Jan 29th, 2013 6:19 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Guest post from ONE member Francesca Washtell:
Last Wednesday ONE joined together with leading UK charities at Somerset House in London to launch the new Enough Food For Everyone IF campaign, aiming to make this year the beginning of the end of global hunger.
It’s a bold campaign- can we ever mark a single year as the one in which we can start to end global hunger? A few of us got to quiz ONE staff on this issue and the nature of the campaign when we met at ONE London office before heading down to Somerset House. It’s worth pointing out that there isn’t a typical kind of ONE campaigner. We come from all backgrounds- from medical students to retirees, from those involved for two weeks to those who’ve committed their time for ONE and its predecessor campaigns for almost a decade. For us it’s the issues that matter, so there are no criteria we have to meet and no subject we have to have studied before we got here.
ONE’s approach will emphasise areas it has already been extremely active in- particularly supporting the agricultural, aid and transparency goals of the IF campaign. Talking to ONE staff they explained how versatile the campaign is, and how every organisation involved will be able to focus on different issues that all feed in to the wider goal.
If I had any reservations about the campaign beforehand, it was this conversation that made me the most optimistic. The best international campaigns are typically very inclusive, allowing all the organisations involved and, most importantly, their supporters, to work towards a goal from different angles, emphasising each organisation’s strengths in the process. Global hunger is a varied and complex process, and ending it will never just be about fixing a single cause. As the biggest campaign since 2005’s Make Poverty History, the strength of Enough Food For Everyone IF’s will be in its breadth.
Nothing compares to actually being there at a launch- even when it’s during the coldest, snowiest weeks the UK has seen this winter! There were impressive fact-filled animations and video messages from Bill Gates and activist celebrities such as Orlando Bloom and David Harewood, and the whole event made Twitter go pretty crazy. If you watched it live online you’ll have seen that one of the key speakers of the evening was Bill Nighy. No one rallies the troops quite like Bill- he’s a celebrity who seems to completely understand the urgency and weight that campaigns like these carry.
Everyone involved sees the problem with the world producing enough food, but not everyone having enough to eat. By the end of the evening our feet were pretty cold, but it was worth it to stand there and be a part of the launch. IF will have many channels- we can use 2013 to say there will be Enough Food For Everyone IF politicians start listening, land grabs are stopped and governments and businesses start enforcing the right levels of tax and transparency. Going back to my original question, can we really single out 2013 as the year to start ending global hunger? From the support we saw last Wednesday and the way the campaign will work, I think we’re in with a very good chance. It’s still and IF now, but by the end of the year I hope we MAKE it happen.
Jan 23rd, 2013 5:56 PM UTC
By David Cole
Today we have joined together with over 80 other organisations in the UK to launch Enough Food For Everyone IF – the biggest campaign from NGOs, charities and others since 2005.
From 6PM GMT, you can watch the live video stream from the launch event in London:
Please join the campaign and spread the word on Facebook and twitter.
Jan 7th, 2013 10:09 AM UTC
By Roger Thurow
In the vast assembly room at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, overlooking one of the nation’s premier food banking facilities, Drexton Granberry joyfully came to the end of his speech. He and 25 others were graduating from Chicago’s Community Kitchens (CCK), a 14-week program that teaches culinary skills to unemployed and underemployed adults. One of them was the 1,000th graduate since the program’s beginning in 1998; many of them have gone on to begin careers in the foodservice industry.
Concluding his touching speech, Drexton said, “CCK didn’t just give me a fish, they taught me how to fish.”
I have heard that phrase many times writing about global hunger and poverty. It’s an old chestnut of development practitioners. But this was the only time it brought a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. For I knew what the graduates had endured, not only in the class but in life. When I was writing for The Wall Street Journal, I followed one of the Chicago classes from start to finish; similar classes were also being taught at a number of food banks across the U.S. Among the students in that class were former inmates and addicts, homeless people, men and women down on their luck and looking for a way back up.
On graduation day in mid-December, the assembly room at the Food Depository, filled with friends and relatives of the students, was bursting with smiles and pride. For some students who hadn’t finished high school, this was their first real graduation day. For many of them, it was their first chance at a real career. More than three-quarters of the graduates from the previous ceremony already had landed jobs in Chicago’s vast foodservice industry.
