Archive for the ‘HIV/AIDS’ Category

Jun22

Live from Rio+20: “Favelas and Protests”

Share
Pin It

Crossposted from RH Reality Check.

by Vicky Markham, Center for Environment and Population (CEP)

Cachoeirinha Favela family. (Photo credit: Vicky Markham)

This morning I ventured the opposite direction from Rio Centro where the UN Rio+20 negotiations are taking place, and travelled with colleagues to the Cachoeirinha (I was told it means “waterfall”) Favela in Rio de Janeiro. These shantytowns are quite common in Rio, well over one million strong, located within and around the city limits. This particular one has 37,000 residents.

We made the trip to visit the BEMFAM reproductive health and family planning clinic there, and were treated to a gathering of youth already discussing the facts of life, and more, with a BEMFAM counselor. This is especially poignant because youth in Brazil, similar to youth worldwide, are key to the issues we are debating here at the UN Rio+20 meetings just a few miles away. The Brazilian youth demographic, and the world’s, is the largest ever in history—it’s called the “youth bulge”—and from favelas, to cities, suburbs and rural areas everywhere, they represent the decision makers for the world’s future at all levels.

(more…)

May29

Five Microcredit Programs That are Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

Share
Pin It

By Isaac Hopkins

One of the best ways to encourage economic growth in poor areas is to provide affordable small loans to farmers and small-business owners. Called microcredit or microloans, these programs can inject capital into communities that lack the collateral required by conventional banks.

Ecova Mali’s first microgrant went to Fatoumata Dembele, to buy vegetable seeds for her village. (Photo credit: Ecova Mali)

Today, Nourishing the Planet introduces five innovative microcredit programs that are encouraging economic growth in poor communities.

1. Farmer-to-Farmer Programs: Microcredit programs tend to be most sustainable when they promote cooperation between residents of a community. Encouraging farmer-to-farmer support can be an effective technique because it allows participants to be less reliant on outside financing and guidance.

Farmer-to-Farmer Programs in Action:  When Africa’s Sustainable Development Council (ASUDEC) connects farmers with microcredit loans, the recipients have several expectations placed upon them. ASUDEC requires farmers to not only pay back the loans, but also to offer equally affordable loans to their neighbors. This policy generates a ripple effect, helping communities increase their incomes and fund their own progress, rather than relying on ASUDEC. As the trust and cooperation between farmers builds, it “helps the poor transition from subsistence to entrepreneurship,” says ASUDEC’S Director, Dr. Salibo Some.

(more…)

May25

Bringing Public Health to the World’s Poorest: An Interview with Joan Van Wassenhove

Share
Pin It

By Laura Reynolds

Name: Joan VanWassenhove

Affiliation: Partners in Health

Partners in Health delivers health care, education, and employment to impoverished communities. (Photo credit: PIH.org)

Bio: Joan VanWassenhove is the Assistant Coordinator for Nutrition in Haiti at Partners in Health (PIH), a health care organization that fights poverty by providing education, medical care, and employment in disadvantaged communities worldwide. VanWassenhove holds a dual Masters in International Affairs and Public Health at Columbia University, and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition at the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

What inspired you to become involved in global health and development?

In 2007 I was doing graduate work at Columbia University, studying international affairs and public health,and I interned at Partners in Health during that summer. I never really saw myself working in the medical field because I had no plans to go to medical school, but while I was interning I saw how broad PIH’s approach to health care and poverty alleviation was, and I wanted to stay involved.

(more…)

May22

USAID to Use Permaculture to Assist Orphaned and Vulnerable Children

Share
Pin It

By Stephanie Buglione

Nearly one quarter of children in the developing world are underweight, and one third are experiencing stunted growth, according to a UNICEF report. In addition, many of these children have a family member, or are themselves, afflicted with HIV/AIDS.

Jacob, a student in Malawi, explaining permaculture to other boys. (Photo credit: NeverEndingFood.org)

According to the Joint U.N Programme on HIV/AIDS, worldwide, 16.6 million children aged 0 to 17 have lost parents due to HIV. Families afflicted with HIV have less help harvesting and planting crops or selling them at the market. Additionally, when a parent dies prematurely, their children are denied their generational agricultural knowledge and skills. But this missing information, and other lessons on ethics, patience, and responsibility, can be taught in schools through the use of permaculture.

A new USAID project, Permaculture Design for Orphans and Vulnerable Children, is focused on providing long-term food security solutions to orphaned and vulnerable children (OVC) that are coping with the challenges of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Permaculture is their means to achieving this food security.

Kristof Nordin is one of the co-authors of this initiative. He and his wife, Stacia, a registered dietician and previous School Health and Nutrition Advisor for the Malawi Ministry of Education, live in a home outside of Lilongwe, Malawi. On their land, they have been demonstrating permaculture practices for several years to help educate the community about indigenous vegetables and to reduce the cultural fixation on monocropping.

