May 22nd, 2013 10:49 AM UTC
By Roger Thurow
We can make food aid more sustainable not by giving away Western food, but by working with local farmers and creating a market for their crops in the region. ONE Agriculture Fellow Roger Thurow reports.
Ten years after the Ethiopian famine of 2003, when international food aid rushed in to feed 14 million people, another World Food Program (WFP) tent has been erected on an open field. But this isn’t a scene of food distribution. It is a scene of food purchase.
The action happens on the grounds of the Sidama Elto Farmers’ Cooperative Union in Awassa, Ethiopia. Sidama Elto is one of 16 cooperative unions in Ethiopia that have signed forward contracts with the World Food Programme for the purchase of more than 28,000 metric tons of maize grown by their smallholder farmer members. The maize, which is part of 112,000 tons of food the World Food Programme purchased in Ethiopia last year, will be used for relief distributions in the country. Ten years ago, many of those farmers and their families were receiving food aid from the World Food Programme.
One of the major lessons in agricultural development over the past decade is this: markets matter. The 2003 famine tragically, and incomprehensibly, followed two years of bumper harvests in Ethiopia. The surplus production overwhelmed the country’s weak and inefficient markets. There were no export channels; the domestic market’s ability to absorb the harvests was crippled by woeful infrastructure. The food piled up on farms and prices collapsed, upwards of 80% in some areas. Farmers lost incentive to plant the next year. Then the drought hit, and feast turned to famine. The markets had failed before the weather did.
That gobsmacking turnaround triggered a reversal of the neglect of agricultural development that had set in since the 1980s, as I noted in my TedxChange talk last month. In the past decade, science and research geared toward improving the work of smallholder farmers (who produce the majority of the food grown in the developing world) have been reinvigorated; so too have trade and business efforts accelerated to provide greater market incentives and opportunities for the farmers. Prior to 2003, boosting agricultural production – growing more food — was the primary focus and developing markets was considered to be a “second-generation problem.” Now, markets share top billing with production, as it should; markets provide incentive to produce more.
In Ethiopia, it started with the creation of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange in the wake of the famine. Now, the mantra spreads, in radio dramas, government pronouncements, business negotiations: If you grow it, someone will buy it.
The World Food Programme’s partnership with Sidama Elto is part of its Purchase for Progress (P4P) programme, which uses the World Food Programme’s purchasing power to create markets for smallholder farmers. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and implemented in collaboration with the government of Ethiopia through the Agricultural Transformation Agency (ATA), P4P works with the farmers to improve the quality of their crops and the post-harvest handling.
Simiret Simeno, deputy manager of Sidama Elto, says that for the first time its 13,000 farmer members see that better quality can bring better prices. And they can also see their contribution to healthier communities, as one of the markets is an expanding network of school feeding programs supplied by locally grown crops rather than food being shipped in from abroad.
The ultimate goal of the World Food Programme purchases is to demonstrate to commercial buyers that smallholder farmers can reliably produce high-quality food worthy of their business. Sustainable success here could also bear witness to the potential impact of President Obama’s proposed food aid reform, which would allow for nearly half of the US food aid budget to be used to buy food nearer to the hunger crises – providing markets for smallholder farmers — rather than shipping it all the way from American farms (as has been the US policy for decades).
These public-private ventures bring both maturity and modernisation to markets that hadn’t changed much for centuries. Working with local banks and donor governments, P4P has introduced forward contracts to participating cooperatives and smallholder farmers. The ATA has also been crafting links between farmers and commercial buyers of several crops, like teff, barley, sesame and chickpeas.
Above all, says Khalid Bomba, the chief executive officer of ATA, “Smallholder farmers need confidence that there will be buyers for what they grow.”
And confidence that the misery of 2003 – the misery of failed markets — won’t happen again.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, marking the occasion of its annual Global Food Security Symposium in Washington, D.C., which will be held on May 21st. For more information on the symposium, click here. Follow @GlobalAgDev and use #globalag on Twitter to join the conversation on May 21.
Want to do more? Tell world leaders to make measurable commitments to reduce chronic child malnutrition for 25 million children. Sign the petition here.
