How CARE Creates a Million Years of Food Security

How CARE Creates a Million Years of Food Security


By Emily Janoch

How many days of your life have you gone hungry?  I’d argue even one is too many, and I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve never had to.  But for nearly a billion people around the world, they go hungry for some time of the year.  CARE is helping them find ways that they don’t have to go hungry, or spend fewer days hungry every year.

Across 12 projects that measured the hungry season as part of their indicators, CARE was able to reduce the hungry season around the world by 986,033 years for 2.4 million people. There are many more projects that show us we’re reducing hunger, but these are the ones that report on shortening the hungry season. This is just 12 projects with the correct indicator, so it’s likely that our numbers are much higher.

What did we accomplish?

Linking Agriculture, Nutrition, and Natural Resources in Laos Increased families’ income by 2.6 million kip per year on rice, cash crops, and fish production—enough to keep them in rice for an additional 265 days a year.

  • In Ethiopia’s LINKAGES, the hungry season went from 8 months a year to 3.7—even in the worst drought in more than 35 years.
  • Mali’s PADIN project found that the average number of months that families went without enough food went from 5 months to 4.  In a period with a food crisis, and a dramatic increase in household size as families took in refugees from conflict, this is a remarkable achievement.
  • GRAD in Ethiopia was able to support a 15% increase in the number of months out of the year where families had enough food.
  • In Ghana, ALP’s support of off-season vegetable gardens has caused the hungry season to go from 144 days a year to 7 days a year.  In Niger, community cereal banks also shortened the hunger seasons. 
  • In the DIPECHO project in Madagascar the hungry season went from 6 months to 2 months.
  • Madagascar’s Masoala Mikary project saw that 63% of households were able to cut the hungry season in half (from 6 months to 3), and 75.6% of families now have enough food to last at least 9 months of the year.
  • In the Nourishing the Future project, household food insecurity was halved in Guatemala, decreasing from an average of 5 months of food insecurity to 2 months.
  • Families in SHOUHARDO II in Bangladesh saw the number of months out of the year that they spent without enough food drop from 6.1 to 1—an 83% improvement.

How did we get there?

  • Families built productive capital—the way they make their income, like livestock or farming equipment—by 28% in Laos, providing more sustainable livelihoods for the long term.
  • Families have higher income: Families’ income in SHOUHARDO grew by 85%, more than the 60% national average in the same timeframe.
  • Farmers link to markets: Even with slightly lower production, farmers in Guatemala were able to sell 5 to 6 times MORE of their crop than they could before because of more desirable varieties and better relationships with buyers. Even when production went down, income and sales went up.
  • Improve yields: In Madagascar, armers saw a 9 fold increase in yam production, and a 140% increase in rice production using improved agricultural techniques and better seeds.
  • Get couples to work together: Men and women in GRAD families are much more likely to work together than their peers, and plan for all of the household needs to deal with the drought.  Men listening to their wives helps them plan for food and business choices that will be most resilient. As one woman told evaluators, “GRAD has encouraged us to think for ourselves and for the men to behave differently towards us, we are now partners in development, and don’t think of waiting on the husband or on PSNP support.”
  • Communities take action: there was a 4 fold increase in the number of communities in Madagascar who can take Disaster Risk Reduction actions using their own resources.  By the end of the project 90% of communities were investing their own money to prepare for disasters.
  • Supported Climate Change Resiliency: 84% of households  in GRAD adopted at least two practices associated with climate change adaptation, and 96% have adopted at least one practice including early maturing crop varieties, moisture conserving practices, and drought tolerant crop types and varieties. CVCA model is also a key part of PRIME and other resilience projects in Ethiopia.


Want to learn more?

Check out any of the evaluations linked above, or look up CARE’s World of Impact.

Have a project you think contributes to this?  Does your evaluation look at the hungry season at baseline and endline?  Let us know!

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