April 2014—On a hill amidst unkempt grass and wild vegetation on the outskirts of Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, stands a shabby-looking wooden hut surrounded by banana trees and other makeshift shelters. A few feet below, a middle-aged woman is attending to a few customers that come to buy items at her food stand. Her name is Honorine Raveloarisoa, and the hut is her home.
Her life has substantially improved thanks to a USAID-funded food security program.
ASA, or Ankohonana Sahirana Arenina, which means "promotion of vulnerable families" in Malagasy, is one of five social protection centers partnering with Catholic Relief Services in Antananarivo to provide technical assistance and training, as well as food rations, to poor families in this teeming city. Annually, the center identifies about 40 extremely vulnerable households—mostly headed by women—and provides them training in income-generating activities that will help them earn a decent living.
Household members come to the center for a 10-month training, and receive a monthly food ration of corn-soy blend, fortified cooking oil and rice. After completing their training, they receive equipment to help start up the business of their choice.
Julienne Razafindrasoa is one beneficiary of the project who received training and equipment from the center. She started pig farming in 2010, and has since increased her livestock by 300 percent. Using sales proceeds, she has embarked on brickmaking and is now building a house for her family.
Germaine Roger used to do laundry for a living, which would barely help her make ends meet. Joining the center helped her save some money, which she used to buy a sewing machine and start a sewing business. She then diversified into chicken farming and earned enough money to send her children to school. The chicken business is doing very well, and Germaine is now turning her mud house into a brick home.
Razafindrabodo "Bodo" Ravaomalantoarivony is the widowed mother of five children. Before she entered the program, she felt ostracized because she was poor, and her neighbors and relatives would look down on her. Her life improved soon after joining ASA as she could earn and even save money from chicken farming.
“I’m now able to buy new clothes for me and my family, and my neighbors are now more considerate and respectful. Our life has changed thanks to the center and USAID’s support,” she said.
With the help of the center, Raveloarisoa started a small food stand selling homemade soup, doughnuts, noodles, fruit and other vegetables. Although she still lives in a wooden hut, her life has nonetheless improved. With the money she saved, she bought two pigs, and she is confident her life will continue to improve, as she has seen with her fellow ASA peers.
Since USAID's Strengthening and Accessing Livelihood Opportunities for Household Impact program began in 2009, 840 families in Antananarivo have improved their living conditions. Throughout the country, more than 2,500 households have benefited from the project at 15 social protection centers. Although this food security program ends in June 2014, and food distribution ended in September 2013, the ASA center will continue to provide training to the most vulnerable in the city.
Last updated: September 26, 2014