Monte-Cristo Foundation – a non-profit organisation striving to build the movement to end African hunger and poverty by connecting its people to nutritious, affordable food and by supporting grassroots solutions that inspire self-reliance and community empowerment – has been officially launched in Ghana.
Recognized as one of the leaders in the fight against malnutrition in Africa, Monte-Cristo foundation saves the lives of malnourished children while providing communities with access to safe water and sustainable solutions to hunger. The foundation works in over 12 countries in Africa to carry out innovative, life-saving programs in nutrition, food security and livelihoods, water, sanitation, and hygiene. Monte-Cristo’s humanitarian programs directly assist many people each year, along with countless others through capacity building programs in collaboration with government ministries. Committed to principled humanitarian action, MF restores dignity, self-sufficiency, and independence to vulnerable populations across Africa.
During the launch at the African Regent Hotel in Accra, the Monte-Cristo Foundation revealed that it seeks to create an environment where there is a reduction in hunger and every man, woman and child lives a healthy, fulfilling life of self-reliance and dignity. The foundation also highlighted that Malnutrition is the largest single contributor to disease, according to the UN’s Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN). Malnutrition at an early age leads to reduced physical and mental development during childhood. Stunting, for example, affects more than 147 million pre-schoolers in developing countries, according to SCN’s World Nutrition Situation 5th report. Iodine deficiency, the same report shows, is the world’s greatest single cause of mental retardation and brain damage.
Under nutrition affects school performance and studies have shown it often leads to a lower income as an adult. It also causes women to give birth to low birth-weight babies. The first two years of life are the “window of opportunity” to prevent early childhood under-nutrition that causes largely irreversible damage. WFP focuses on the earliest phase of life, i.e. from conception (-9 months) to 24 months of age, providing essential nutrients including vitamins and minerals.
Rural communities are faced with many challenges today, “unemployment, theprice of food and other essentials, commodity prices, community conflicts, and health” . Climate change is just another hurdle that will affect everyone especially those living in rural impoverished communities in the developing world. This is because these communities often rely on a regular supply of food and access to natural resources, which could be jeopardized by drastic and increased frequency of weather changes as well as heat waves causing an infestation of pests leading to malaria and other diseases.
Additionally, these communities rarely have access to emergency government weather warnings, health care, or property insurance.
Special Guest speaker, Mr.Frans Jol (Jol Consultancy,The Hague – Netherland) commented:
“These are realities which stare at us each and every day, as a foundation to help the needy we are prepared to go all out in our capacity to help curb these problems. With our principles firmly stated, we will be able to combat these problems by providing education to the communities on malnutrition and other health matters which will help eliminate this cancar that is sustaining the quality and quantity of food a person eats, as well as adequate health care and a healthy environment.”
“Monte Christo foundation is on the quest to make vulnerable societies self-sustaining and intend support the rural people by creating income-generating activities: well-trained facilitators which will partner with the community member often joining together in self-help groups: from sewing projects, craftsmanship etc. This enables them get enough money to patronize food when there is food shortage or escalating prices.”
According to the foundation, they are doing the above in a number of ways, mainly as follows:
Agricultural trainings: In each region in which we will work, Monte-Cristo Foundation will provide tools and training to increase farming production at the local level. For example, we will work with indigenous organizations to train people to grow an increased variety of organic crops.
Access to credit: The Monte-Cristo Foundation Microfinance Program is a program of training, credit and savings to empower women food farmers, who grow 80 % of the household food in sub-Saharan Africa, yet receive very few farm extension services and little access to credit facilities. The program will enable women to have easy access to credit to increase their food production, engage in income-generating activities, and increase savings. As participants in the Microfinance Program, women are required to deposit a certain percentage of their loan principal into a savings account, thereby creating a strong culture of savings within communities. Women will use their new wealth to improve the health, education and nutrition of their families and community at large.
In addition, MCF will organize trainings and workshops which contribute to building confidence and shifting people’s mind-set from one of dependency on outside help to one of self-reliance.
One of the most critical supportive mechanisms of MCF is to give farmers appropriate farming technological know-now and farm inputs, such as improved high-yield variety seeds and fertilizer. This enables small-scale farmers to not only increase crop yield, but also to diversify crops, which is critical to ensuring food security in their communities.