Vita believes that the best way to combat hunger and climate change in East Africa is to support families as they build sustainable livelihoods. This means ensuring that they have food, energy and water security while reducing the drudgery of collecting water and sticks, particularly for women and children. Liberating families from drudgery allows women to allocate more time for farming or earning money and keep their children in education longer. As a team, we have developed core skills in these areas as well as critical collaborations to ensure that these communities have access to the best knowledge and information available.
Vita delivers many donor funded programmes supported by the European Union, Irish Aid, the Irish Embassy in Ethiopia and the Sisters of Mercy Western Province as well as members of the Irish Potato Federation. We have also instigated Green Zone projects in which entire areas are reducing their carbon emissions by at least 60% by ensuring that all households in these zones have access to sustainable sources of water, food and household energy.
One of Vita's flagship programmes is the Irish Potato Coalition, which is currently supporting 10,000 farmers in Ethiopia alone to substantially increase their yield. This is achieved through a knowledge transfer programme with Teagasc, the Ethiopian Research Centre, the International Potato Centre, and leading Irish potato experts such as John O'Shea and the Dennigans. After four years many farmers have seen their yields increase three fold, and the potato coalition is so successful that it has now been rolled out accross seven countries.
Vita’s research-led approach and ability to transfer research and technology into use is central to our programme strategy. We are collaborating with Teagasc, the Irish agri research agency and Wageningen Univerity in Holland to support three Ethiopian PhD students who will bring a wealth of knowledge back into their communities. Our dairy, potato and hybrid maize projects in particular are research driven, and this real life application is proving to be transformative in the lives of participating farmers.
Our programmes and projects create social, environmental and financial impact on the communities in which we work. Understanding and measuring impact is a critical aspect to our work as from this, we can learn and improve. Our potato farmers have seen yields increase on average by 300%. Our Green Impact Fund will reduce carbon emissions by 420,000 tonnes while enabling 200,000 people to access sustainable, safer cooking energy and clean water, while 100,000 will have access to renewable lighting through solar lamp kits.