Yu Saret farming in her field.
VSO/Cesar Lopez Balan

Right to food

Our food system is broken. Transformation of agriculture and the food system is urgently needed to address the multiple challenges of climate and ecological crisis, as well as livelihoods and food crisis.

VSO community, national, and international volunteers are supporting marginalised groups, such as, young people, women smallholder farmers, school children and people with disabilities, to engage in community and national food dialogues.

Our volunteers empower these groups to take action towards transforming our food system to promote social and environmental justice.

A snapshot of global food security

Source: World Bank, FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO. 2021. 'The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World' (2021).

33%

33% of food produced globally is either lost or wasted.

3 billion

3 billion people were unable to have healthy diets in 2019, due to the high cost of eating healthy coupled with high levels of income inequality.

811m

811 million people were going to bed hungry in 2020 – 118 million more than in 2019.

149m

149 million children under the age of five were estimated to have stunted growth or considered too short for their age in 2020.

Women farmers with harvest. Rangpur, Bangladesh
Qamruzzaman
Members of the all-women farming collective with their yields harvested from the field at Chuhar in Pairaband, Mithapukur in Rangpur, northern Bangladesh.

Bangladesh 

To overcome the lack of employment opportunities and low wages in rural Bangladesh, 1,800 young people have been supported with training, microgrants and business advice to find environmentally friendly and equitable employment.

Philippines 

During the pandemic, volunteers distributed food parcels to those in need. As well as food, the packages contained tools, seeds and equipment so families could grow their own vegetables.

Tanzanian farmer
VSO/Nicholaus Jackson
Deodigard is an agriculture extension officer in Tanzania, employed by the government, who has been working with VSO volunteers to inform farmers of good agronomic practices such as using environmentally friendly fertilisers.

Tanzania

We’re working with over 3,000 farmers to improve agricultural practices, such as methods to reduce food waste and increase yields. These farmers are now harvesting 90% more crops than before.

Ethiopia 

We’ve supported over 3,000 small-scale rice farmers to improve harvesting practices and the quality of their yields. This has led to less rice being wasted during the harvest.

 

Uganda

VSO has given over $20,000 worth of cash, vouchers and emergency supplies to over 4,000 people who were facing hunger during the pandemic, keeping families and their small businesses afloat.

Inclusion, resilience and social accountability

We view the people and communities we work with as active agents of change. By working with these local actors we can create long term, transformative change and build stronger resilience strategies to address future strains on the food system.

Men planting mangroves on a beach in the Philippines
©Pakigdait Inc

The power of regrowth

Climate change, typhoons and poor fishing practices were threatening the way of life of a coastal community in the Philippines. Then volunteers came together to plant mangroves to turn the tide.

Woman with children, Rohingya_camps Bangladesh
VSO/Abir Abdullah

The women leading the way in organic produce: Sufia's story

Extreme weather is causing the salinity of Bangladesh coastal waters to increase, which is destroying agricultural production. VSO volunteers support local women farmers to find sustainable solutions to these problems.

Abdul on the farm holding a cabbage
VSO

Farming for people and planet

In Kamachumu, a small town in northwest Tanzania, farmer Abdul has learned to grow crops that are better for his family and for the planet.

A fisherman prepares to cast a net to catch fish from a pond
©VSO/Sue Turbett

Food security through organic waste

Although not a dominant player in the national economy, fisheries remain an important source of income for Filipinos. However, fishing is highly dependent on the weather which means that fisherfolks can only earn during peak seasons.

VSO Bangladesh volunteer Nowrin is pictured with the member of an all-women farming collective at Bhelarpara, Birampur, in Dinajpurpur, northern Bangladesh
VSO/Qamruzzaman

Video collection: Livelihoods in Cambodia and Bangladesh

These short films document the impact VSO projects have had on the lives marginalised people living in rural communities. Each story is told by the individual in their own words.

Vivian mother in rural Kenya
VSO/Obscura Media

Life on the brink

For Vivian, the Covid-19 pandemic was a frightening time. Affording three meals a day for herself and her children was hard with no income. Thanks to VSO supporters Vivian was provided a lifeline, with a new small business grant.

Volunteer jobs in agriculture and natural resources