Reflections From The Field--Stan Doerr


Rocky, our dog and the “ECHO Dog” for the past 9 years, died yesterday morning and we are grieving. We are asking ourselves if we did all the things we should have done to take care of him and give him a good life in return for all of the joy and comfort he gave us.

(Instead of flowers, the family has requested that you make donations to ECHO if you would like to remember Rocky.)

Then, the reality of the world we live in struck me! Rocky lived a long and very fulfilled life with all the food he needed, clean water to drink and regular medical care in a safe environment with many people who cared deeply for him … and he was a dog. Millions of children around the world don’t begin to experience the abundance Rocky knew. They live in a world that is far from safe with too little food, dirty water to drink and almost no medical care. These children were born into circumstances that make it almost impossible to meet their most basic needs.

In the medical journal, The Lancet (June 6, 2013,) I recently read an article focused on maternal and child nutrition. It emphasized just how critical the first 1,000 days are in a child’s life. During this period of time, malnutrition in the life of the pregnant mother or the young child will have adverse – and irreversible – consequences for the child’s physical, mental and emotional development. Because the stakes are so high, a growing number of organizations are embracing the UN’s Zero Hunger Challenge:

• 100% access to adequate food all year round • Zero stunted children less than 2 years • All sustainable food systems (carbon and climate neutral) • 100% increase in small farm productivity and income • Zero loss or waste of food

Of course these goals sound great! The challenge is how to make them a reality. This requires knowledge of solutions and the ability to get this knowledge into the hands of those who need it. And, according to the U.N., those who need it the most are the small-scale farmers.

This is where ECHO comes in.

ECHO has developed the knowledge resources – information that is practical, proven and effective:

• Adequate food year round – ECHO “best practices” show how to increase production on small-scale farms while also introducing off-season crops that enhance the soil and produce additional food

• Reduced stunting in children – the addition of nutrient rich plants like Moringa, Kaytuk and Chaya can meet the nutritional needs of young children and prevent stunting

• Increased productivity within sustainable agriculture – proven practices of conservation agriculture, use of green manure/cover crops, and other techniques that ECHO promotes -- make this goal achievable

• Reduced loss and waste – several of ECHO’s appropriate technologies are proven ways to achieve this goal But proven solutions don’t mean much unless they get to the people who need them! In addition to training events around the world and a constant stream of publications in a growing array of languages, we are intensifying our capacity to deliver these proven solutions:

• Regional Impact Centers, strategically established in the most critical regions of the world, take ECHO closer to the small-scale farmers we aim to reach; and,

• delivers proven solutions that are impacting thousands more small-scale farming family members – vulnerable children and mothers – every month, all around the world.

Rocky had a privileged life. Children around the world deserve much more! With your partnership, ECHO can help make this possible for millions of children that now suffer because of hunger and malnutrition. The challenge is huge but we are committed -- will you give generously so that we can meet this challenge?