Nov 16th, 2012 4:17 PM UTC
By Nealon DeVore
Founded in 1997 and formally registered as a Community Based Organization in 1999, a group of small-scale farmers in rural Western Kenya established MFCG with the mission to protect and conserve Kakamega Forest. Kakamega Forest, covering an area of 240 km2 and containing more than a thousand unique species of flora and fauna, is Kenya’s last remaining rainforest, which was once part of the vast equatorial Congo-Guinean forest that stretched from the continent’s Atlantic coast to its Indian one. The farmers that founded MFCG saw an acute, urgent need to raise awareness in the local communities of the dire state of the forest and to support the local and national governments’ efforts to conserve the forest.
MFCG initially began by using traditional advocacy methods to reach out to their communities to educate them about the forest. It wasn’t easy at first in trying to share the message that the forest had to be protected. In particular, MFCG had to convey the intense pressure Kakamega Forest had come under over the years due to the growing and increasingly impoverished population found in western Kenya. The forest was a readily available, go-to resource for firewood, game meat, and wild fruit and vegetables. While the local population had lived off the forest and its abundance for millennia, it was now becoming obvious that the forest would perish under the relenting demand for human growth and development. MFCG’s founding farmers quickly discovered that their goal of conserving the forest seemed to contravene their fellow community members’ most basic and overwhelming instincts for survival—often without regard for the environmental cost.
At this point, it dawned on MFCG that it must tie the preservation of the forest to the economic interests of its surrounding communities. Consequently, MFCG changed its approach and began highlighting how the communities relied on the forest for their survival and that if the forest were no longer there, how would the community survive? By underscoring the impending loss of these traditional natural resources, MFCG began changing the attitudes of the forest’s human communities. This and other activities increased MFCG’s credibility and eventually led to its recognition by outside organizations.
In 2000, MFCG began partnering with organizations like ICIPE, a Kenyan scientific research institute focused on using science to discover natural resources that could be developed and commercialized to promote the conservation of endangered environmental hotspots. ICIPE was and still is particularly concerned about those areas with an abundance of biodiversity and ecologically sensitive organisms. Having heard about MFCG’s efforts to conserve Kakamega Rainforest, ICIPE wanted to know if there were any particular traditional plants that the communities around Kakamega used. ICIPE and MFCG eventually settled upon the wild ocimum kilimandscharicum plant, which had been traditionally used to treat insect bites, muscle aches, colds and nasal congestion. ICIPE soon determined the active compound in the plant and began testing different products in which it could be commercialized. In the meantime, MFCG had to domesticate the plant so it could encourage farmers to grow the plant in order to provide enough of it to ICIPE as it began zeroing in on the best applications for its essential oils and extracts.
Fast forward a few years and MFCG now has 460 farmers growing ocimum, which provides an additional income to the farmer and creates employment at local processing and collection centers. The ocimum is distilled in Kakamega to its essential oils and crystals, which are then transported to Nairobi to be manufactured into the Naturub® brand of balms and ointments that are sold in stores and pharmacies throughout Kenya. Naturub® products can be most likened to Vick’s Vapor Rub® in the United States and elsewhere. Ocimum contains natural camphor, a compound that when inhaled helps clear nasal congestion and colds. It also can reduce inflammation and aches related to insect bites and muscle soreness. Moreover, MFCG, ICIPE and their commercial partners are exploring additional products to be produced from ocimum and other traditional plants from Kakamega.
Before MFCG had begun its work with the ocimum plant, 40% of the households surrounding Kakamega Forest had no sustainable source of income. Those households now participating in MFCG’s activities have a regular income, which puts their children in schools and provides food and shelter amongst other life necessities. MFCG can directly ties its activities and efforts to all of the world’s Millennium Development Goals. In particular, we at ONE acknowledge that MFCG is particularly effective at MDG 7 (ensuring environmental sustainability) while the income MFCG’s members earn enable them to eradicate extreme poverty (MDG 1), educate their children (MDG 2) and seek any necessary health treatments (MDGs 4, 5 & 6).
