Stories of Change

Cilio looks at a fruit tree on his property. Photo: SSID

This program reached 465 families in 22 communities.

The resilience of diversity in the Dominican Republic

For many rural families facing food insecurity, livelihood diversification is the key to building resilience. If a family has more than one source of income, an upset in one stream will be somewhat mitigated by the income from the other. If they are growing multiple crops throughout the year, a single bad harvest or tough season won’t be as devastating.

This is the philosophy behind much of a CWS and Foods Resource Bank program in the Dominican Republic, which is implemented by Servicio Social de Iglesias Dominicanas. We partner with families to give them chances to work together and learn from one another, to better market crop surpluses, to start micro-enterprises through livestock and to access information and training on health and nutrition. We’re hearing from families that this diversification is making a big difference.

Emilio Fivena, from the community of Los Jovillos, had a tough year because of circumstances beyond his control. He is part of a farmer’s group in the program and has diversified his crops to include cassava, corn, potatoes, bananas, Gandul and chinola. The weather was not on his side this year, though. First it was heavy rains that damaged his field, and then it was prolonged drought. He was able to sell very little of his produce.

However, Emilio also received 10 hens through the program. He cares for them and uses the eggs to feed his family. In spite of the tough climate conditions, Emilio says, “I need to acknowledge and be thankful because with the little production I had plus the egg production project, I had enough for me and my family.”

For Cilio Idovi in the nearby community of Bermejo, diversification has led to greater prosperity. Project agronomist Silverio Agrimonte says, “Cilio inspires his neighbors, as he was very open to diversifying his plot with cacao, plantain, ñame, malanga and a variety of fruit trees. Today he has a quite diversified agro-forestry farm.”

Cilio, a father of four, cares for three acres of land. One and a half are his, and the rest belonged to his father, who passed away recently. Now he cares for the land for his mother. “I see in my plot the result of the training and ongoing advice from the project´s agronomist. I have enough to feed my family, sell and even share with my neighbors. Thanks to God my land always gives me enough to feed my family. Thank you very much for all that you have done for my benefit and for all the farmers of this community, because through your intervention, our families do not suffer from hunger,” he says.

When times are good, livelihood diversification means having enough to share. When they aren’t, it can mean the difference between having enough to get by and being left empty-handed. For Emilio, Cilio and hundreds of other families across the Dominican Republic, a partnership with CWS, FRB and SSID means building both diversity and resilience.