Archive for the ‘Ghana’ Category

Jan06

Global Hunger Index Tells Stories of Progress and Stagnation in Sub-Saharan Africa

Share
Pin It

By Jeffrey Lamoureux

The International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) recently released Global Hunger Index 2011 contains a wealth of information about the state of hunger across the developing world. Combining measures of undernourishment, underweight children, and child mortality, the study creates a picture of the severity of hunger on a nation-by-nation basis.  The measure is designed to help policymakers focus attention on the regions that need it most. According to the latest report, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa have the highest levels of hunger, and progress over the last 20 years in these regions has been uneven.

Farmers in Ghana have benefitted from government investments (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Ghana was the only country in sub-Saharan Africa among the 10 best performers in improving their Global Hunger Index (GHI) score since ranking began in 1990. As rated by the index, Ghana has reduced the scale of hunger within its borders by 59 percent. IFPRI attributes this success to sustained investments in agriculture, rural development, education, and health, specifically immunizations. For his efforts on these fronts, former president John Kufuor was awarded the 2011 World Food Prize.

By all accounts, Ghana’s efforts, which included outreach to get more information to farmers, the provision of agricultural inputs, and infrastructure investments, had ripple effects that benefitted all levels of society. The government launched a program to improve the provision of food at its primary schools, using local produce to provide a hot meal to students, which significantly increased school enrollment. Their efforts were conducted alongside political reforms to expand the country’s democratic freedoms, supporting a virtuous circle that has pushed Ghana into the ranks of the world’s middle-income countries. Ghana today is a fast growing and politically stable country, a leading example of what is possible on the continent.

(more…)

Dec12

Shea: For people and planet

Share
Pin It

By Kim Kido 

Shea (Vitellaria paradoxa, nilotica) is one of few trees that can withstand the harsh, semi-arid climate of the Sudan and Guinean savannas and the Sahel. Hardy, drought-resistant, and with fireproof bark, the uses of the shea tree are numerous and ancient, dating back to the 1300s.

Woman processing shea kernels into butter. (Photo credit: TREE AID)

Tools and coffins are made out of the wood, while the wastewater from processing seeds acts as a pesticide against weevils. The tree provides forage for sheep and goats as well as food for people. The sweet pulp of the fruit, similar to an avocado, is eaten fresh, providing a valuable source of nutrition early in the rainy season when food can be scarce. And, the tree’s flowers can be added to salads.

The shea tree also provides many environmental benefits. Farmers often intercrop the shea tree with cereal grains where they help to prevent wind erosion, provide shade, and contribute organic matter to the soil.

The uses of the shea nut are most widely known and offer the highest economic value. The seed contains a kernel that is eaten fresh, roasted like almonds, or processed to extract shea butter. Shea butter is traditionally used as a waterproofing material for houses, a cosmetic, a primary source of vegetable fat in cooking, and as a medicine for treating various skin diseases, arthritis, and other ailments.

(more…)

Nov16

Nourishing the Planet TV: School Feeding Programs Improve Livelihoods, Diets, and Local Economies

Share
Pin It

In this week’s episode, we discuss school feeding programs that are helping children and their families in many parts of Africa, where 60 percent of children come to school in the morning without breakfast, if they attend school at all. But, programs such as the The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), are helping to provides school meals for about 20 million children in Africa.

Video: http://youtu.be/HZjiisyOGcc

To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.
Oct18

Cadbury‘s Bicycle Factory

Share
Pin It

By Grant Potter

Best known for their chocolate Easter eggs, the Cadbury Corporation continues their fundraising drive to build 5,000 bikes a year for children in rural Ghana with The Bicycle Factory. Cadbury urges their consumers to enter the UPC barcode numbers from Cadbury products into their website. Each barcode represents one physical component of a bike called the Nframa, which means “wind” in Ghanaian. One bike is made up of 100 parts, meaning it takes 100 UPC entries to “build” a bike.

Image credit: Cadbury

Bicycles serve as an important means of transportation in the developing world. Cadbury showcases this utility in their advertising campaign in which a girl uses her bike as a delivery van, ambulance, water truck, and school bus.  Bikes also do not rely on fossil fuel, and can help transport people and food on bumpy or unpaved roads. The fundraiser is a chance to “give back to the people who have given us so much,” says Cadbury, who “sources most of [their] cocoa from Ghana today”. Since establishing the program in 2009, Cadbury has collected enough barcodes to produce 10,237 bikes.