We’re proud to have MFCG as a finalist for this year’s ONE Africa Award!
Nov 1st, 2012 3:31 PM UTC
By Nealon DeVore
After reviewing over 250 applications , visiting 5 countries in 12 days, and drinking more African coffee than any doctor would recommend as healthy, we’re excited to announce the five finalists for the 2012 ONE Africa Award. In its fifth year, the ONE Africa Award aims to reward those African organizations, groups and individuals that are engaged in life-changing, innovative efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in their local communities, regions and countries. These groups are usually involved in providing some direct services to their communities and tying those efforts to direct advocacy in order that lasting change may take place.
For this year, we received applications from all corners of the continent. There were completed applications in English, French, Portuguese and even a few with Arabic attachments. We surely discovered the diversity of this beautiful continent as we read the stories of the organizations and the problems they are addressing in their villages, cities and nations. It is truly impossible to choose the top five, for each application deserves recognition, but we had a job to do. The 2012 ONE Africa Award Finalists are the following:
Friends of the Global Fund Africa (Friends Africa) – Working from Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, Friends Africa focuses on raising African support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Working with partners, they have secured tens of millions of dollars of commitments for the Fund from African governments and businesses.
Muliru Farmers Conservation Group (MFCG) – MFCG’s members live in the towering shadows of Kenya’s last remaining rainforest, Kakamega Forest. Faced with its impending destruction, MFCG mobilized in the late 1990s to advocate for its conservation and in the meantime, found a way to tie local farmers’ economic interests to the health and vitality of Kakamega Forest.
Positive-Generation (PG) – Headquartered in Yaoundé, Cameroon’s capital, PG fights for the Cameroonian government to maintain its commitments to spend 15% of the nation’s budget on healthcare. PG started at a university as a social club to fight the stigmatization of HIV+ people and advocated for the government to provide free antiretroviral drugs after implementing a successful monitoring program of government health clinics and hospitals.
Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP) – While its offices may be in downtown Johannesburg, RHAP works for the rights of South African’s rural citizens to access affordable, quality healthcare in their home districts. In its short existence, RHAP has become the de facto source for the most innovative policies and practices to improve rural healthcare and while at it, has given a voice to rural health workers that they never had before.
Supporting Orphans & Vulnerable for Better Health, Education & Nutrition (SOVHEN) – SOVHEN is a community development organization working in four of Uganda’s rural districts. It started as a student group to give new opportunities to their citizens and took on the challenge of keeping girls in school by finding an incredibly innovative, affordable method to manufacture sanitary pads.
We at ONE are truly honored to be able to have the privilege of learning about these organizations and telling their stories. Over the next few weeks, we hope you will join us as we share their stories in words, photos and videos.
The 2012 ONE Africa Award winner will be announced on December 5 in Dar es Salaam. Stay tuned and enjoy learning about their amazing work!
Oct 15th, 2012 10:07 AM UTC
By Guest Blogger
My name is Agnes Kalya and I am a farmer in Mukono District, Uganda.
For years, I struggled to grow enough food to provide for my family. Then one day I learned about a new crop of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, specifically bred to thrive here in Africa. Developed using natural, traditional plant breeding techniques, the sweet potato is loaded with nutrients such as Vitamin A, which help give children a healthier start in life.
Thanks to the training I received I am now able to sell my orange sweet potatoes and, for the first time, can help support my family and ensure my children attend school. As a mother this makes me so proud.
I haven’t looked back since.
Innovations like the vitamin A rich sweet potato can make a huge impact in fighting hunger, but we farmers need the support of world leaders to make these and other nutrient-rich crops more widespread.
Please join me and add your name to ONE’s petition.
The petition reads:
Dear world leaders,
Please make measurable commitments to reduce chronic malnutrition for 25 million kids by 2016 so they can reach their full potential.
I am now working myself out of poverty and helping others in my community with what I have learned. But we need your help. Ahead of World Food day on October 16th please join me and help us grow a better future.
