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 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 14th, 2012 4:57 PM UTC
By Saira O'Mallie
Yesterday I delivered over 150,000 signatures to Stephen O’Brien MP, the Prime Minister’s Envoy & Special Representative to the Sahel.
12 million people are still at risk in the Sahel region of West Africa due to the worst droughts for 60 years, so we wanted the UK government to hear our call to end the cycle of crisis and expand the New Alliance.
The New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security will “increase responsible domestic and foreign private investments in African agriculture, take innovations that can enhance agricultural productivity to scale, and reduce the risk borne by vulnerable economies and communities.”
It’s an ambitious commitment, and although the petition is now out of our hands, we’ll be sure to hold the UK government and New Alliance partners to account.
150,000 people are watching, while 12 million wait for these words to become actions.
Oct 17th, 2012 5:41 PM UTC
By Saira O'Mallie
This job certainly throws up a few unexpected opportunities, but turning my hand to pop-up restaurant organiser has to be the biggest challenge yet.
I had to get permission from four different offices, find talented chefs to give up their time, recruit volunteers to help man the stand and get the whole thing set up, running and dismantled again in about 5 hours. Phew!
But we couldn’t let World Food Day pass without a bit of a celebration, and it was a great opportunity to engage the public and MPs with our work on nutrition, particularly the humble (and delicious) sweet potato.
ONE’s Saira O’Mallie with David Miliband MP
If you’ve missed it, here’s why it’s important:
Being just across the road from the House of Commons it was easy for MPs to pop across and say hi, and while they tucked into sweet potato cakes and soup we told them more about the campaign. Many wished that our pop-up food van would become a regular feature!
In fact, as I packed up I chatted to a policeman who asked if we’d be coming back every day. Not sure my nerves could take it! But hopefully we’ll be back on World Food Day 2013.
Oct 16th, 2012 7:13 PM UTC
By Roger Thurow
Today is World Food Day. But, I wonder, do the farmers of Africa know it?
Actually, for them, every day is Food Day. Food – growing it, scraping together enough money to buy it – is their daily preoccupation, a primal obsession. Africa’s smallholder farmers – the most common occupation on the continent — rise every day to tend their plots, trying to squeeze enough out of the soil to feed their families throughout the year. Most of the time, they fail, which is why they endure an annual Hunger Season.
Farmer Astara Chango checks her corn crop in Southern Ethiopia
When their cupboards are bare, they scramble for income to purchase food on the market. There, prices march relentlessly higher as surpluses from the previous harvest dwindle. The farmers may have to save their earnings for a couple of days before there is enough to buy a meal for the family.
In the Hunger Season, far too many days are No Food Day.
I wonder if Tesfaye Ketema in the Ethiopian highlands knows it is World Food Day. I met him in during the famine of 2003; he was sitting on a flimsy mattress in an emergency feeding tent, praying that his emaciated little boy, Hagirso, would survive. The year before, Tesfaye had carried bags of surplus corn to the same village square; now he had carried his starving son. The markets failed before the weather did; the surplus production of the previous year overwhelmed the markets, triggering prices to collapse by 80% and sapping the farmers’ ability, and incentive, to sustain surplus production. Then the drought hit.
I wonder if Tesfahun Belachew in Ethiopia knows. He and I watched the water of a river flow right past his feet while his crops died in a drought. He couldn’t tap the water for irrigation, because the river flowed into Lake Tana, which fed the mighty Blue Nile, which in turn provides most of the water in the great Nile that runs through Sudan and Egypt. The international community had decided that the Nile water must flow unimpeded to irrigate a cornucopia of crops in the Egyptian desert while Ethiopia, the source of the water, begged for food aid in the drought.
I wonder if all the smallholder farmers who work the soil with their hands know. In our rich areas of the world, we make our toys with Space Age technology, but their rudimentary tools haven’t advanced since the Iron Age. It is one reason their yields are only one-fifth or one-tenth the yields of American farmers.
