Our Areas of Focus

Livelihoods & Food Security

There are 925 million hungry people in the world and 98% of them live in developing countries.1 Ironically, the world’s most food-insecure and hungry people are often those directly involved in producing food.2 Indeed, half of the world’s hungry people are small-scale farmers, and a further 20% belong to landless families who depend on farming for their livelihood.3 It is hardly surprising that the rural poor migrate to urban areas in such large numbers. Unfortunately, city life rarely offers a better chance to make a living. The urban poor spend 60 to 80% of their income on food,4 leaving them vulnerable to price increases and with very little money left for other living expenses… Read more.

Food security exists when sufficient, safe, nutritious food is both available and affordable. TEAR partners work with people living in poverty to help improve food security and livelihoods in a number of ways, primarily through promoting activities that help increase and diversify income and productivity. Such activities include:

  • Training in agriculture (small-scale irrigation and water harvesting; use of organic fertilisers; home gardening; diversification of farm production; animal rearing; and improving access to local markets)
  • Support for self-help groups of all shapes and sizes (e.g. women’s groups, farmers’ associations, and savings groups, that mobilise and effectively manage local resources for community benefit)
  • Vocational training
  • Income generation and small business training
  • Small scale infrastructure
  1. United Nations World Food Program. Who are the hungry? http://www.wfp.org/hunger/who-are Accessed August 8, 2012.
  2. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. FAQs – Who is most at risk of hunger? http://www.fao.org/hunger/en/ Accessed August 8, 2012.
  3. United Nations World Food Program. Who are the hungry? http://www.wfp.org/hunger/who-are Accessed August 8, 2012.
  4. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Growing greener cities: Food and nutrition security. http://www.fao.org/ag/agp/greenercities/en/whyuph/foodsecurity.html Accessed August 8, 2012.

Related Projects:

Freeing women in Addis Ababa from the sex trade

On the streets of Ethiopia’s capital, the city’s commercial sex trade is flourishing. It is estimated that around 150,000 girls and women work on the streets – or one in ten females over the age of 15. Most have been forced there by poverty – though what they earn will never release them from its grasp.

In this context, TEAR’s partner Ellita – Women at Risk (E-WAR) seeks to enable women involved in prostitution to exit the work through rehabilitation and livelihoods training, and to improve community awareness through education so that fewer women are likely to enter the commercial sex trade…

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Freeing women in Addis Ababa from the sex trade

Skills Training in Myanmar (Burma)

In Yangon, Myanmar, Aye Thu Zar is learning new skills that will help her earn a living and secure a better future. A widow, Thu Zar is a member of a Self-Help Group that is part of a project run by TEAR’s partner Precious Stones. Her fellow members chose her from the group to receive a scholarship to undergo training in sewing through the project’s Community Learning Centre.

Thu Zar’s group has made good use of their sewing skills, working together to fill an order for pillowcases from a local trader. The trader provides all the materials and the women receive a payment per pillowcase. In…

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Skills Training in Myanmar (Burma)

Sustainable Farming in Zambia

Diness is part of the Mandondo farmers’ group in Ndola district, Zambia. TEAR’s partner, Reformed Church of Zambia Diaconia Department, works with farmers like Diness to improve their productivity and income through sustainable farming.

As part of the project, Diness was given a female goat, which provides manure to use as organic fertiliser on her crops. Now her maize crop is flourishing and she is saving money by not having to purchase fertiliser. A number of female goats have been provided to an initial group of farmers, and as the goats give birth the kids are passed on to other farmers…

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Sustainable Farming in Zambia

Growing and Selling Good Food in Mozambique

TEAR’s partner World Relief Mozambique facilitates a farmers’ association that encourages people to grow and sell good food, like these delicious tomatoes (pictured).

Most of the association’s members are women from vulnerable or low-income backgrounds. They receive training to farm their own plot of land, and are supported with loans for seeds, irrigation and access to transport. They can make a living from their crop, and their family also gets to put healthy fresh food on the table.

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Growing and Selling Good Food in Mozambique

Hope in the Refugee Camps, Ethiopia

Hundreds of thousands of Somali refugees have settled in enormous camps in Ethiopia. With little hope of further resettlement, these families now raise their children and create community in what was intended to be a temporary place of shelter. As TEAR’s partner ZOA helps them start businesses and generate income, is there any hope for progress in a “holding” place? 

From the air, the Dollo Ado region of Ethiopia is a seemingly endless vista of red earth and dry, scattered scrub, intersected by the wide, brown Genale River as it slowly meanders its way across the parched planes into Somalia.…

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Hope in the Refugee Camps, Ethiopia

How Far Has Cambodia Come?

“Ascend to the realm of the gods, Angkor Wat. Descend into hell at Tuol Sleng Prison. With a history both inspiring and depressing, Cambodia delivers an intoxicating present.” 

So reads the introduction to the Lonely Planet guide to Cambodia. It’s possibly an accurate description of the hyperreal experience of international tourism, but do Cambodians themselves experience an intoxicating present? Just how far has Cambodia come in reconciling its brutal post-colonial history to forge a new future?

I recently visited TEAR’s partners in Cambodia, as they work to build a better tomorrow for the…

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How Far Has Cambodia Come?

Vegetable Gardens, Bangladesh

Bangladeshi woman Jacinta Holder is proud of her thriving vegetable patch. “I feel very pleased every day,” she says. “Morning and evening I'm coming to the garden.” With support from TEAR’s partner Bangladesh Association for Sustainable Development (BASD), Jacinta, a mother of two girls, turned her land into a productive garden. BASD works with Self-Help Groups and runs kitchen garden training in her community. Jacinta learnt how to improve her soil by using vermi-compost and now has a successful crop of okra, jute, beans, stem amaranth and cucumber. She is able to sell excess produce for a…

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Vegetable Gardens, Bangladesh

The Hanging Gardens of Bangladesh

Across the vast low-lying plains of Bangladesh, millions of families farm tiny patches of rich alluvial soil. Emerald fields may stretch as far as the eye can see, but not all of the land is good, and not all of the yield is sufficient. In the coastal areas, where families earn a living from fishing, many struggle to grow any food at all.