Farmer and ONE member
Sep 19th, 2012 10:57 AM UTC
By Ben Leo
The UN-led process for determining the next round of global development goals is officially underway. Politicians, technocrats, and bureaucrats have been effectively deputized to determine what should build upon and replace the existing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have a rapidly approaching deadline in 2015. The development community is planning a flurry of conferences, meetings, and consultations in at least 50 developing countries over the next six months. This process will include country and thematic consultations, a high-level panel of eminent persons making formal recommendations, and a web-based platform to solicit views from the general public.
Simply put, these high-stakes discussions will set the development agenda for a generation and likely influence how hundreds of billions of dollars are spent by both developing country and donor governments.
But something is missing: the views of the world’s poorest citizens.
Six months ago, I proposed a radical, yet simple, idea. Why not ask the world’s ordinary citizens, including the poorest and most marginalized, what they really want out of the new global development goals? Let’s hand the microphone to those who stand to benefit the most from the new development agenda. We should proactively be asking about their concerns, priorities and aspirations. And listening intently to their responses. By giving them a seat at the table, they can speak up for themselves, determine their own futures, and set their own agenda.
That is why groups like ONE are pushing for a What the World Wants Poll, a standardized set of questions that would be answered globally, covering both developing and developed countries. The resulting data would help to ground official discussions in ordinary people’s daily realities and concerns, and give a serious boost of credibility and relevance to the post-2015 framework discussions. Without it, we all run the risk of developing a well-packaged and shiny political product that falls flat with people living in urban slums, rural villages, or somewhere in between.
Although this idea seems obvious, it’s not on the agenda – at least not yet. Collectively, we need to make sure that it happens as soon as possible. If it doesn’t, then the planned consultative sessions may take place in a virtual vacuum or echo chamber that is detached from the developing world’s priorities for the next few decades.
To get a sense of what such a poll would discover, ONE completed a comprehensive analysis of existing household surveys in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and East Asia. While the results underscore the need for a much more comprehensive poll, the findings reinforce the wisdom of bringing average citizens into the process.
So, what does the existing data tell us?
Household Income Issues Top the List of Concerns: Roughly one-in-three respondents cite these kinds of issues as their most pressing concerns. Specific demographic groups, such as African urban youth, raise employment- and income-related concerns at a much higher rate. Put differently, so-called kitchen table issues predominate throughout the world – regardless of whether families actually have kitchens or dining room tables. This suggests that people may be clamoring for a post-2015 framework that prioritizes income-related issues as the primary catalyst for securing the freedom and flexibility to address their needs and aspirations.
Agriculture and Food Security Feature Large: Roughly one-in-seven respondents cite this as their top priority, which should not be surprising to anyone who has visited the developing world. Agriculture remains the primary, or major, source of employment and income for the vast majority of people living in developing countries. By illustration, if rural households are able to increase their small farm’s productivity and better access markets, then their means to address the multitude of immediate priorities – such as educating and keeping their children healthy – would be significantly improved.
Collectively, we must be able to look forward without losing sight of the current MDGs, to which we must remain deeply committed. The MDGs have mobilized and channeled unparalleled actions from a broad range of actors, including developing and developed country governments, non-governmental actors, and the private sector. Many developing countries have achieved unparalleled rates of improvement: reducing child mortality, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other infectious diseases, and increasing school enrolment. These robust results illustrate both the power of aspirational global goals and the necessity of continuing to accelerate progress over the next three years.
Despite the immediate need for continued action, we must also ensure that the next batch of global development goals are truly inclusive, representative, and grounded in what the world wants.
Over the next few years, the global community will grapple with profound issues that will have an outsized impact on development-related investments for decades. Clearly, the UN and others are taking this process very seriously and proactively seeking out stakeholder views. If augmented by direct engagement with the world’s poorest people, these laudable efforts will undoubtedly increase the quality of the post-2015 goals and rally greater support for getting them done. At stake is a world where all people, especially the poorest among us, can truly own and chart their own course for the future.
Share your thoughts on this blog post in the comments section below, or tweet Ben Leo at @AfricaOnTheMove.
