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Income improvement and hunger relief within ethnolinguistic communities is achieved when life-changing information is communicated in a language that people understand well. Higher literacy rates often result in higher per capita incomes.
If he is unable to read, a farmer’s knowledge is generally limited to just the agricultural information passed down from his parents. Michel is a farmer in the African country of Benin, whose life changed when he completed literacy classes in his mother tongue, Waama. He credits literacy with giving him access to information about improved farming methods, the use of fertilizers and other products as well as significant agricultural dates.
As a result of his reading skills, Michel also learned about the best times and places to sell his produce in order to maximize his profits. Now that he has learned to calculate on paper, he has the confidence that he will never again suffer exploitation at the hands of unscrupulous middlemen.
Azanga, the local literacy supervisor for the North Ngbandi language group of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was encouraged to see that his years of hard work brought far reaching benefits. Kamba, chief of the Monzomboli village, became the first in his community to attend adult literacy classes in his mother tongue.
After Chief Kamba read in one of the literacy primers that soybeans are rich in protein, he encouraged everyone in hisvillage to plant them. He later learned from another booklet about the components of a proper diet, and again encouraged his community to eat from each food group daily so they could improve their health through nutrition.
Language-based development is more than literacy—people learn how to grow better crops, such as soybeans, and how to improve their diets.
Sokpè, a farmer in Togo, worked hard for years struggling to provide for his family. While attending the Ifè adult literacy class in his village, Kotsadjo, he read an Ifè primer on the topic of managing finances and resources. Sokpè was impressed by the story of a farmer who learned the skill of weaving, which enabled him to supplement farm income. Sokpè put these management ideas into practice and began breeding chickens and goats in addition to his farming. The income from his breeding business raised his annual income and helped pay his children's school fees.
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