The poorest people often live on the poorest land, and many still struggle to feed their families. Faith in Action and BASD are two of TEAR’s partners helping families on marginal land find their own unique ways to grow food.

TEAR’s partner BASD supports…

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The Hanging Gardens of Bangladesh

Chickens Make Change

So often, TEAR’s partners find that women like Daw Pauk Sa (pictured) are the ones that most benefit from being part of community development programs. Perhaps it’s because they start as the poorest and most marginalised in their village. Or perhaps, as with Daw Pauk Sa, they just work really hard to overcome the odds.

My name is Daw Pauk Sa and I am 45 years old. I have lived in my village since my early childhood. I have two children, but I lost my daughter during Cyclone Nargis and now I am living with my son, who is 22 years old. He does odd-jobs such as fish netting and transplanting…

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Chickens Make Change

Seeking refuge, finding hope

The Hebrew name Hagar means “one who flees” or “one who seeks refuge”. The biblical story of Hagar and her son, Ishmael, tells the story of women and children who are exploited, trafficked, disabled, and rejected.

In Afghanistan, there are many “Hagars”. TEAR’s partner organisation, Hagar, is working with these vulnerable women and children, many who are survivors of family violence, trafficking and human rights abuse. Staff members are guided by the story of Hagar, asking: “Who has been cast out? Who is without hope? Whose cries are not being heard?”

TEAR supports Hagar’s Empowering Women…

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Seeking refuge, finding hope

Living Here and There: Sri Lanka’s Displaced

For most people “home” is more than a place to live; it’s a place of belonging and of family, and for many a source of livelihood and security within a community. For many people in northern Sri Lanka during 2009, their sense of home was destroyed as the Sri Lankan army and Tamil Tiger troops fought their battles through fields, villages and roads. Nearly half a million people were forced to flee, leaving behind home and its comforts, security and their way of life.

Mrs SK left her home when shells were landing in her yard. “The shelling came like a train overhead,” she said. She and her two…

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Living Here and There: Sri Lanka’s Displaced

EFICOR: A Complex Adaptation

What causes community disintegration? Anyone working in community transformation or, indeed, those living in communities in distress will tell you that just as there is no one symptom, there is no one cause.

EFICOR, an Indian Christian organisation, has run projects with thousands of poor and marginalised communities over its 47 years, many of them supported by TEAR Australia. Their community-based agriculture projects have trained farmers across the country, enabling them to make the most from their land. But only in the last few years have they been forced to introduce a new element to…

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EFICOR: A Complex Adaptation

PNKS: A Broad Approach to Adaptation

The staff at PNKS know too well the impact that climate change is having on the communities they serve. Working in rural areas of Cambodia, mostly with farmers, they hear the stories of the changing weather patterns and see their effects on family life.

For farmers already living in poverty, climate change is yet another burden they have to bear.

“Sometimes there’s too much rain that causes flood, and sometimes too little and causes drought,” says Leak Chowan, the program manager. “The rain sometimes comes late, and sometimes early. The climate is unpredictable. People start planting and…

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PNKS: A Broad Approach to Adaptation

Scripture Union Queensland

SU Queensland, with Dhumba support, is now running special programs for young people at risk in the Rockhampton area. Working with local elders and the Darumbal Youth Community Services, the program engages young people with their cultural heritage, understanding the story, song and traditions of their local Mob through cultural games, overnight camping, yarning circles and traditional food. The program takes young people through high energy, risk-taking activities which create numerous opportunities for the young people to challenge their own abilities, build resilience and gain a sense of…

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Scripture Union Queensland

Hope and Opportunity in Laos

It’s not enough to just live; everyone deserves to have the opportunity to live to their full potential.

Keo Chan, her husband and three children were only just getting by.

With little money, they moved in with Keo’s family and shared a small house with two other families. There was not enough rice to go around, and Keo and her husband had to travel to another village to work to feed their family. There was no extra income for daily expenses, like school fees or medicine. If emergencies came up, there was no safety net.

Since TEAR’s partner, World Concern Laos, has been working with…

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Hope and Opportunity in Laos

Educating children at school, kitchen garden techniques and skills.

Kitchen gardens in schools have sprouted in popularity in recent years, helping to teach a generation of kids how to grow fresh vegies. But the trend is not limited to Australia – children in a school in Phonhom village, Laos, have been building their own kitchen garden as part of a project run by TEAR’s partner World Renew (formerly CRWRC) Laos. Not only are they tending their patch and growing their own produce with pride, they are also helping to share what they’ve learnt with their families and grow food at home.

See (pictured, centre) and her schoolmates spent one afternoon a week in…

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Educating children at school, kitchen garden techniques and skills.

Arnhem Human Enterprise Development Project

A project in responsive development in Yolngu communities in Galiwin'ku, North East Arnhem Land, Northern Territory

The AHED Project provides a service that walks alongside Yolngu people in the Galiwin'ku community to support them to initiate, develop and control their own enterprises. The  AHED Facilitators take an incarnational approach, living in the community, learning the local language and respecting local Yolngu cultural frameworks. The Facilitators act as bridges between Aboriginal and mainstream Australian culture to help Yolngu people navigate the complex demands of starting…

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Arnhem Human Enterprise Development Project

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About TEAR

TEAR Australia is a Christian development, relief and advocacy organisation responding to global poverty and injustice. More >

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