The United Nations Development Program has announced the winners of the UNDP Equator Prize 2012, and the West African Initiative (WAI), a program launched by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is among them.
Out of 800 nominated programs in 113 countries, just 25 will receive the biennial award at the UN conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), which will gather in Brazil in June. Each of the 25 organizations will be awarded $5,000.
The WAI is a cooperative program launched in 2008 by the PC(USA)’s Self-Development of People (SDOP), Presbyterian Hunger Program (PHP) and Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) ministries of the Compassion, Peace and Justice ministry area. It operates in partnership with several U.S. denominations, including the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), the United Church of Christ (UCC), and the Disciples of Christ, and ecumenical partners in Liberia and Sierre Leone.
In Liberia the program promotes agriculture, apiculture, snail raising, and the planting of multi-purpose tree species to improve the livelihood options of unemployed rural farmers. Over 200 farmers have received training and a starter kit containing beehives, snail cages, basic carpentry tools, and moringa tree seedlings. To date these farmers in eight villages have also received training and initial starter kits to launch businesses that have generated an average of $3,500 per year per group.
This program is “one of the first collaborative efforts of the ministries supported by the One Great Hour of Sharing offering,” reports Cynthia White, coordinator for the PC(USA)’s SDOP program. The greatest blessing of it, she says, “is seeing the joy on the faces of the farmers as they are now able to feed their families and contribute to the economic well-being of their community. Receiving this award attests to the great work being done.”
—Gail Strange (GAMC) and Outlook staff