Aug 30th, 2012 6:44 PM UTC
By Jamie Drummond
I started this year travelling across Africa with Bono visiting places we hadn’t been for nearly a decade. One of these was northern Ghana. Ghana is often held up as a success story of development. It has a stable democracy, fast growing economy and has already met the Millennium Development Goal to halve extreme poverty. There is a buzz about the place – they are on the road out of aid. But this success has not reached everyone and northern Ghana in particular feels left out of the countrywide progress, just as it did a decade ago.
On this visit to the North we teamed up with Jeffrey Sachs and visited the West Mamprusi District where we met Fatahiya Yakubu a 24 year old nurse working hard to help the community. She is one of only two nurses serving 30,000 people from her clinic. She plainly could do with some help, as could the whole community.
That is why I’m excited that the UK’s Department for International Development has started to work in the West-Mamprusi and Builsa Districts of northern Ghana as of this week, working through the Millennium Village method and with the regional Savvanah Accelerated Development Authority. The Millennium Village project is an important experiment. Taking one village and district at a time and working across sectors – investing in education, agriculture, health, governance – at the same time.
The approach has not been immune to criticism and many lessons have been learnt over the course of the Millennium Village projects in other parts of Africa.
Building on this work it’s also crucial that this latest program for West Mamprusi District will be rigorously independently monitored through randomized control trial, publicly available data, and the results published so British taxpayers can see how their money is being spent, and what results it is and isn’t achieving.
Aid alone is not the answer to development – policies that promote transparency, good governance, trade, investment and inclusive growth are just as important – sometimes more so. But smart aid, strategically used, can save lives in the short term and help catalyze communities and national economies to thrive in the medium to long term.
The kind of independent monitoring this Millennium Village project will be scrutinized by should become more widespread practice right across the development sector. Overall, the development community needs to become more like the corporate sector in the way we experiment, face both success and failure bravely, take risks, be entrepreneurial, learn lessons and adapt. Smart aid, the kind that we advocate for at ONE, is an investment that measures results, that holds itself accountable for delivery, that offers the best independent evaluation of what works and, more importantly, honours these citizen’s real struggles by being open about what doesn’t work.
As part of our own commitment to this we are going to follow the progress of West Mamprusi District and Fatahiye and other communities and individuals across the continent. We want to know what heroines like Fatahiya do next, and how they will seize and own the opportunities that should come about as a result mainly of their own efforts – backed by British and other nations aid programs and other polices covering things like trade and transparency. And we want to hear their concerns and criticisms of the project too. We will publish their stories on this blog.
We want to give these vital voices a platform so we can take their views directly to leaders such as those gathering at the G8 or the annual African Union Summits, to give the poorest people a chance to tell leaders what they should be doing to help end extreme poverty and hunger.
These are the voices I want to hear. I hope you do to. So stay tuned to the ONE blog for more.
Jul 17th, 2012 4:50 PM UTC
By Jamie Drummond
Last month I was invited to speak at TED Global in Edinburgh. TED is an organisation devoted to ideas worth spreading. So I wanted to share with you my talk and an idea we’re working on with partners at ONE that I think needs spreading…
In a few years’ time the Millennium Development Goals, which were agreed in 2000 to tackle extreme poverty and preventable disease, meet their goal-line: 2015. So we need to assess how we did on these goals and decide whether global goals like this are a good idea going forward, based on whether they’ve helped galvanise life-saving and transformative action. If we think such global goals are helpful catalysts for action then we need to decide “what the world wants” these new global goals to be – and we need to decide how we will decide!
So are such goals a good idea? Personally I think the Millennium Development Goals are very worthwhile, they have achieved a lot – like helped 6m more Africans with HIV get access to life preserving antiretrovirals and helped get 46 million children in school in Africa.
But there is more to do. Still 7.6m kids die of preventable treatable diseases every year. 178 million are “stunted”, a horrible term that means malnourished to the point of physical and cognitive lifelong impairment. And many people think new goals should be packed in with the old goals – such as on fighting corruption or environmental sustainability. These are all vital issues. But there will have to be trade offs, tough choices, we can’t work on everything.