Drexton Granberry, a 47 year-old father for four and grandfather of three, told the gathering he had worked odd jobs throughout his life, never anything that was a semblance of a career. He was in Minnesota, working in a warehouse for a potato chip company, when his mother had an accident earlier this year. He moved to Chicago to be near her, to help her get around. He couldn’t find a job. “I felt like a broken toy on Christmas Day,” he said.
Then he saw an advertisement announcing the beginning of a new CCK class. He applied and studied hard and hustled through the tasks. During the daily classes, the students helped to prepare nearly 2,000 meals each day for children in afterschool programs and for seniors. Along the way, Drexton latched on to the prospect of a cooking career. “The program gave me a can-do attitude,” he said.
Kate Maehr, the executive director and CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, dabbed at her moist eyes. Speaking earlier in the ceremony, she spoke poignantly of the 1,000 CCK graduates. “For 14 years, they have come filled with hope,” she said. “For some, hope of finding a better job. For others, hope of finding any job.” Sometime during the course, she noted, hope turns to opportunity.
It is true for both the individual and for the Food Depository. “It wasn’t good enough just to be a warehouse that moved food out into the community,” she said. “We also needed to move out of hunger and bring opportunity into the community.”
Community-based responses that work from the bottom-up are key to ending hunger and poverty at home and abroad. And long-term solutions that result in self-sufficiency, rather than short-term emergency food handouts, are vital to attacking the root of the problem and ending hunger permanently. As the keynote speaker observed, the importance of learning to fish.
The CCK graduates and the current class of students showed off their culinary chops at the lunch they prepared for their 200-or-so guests. It was a veritable feast of marinated chicken, barbecued beef medallions, vegetable rice, cubed sweet potatoes, assorted breads, holiday cookies and cupcakes and hot apple cider.
As I moved through the buffet line, I recalled the feast I had observed nearly a year earlier in the Lugulu Hills of western Kenya. Chicken, beef, beans, tomatoes, kale, a mound of corn meal and a plate of flat bread. Leonida Wanyama, a smallholder farmer, and her family were celebrating a year of bountiful harvests. Following the lead of a social enterprise organization called One Acre Fund, she finally had access to the essential elements of farming – better quality seeds, soil nutrients, financing to pay for it and extension advice. It was a solution that involved entire communities of farmers, a solution that aimed for a permanent end to the farmers’ hunger season. The Christmas before, following a typically meager harvest, Leonida had served only boiled bananas.
The pride and joy I saw at that home-grown Christmas feast in western Kenya I now witnessed again at the CCK graduation ceremony. The students laughed about a phrase they repeatedly heard in class as the teachers stressed the importance of a well-ordered, efficient kitchen: mise en place.
Everything in place.
It is a culinary phrase. And, in the CCK, it is also a metaphor for life.
I think it should also be a slogan for the war on hunger:
Put hunger in its place. Which is to say, in the dustbin of history.
Nov 28th, 2012 2:53 PM UTC
By Kelly Hauser
For this World AIDS Day, ONE agriculture expert Kelly Hauser highlights four stellar agriculture programs that are working to improve the incomes and nutrition of people living with HIV and their families.
I’m no HIV/AIDS expert, but I know that it’s incredibly hard for people living with HIV and their families to rise out of poverty for many reasons: decreased productivity as a result of being sick, stigma and discrimination, or the death of family members who would have helped young people to learn a trade. Agriculture, which is a source of income and food for two-third of Africans, and nutrition, which is key to getting well, staying well and being productive, are intricately linked to poverty in Africa.
Thus, for World AIDS Day, I’m highlighting four programs that address both incomes and nutrition of HIV-affected people in Africa: a village poultry project in Mozambique, a horticulture growing association in Kenya, a permaculture training program for orphans in Malawi, and hospital gardening in South Africa.
Kyeema Foundation: The Kyeema Foundation’s Village Poultry Project is working with women in Mozambique who are both farmers and caregivers for family members with HIV/AIDS. Kyeema is working with the women to help them raise chickens – which provide nutritious meat, eggs and fertilizer. Chicken farming is a great option for these burdened women since chickens, which eat insects and kitchen scraps, are relatively easy to raise and they provide a much-needed source of protein for sick family members, who require more protein than healthy family members.
