Each year, the community of Westlock, Alberta, farms a piece of land with as much of the input costs as possible donated, such as rent for the land, fertilizer chemicals, tillage equipment, sprayers, combines, trucks, etc. This allows for a significant amount of money to be made from the sale of the crop. Money raised is then matched four to one by the Canadian government. For example, a profit of $50,000 is matched four to one to result in $250,000. That amount is enough to do an irrigation project in Ethiopia, generating enormous returns for many people.
Growing projects like this one are the initiatives of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and they have been very successful. The Westlock Growing Project is one of the longest running in Canada and has fed over 400,000 people in Ethiopia on a sustained basis—they no longer require food aid.
Supporting the Afar People
The Westlock Growing Project is entering its 20th year of growing and selling a crop to fund irrigation projects in the Afar region of Ethiopia. It has partnered with Canadian Lutheran World Relief, and funds were allocated to soil and water conservation and small-scale irrigation schemes undertaken by Gebreyes Haile and his Ethiopian NGO, Support for Sustainable Development (SSD), in the remote Afar region of Ethiopia.
There have been many very successful projects over the years. They have proven that the partnerships between the Westlock Growing Project, Gebreyes Haile’s SSD, and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank have brought about permanent changes in the lives of the Afar people as they struggle with poverty and climate change.