What is Sustainability?
Sustainable development provides a framework under which communities are capable of maintaining their productivity and usefulness to society indefinitely. Communities are resource-conserving, socially supportive, commercially competitive, and environmentally sound.
A sustainable community is achieved through a long-term, integrated approach by addressing economic, environmental, and social issues. Fostering a strong sense of community and building partnerships and consensus among key stakeholders are also important elements. Sustainable developments do not adversely affect people living elsewhere (near or far) and allow all elements of the community to flourish.
How Does Agros Ensure Sustainability?
Economic sustainability begins with improved production of basic grains. With food security established, families begin to try things they’ve never done before. For instance, the process of growing crops to sell in the market is a cyclical, income-generating venture that leverages their current resources. Through Agros microenterprise loans, families are able to grow alternative and off-season crops that will leverage their position at the market, yielding even more profits. Once families begin to generate a stable income they then begin to pay back their land loans. Once their loans have been repaid, villagers become self-sustaining owners of their own land. Through land ownership and agricultural training, families are able to generate an on-going, stable income and create an environment in which their children will thrive.
Environmental sustainability begins by providing families with land. People take better care of and are more concerned about a resource over which they have ownership. Agros then provides training and technical assistance regarding the use and stewardship of this land. This includes the construction of composting latrines, improved wood burning stoves, and education on soil conservation. Organic composting, agro-forestry techniques, protecting watersheds, land reforestation and maintaining clean water sources are other ways Agros Villages ensure environmental sustainability.
Agros works to obtain organizational sustainability in two ways. The primary way is to partner with rural poor families in the development of a local community government that looks to the entire community for participation and decision-making. This becomes the backbone for civic responsibility and participation. It also becomes the primary way communities continue to thrive long after Agros has departed. Secondarily, once the community is established and its economy growing and stabilizing, they can begin paying back the costs of the land, housing and irrigation system. The ownership of these key assets allows the families to enter a new level of sustainability in their family economy. Agros then rotates the repaid funds back out to fund a new community and help other families achieve the same goals and break the cycle of poverty.
Social sustainability takes form as a village is founded and grown, many adjacent villages will see the powerful impact that local organization, leadership, planning, and technical know-how can have on a village’s economic and social development. Agros both encourages and equips Agros-sponsored villages to pass on the blessing that they have received. The work of Agros is thus continued on through local leaders as they work with their neighbors to improve their quality of life, sustaining further the Agros mission.