Friday, December 08, 2006

A Different Approach to Fighting Hunger

Of late I've been quite taken with new approaches for charitable causes, and Heifer International has one of the best ideas I've seen in a while. Their mission is to fight hunger around the world (and they really mean around the world—they have projects in every continent except Australia and Antarctica), and what I like about their approach is that they think in terms of long-term sustainability and community development.

Most organizations devote their scarce resources to the first phase of development; basically, they fix a crisis by dealing with short-term issues like grain and medical care. Heifer's main focus is what comes after; they work with a community to determine long-term goals, and provide livestock and training (in, among other things, organizational tools).

In a word: Genius. In developing countries and rural communities, livestock is currency. Not necessarily in terms of buying power (though that can also be true), but in terms of being able to provide direct sustenance for families, work the land for produce, and provide the means to sell or trade goods. Best of all, with a little care both livestock and produce are renewable, and can be passed on to others in need.

There's more—much more—including the little things you can do every day to help make a difference, like eating more local food, growing your own produce, and reducing wasted food. These tips alone are invaluable tools. Head over to the site and take the time to explore.

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