This program is part of a larger commitment by Cadbury to improve the lives of farmers. In 2008, Cadbury joined with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the Ghanaian government, and other partners to create the Cadbury Cocoa Partnership. This partnership, focusing on small-holder farmers, is designed to improve yields of Ghanaian cocoa farmers as well as introduce new forms of rural income, invest in community-led development, and undertake biodiversity and water quality control programs. In 2009 Cadbury furthered its commitment to Ghanaian farmers when it announced its dedication to receiving Fairtrade certification for its cocoa.

What do you think? What are other creative development strategies to alleviate rural poverty? Tell us in the comments section.

Grant Potter is a development associate and executive assistant to the President of  Worldwatch.

To read more about initiatives to combat rural poverty see: A Thousand Gardens are Underway in Africa, A Sustainable Calling Plan, What Works: Connecting Producers to Consumers, Small is beautiful. Big is necessary.  

To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.

Oct06

World Food Prize Recognizes Leadership in Agriculture, but More Policy Support Is Needed to Feed the World’s Hungry

Share
Pin It

Policymakers around the world need to step up their efforts to combat hunger, malnutrition, and poverty by providing greater support for agriculture. The winners of this year’s World Food Prize show how policymakers and leaders who invest in their countries’ agricultural futures can make lasting change.

The World Food Prize this year will honor two heads of state who have invested in agriculture and reduced hunger and poverty in their countries. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The World Food Prize, awarded each year since 1994 and sponsored by businessman and philanthropist John Ruan, recognizes the achievements of individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity, or availability of food in the world, thereby helping to boost global food security. This year, the prize will be awarded to John Agyekum Kufuor, the former president of Ghana, and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the former president of Brazil, for their outstanding achievements in reducing hunger in their countries. The ceremony will take place during the Borlaug International Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa, from October 12 to 14.

Both of this year’s World Food Prize recipients have made considerable contributions to their countries’ agricultural sectors. Under former Ghanaian President Kufuor’s tenure, both the share of people suffering from hunger and the share of people living on less than $1 dollar a day were halved. Economic reforms strengthened public investment in food and agriculture, which was a major factor behind the quadrupling of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) between 2003 and 2008. Because 60 percent of Ghana’s population depends directly on agriculture, the sector is critical for the country’s economic development.

(more…)

Oct01

Don’t waste energy, turn waste into energy

Share
Pin It

By Graham Salinger

Nearly 2 million people die every year from water born diseases because of a lack of adequate sanitation. A team of researchers led by Kartik Chandran, an associate professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering at Columbia University, thinks they may have a solution to the sanitation crisis that will also promote energy security in developing countries. Dr. Chandran recently received a $1.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates  Foundation to set up a “Next-Generation Urban Sanitation Facility” in Accra, Ghana.  Working with his colleagues Ashley Murray, founder and director of Waste Enterprisers , and Moses  Mensah of the  Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Dr. Chandran hopes to turn feces  found in sewage into biodiesel and methane by converting  a waste-processing facility into a biorefinery.

Dr. Kartik Chandran and his research team are developing the “Next-Generation Urban Sanitation Facility” in Accra, Ghana (Photo credit: Columbia University).

“Thus far, sanitation approaches have been extremely resource- and energy-intensive and therefore out of reach for some of the world´s poorest but also most at-need populations,” Dr.  Chandran explained in a press release. This has resulted in waste going directly into water supplies without being treated. Water management is especially important at a time when the impacts of climate change are becoming increasingly evident and fresh water availability grows more erratic. As water resources become scarce, preventing water from being contaminated becomes increasingly significant to agriculture and public health. Yet, half the people in the developing world lack access to safe sanitation.

(more…)

Sep21

Nourishing the Planet TV: It’s All About the Process

Share
Pin It

In this week’s episode, research intern Jenna Banning discusses the benefits of processing. By providing the right tools and services, organizations such as the Community Markets for Conservation (COMACO) and the East Africa Dairy Development, are helping farmers improve their livelihoods and communities.