I wonder if Leonida Wanyama and the farmers of western Kenya who I write about in The Last Hunger Season know. They all have cellphones – Leonida’s ring tone was Flight of the Bumblebee — which give them the ability to punch a couple of numbers and find out the prices of their crops at local markets. But unless they have access to the essential elements of farming – seeds, soil nutrients, training, and credit to pay for it all – they are unable to produce a surplus to sell on the markets in the first place.
In the twelfth year of the 21st Century, we can do better than this.
For too long, these smallholder farmers have been dismissed by governments and the private sector as too poor, too remote and too insignificant to bother with. Little innovation was applied to their farming; policies that would help them conquer the Hunger Season were rarely considered.
But with our great global challenge of needing to nearly double food production in coming decades, these farmers are no longer too poor, too remote, too insignificant. They are central to our success. It is a grand irony: the neglected have now become the indispensable.
On World Food Day, let’s acknowledge – let’s raise the clamor — that we need all of the world’s farmers, big and small, to be producing as much nutritiously beneficial food as possible.
Oct 16th, 2012 7:06 PM UTC
By Dr Sipho Moyo
“Because this continent is not only going to feed itself, we have to feed the world”
As today is World Food Day, it is an appropriate time to recognise and appreciate the importance of Africa’s principals food producers; women farmers. Roughly 70% of small holder farmers in Africa are women, and therefore it is unsurprising that they are the principal food producers, yet Africa is a victim of substantial food insecurity.
60% of the world’s remaining arable land is in Africa, yet we are still facing major food insecurity issues. In order for Africa to feed itself, it needs to maximise its own food productivity, and women farmers are at the root of this issue. Women farmers have historically been neglected and disadvantaged in Africa, as they have struggled to get tenure to the land and gain access to security and finance. Therefore it is paramount that we invest in women farmers too push the food security agenda forward, and begin working towards the goal of feeding the world.
In this pursuit of a food secure Africa and world, we need a collective buy-in from all parties. We are beginning to see more of a focus on Public-Private Partnership as a way of moving the development agenda forward. These are partnerships between government and private sector, where both sets of parties collaborate in the pursuit of a unified goal. For these partnerships to be as effect as possible we need government to create a conducive environment where by it is attractive for private sector to engage. There is fourth P that is not often mentioned but it is extremely important, and that is ‘people’. We all need to do what is necessary to effect change. Public- Private- People Partnerships for a food secure world.
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
Oct 12th, 2012 2:23 PM UTC
By Saira O'Mallie
It started at 5am on Saturday morning. I took the train to Melton Mowbray and set up a stall at the East Midlands Food Festival. I met our wonderful supporter Greg Hewitt, my ever helpful sister Shehnaz joined us later, and together we spread the word about sweet potatoes… apparently a local favourite.
If you missed it, our partners Hello Fresh helped us promote the campaign on Tuesday, meaning that hundreds of people across the UK will get a special delivery on World Food Day (16th October) featuring a delicious sweet potato recipe.
Another early start on Wednesday, but luckily this time I just had to make it to the opposite end of the Victoria Line to help run our Lifesaver event at the station, this time asking people to help protect the EU aid budget. (And they did, in their hundreds).
Tonight, I’ll be getting the sweet potatoes out again at Street Feast in Dalston. Please come down and say hi!
And all this time, two of our fabulous ONE Mums have been in Ethiopia, learning, living, writing and sharing, supported by many more ONE Mums in the UK.
Let’s face it, I may have had a busy week, but their stories are the ones you’ll want to hear.
So here they are:
Oct 1st, 2012 4:47 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
Can this humble tuber boost nutrition, improve maternal health, AND create new economic opportunities for women?
It’s lunch time at Margaret Simiyu’s house, and orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are on the menu.
Three dozen mothers and children sit outside Margaret’s mud-walled home in Western Kenya, where a community health worker is talking about the powerful nutritional punch packed inside this unassuming vegetable.
Margaret, 38, needs little convincing. She’s already seen the health benefits since she started cultivating orange-fleshed sweet potatoes and serving them to her family — along with some bonus benefits she never expected.
Linking agriculture and nutrition
Margaret is one of nearly 3,000 women in Western Kenya participating in an innovative project called Mama SASHA (Sweetpotato Action for Security and Health in Africa). The five-year project aims to boost the health and nutrition of pregnant women and young children by linking nutrition education, sweet potato cultivation, and antenatal care.
Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene that the body can convert into vitamin A. Some 43 million children under age five in sub-Saharan Africa are at risk for vitamin A deficiency, which contributes to significant rates of blindness, disease, and premature death. PATH is partnering on the project with the International Potato Center, along with the Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute, the Kenyan ministries of health and agriculture, Community Research in Environment and Development Initiatives, Appropriate Rural Development Agriculture Programme, the University of Toronto, and Emory University.
Margaret was two months pregnant when a health worker dropped by her house last year to discuss the importance of a healthy diet, including the need to get enough vitamin A. By going to the local health clinic for prenatal care, Margaret could get vouchers to redeem with local farmers for sweet potato vines to grow her own orange-fleshed sweet potatoes.
Margaret visited the clinic for prenatal care earlier and more often than she had during earlier pregnancies, driven by the desire to get vine cuttings to plant. Each time, the nurse talked with her about good nutrition and how to incorporate sweet potatoes into the family’s diet. An agricultural adviser made home visits to offer planting and growing tips.
Serving up better health
“When I first tasted them, it was really nice,” Margaret says. She was instructed by health workers to prepare the sweet potatoes with clean utensils and in front of her husband. Gaining the support of men, the primary landholders in most families, is essential to the project’s success. Margaret now serves sweet potatoes to her family three times a week, often in a rich stew made with avocado, ground nuts and milk.
Her seven-month-old baby, Jason, sits on Margaret’s lap as she tells the story, a bright-eyed bundle in a pink blanket. Jason was born at a healthy 8 ½ pounds, has never been sick, and started crawling earlier than her older children, she says. Even Jason’s older siblings seem to get sick less often now.
Spotting an opportunity
Here’s the sweetest surprise of all: This month, Margaret plans to start selling sweet potatoes to earn sorely needed income for the household. She and her husband even pulled out some of their corn to expand their sweet potato plot and meet the expected demand.
From her small patch of sweet potatoes, Margaret could get up to 600 pounds of roots worth up to US $140. Orange-fleshed sweet potatoes are ready for harvest in about three to four months—less than the 5 and a half to 6 months required for the less-nutritional white and yellow varieties commonly available in Western Kenya to mature.
Spreading the word
All of this has made Margaret into something of a sweet potato evangelist. She encourages neighbors and friends to add sweet potatoes to their diets. Community health workers also spread the word through more than 200 local mothers’ clubs like the one that meets at Margaret’s house every month.
At the nearby community health center, nurse Eileen Barasa distributes vine vouchers to pregnant women. Since the Mama SASHA project began, Barasa says connections between the clinic and the community have grown stronger. In-facility births and immunization rates are up, eye and skin infections are down, and women come to the clinic earlier for prenatal care.
“Even some of the men are coming now without their wives to ask for vines,” Barasa says. “It’s a hook, and then we can offer them so many other things.”
-Jolayne Houtz, Editor, PATH
Sep 28th, 2012 4:56 PM UTC
By Diane Sheard
Foreign Secretary William Hague has announced the appointment of Stephen O’Brien MP as UK Special Representative for the Sahel. It’s good to see this crucial issue receiving renewed attention from the UK government.
As a former minister at the Department for International Development, Mr O’Brien will know well the seriousness of the humanitarian situation in this part of West and Central Africa. More than 18 million people are facing a desperate food crisis and cannot find, harvest or afford the food that once nourished them.
It is vital that we lay the right foundation for lasting change in the Sahel – a region that has plunged into crisis for the third time in under a decade. The challenges of development and security are complex. But six countries in the region already have long-term, vetted plans to give people the tools they need to lift themselves and their families out of hunger and poverty. Some of the world’s most powerful countries have pledged to help fund these plans. But unless they act right now, these plans will just gather dust.
Almost 152,000 people have already signed our petition calling on world leaders to act urgently, including by funding the UN’s humanitarian appeal in the Sahel, and in particular supporting plans for long-term investment in farming to help end the cycle of crisis. If you haven’t already done so, add your name now. We hope that Mr O’Brien will too.
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.
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