Archive for the ‘Ethiopia’ Category


Feeding the Future: Ethiopia’s Livestock Growth Program

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By Kimberlee Davies

With one of the lowest GDPs and highest malnutrition rates in the world, Ethiopia desperately needs food security investment and innovation. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) recently awarded a contract to CNFA, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, to implement the Agricultural Growth Program–Livestock Growth Project (AGP-LGP) in Ethiopia. The program, sponsored by USAID’s Feed the Future initiative, will encourage growth in the farming sector by increasing the competitiveness and value of Ethiopia’s livestock. CNFA expects the program to create roughly 2,600 new jobs and to improve the nutrition of 200,000 households.

CNFA has accepted a USAID contract to implement a livestock project in Ethiopia. (Photo Credit: ILRI)

In 2009, Feed the Future—a U.S. executive initiative resulting from the 2009 World Summit on Food Security—selected 20 countries, including Ethiopia, to work with on strengthening food security. Ethiopia was chosen for its high level of need and the Ethiopian government’s openness to partnership. Currently, Ethiopia’s annual per capita income is only US$170, and 30 percent of children under five are underweight. Livestock contribute to the livelihood of 60 to 70 percent of the population.

CNFA already has enacted a similar livestock program in Kenya. The Kenya Drylands Livestock Development Program (KDLDP) was one of the first programs implemented in Africa under Feed the Future, and has successfully increased livestock value and yields through improved production, marketing, and market access. Fattening animals and processing livestock products near production areas results in higher prices, thereby increasing local incomes and promoting employment among underemployed groups such as women, youth, and the elderly. AGP-LGP will apply CNFA’s past success to Ethiopia.



An Interview with Tilahun Amede: Improving Water Resource Management in the Nile Basin

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By Carol Dreibelbis

In October 2012, Nourishing the Planet’s Carol Dreibelbis spoke with Tilahun Amede of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT). ICRISAT aims to empower people living in drylands around the world to overcome poverty, hunger, and a degraded environment through better agriculture.

Tilahun Amede, systems agronomist with the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics. (Photo credit: ILRI/Ewen Le Borgne)

For the past several years, Dr. Amede has been involved in research-for-development projects on rainwater management strategies in the Nile River Basin. He has worked for the International Water Management Institute and the International Livestock Research Institute to lead the CGIAR Challenge Programme on Water & Food’s Basin Development Challenge for the Nile.

Dr. Amede has also worked as a senior research fellow at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture and as an assistant professor at Hawassa University in Ethiopia. He has been making a valuable contribution to the fields of agronomy and water management in Africa for over 20 years, and has published more than 40 papers in peer reviewed journals.

What is a “Basin Development Challenge,” and what makes these research programs effective?

Each Basin Development Challenge (BDC) works at the river-basin level to identify one big agricultural challenge. Research then focuses on developing interventions that can improve livelihoods and ecosystem services in ways that benefit all countries in the river basin. BDCs emphasize collective action and cooperation to achieve these goals. In the drought-prone Nile basin, rainwater management has the potential to increase agricultural productivity and improve water access for all member countries.



Groundbreaking Report on Zoonotic Diseases and Poverty

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By Caitlin Aylward 

Some 60 percent of all human diseases, and 75 percent of all emerging infectious diseases, are zoonotic (human-animal transmitted infectious diseases). In light of these staggering figures, the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), recently released a report mapping the top 20 geographical hotspots of emerging zoonotic diseases and emerging disease outbreaks. Among the study’s findings, the report reveals the heavy disease burden of zoonoses for one billion of the world’s poor livestock holders, in addition to surprising new data on emerging diseases in industrialized countries, many of which have never been mapped.

Report on zoonoses shows the disproportionate affect of zoonotic diseases on the world’s one billion poorest livestock holders (Photo credit: International Livestock Research Institute)

The study identifies three classifications of high-priority zoonoses, the first of which, endemic zoonoses, causes the vast majority of illness and death in poor countries. Endemic zoonoses, such as brucellosis, are present in many places and are usually transmitted as food-borne illnesses. Given its widespread nature, the review suggests that endemic zoonoses are of greatest concern where the objective is reducing the burden of human illness and enhancing the profitability of livestock for poor small-scale livestock farmers in the developing world.

Other zoonotic diseases include epidemic zoonoses, such as anthrax and Rift Valley fever, which typically occur as outbreaks and are sporadic in temporal and geographical distribution.

