Renewed Hope in Challenging Times

In July 2021, the United Nations reported that there was a dramatic worsening of world hunger in 2020, and speculated that much of it was likely related to the fallout of COVID-19. Indeed, the restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the virus disrupted food supply chains and caused food prices to skyrocket, putting added strain on households already struggling with income instability. Add to that the loss of income-earning opportunities, especially for daily-wage workers, and it is not surprising that food security is more and more out of reach for the world’s most vulnerable families.

World Renew Asia Regional Director, Ruairidh Waddell explains, “In places like Bangladesh, India, and Cambodia, the bulk of the people are daily-wage earners, so they rely on that $1.50 a day; they need that daily income to survive. What we saw with the COVID pandemic was multiple lockdowns, and the inability for people to get that $1.50 a day… With COVID, we’ve seen a backsliding of developmental outcomes… For instance, you see that the Cambodian GDP has fallen from around 24 billion to 17 billion over the last two years. It is a massive contraction within an economy and most of that is around daily-wage earners.”

Adding to the struggles of families, not only in Asia but across the globe, changing weather patterns make it increasingly difficult for farmers to reap successful harvests. “What I see in Asia is the intersectionality of many different challenges,” Ruairidh says, “the primary ones being the impact that climate change is having on the places where World Renew works and COVID.”

As the pandemic continues to impact our world and climate change continues to rob farmers of their crops, is there anything that can be done to protect vulnerable families from slipping deeper into food insecurity? Ruairidh suggests revisiting some of the things we learned in the last decade.

From providing training in climate-adaptive practices to teaching smallholder farmers about better ways to store their produce, World Renew has worked to equip communities with the training and tools needed to not only become food secure, but to become resilient in the face of unexpected emergencies–like COVID-19 and natural disasters. In this work, we have learned that one way farming communities are better able to sustainably address food insecurity is by implementing climate-adaptive farming practices.

For Mr. Snguon Touch, who lives with his wife and their five children in Chhuk district, Kampot province, Cambodia, returning to farming and embracing new techniques helped his family to navigate the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic presented. He has made huge strides towards long-term food security.

Prior to the pandemic Mr. Touch practiced traditional farming methods, but did not earn enough to meet his family’s basic needs. So he found employment as a construction worker in a distant village and for six years, he sacrificed living with his family for income stability.

However, when the COVID-19 virus began to spread, Mr. Touch decided to return home. Although he was able to find odd jobs in neighboring communities, like so many other daily-wage earners since the pandemic started, Mr. Touch found the income unreliable and insufficient to meet his family’s needs.

Then he met Nen Veth, an instructor with an agricultural program for new farmers facilitated by World Renew’s local partner, OREDA. Mr. Touch joined the program and quickly learned new skills. With renewed hope, he experimented with growing vegetables and rearing chickens, and became an expert in sustainable fish farming. He also produced fish feed from local flora and fauna. Today, Mr. Touch has three fish ponds and harvests several species. He earns up to $1,350 USD every three to five months: more than enough to meet his family’s needs. And he plans to build more ponds in the near future.

Mr. Touch’s success demonstrates how World Renew Asia’s emphasis on tried-and-true methods of helping communities journey away from poverty is valid. But to regain the ground we have lost in eliminating global hunger and to prevent more families sinking into food insecurity, we have to reach more vulnerable communities and continue to support the communities where we have started this work. To do this, we need your support.

Through your donation to World Renew’s Global Food Crisis Response, you can help share Christ’s hope with more farming families in Cambodia and around the world. Your gift will help provide the training and tools needed to build resilient communities that are better able to sustainably overcome hunger.