rights of disadvantaged groups such as smallholders, shepherds and women.

Training Africans to become experts in land policy

Our partner countries in Africa need specialised staff in order to be able to implement a sustainable and equitable land policy on a comprehensive scale. In order to devise suitable basic and advanced training in this specialist field, the experts implementing such measures as part of Germany's special initiative work closely with the African Union, African and overseas universities, and the World Bank. For example, we are helping to set up a centre of excellence in Africa for training in land management and land policy.