Chepterit Horticultural Growers Organization: This organization is made up of Kenyan women living with HIV who are working together to increase their incomes. The US government’s global food security initiative, Feed the Future, helped the organization set up a passion fruit nursery, taught them about drip irrigation and sustainable pest control, and linked them to a reliable market. Last year, the nursery sold $16,000 worth of seedlings and 7,500 kilograms of passion fruit. Many members are now saving money and several joined together to purchased land to expand their farming. “This project brought hope back into our community,” Irine Zippy Kalamai says. “I now believe that if farmers can easily access quality seeds, they will have a better yield and ultimately high incomes.”
Permaculture for Orphans and Vulnerable Children: Worldwide, 16.6 million children have lost parents due to HIV. In losing their parents, most of these children also lose their access to farming knowledge. Feed the Future is working to counteract that by teaching permaculture, a type of sustainable agriculture that includes eating nutritious and local foods, to orphaned and vulnerable children in Malawi and elsewhere. Permaculture emulates natural ecosystems while providing food for consumption and sale, creating a self-sustaining system that is quite different from the monocropping of industrial agriculture. In the backyard of the Malawi program managers, children learn about nutrition and how to intersperse trees and indigenous crops, raise bees to pollinate, recycle used kitchen water and compost toilet waste to help fertilize crops. Not only are they learning to make a living, they are also learning to live healthier.
GardenAfrica: GardenAfrica is a UK-based organization that works with the organization South Africa HIV to train HIV patients to garden and supply them with healthy foods. They work behind the courtyard walls of clinics and hospitals to maintain training gardens, where patients learn and grow food. Participants learn about organic gardening, irrigation, nutrition, medicinal plants and new styles of cooking. They take home vegetables and starter packs with instructions and seeds for tomatoes, spinach, chard, broccoli, cabbage and many other vegetables and herbs.
These are only a few of the programs out there, but around the world nutrition and self-sustaining agriculture are making people stronger and healthier in the fight to end AIDS and extreme poverty.
Nov 22nd, 2012 12:52 PM UTC
By Isabelle De Lichtervelde
In 2008, when food prices soared, donors looked for smart ideas to help vulnerable communities cope by boosting local food production and enabling them to earn enough money to buy food and save for when times are tight.
One such smart idea was in Kenya, where a EU and United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization funded radio show promoted better farming techniques amongst a dispersed rural population. The results simply changed lives.
Piloted across 14 districts in the Rift Valley Province in Kenya, a region with high potential for dairy farming, the four-month radio series shared techniques for improving dairy farming with as wide an audience as possible, including women with children and young people. The long term goal was to improve household incomes and living standards.
Mr. Isaac Ngetich, a farmer from Koibatek District explains, “Our region has a high potential for dairy farming which is not being fully exploited. The radio programmes have helped us.” He continues, “Through the programme I won a prize for best farmer as I moved from getting 3 litres of milk to 4, 5, 7 and 10. I have established 2 acres of pasture and have learnt the value of keeping good records to monitor performance and identify areas for improvement in animal management.”
The programmes also offered practical tips such as how to produce silage to feed livestock. After listening to the radio programme and later seeing a demonstration of a chaff cutter (a device for cutting straw and hay), Isaac decided to make his own. “Now I am able to cut enough grass for my animals and sell what is left.”
The series was a great success, with up to 1.2 million listeners each week. “When the radio programme started, I bought a radio and followed the programmes wherever I was. I would take notes and try to follow the guidelines given on the radio. My milk production moved from 15 litres to 36 litres,” Isaac Rotich, Chairperson of Muserechi Young Farmers says. “I am not employed anywhere else but I am able to pay fees for my children comfortably.”
Paul Cheruiyot, Chairperson of Torongo Farmers’ Cooperative (Dairy) observes, “Since our establishment, our main challenge has been how to reduce milk rejection which has been rising over the years and in 2009 peaked at 2000 litres per day. Through the programme, our members now engage in clean milk production and at long last have reduced rejection from 2000 litres to 100 litres.”
In the internet age, the programme shows how radio still has the power to change lives on a huge scale. “The radio programme can reach the owner, the workers and the family all at the same time,” says Cheruiyot. “As a result of this reduction in rejected milk, our members are better off.”