And the report examines emerging zoonoses, which are relatively rare and are characterized by rapidly increasing rates of incidence or expanding geographic ranges. Emerging zoonoses, such as bird flu and HIV-AIDS, can spread to cause global cataclysms. While zoonotic diseases can be transmitted to humans by any animal, most human infections are transmitted from the world’s 24 billion livestock.



Women on the Agenda at Agriculture and Rural Development Day

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By Danielle Nierenberg

Agriculture and Rural Development Day (ARDD) brought together roughly 600 policymakers, farmers, researchers, and journalists from around the world on June 18th ahead of the Rio+20 Summit to discuss agriculture’s important role in building a green economy.

Agriculture and Rural Development Day took place yesterday at Rio+20. (Image credit: ARDD)

In addition to talking about the challenges—including climate change, water scarcity, and lack of access to markets—farmers face in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America, participants also discussed the important role women play in meeting food security needs.  Women farmers make up at least half of the world’s agricultural labor force, but many lack access to education, training, land, extension services, and credit. But recognizing women’s needs—and their contributions—in agriculture can help improve nutrition, incomes, and environmental sustainability.

Sue Edwards of the Institute for Sustainable Development in Ethiopia spoke of the need for the recognition and “intensification of women’s skills” in agriculture. During an AARD Learning Event, Edwards highlighted how breeding and caring for livestock most often falls to women. “Chickens,” she said, “are not an animal for men.” Men farmers, she explained, don’t tend to think of chickens, sheep, goats, and other small livestock as important, but for women, these livestock can be a quick source of cash and nutrients for their families.



A Dam Brings Food Insecurity to Indigenous People

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By Patricia Baquero

Along its 760-kilometer course, from the Shewan highlands in southern Ethiopia, down to Lake Turkana in Kenya, the Omo River supports half a million Indigenous People from more than two dozen different tribes, including the Bodi, Karo, Muguji, Mursi, Elmolo, Gabbra, Rendille and Hamar in the Lower Omo valley and around Lake Turkana. For generations, the Indigenous People have farmed sorghum, maize and beans along the lower Omo and around Lake Turkana region, depending on the annual flooding cycle of the river. The natural ebb and flow of the Omo River provides water for agriculture, livestock, and fishing.

The Gibe III Dam, currently under construction, could exacerbate water scarcity and conflicts in the region. (Photo credit: Mark Angelo)

But since the 1970s, droughts have increased in frequency and length, bringing famine and displacing thousands of people. Water scarcity and conflicts over water resources are also likely to worsen when the Gibe III Dam project finishes in 2012. The dam is situated about 300 kilometers southwest of Addis Ababa with a capacity of 1,870 MW, and can provide power to 400 million people. Ethiopia is among the countries with the lowest rates of electricity—currently, only 15 percent of Ethiopians have access to electricity, and this access is mainly in cities.

But the dam potentially threatens the lives of the Indigenous farmers and fishers from the Omo-Turkana region. According to the African Resources Working Group (ARWG), the Gibe III dam will reduce the lake’s depth by about seven to ten meters in its first five years, adding to the effects of climate change, which has likely reduced the depth by about five to eight meters already. The dam will disturb the natural flooding cycle of the Omo River, eliminating the seasonal floods and the nutrients deposited along the river.



Goldman Environmental Prize Announces this Year’s Winners

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This is the first in a series of blogs on the 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize Winners.

By Alison Blackmore

The Goldman Environmental Prize is awarded annually to six environmental heroes whose local and community-based efforts to protect natural resources have created significant change, often at great personal risk. Each recipient receives an award of US$150,000 to continue their inspiring work.

The 2012 recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize. (Photo Credit: Goldman Environmental Prize)

The Goldman Environmental Foundation recently announced the 2012 winners, and today we highlight three of this year’s six recipients of the prestigious prize: Ikal Angelie of Kenya, Ma Jun of China, and Evengina Chirikova of Russia.

Since 2008, Ikal Angelei has been fighting the Ethiopian government’s construction of the Gibe 3 Dam along the Omo River. The project threatens to rapidly deplete the already dwindling water levels of East Africa’s Rift Valley’s Lake Turkana, the world’s largest desert lake and home to a thriving ecosystem which provides a lifeline for hundreds of thousands of farmers, herdsmen, and fishermen. In 2011, her organization, Friends of Lake Turkana, a group comprised of indigenous communities dependent on the lake’s resources, successfully urged members of the Kenyan parliament to demand an independent environmental assessment of the dam from Ethiopia before they continue with construction. Friends of Lake Turkana also convinced major investors in the project, including the World Bank and the European Investment Bank, to withdraw their consideration for financing the dam, leaving the Ethiopian government struggling to find funding to continue the project.