Video: http://youtu.be/H46OA_RPsR4

To read more about processing, see Innovation of the Week: It’s All About the Process 

To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE. And to watch the one minute book trailer, click HERE.

Jul25

False Yam: A Famine Prevention Trifecta

Share
Pin It

By Matt Styslinger

False yam (Icacina oliviformis) is a savannah shrub indigenous to West and Central Africa. The wild plant simultaneously produces three types of food: a fruit that is enjoyed as a snack, a seed that is utilized as a staple, and a tuberous root that is eaten as emergency food when other crops have failed and communities are threatened with famine.

The “false yam” shrub produces an edible fruit, seed, and root, and is especially important for famine prevention.(Photo credit: West African plants - A Photo Guide)

The bright red fruits of the false yam shrub are particularly sweet with a plum-like flavor, and a favorite of children. They are 2-3 centimeters in diameter and are covered with short hairs on the outside with a thin white pulp on the inside. They are generally eaten fresh, but are sometimes dried. Not much is known about the nutritional quality of the fruit pulp itself. Each wild shrub yields large numbers of fruits. The fruit ripens at the end of the dry season when other food-producing wild plants have generally run out of produce. This makes it an especially important food store for the hungry who otherwise have very little food options during this time.

Inside each fruit is a single seed. Dried seeds are incredibly hard, which helps protect them from rodents. And they store very well, making them an important back up staple. The seeds are soaked in water and then ground into a flour high in carbohydrates and containing 8 percent protein. The flour has a nutty flavor and can be a substitute for cassava flour.

(more…)

Jul19

IFPRI Report Recalls Ghana’s Transformation

Share
Pin It

By Dana Drugmand

In a report by the International Food Policy Research Institute, former President of Ghana John Kufuor describes the incredible transformation his country underwent during the first decade of the new millennium. Under Kufuor’s presidency, the number of hungry people in Ghana was cut in half. The poverty rate, which had been at 51.7 percent in 1991, had shrunk to 26.5 percent in 2008. Ghana’s transformation over the past decade has made it one of the more politically stable countries in Africa, and, as Kufuor writes, Ghana has “made some of the greatest progress in reducing hunger, poverty, and malnutrition.”

President Kufuor serves schoolchildren in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo Credit: World Food Prize)

Kufuor, a recently announced recipient of the 2011 World Food Prize, served as Ghana’s democratically elected President from 2001-2009. In the opening of the report, titled “Ghana’s Transformation,” he writes, “When I became Ghana’s President in 2000, my country needed solutions for hunger, malnutrition, and a host of other problems.” Kufuor found agriculture to be a catalyst for these solutions. Agriculture is critical to Ghana’s economy, as some 60 percent of the country’s population depends directly on rural agriculture. Kufuor’s administration worked to harness an agriculture transformation to strengthen the nation’s economy.

Ghana is the world’s second largest exporter of cocoa, and under Kufuor’s administration, cocoa production in Ghana doubled from 2002-2005. The government helped educate cocoa farmers on best practices, and increased the farmers’ share of the international export price from 40 percent up to 70 percent as an incentive to increase production.

(more…)

Jun21

2011 World Food Prize Laureates Announced

Share
Pin It

By Supriya Kumar

At a ceremony held today in Washington, D.C., two former presidents were announced as recipients of the 2011 World Food Prize for their roles in creating and implementing government policies to alleviate hunger and poverty in their countries. For the first time in the World Food Prize’s 25-year history, the prize has been awarded to two former heads of state – the former president of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufuor and the former president of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The 2011 World Food Prize Laureates John Kufuor and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (Photo Credit: WFP)

World Food Prize President, Kenneth M. Quinn, made the announcement, stating that the organization recognized the importance of political leaders in the global fight against hunger.  He said that both recipients had set “powerful examples” for other leaders in the world. Under President Kufuor’s presidency, Ghana became the first-sub-Saharan African country to cut in half its proportion of people suffering from hunger and poverty, and achieving the number one UN Millennium Development Goal. And, under president Silva’s policies, 93 percent of children and 82 percent of adults in Brazil can now eat three meals a day.

(more…)