But the real question here is what do YOU think the new global goals should be? And what do the poorest on the planet think, who otherwise could get squeezed out of the process. How can their views be put at the heart of the process to decide the world’s new goals? At the end of the day if the new goals are to be truly global goals everyone, everywhere should get a chance to contribute, vote and have their say in a structured legitimate way.
What’s exciting is that, unlike in 2000 when the first goals were agreed, internet and mobile phones have spread all around the world. People are more connected than ever. So, I’d like to explore how we could use this technology to involve people from around the world in co-designing an historic first: the world’s first ever truly global poll and consultation on “What the World Wants”. Let’s crowd-source the new Millennium Development Goals. I believe that through this crowd-sourcing we won’t just improve the quality of the goals, we will also increase the quality of support for getting the goals done.
You can watch my TED talk in full here:
The stakes are high. Hundreds of billions of dollars, tens of millions of lives and deaths, and perhaps the peacefulness and prosperity of the twenty-first century we live in together. So please consider what you think and what you want the new global goals to be.
There are already some smart people and organisations doing serious thinking on what comes after 2015 including: Institute of Development Studies, Overseas Development Institute, The Brookings Institute, UN Millennium Development Goals adviser Jeff Sachs and Beyond2015.org.
There are many ways to take forward this conversation and the real effort to democratise and radically break open this expert discussion has not yet begun. I think this could be a fascinating exercise and experiment in twenty first century global governance. So please join in.
What do you think, how should we go about agreeing what replaces the Millennium Development Goals? Do you agree that they’ve been good so far, that there’s living proof of progress worth celebrating and building upon? What goals would you like to see included in the new package?
Tell me what you think in the comments below. And if you think this is an idea worth sharing, then do please share this talk.
May 20th, 2012 11:18 AM UTC
By Malaka Gharib
UPDATE: For those who may have missed Bono’s remarks, you can check out the full video right here:
Amid a flurry of public officials, business and NGO leaders and African heads of state at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs‘ Symposium on Global Agriculture and Food Security, ONE had one of it’s own represented: our cofounder Bono.
Bono just finished up a speech which covered everything from global agriculture to foreign aid to transparency in the mining industry. In the context of the day’s events, his remarks were a call to action to everyone in the room, urging us to work together to help lift 50 million people out of poverty.
“The conversation has changed,” he said. “Aid is smarter. It’s finally dawning on most of us that the continent that contains the most poverty also contains the most wealth… Imagine a place bursting at the seams with gold, copper, oil… undeveloped arable land. Not to mention the human resources.”
Bono praised President Obama’s new alliance to promote agricultural growth in Africa, which was announced earlier today. “If the words of his speech are turned into bold action in partnership with the developing world and the private sector, then today was a real moment,” he said.
He did not shy away from acknowledging the harsh economic realities that many governments face today, bringing up the EU’s 0.7 percent ODA target, which is currently under threat. He also said that international development, like music, can be subject to the whims of fashion. “Hunger was boring, even unsexy, in some quarters,” he said. “But it’s not boring if you live in the Sahel right now.”
It was an inspiring speech overall, but I think he summed it up best with this quote: “The moment we’re all working for is when we make aid history.” We couldn’t agree more.
Apr 10th, 2012 10:48 AM UTC
By Dr Sipho Moyo
This article first appeared on the ONE Africa Blog
Today ONE launches its most ambitious campaign yet – Thrive: Food, Farming, Future. In Africa, this follows our pilot campaign ‘Hungry No More’, which culminated in a petition delivered on 2nd March 2012 in Dar es Salaam to Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete, signed by over 16,000 ONE members on the continent.
Millions of people die from hunger on the continent every year. In 2011, more than 30,000 children died in just three months due to the famine in the Horn of Africa alone. Millions more continue to be locked in the vicious cycle of hunger and poverty. This year a staggering 178 million young children in the world will be stunted as a result of poor nutrition, their bodies and brains never fully recovering. The numbers are staggering.