May 20th, 2013 12:25 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
This piece, by 1,000 Days Executive Director Lucy Martinez Sullivan, was originally posted on Future Fortified’s blog.
In my job as the executive director of 1,000 Days, I am an advocate for mothers and children around the world. But it wasn’t until I learned I was pregnant last year and then finally welcomed my first child, Beatrice, that I actually started living first-hand the 1,000 Days mission – to ensure that mothers and babies get the right nutrition, right from the start.
Being responsible for my little one’s own nutrition has been one of the toughest jobs I’ve ever had. Knowing full well the impact that nutrition during Beatrice’s early years can have on the rest of her life has made my awareness of the 1,000 day “window of opportunity” take on a whole new meaning.
The funny thing is, the academic papers and rigorous studies I so frequently read haven’t necessarily been my guides since becoming a new mother – instead, it’s been my sister, other mums in my neighborhood, co-workers and mummy bloggers who’ve helped me figure out the answers to some seemingly basic questions: how to use a breast pump, how often should I breastfeed, and whether fruits are appropriate at 6 months.
Beatrice has grown tremendously – in both size and personality – during her first 6 months. I know that her healthy growth and start to life is due to my ability to eat right during my pregnancy, exclusively breastfeed her in her first 6 months, and recently start her on the right kinds of nutritious solid foods. Her new favorite foods include eggs and avocado, in addition to breast milk!
The right nutrition will be critical as Beatrice continues to grow and learn about the world around her and, luckily for me, the community of mothers that I am now a part of will help me along the way. And also along that way, we’ll not only nourish my daughter and her future, but our future as well.
Let’s make sure that mothers around the world have the information, resources and support they need to ensure that their children are eating healthy foods in the first part of life. Sign our petition and urge world leaders to make measurable commitments to end chronic malnutrition.
About the Author: Lucy Sullivan is the Executive Director of 1,000 Days, a non-profit organisation dedicated to targeted action and investment to improve nutrition for mothers and young children during the critical 1,000 days from pregnancy to age 2, when better nutrition can have a lifelong impact on a child’s future and help break the cycle of poverty.
May 17th, 2013 12:12 PM UTC
By Erin Finucane
Over the course of the last 10 days, more than 22,000 ONE members called on world leaders to make bold commitments for the future of Mali, commitments that will meet the urgent needs of communities and assist Malians in their efforts to build a better future.
Your voices were heard.
Yesterday, leaders came together in Brussels and pledged their support. Donations from the international community far surpassed expectations. The European Union’s pledge of €1.35 billion will make an important contribution to Mali’s recovery.
However, the big picture is that aid budgets are shrinking across much of Europe; the EU itself is looking to freeze aid spending over the next seven years.
The key to lasting security is development. We must continue to fight: European countries need to reverse aid cuts, prioritise the world’s poorest, like those in Mali, and ensure that aid is targeted at programmes that have the biggest impact on development, namely health, agriculture and education.
Thank you for adding your voice.
May 17th, 2013 10:25 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
ONE’s Health Research Assistant Anupama Dathan checks out the latest findings from UNICEF and the World Health Organisation.
Water, water everywhere…but not enough that’s clean, says a new WHO and UNICEF report released this week.
As part of the Millennium Development Goals, the world aimed to halve by 2015 the population without access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation.
The good news is that we met the drinking water goal back in 2010. But, with less than one thousand days to go until the deadline, the report warns the global community that it is not on track to meet the sanitation target by over half a billion people. It projects that in all, 2.4 billion people – one-third of the world’s population – will be without access to basic sanitation in 2015.
What does that number mean? Well, it’s over twice the population of Africa, nearly three times that of Europe, and about half that of Asia. In short, it’s a lot of people without access to basic sanitation measures like toilets and a way to wash hands with soap and clean water.
When we talk about health, we talk a lot about the transmission of HIV and the prevalence of malaria, but it’s important to keep in mind the role basic sanitation plays. Diarrhoea, the third biggest killer of children in developing countries (responsible for 11% of all childhood deaths), is most often caused by poor sanitation.