Research Partnership Improves Ethiopian Farmers’ Yields and Resilience

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With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, researchers from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research (EIAR) are working with smallholder farmers in Ethiopia to develop new drought-resistant and pest-resistant varieties of chickpea. A staple Ethiopian crop, chickpeas are high in protein, iron, and calcium.

Photo credit: Icrisat/Alina Paul-Bossuet

To see a photo slideshow of the project recently posted on The Guardian’s website, click here.


Five Great Grains with Promise for the Future

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By Jenna Banning

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, grains account for more than half of the calories consumed by people in developing countries. Yet, over the last few decades, grain production has been narrowed to only a limited number of varieties – wheat, for example, has over 200,000 varieties, yet only a few genetic lines are being used. Such dependence on a limited number of crops has proven problematic, especially because of rising food prices, climate change, and health concerns.

This indigenous woman is collecting amaranth, an indigenous plant of Central and South America which is helping to provide nutrition and income for local farmers. (Photo credit: Slow Food International)

Today, Nourishing the Planet highlights five grains which are not yet as well known, but provide promising alternatives.

1. Amaranth

Both a grain and a green, amaranth was once as fundamental to the Central and South American diet as corn and beans. Yet after the height of its cultivation during the Aztec civilization, this food has largely disappeared. Now, the non-governmental organization Alternativas y Procesos de Participación Social (Alternatives and Projects for Civil Society) has organized over 1,100 Mexican families in the effort to recover this valuable crop.



What Women Really Want for Valentine’s Day

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By Robert Engelman 

Valentine’s Day has long celebrated love with caring notes, decadent chocolates, and romantic arrangements of flowers. But this Valentine’s Day, perhaps it’s time to celebrate with a gift many of the world’s women desperately want and need: reproductive health.

Many women are not empowered to make their own decisions regarding if or when to have children. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 1,000 women die every day due to pregnancy or childbirth, or one woman every 90 seconds. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in the developing world, 90 percent in Africa and Asia. A handful of complications account for 80 percent of these maternal deaths—severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure, obstructed labor, and unsafe abortion—and the bulk of these deaths are preventable.

Reproductive health, including access to the information and means to plan a family, is a human right the world’s nations have recognized in various forms since 1968. Access to family planning and other reproductive health services safeguard the lives of women and their children and promote families that are emotionally and economically healthy.

In my book, More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want, I explore centuries of reproductive history and concludes that, if given the chance to do what they really want, women on average have smaller families, with childbirths later in their lives. This pattern is safer for women and children, and promotes environmental sustainability through the slower population growth that lower fertility rates and later births bring about.

The Health of Women and Children

The UNFPA report Women and Girls in a World of 7 Billion notes that poverty, marginalization, and gender inequalities based on culture are key challenges to reproductive health. The report relays that women own less than 15 percent of the land worldwide; their wages, on average, are 17 percent lower than men’s; and they make up two-thirds of the world’s 776 million illiterate adults.



Achieving Food Security in the Face of Climate Change

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By Jeffrey Lamoureux

The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change (CSACC), a roundtable of senior natural and social scientists from across the globe, recently released its Summary for Policymakers. The commission is working to promote concrete policy recommendations toward achieving food security in the face of climate change, and its summary is a synthesis of its final report, due in early 2012. Aimed at global policymakers at the recently concluded United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban and the upcoming Rio+20 Earth Summit, CSACC hopes to bring agriculture into discussions of climate change mitigation.

At the local level, sustainable intensification of production must be achieved (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

“Efforts to alleviate the worst effects of climate change cannot succeed without simultaneously addressing the crises in global agriculture and the food system,” said Dr. Bruce Campbell, director of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, which convened the independent commission in February 2011.

The global food system is plagued with structural issues: a billion are hungry while another billion over-consume, and inefficient practices cause tremendous amounts of waste and make agriculture the single biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. As the world’s population grows, the tastes of an ever-expanding middle class lean towards consumption of resource-intensive protein-heavy diets, and climate change threatens to disrupt much of the world’s arable land, the food system could reach critical thresholds. “Food insecurity produces widespread human suffering, even in the world’s wealthiest countries, as well as political and economic instability, so it is clear the status quo is not an option,” said Commissioner Professor Tekalign Mamo, Advisor to the Ethiopian Minister of Agriculture.