Inflation is a daily reality for many of the families CFCA serves. Despite these and other economic challenges, we remain committed to helping families find long-term, sustainable solutions to poverty.
The following post has been adapted from an article written by Janet Tinsley, CFCA project director.
By now, we are all familiar with the nearly constant news about economic crises around the world:
- a stock market crash sends economic shock waves across the globe
- a civil war impedes the distribution of oil and drives up transportation costs
- severe drought conditions cut off peopleís access to adequate food supplies and means of income, etc.
All people worldwide are affected in some way by fluctuations in the global economy.
Since 2006, the worldwide purchasing power of sponsorship contributions ñ $30 a month ñ has decreased 5 percent, and in some countries where we work it has fallen more than 20 percent.
We hear from projects all the time about rising prices, inflation and economic crises in the countries where we work.
Meanwhile, we often hear from sponsors about how difficult it is for them to meet their monthly contribution in the midst of rising prices, inflation and economic crises in their own country.
What does this mean for project teams struggling to provide quality benefits and services for sponsored friends?
Embedded in our Hope for a Family program are practical strategies for sponsored members and their families to help them move toward economic stability and lessen their overall dependency on monthly sponsorship benefits.
CFCA projects have begun implementing programs to help families be more self-sufficient. Here are some examples:
Staff members in India’s Hyderabad project say that for many sponsored friends, the idea of building personal savings is a new concept. Everyday life is a struggle for them.
However, experience around the CFCA world has shown that even when it seems that a family does not have extra income, they can be encouraged and given incentive to save even small amounts of money each month.
As we tell mothers of sponsored children the implications of inflation and ask them to save some money for emergency periods, they have been able to build up even a small amount of savings, becoming better equipped to survive difficult economic circumstances.
Social safety nets
Through the Hope for a Family program, many projects have built programs that promote mutual accountability and support among sponsored friends and their families.
Families who interact with other families in the sponsorship program regularly are more likely to build relationships that develop into support networks.
Through these networks, families are better equipped to make it through difficult times.
In the effort to withstand unstable economic conditions and food insecurity, several CFCA self-help groups have developed a food production program that ensures that each sponsored friend and their family has at least 200 cassava plants and 10 banana plants in each familyís garden, according to members of the Kampala project in Uganda.
Increased family income
Helping families build their own ability to earn income is key to helping them achieve economic self-sufficiency.
Joel, 58, is sponsored through CFCA’s Hope for a Family program in Timau, Kenya. The water pump that sponsorship benefits helped him buy is bearing fruit.
Through the Hope for a Family program, many project teams have proactively created opportunities for families to increase their own income.
These include providing access to credit, offering skills training and capacity building, and supporting families in developing income-generating activities that will provide them the ability to handle more of their financial needs.
The Meru project in Kenya says when families embrace and develop their own capacity for personal and economic growth rather than just receiving material goods, then they will be able to adapt to changes around them.
When families are able to maintain multiple means to bounce back, they are not as affected by the volatile economic conditions.
If our overall goal is to help families over time rely less on sponsorship benefits and more on their own income-generation activities, our programs must be focused on helping families increase their earning potential.
Through implementation of the Hope for a Family program, we offer families so much more than material benefits in uncertain economic times.
Helping families meet some of their immediate material needs through benefits is only the starting point.
Our goal is to go well beyond simple, material handouts and offer spaces where families can develop their own sources of income and economic stability for long-term resiliency.