Other big diseases among adults and children like cholera, schistosomiasis and trachoma, are also common thanks to lack of sanitation. That’s why the WHO and UNICEF report is calling on the global community to join together and keep working to improve sanitation even after the Millennium Development Goal deadline of 2015 is past.
Do more. Donate your Twitter or Facebook accounts to Water.org and let them share facts and stats about the global water crisis to your social networks.
May 16th, 2013 12:31 PM UTC
By Helen Hector
Our campaign to start a global food revolution and put nutrition firmly on the agenda of world leaders is really picking up speed.
An amazing 266,000 people have added their voice so far, and with leaders meeting for a nutrition summit in just a few weeks, they will have to start listening.
Our infographic tells the story of how malnutrition is affecting all of us, no matter where we live.
Please share it and if you haven’t already, add your name to our Global Food Revolution campaign now.
May 15th, 2013 12:12 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
This week is Children’s Book Week which aims to instill a lifelong love of reading in children.
Our US intern Brittany Walters has tracked down six great books that tackle serious issues like HIV and globalisation, which can help young people develop an understanding of the world around them through storytelling. You can buy them all online too.
A coming of age story about Gabby, a young girl who signs up for an AIDS Walk in her city. She turns to her community to fundraise and is unstoppable on her journey to make a difference. Throughout the story, Gabby comes to terms with what AIDS is and why people come together to support causes that effect others.
This is a story about Rehema, a young girl who lives in Tanzania. When she was a baby, Rehema was infected with malaria, but because her parents were able to get treatment for her, she survived. In the book, Rehema describes what children in rich countries can do to help fight malaria.
Ithemba becomes more hopeful for his own parents with HIV when he commits to help his neighbour and best friend remember to take her ARVs regularly.
An excellent tool for parents, this book helps to create a platform in which to discuss pressing life issues, such as sickness, death, honesty and respect. Rachel is a 7-year-old girl in a small town in Africa that is struck by malaria. As tragedy hits her household, her special relationship with the Lion helps her cope and find inner strength through understanding grief, conflict, and truth.
This true story of a girl from Africa, written by her adoptive mother Hijltje Vink, and deals with the day to day social and emotional challenges of a child and family living with HIV. The book addresses the stigma of living with HIV and the importance of the ARV medication regime to “keep the dragon sleeping” and remain healthy.
In this whimsically drawn and thoughtfully told story, children learn what it means to be global by visiting the pyramids, eating sushi, celebrating Kwanzaa, and learning how to say “hello” in Swahili. The book is a conversation starter for parents and educators to teach children about the goodness in exploring, appreciating, and respecting other children’s traditions, religions, and values the world over.
Do you have a book you’d like to recommend? Share it with us in a comment below.
May 14th, 2013 11:38 AM UTC
By Ben Leo
This post was originally published on CNN World.
Global Public Square recently published a thoughtful piece on how global poverty rates are falling fast. It argued that one country in particular is almost solely responsible for this dramatic trend: China. Meanwhile, it said progress in the rest of the world “has been much, much slower – if there’s been progress at all.”
Here’s the problem. There are 62 other countries across the globe that are also slashing extreme poverty rates at a remarkable pace. And many of them are located in Sub-Saharan Africa. So, the more important question is – how do we accelerate the progress being made in places like Ethiopia and Uganda while simultaneously jumpstarting it in places that are lagging behind, like Nigeria and the Congo?
It’s true that China’s case is remarkable – both in terms of its sheer scale and speed. It has lifted 680 million people out of poverty in a single generation. That’s amazing. It’s every poverty fighter’s dream. But the global story isn’t just about China. It is also about countries like Ethiopia, Uganda, Cameroon, Ghana, and Senegal that are also witnessing dramatic declines in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.25 a day.
According to a forthcoming ONE Campaign report, 63 nations are on track to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015 (compared to 1990 levels) – including 16 in Sub-Saharan Africa. And their progress has further sped up over the last decade – particularly as African countries have turned the corner on HIV/AIDS, cleared unsustainable debt loads and made strategic investments in their social and physical infrastructure. The difficult and traumatic decade of the 1990s is receding in the rear-view mirror.