A lot of the time we deal with symptoms of a deeper problem hoping it will go away. What we need is to deal with the root causes of hunger and poverty to make sure that these problems become history.
We need your voice to help us urge world leaders—African and donor governments alike—to put in place and fund well tested, costed and affordable plans for smart agriculture and nutrition. Thankfully, there is already, a growing realization in many African communities of the need to go back to farming in order to lift themselves out of poverty. A couple of weeks ago, ONE’s Africa Team had the opportunity to visit a community in KwaZulu Natal (a province in South Africa) where local subsistence farmers said that all they required was assistance from government with the simplest of things, like fencing, farming implements and extension services. For them, the future is in farming and farming is cooler than being jobless in the city. How really cool!
We also had the opportunity to speak with King Goodwill Zwelithini who called upon people in his kingdom to go back to farming and encouraged his chiefs as well as the government to assist people with this, while also calling upon African leaders to make agriculture a priority. Watch our short documentary here:
The onus is on us to collectively use our voices to urge our leaders to make this a priority because we CAN break the cycle of hunger and poverty and put an end to malnutrition for 15 million children, most of who are on our continent. Each one of us has a part to play in making our continent thrive, as we know it can.
Mar 19th, 2012 9:26 AM UTC
By Joseph Powell
Today ONE has published new research that shows the impact UK aid spending will have on the lives of some of the poorest people in the world. The UK has committed to hit the UN target to spend 0.7% of national income on aid from 2013, something Chancellor George Osborne is expected to confirm when he delivers the annual budget on Wednesday.
Our report – “Small Change: Big Difference” – shows that by the government sticking to its commitments on aid, the UK will:
It’s easy to get lost in such large numbers – but the overall picture is clear. Both through country offices of the Department for International Development and supporting effective multilateral organisations like the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria, the UK is having a transformational impact on the lives of millions of poor people.
ONE’s Europe Director Adrian Lovett said:
Britain’s aid costs less than a penny in each pound of national income, and this analysis reveals for the first time just how much every penny counts. For many millions of poor people, what happens to our aid budget is a matter of life or death.
In tough economic times, keeping our aid promise is more important than ever. No other budget achieves so much for so little. The UK is proven to spend aid effectively. It is an investment now that will save and transform lives, boost Britain’s own economic prospects and bring forward the day when aid is no longer needed.
Mar 16th, 2012 9:41 AM UTC
By Alexander Woollcombe
They came on bicycles: 27 ONE and CONCORD Denmark activists calling on Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt to use the Danish Presidency of the EU to show leadership in the fight against extreme poverty.
At 730 this morning each volunteer donned a Helle mask and posed outside Parliament. The message was simple: if Europe had 27 Helles we would be on track to keep our aid promise to the world’s poor.
While it’s biologically unlikely to clone Helle like we did in our picture, we are calling on all 27 EU leaders to be like PM Thorning-Schmidt in one vital area: Denmark is one of only 4 EU Member States to have gone beyond its promise to spend 0.7% of gross national income on aid.
The more than 30,000 ONE members who have signed our latest petition supported the following message that will be delivered to a representative of PM Thorning-Schmidt today:
“During your negotiations on the next seven year EU budget please agree to the level of international aid proposed in 2011, to ensure the EU continues to build on the amazing progress it has achieved in the fight against extreme poverty”.
We are delivering this petition today as DANIDA (Denmark’s Government Aid Agency) has brought together European Development Ministers for an important meeting on European Aid. We’re asking Denmark to pass on the message of our members to other European leaders within ongoing talks on the EU budget where aid spending is at risk.
This matters because EU aid has made a huge difference. Between 2004 and 2009, more than 9 million children were enrolled in primary education, more than 5 million were vaccinated against measles, and more than 31 million people were connected to clean water thanks to EU aid.
It was a cold, clear morning in Copenhagen but spirits were high among the Helles. Thanks to all of them for getting up so early and a special mention to ONE member Inger Kristensen who travelled for two and a half hours by train just to be with us this morning!
And if you haven’t signed our petition yet, now is your chance!
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.