The improved levels of dairy production and reduced levels of rejection have meant more money in the pockets of rural farmers including women. This has led to the establishment of a Savings and Credit Society which will help rural farmers put money aside and protects themselves better from future food price hikes.
With this pilot being such a success, another radio programme has been set up and is now running in 10 other districts across Kenya . Similar types of radio programmes are also currently being set up in arid and semi-arid areas under the EU-funded Kenya Rural Development Programme and the Kenyan government is supporting similar initiatives.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Achieving food security for all is at the heart of the FAO’s efforts – to make sure people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. Visit the FAO website.
Nov 21st, 2012 6:36 PM UTC
By Diane Sheard
British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that the UK-chaired G8 summit next June will be held in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland. In a blog earlier this month, ONE’s Adrian Lovett set five tests for Cameron in 2013, the third of which was using the UK’s G8 presidency to help ensure that ours is the generation that eradicates extreme poverty.
In his announcement, Cameron lay out three G8 development strands, building on his ‘golden thread’ narrative: advancing trade; ensuring tax compliance; and promoting greater transparency. As you may have read elsewhere on the ONE Blog, the golden thread is a distinct approach to poverty reduction which argues that if societies are to move from poverty to prosperity, they need to have the right institutions and governance arrangements in place, with people empowered to face the challenges and seize the opportunities that they face in their daily lives.
Cameron expanded on this in an op-ed on Wednesday, in which he said that “as more and more countries attract investment, exploit their natural resources and expand their tax base, Africa’s development prospects increasingly rest on its ability to harness domestic resources for the benefit of all”, and that “there are several ways the G8 can uniquely support this process, advancing transparency in order to empower citizens to take charge of their own destiny.” We couldn’t agree more. Greater transparency – of aid flows from donors, of government budgets, of tax and illicit finance, and within the extractives industry – is central to this. And what’s more, we expect G8 leaders to put their own houses in order, including looking at tax havens and the recovery of stolen assets within their own countries.
In addition to the golden thread focus, Cameron will host a high-level food and nutrition event just ahead of the G8, building on this year’s Olympic hunger summit. The New Alliance, launched at the 2012 G8 in Camp David, committed to lifting 50 million out of poverty through investment in agriculture. Next June, leaders must enhance and expand the New Alliance if we are to make progress towards this goal. Donors must also commit to backing African governments’ agriculture plans with the necessary resources, as well as enhancing nutrition.
We are hopeful that making real progress on trade, tax and transparency could pass the third test that Adrian has set. There is certainly real potential. Northern Ireland’s recent history has demonstrated how bleak prospects and endemic pessimism can be overcome within a generation with the right combination of time, resources and political will. For the goal of ending extreme poverty, we need the same ingredients. This is Adrian’s fifth test: whether Cameron – and other G8 leaders – are prepared to invest the necessary time, resources and political will.
Nov 21st, 2012 5:20 PM UTC
By Sarah Stone
Last month ONE went on the road with Canadian Christian contemporary band and longtime ONE members, Starfield on their “We Are the Kingdom” tour. ONE volunteers were able to sign up hundreds of new ONE members and spread the word about preventable diseases, global childhood nutrition and raise awareness about the wonder vegetable – the sweet potato!
Each band member proudly wore their white ONE armbands each night and encouraged the audience to sign up to become ONE members. We even got the Starfield crew talking to people about ONE!
The message of ONE was reinforced each night with stories and video of the band and their recent trip to Kenya with World Vision where they met a remarkable woman named Anastasia who is the primary caregiver for her 9 orphaned grandchildren. This sobering video was a tangible reminder of the real lives and real risk facing the people of Africa.
The band are passionate about the fight against extreme poverty and regularly incorporate awareness and advocacy into their concerts.
Tim Neufeld, lead singer of Starfield had this to say about partnering with ONE:
“We LOVED working with the crew from ONE on the “We are the Kingdom Tour”. Their enthusiasm and ONE’s ability to rise above the partisan politics that seem to rule the age is refreshing and inspiring.
We wish ONE God’s blessing in their continued fight to end poverty and suffering around the world.”
The response and enthusiasm to ONE was another great example of the passion that Canadians have for global issues. Without fail at each tour stop people were excited about engaging and using their voices to make a difference for the world’s most poor and vulnerable.