Bono mentioned 10 of these African trailblazers during his recent TED talk. Let’s look at two of them:
These dramatic results have inspired many world leaders – like President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, and Malawian President Joyce Banda – to declare that the world can virtually eliminate extreme poverty by 2030. Not to mention the World Bank president and a certain Irish rock star to boot.
To get there, several things will have to happen. There is risk in this story, just as there is promise. First, developing economies will not only need to keep growing at a healthy clip, but that growth will need to reach and benefit their poorest citizens. On that, I couldn’t agree more with the Global Public Square article. Conversely, a global growth shock that deals a direct blow to poor nations would be catastrophic in the fight against extreme poverty. Second, governments need to implement targeted policies that address growing rates of inequality. Fortunately, countries like Brazil have shown that this is possible. It’s not easy, but it’s possible.
Third, and perhaps most challenging, is the tough nut of states that have been governed poorly must be cracked. In Africa, this means places like Nigeria, Sudan, and the Congo. These are the populous nations that are holding down regional progress. They largely explain why Africa’s overall growth rates aren’t even more compelling than they are. One country like Nigeria can overshadow five like Uganda or two like Ethiopia simply because of its size.
Truth be told, nobody has a magic elixir that will transform these places into the next China or Ethiopia. Long running domestic instability, or even conflict, takes time to address. Then again, people said the same thing about China in the 1970s and Ethiopia in the 1980s. Or even Uganda in the 1990s. They were hopeless cases then. But look at them today.
So, going forward, let’s expand the global poverty discussion beyond a singular focus on China. While this tendency may be natural given China’s absolute numbers, it does an injustice to smaller nations that are surging alongside it. These success stories demonstrate that the elimination of extreme poverty is possible well within our lifetime, perhaps only a decade and a half away.
Look out for our 2013 DATA Report, released on 29 May, which looks at how donor and African government spending is linked to progress.
May 13th, 2013 4:19 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Our guest blogger today is the MTV Africa VJ, singer and activist from Tanzania, Vanessa Mdee. Writing as an ambassador for the GAVI Alliance, her post celebrates the recent news that the HPV vaccine to protect women and girls from cervical cancer is set to drop in price for 50 of the world’s poorest countries.
I’m trying to think of the first time my mother had ‘The Talk’ (yes the birds and the bees talk) with me. The talk that I’d heard my friends refer to as the most embarrassing moment of their lives, the talk that officially indicted you into teen-hood, the talk that signified your maturity – your parents decided you were old enough to speak of natural human interaction between a man and a woman. I’m still eagerly awaiting this talk.
Now don’t be fooled, my mother knows all too well that I’m aware of physical interaction. Not because I told her but because she’s got that sixth sense like all mothers do. Besides, I am of age and slightly adventurous (for lack of a better word).
I gather I never put my parents in a place where they felt the need to have this conversation with me. I did after all grow up in a Muslim turned every Sunday church-going Roman Catholic home – where I obviously wasn’t having sex. My parents were right – not because I was holier than the next but the mere thought of them finding out crippled me. You see, growing up in an African home as exposed and worldly as my upbringing was, meant certain things were not discussed. This remains the case to date. My line of work has allowed me to converse intimately with young African women and girls, and their stories are similar. Sex talk is a no go.
When I started DynamitesMission – my awareness blog sponsored by UNAIDS and MTV’s Staying Alive – I wanted to lend my voice and extend my ear to the streets. I was learning about grassroots organisations and their efforts to educate their communities. I was moved and in turn spoke from my perspective – pretty layman but clear to other laymen.
A year in, I get a BBM from one of my best friends Michelle. It read, ‘ You’re trying to tell me that above all the heartache we take from these men, they also pass HPV (the virus that causes cervical cancer) to us?’ – I chuckled and said ‘ Yes Elle, they do – talk about short end of the stick’. Many women are unaware of cervical cancer and HPV, mostly about how exposed we are to the virus through our everyday interaction.
