“In many developing countries families depend on just one or two staple crops such as bananas, sorghum or cassava, for their entire diet. Poor nutrition contributes to more than half of the nearly 11 million deaths that occur each year in children under five.”…The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
The staple diet in Sumba is primarily cassava, supplemented with corn and rice. In a good year a typical family will have rice available for about three to four months of the year. Once out of stock the family will eat their corn which may last them another three months, the remainder of the year they will eat cassava. Cassava is a low-protein starchy staple and although it is tasty and filling it is not a nutritious food. The fleshy roots contain poisonous compounds, (cyanogenic glycosides - compounds that liberate cyanide) that must be removed by processing before it is allowed to be sold in the western countries. In Sumba the people have no knowledge of this. Over the long term a cassava diet results in chronic protein deficiencies, as a food source it is unhealthy and can be debilitating. “In cases of human malnutrition, where the diet lacks protein and iodine, under-processed roots of cassava may result in serious health problems.” Perdue University
This year we are starting to deal with the complex problems of food production in the local area. The coastal regions have up to 70% less rain than the inland regions and therefore these are the areas where people typically forced to forage for food in the draught years. The lack of food is one problem, what is being eaten is another. Combined, the poor diet and the lack of food create the foundation for undernourishment, malnourishment and even death.
We have started to deal with these problems as two separate projects, Malnutrition and Farming, but both are closely linked and aimed at achieving the same goals, a healthier society that is more productive and better able to help themselves and their community rise above poverty.
It is the alleviation of the devastating effects of poverty that The Sumba Foundation is dedicated to addressing and these projects will be core components to the success of our long term mission.
Buy a Pump for a Village
Before we can grow we have to irrigate. Sumba is a dry island with few rivers and water sources however we do have 40 wells spread throughout the area. Many of these wells can also support irrigation for small scale farming. With a small portable mechanical pump that can be placed by a well we can irrigate up to an acre of land, enough to meet the needs of a small village. Where feasible the pump will be shared on a rotating basis with other villages that are nearby and have wells.
The pumps will be maintained by our mechanics. The farmers have agreed to donate a portion of the crop towards the maintenance of the pumps and also to supporting the School Lunches at schools near the farms.
We need ten pumps
They are each US$450
Help a Family Safeguard their Harvested Crops
On average up to 50% of stored corn, rice and cassava crops are lost to weevils. Stopping this loss will nearly double the amount of food a family has to eat. It is a simple solution to the food shortage problem.
By cutting off the oxygen in the stored food the bugs will die. In the villages families store their crops in woven bags allowing the bugs to eat until the food runs out. In air tight containers the bugs will die within two weeks leaving the harvest safely stored for the rest of the year.
Help a family for only US$50
Help a small village of 10 homes for only US$500
Assist a Farming Community
Typically the community will work together to prepare land for the coming rain season when crops can be planted. The landowner has to pay those who help with daily meals and a portion of the harvested crop. Many cannot afford to buy the food required and the end result is large areas of non-productive land. We need to change this centuries old communal farming method and bring more food productivity into the area.
We have one tractor that is shared by two communities. With this one tool dozens of families have been able to open farms on their land. With more land under till a big step towards food security food these families has been made. Not only that but those families have also been able to produce excess food for sale to Nihiwatu and at markets bringing in much needed income. All farmers contribute a portion of their crop to offset tractor and pump maintenance and to help supply food for our malnutrition and school lunch projects.
Help a farming community by buying a tractor for US$3500
We need two