Nov 8th, 2012 1:15 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
With less rain and erratic flooding, the semi-arid village of Chololo in Tanzania is learning how to adapt to the challenges of climate change.
Photo: Cholo village in semi-arid Tanzania
Thanks to an EU-funded project, Chololo, with its 3,500 residents, is becoming a model ecovillage through climate change adaption and mitigation.
The two-year project, launched in October 2011, aims to develop a model of sustainable practices in the areas of agriculture, livestock, water, energy and natural resources, which could eventually empower millions in the region to cope better with changing climatic conditions.
“We chose Chololo because the people were very poor, hardly able to afford food to last them throughout the year as their agriculture is purely rain fed,” explains Dr Francis Bernard Njau, the Chololo Ecovillage Project Manager. “Before the project there was no proper harvesting of water, so far 1,111 households have been involved in different aspects of the project.”
The ecovillage project has focused on agricultural innovations that make the most of available rainfall. Currently, 400 farmers have been trained to use early maturing and drought-tolerant seeds as well as in soil preparation and water conservation. In addition, the village water supply has been restored and the local primary school has been equipped with roof catchment rainwater harvesting equipment, capturing 60,000 litres of water in underground tanks.
“Six neighbouring villages now have access to piped water from a repaired borehole and roof water catchment introduced at schools and in households is fully operational,” boasts Dr Njau.
In livestock management, training has been provided to 118 farmers, including 54 women, to help improve breeding techniques for 30 bulls and 60 goats. And, over 120 chicken keepers, mostly female, have also started benefiting from improved breeding and livestock management.
Another aim of the project is to increase access to natural resources through tree planting, agroforestry and community land use planning and management while encouraging the use of alternative sources of energy. So far 14,668 tree seedlings have been plants at 208 homes, six churches, the primary school and the dispensary, as well as 3,000 trees in three acres of village forest reserve.
“We appreciate the education we receive on agriculture, improved seeds and farming implements such as ox ploughs,” says Chololo village chairperson Michael Jonas Mbumi. “Women’s groups are thriving, and tree seedlings, together with energy-saving stoves and biogas, are helping us conserve the environment.”
The project has also considerably improved food security for the village. “This year, even with less rain, we have received a bumper harvest of sorghum, pearl millet, ground nuts, cow and pigeon peas,” adds Mbumi. We have better breeds of bulls, goats and improved cocks and we have fish ponds that are doing very well.”
Photo: Rain water harvesting through roof catchment
James Maligana, the former village chairperson agrees: “Of those who participated in the project, nobody will suffer from food insecurity. Before the project, I used to harvest 1-2 bags of millet. Now, I get 4-6 bags from less space. During prolonged drought I was still able to harvest 10 bags where before I would harvest 5 or 6 in a good year.”
The achievements of the Chololo ecovillage project have made it to the floor of the Tanzanian Parliament. The real test of the project, however, will be replicating its success across the country and East Africa.
Tanzania’s Institute of Rural Development Planning (IRDP) provides training, research and consultancy services in the field of rural development planning and management. Its main objective is to alleviate the shortage of skilled manpower within the framework of sustainable capacity building directed towards reducing poverty and attaining sustainable development. IRDP is leading a team of six agencies to transform Chololo into an ecovillage.
For more information on IRDP, visit: http://www.irdp.ac.tz
For more information in the Chololo Ecovillage Project, visit: http://chololoecovillage.wordpress.com
Nov 2nd, 2012 1:00 PM UTC
By Adrian Lovett
A world in which 870 million people are chronically undernourished is not best served by small thinking. That’s why it is entirely fitting that in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, David Cameron sets out a vision to make this the generation that eradicates absolute poverty. What seemed a few decades ago to be an idle pipedream is now tantalisingly possible, with a surge of political will and resources in the coming years. The fact that Cameron has articulated this goal, when economic austerity and cynicism with politics makes some view such ambition with scepticism, is a very good sign. He knows such a goal is achievable and appears ready to play his part to make it happen.
But Cameron has done more than set a lofty goal. He has articulated a distinct approach to poverty reduction – the ‘golden thread’ – which argues if societies are to move from poverty to prosperity, they need to have the right institutions and governance arrangements in place, with people empowered to face the challenges and seize the opportunities that they face in their daily lives.