My first personal encounter with cervical cancer was in my early teens. My aunt was diagnosed with it at a very late stage and when her health deteriorated I remember wondering what she had done to deserve this and why the meds weren’t working. I kept asking my father – why she wasn’t getting better. Only to properly understand the severity as she passed away after being bed ridden for two weeks.
When a woman is diagnosed with cervical cancer in Tanzania there is a 70% chance she will not survive. Experts agree that the low survival rate is due to late diagnosis and treatment by a healthcare provider. It wasn’t until I was approached by GAVI that I found out that there now is a vaccine and that if administered early (before young women become sexually active) then we can ensure a brighter future for our women and decrease the numbers of cervical cancer cases.
Young women need to be aware of these opportunities that can be availed but most importantly the knowledge of HPV and cervical cancer – I truly believe these formative years will define their sexual reproductive health and nurture a generation of healthier women. It starts with open communication about sex and sexual reproductive health.
2013 is the beginning of a dramatic shift in women’s health. A record low price for a HPV vaccine has been negotiated by GAVI for the 50+ countries eligible for GAVI support (including my home country, Tanzania), opening the door for millions of girls in the world’s poorest countries to be immunized against a devastating women’s cancer.
This not only is the beginning of a shift in the overall eradication of cervical cancer but a new dawn for young African women around the continent. An opportunity that myself and many other young African women did not have.
It breaks my heart to see lives cut short due to ailments. In Africa these losses happen often and deprive our societies. It’s about time proper healthcare is administered for all, especially the future generation. GAVI is making this possible by pioneering the administration of the HPV vaccine. Giving my younger sisters a chance – that’s one less killer to worry about.
Find out more about the great news on the price drop for HPV vaccines on the GAVI Alliance website.
May 13th, 2013 11:01 AM UTC
By Helen Hector
African disco, reggae vibes and a dash of rock feature in this month’s set from artists like Tiken Jah Fakoly, Waklemar Bastos, Bombino, and Josephine.
Here’s a few words from Ikenna:
In case you’re not familiar with Spotify, it’s a free music service available in the US, most of Europe, Australia and New Zealand that you can download here. If you are already registered, just click to start streaming.
If you can’t get Spotify where you live, you can still enjoy watching the latest episode of What’s Up Africa.
May 10th, 2013 11:24 AM UTC
By Dr Sipho Moyo
In a few weeks, the UK government will host a major international event in London called Nutrition for Growth: Beating Hunger through Business and Science. Happening just days before the 2013 G8 Summit in Lough Erne, it will bring together governments, businesses, scientists and civil society to examine strategies that could improve the quality and quantity of food available to the world’s poorest people.
Back in March I attended a highly energised meeting of African civil society organisations in Ethiopia, who had gathered for Africa’s biggest annual forum on agriculture and where we launched our report A Growing Opportunity. We all agreed an urgent message needed to be sent to the international community before the June summit in the UK.
As a result, ONE together with 36 other African organisations have written to UK Prime Minister Cameron asking his government to ensure that African-led agriculture is at the heart of the Nutrition for Growth event, and specifically the existing CAADP plans.
CAADP stands for the Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program. It has already created momentum to reform agriculture in 40 out of 53 African countries and many more are joining. This makes it the single best existing framework that would support the G8 to deliver excellent results from their food security and nutrition investments on the continent.
CAADP will also become the central organising vehicle for the African Union year of Agriculture in 2014. African states have committed themselves become more accountable to their people on accelerated progress in fighting hunger and helping small-holder farmers access better investment, technology and markets to sell their produce.
African leadership, political will and investment is critical to realising the poverty reducing potential of African agriculture. The private sector and international community also has a very important supporting role to play in investing in African-led agriculture.
Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, has said, “Africa has potential, but it cannot eat potential. More coordinated action is needed”.
Rather than re-invent the wheel, the G8 must build on the momentum growing across Africa and fund the agriculture plans already in place.
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
The content of each post and each comment represents the views of that author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ONE. ONE does not support or oppose any candidate for elected office, and any post expressing support or opposition for a candidate is not endorsed by ONE.