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Poverty Alleviation Projects

2006 Projects

November 14, 2006

Dear Friends:

Welcome to your November 2006 report for The $10 Club.

As you know, each month we collectively try to make a positive and tangible difference in the lives of the poorest, neediest people in the world. Only eight countries are ranked lower than Burundi on the United Nations Human Development Index. Life expectancy at birth is 43 years old; fewer than half the adult population is literate, and nearly half of the children under 5 years old are under-weight for their age. The highest estimates have per capita income at less than $2 a day.

Burundi is suffering from the ill-effects of violent internal conflict, which began in 1993, and led to the slaughter of literally hundreds of thousands of people and left hundreds of thousands of others displaced. As a result, the government spends more of its gross domestic product on military expenditures than education and health care combined.

A recent International Monetary Fund report concluded: “Burundi is not only poorer but also more vulnerable, due to accumulated delays in needed structural reforms, a lack of investment, weak business climate, and low productivity in the agricultural sector.” Food shortages affect about 1.5 million people in the country, and the IMF has determined that agricultural reforms are “critical for poverty alleviation.” Half of the Burundi economy is supported by agriculture, which employs some 90% of the national workforce.

38 year old Esperance Ndizeye is widowed with 5 children. None of her kids can attend school because she is not able to pay for school materials and uniforms. Here, she produces palm oil to sell in the local market. With our support, palm oil production will be facilitated and expanded.

Poor farmers are hampered largely by a lack of alternative income-generating activities, and the agricultural sector is going to have to evolve if it is to contribute positively to economic growth. Maranatha Mission Church has been working to assist people in need in Burundi for nearly a decade. Executive Pastor Delphin Sula, M.D. has initiated an effort to start an orphanage and provide other community support. Given the need to support agricultural development in the country, Delphin has asked for help in developing a micro-finance project to support palm oil processing.

This month 334 of us joined together to donate $3,340 to Maranatha Mission to start a micro-finance project to build the capacity of local farmers to engage in small business activities related to processing and selling palm oil and related products such as soaps for personal and household use. As a result of our grant, 100 peasant farmers who have their own community palm oil farm will be able to reap substantive profits from their plantations. This will improve opportunities for economic growth for their families and the community in general. It will mean more money for food and schooling and other essentials they currently lack. It will mean hope for the future. Thank you.

Our project this month will support the farmers of the Rumonge Commune of Bururi Province in Burundi. They will gain access to appropriate expertise and resources in order to reduce their vulnerability in relation to food security and increase their income by improving their production and processing of palm oil.

This grant will be used to purchase a 400 liter tank to boil the palm seeds; two motors to crush them; two pestles; a generator and a press; seven barrels; plastic sheeting on which to dry the seeds before grinding; five buckets; two wheelbarrows; tables and molds for making soaps; and a scale. Further, we will support a supervisor and two workers to oversee the project and train the farmers.

The estimated production of the unit is 1,000 litres of oil per month, yielding approximately 800 soaps. Our investment will ultimately be recovered by the project coordinators and used to maintain the equipment and expand other craft opportunities for the local villagers.

An official 2003 report on economic growth and poverty reduction by the Republic of Burundi encourages collective lending to farming groups: “Encouragement should be given to decentralizing private credit institutions and establishing savings and loan cooperatives with a predominantly rural membership. Donors could help by providing technical, financial and institutional assistance.” Thanks to your contribution this month, rural Burundians will have a chance to earn sufficient income to help them climb out of extreme poverty with a positive, lasting impact for generations to come.

Saving the world, ten dollars at a time,
  1. Please take a moment to send this report to all of your friends, family, and colleagues, urging them to join you in your monthly good works.
  2. If you haven’t sent your December contribution in yet, please do so as soon as possible.
  3. And if you’re wondering what gift to give this holiday season, give the present of global poverty relief with gift subscriptions to The $10 Club!

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