So far, so good. The notion may be open to misinterpretation by some, but the ‘golden thread’ combines conviction and common-sense. So if genius, as Thomas Edison remarked, is one per cent inspiration and 99 per cent perspiration, the Prime Minister can probably tick off the first half of the formula. But to realise the potential of the smart approach he champions in pursuit of the big vision he has described, he and his team now need to break a sweat.
The leadership challenge is to flesh out the ‘golden thread’ with ambitious policy changes and a diplomatic plan to sell them on the world stage. Neither of these challenges is straightforward but Britain is in a unique position to deliver on them in 2013, thanks to a series of leadership moments where extreme poverty will be centre stage. Each of them will require a carefully constructed alliance of leaders from across the world, from governments, multilateral institutions and civil society. If Cameron can meet five tests in 2013, he will have a justified claim to a place in the history of the fight against poverty.
The first test is to maintain the UK’s commitment to meet the internationally agreed spending target of 0.7% of gross national income on aid. Well-spent British aid transforms lives around the world. Reaching 0.7% means that by 2015 British taxpayers will have supported 16 million children to go to school and paid for vaccinations that will save 1.4 million lives. The UK government should ensure that investment in agriculture is a priority, building on recent commitments to reverse the decades of underfunding for a sector that is the primary occupation of the majority of people living in poverty.
Second, Cameron should use his role as co-chair of the United Nations panel on what will follow the Millennium Development Goals to set an ambitious new set of global poverty targets. The first set of goals from 2000 agreed that extreme poverty should be halved by 2015. World leaders must now set a course to eradicate extreme poverty entirely – and plot the clear steps towards that destination.
Third, the G8 in June must be a moment of clear policy delivery on the ‘golden thread’. The last UK hosted G8 secured important increases in aid and debt cancellation to help directly fund the fight against poverty. In 2013 aid remains an important part of the picture, but as more and more countries attract investment, exploit their natural resources and expand their tax base, Africa’s development prospects increasingly rest on its ability to harness domestic resources for the benefit of all.
There are several ways the G8 can uniquely support this process, advancing transparency in order to empower citizens to take charge of their own destiny. They must act on natural resources, which have too often been a wasted opportunity for developing countries. Cameron’s call for Europe to at least match US legislation requiring extractive companies to publish what they pay governments, broken down to individual projects, is welcome.
The UK should also go a step further by signing up to the voluntary Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative and ending the double standard of asking developing countries to sign on without being members themselves. But the G8 should also agree a package of measures to ensure that newly liberated data about financial transactions between companies and governments is effectively used. Civil society and anti-corruption bodies need to be supported – financially if needs be, through a G8 ‘Follow the Money’ Fund – and government revenue authorities beefed up. The same institutions will benefit from progress on budget transparency, which the G8 should support by endorsing fiscal transparency principles and public procurement efficiency measures. Transparency around other issues including large scale land deals and tax should also be increased, with rules that enable politicians and companies to hide their ill-gotten gains behind a wall of secrecy re-written too. Only then will the illicit financial flows that drain Africa of precious government revenue begin to slow down.
The fourth test is galvanising momentum for world leaders to follow through on bold commitments that will ensure there is enough food for everyone. Cameron has multiple opportunities to lead in 2013 and make sure these promises are kept. As well as the G8, meeting, he announced yesterday that the UK will host a summit next year to focus global attention on agriculture and nutrition.
The New Alliance launched at this year’s G8 to lift 50 million out of poverty through agricultural investment should be expanded to more countries and backed by funding pledges that run until at least 2015. It should also include an accountable partnership on nutrition between developed and developing country governments and the private sector. The Maputo commitment made by African governments to ring-fence at least 10% of national budgets for agriculture will reach its tenth anniversary in 2013 – the summit can also be part of an accountability moment on that promise. Backing African leadership with investment in fully vetted, costed country-owned agriculture and nutrition plans will truly help the continent not merely to survive but to thrive. This must be a core component of a ‘golden thread’ that gives people the opportunity to pull themselves out of poverty.
