Women’s Day 2015 Guest Blogger – Ms. Kelly McJannett of Food Ladder, Australia!!!!!!!!!!!

Kelly McJannett, Director, Food Ladder, Australia is experienced in developing start up non-profit organizations and designing innovative and compelling communications and marketing strategies for same. Spanning the Indigenous Education and Employment sectors Kelly has held management roles and overseen important diversification, before pursuing her dream of addressing global food security challenges.

Kelly is passionate about creating sustainable solutions for pervasive social issues affecting communities across the globe. Kelly drives the international replication strategy for the business.

Thank you Ms. McJannett for honoring Conserve India & Conserve HRP with this gesture!

Over to Ms. McJannett……

We need to make it happen

Climate change is the greatest threat facing our world. Whether you are a sceptic or not it is impossible to ignore the‘side effects’ of climate change;record breaking rainfall and monsoons, retreating glaciers, rising sea levels, warming sea temperatures, and how such factors are today(right now!) impacting the livelihoods of the majority of people on our planet; the poor.

As climate change finds its feet and shows us the true strength of its character the most vulnerable people are losing their homes, being forced to relocate, inadvertently creating geopolitical tensions, and they finding they have even less to eat.

The good news is, as human beings we have an extraordinary track recordof pulling off the unimaginable.When it comes to safeguarding our world and the people in it; we no longer have a choice.

I would like to introduce Aniti. She is refugee of the Scheduled Tribes of India, people from Bengal, Bangladesh andAssam who have fled their home in a desperate search in a changing world. Aniti and her three small children now live among the waste, mud and faeces of the Bahadurgarh slum neighbouring west Delhi. Aniti is often raped when she tries to leave the slum to go to the bathroom at night. Her children, as young as 8,have fallen victim also. She is too fearful to go out in search of work and leave her children alone in the slum incase they may be kidnapped while she is gone. The majority of young girls and boys who make up the sex trafficking industry in India, and neighbouring countries, will recount a similar initiation. There is no protection for Aniti nor her children whatsoever. In the Bahadurgarh Slum, malnutrition is at 100%.

It’s people such as Aniti and the millions just like her, for whom we had to make Food Ladder happen.

I am Director and co-founder of Food Ladder and we create social enterprises that empower people like Aniti to grow their own food using cheap,simple, hydroponic systems. I like to think of Food Ladder as a holistically sustainable organisation; environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.

Food Ladder is a first. We do not hand out food, but empower the community to grow their own with a system that speaks to their needs and addresses their challenges. Placing responsibility on the community’s(largely female) leaders our social enterprise model hopes to improve nutrition, enables employment and provides a revenue stream ongoing, independent of our organisation.

Food Ladder systems require a relatively small space but can yield 5 times more produce per metre than traditional farming practice. A 60msq system, for example, can produce enough food to supplement the diets of 250 people.

Currently we are expanding our reach in the Bahadurgarh slum of west Delhi with a system adjoining the two room mud-brick school so Aniti and her fellow mothers can enjoy a much needed job and income stream, close to home, while their children are freelearn.

The system will grow high-nutrient food including spinach, tomatoes and bokchoy. Some of the food will be eaten by Anti and her children to address their malnutrition, the rest of it will be sold into the market to finance small salaries and cover the cost of purchasing seeds to replenish the system.

At Food Ladder we are gaining momentum to rollout our social enterprise solutions throughout India and then the world.

Providing appropriate opportunities for the poor is something that we must make happen. If not because it is simplythe right thing to do, then because it makes good economic and environmental sense!

Education and employment of impoverished women equates to smaller families (population control), higher earning potential (stronger economies), improved health (reduced malnutrition and spread of infectious disease) and cohesive communities (less migration). The list of supplementary outcomes is long.

While it would be nice to think that the powers of Government and big corporations might have the silver bullet solution to make these issues simply disappear, we can not wait idly be to see if it will happen. We must make it happen ourselves.

I believe we need to see these challenges as problems to be solved with innovation, intellect and collective action. Human progress.

We no longer have a choice.

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