The final test, which underpins all of the first four, is whether the British government will devote the necessary time and resources to make all of this a success. The ideas and vision are in place but good intentions alone cannot deliver. Have the Cabinet and embassies around the world been drilled into action, with a common determination across all offices of state to pursue an ambitious agenda with drive and discipline? What is the plan for hitting the phones, getting on the road, twisting arms and offering deals to get a result next year? How exactly will Downing Street use each of the thirty-odd weeks between now and the British G8? What plans are being made to leverage British aid at a string of vital multilateral replenishment moments, ranging from the Global Fund to the African Development Bank? These are the questions that will ultimately decide if the ‘golden thread’ fulfils its potential as a means to tackle the causes of poverty.
Citizens and civil society have a big part to play. There needs to be a concerted effort to engage and enlist the public in the next stage – perhaps the decisive one – of the journey towards the end of extreme poverty. That campaigning energy must push the British government, and others, to go the extra mile and make the most of this impressive roster of opportunities in 2013. No one can afford to look back in a year’s time with regret. Least of all David Cameron.
Oct 26th, 2012 2:58 PM UTC
By Isabelle De Lichtervelde
For decades, farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa have been struggling to produce enough food from the land they have. But in Eastern Kenya, more than 50,000 farmers are now using a clever new technique that prevents pests and weeds from destroying crops. The results are pretty amazing. The system, called ‘Push-Pull’, is now being redeveloped to tackle the additional pressures on food security brought about by climate change.
The ‘Push-Pull’ system, originally developed over 20 years ago by the International Centre for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) works by mixing plants that ‘push’ pests and weeds away from the crop and others that ‘pull’ pests to border areas to lay their eggs where they cause less harm.
It’s a simple but revolutionary idea that can almost double the amount of food farmers can produce from their available land. What’s more it’s cheap enough and doesn’t require complex technology that would put it out of reach of smallholder farmers. The system uses locally-available plants and fits well with traditional African mixed cropping systems.
“I have experienced tremendous improvement,” boasts Emai Ikapolok David, a farmer from the North Teso District in Kenya. “Before, I used to get 50 kg from a 0.4-acre plot, but now with push-pull I get 540 kg of maize from the same plot. My soil fertility level has also improved and there is a clear decrease in striga (a type of weed) and stemborer (a pest) in the garden.”
The community has also benefitted from a feeling of greater security. “Theft cases have reduced because everybody has enough to feed on,” says Eric Odhiambo, Sub-chief of Ginga Sub- Location in Siaya District.
But farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa, and around the world are facing a new threat from global climate change. The rising uncertainties in the region’s rain-fed agriculture have created more demand for ‘push-pull’, and its further development to help crops withstand the increasingly adverse and changeable weather conditions.
In March 2011, ICIPE launched a project called ADOPT (Adaptation and Dissemination of the Push-Pull Technology to Climate Change). The €2.9 million, EU-funded project aims to create a drought-tolerant form of Push-Pull. The aim is to reach one million farming households by 2020.
“Thanks to the funding we have received from the EU, we have been able to do further research and to reach more farmers and more countries,” Zeyaur Khan, ICIPE project coordinator of ADOPT says. “Through our research, we found [push-pull] plants that are better than previous used plants,” says Khan. “They can survive a very long period of drought.”
The ADOPT project will directly benefit 50,000 smallholder cereal and livestock farmers. It will also improve food availability for half a million people living in areas that are dry and vulnerable to climate change in Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia.
The results are impressive. “The deployment and adoption of a drought-adapted Push-Pull has increased yields by three times,” Khan says. “In the long term it will also improve the soil fertility. Farmers won’t have to use fertilizers anymore.”
Without EU funding, Khan says ICIPE wouldn’t have been able to adapt the Push-Pull technique to climate change. “Other donors are funding only the standard push pull,” he says, “so this funding is very very important for us, for the countries we are working in, and for smallholder famers facing long drought and who cannot produce enough food for themselves.”
The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) is an international scientific research institute headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. ICIPE’s mission is to help alleviate poverty, ensure food security and improve the overall health status of peoples in the tropics by developing and extending management tools and strategies for harmful and useful arthropods, while preserving the natural resource base through research and capacity building.
For more information about ICIPE, visit: http://www.icipe.org
For more information about push-pull technology, visit: http://www.push-pull.net
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.