(more…)

Jan13

Innovation of the Week: Healing Hunger

Share
Pin It

This is the second blog in a two-part series about GardenAfrica, a UK-based non-profit organization that helps families and communities in Southern Africa establish organic gardens to improve livelihoods and nutrition. To read the first post, see: Cultivating Health, Community and Solidarity.

Working with SAHIV staff, GardenAfrica selected patients from seven different clinics to participate in trainings and to help maintain the one hectare training garden. (Photo credit: GardenAfrica)

In Southern Africa, there’s a stigma associated with HIV. Many people hide the disease from their friends and family and feel isolated from their communities. And, in addition to an array of health problems that go along with HIV, such as thrush and other chronic infections, many people with HIV in Southern Africa are not getting enough to eat.

“Often the connection between healthcare and nutrition is not made , even by health professionals” says GardenAfrica co-founder and Programmes Director, George McAllister. GardenAfrica is a UK-based non-profit organization that forges partnerships with like-minded African NGOs and CBOs.  Together they develop appropriate training to assist families and communities to manage their resources more sustainably and establish organic gardens in  homesteads, smallholdings, schools, hospitals and other public areas. “In the case of those families affected by HIV/Aids, you can’t get better and become active members of your family and community if you aren’t getting enough to eat and the right vitamins and nutrients.”

In 2006, GardenAfrica partnered with HIVSA (HIV South Africa), an organization that provides treatment, education, and support for people living with HIV, to create a 1 hectare training garden at the largest hospital in the southern hemisphere, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. The garden, the two organizations hoped, would provide a source of inspiration for the hundreds of patients that passed through the hospital gates every day to take back to their homes, improving the health of their families and their communities. (more…)

Oct17

Snapshots from the Field

Share
Pin It

Each week the Nourishing the Planet team picks out some of our favorite photos  from the environmentally sustainable agriculture projects we’re visiting in sub-Saharan Africa.

photo credit: Julie Carney, Gardens for Health International

This week’s photo was submitted to our first photo contest by Julie Carney of Gardens for Health International displaying a cooking demonstration in Rwanda. This organization works with HIV positive individuals to improve their nutrition and health through low-cost sustainable agriculture practices.

Want to see more colorful memories from our ongoing travels? Check out the rest of our photos on our Flickr photostream.

Do you have photos of innovations on the ground in Africa? Share them with us for our second photo contest and the opportunity to be included on the Nourishing the Planet blog.  Send your submissions to dnierenberg@worldwatch.org.

Aug31

MDG: Do YOU know what it stands for?

Share
Pin It

By Amanda Stone

In this video produced by The New School Milano program for Management and Urban Policy in partnership with the United Nations, graduate students take to the streets of New York City as part of a social media campaign to educate the public about the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

In 2009 the total number of malnourished people rose above 1 billion. (photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

In September of 2000 after a decade of major United Nations conferences and summits, world leaders came together to adopt the eight MDGs, which range from halving extreme poverty to stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing primary education universally by 2015 to meet the needs of the world’s poverty. But UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon admits that the implementation of these goals has “been unacceptably slow.”  In fact, in 2005-2007, the number of undernourished people had actually increased from the initial benchmark, with the total exceeding one billion in 2009 after the 2008 spike in food prices due to the financial crisis, according to the 2010 MDG report.

To galvanize support for reaching the goals, the United Nations created the MDG Awards Committee, a nonprofit organization with a mission to disseminate information to the public and to recognize and spotlight the successes of stakeholders who are making progress towards MDG implementation by the 2015 target date.

Want to see more?  Check out the MDG Awards Youtube channel and these entries to the UN Citizen Ambassador video contest where participants around the world tell UN leaders why the MDGs are important and how the international community can achieve them.

Amanda Stone is Nourishing the Planet’s Communications Assistant.

Aug13

Nourishing the Planet on Medical News Today

Share
Pin It

Check out this article on Medical News Today on the need for global collaboration in order to improve sanitation, health and HIV prevention in the developing world. Nourishing the Planet’s recently published op-ed in the New Jersey Star-Ledger is quoted on how small organizations can work together to overcome the sanitation challenges faced by the one billion people living in urban slums.

Jun21

New Frontier Farmers and Processor Group: Reviving Farmland and Improving Livelihoods

Share
Pin It

This is the seventh piece in an eight part series about the Ecumenical Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development‘s (ECASARD) work in Ghana.

In Anamaase, Ghana, the New Frontier Farmers and Processor group is led by the village’s chief. Osbararima Mana Tibi II is a self described “young leader (he’s 50 years old) with a love for the environment.” He took it upon himself when he became chief, he says, to help revive farmland and improve the lives of the farmers in his village of about 5,000 people. And the chief is also helping farmers become more business-oriented. “We’re always thinking about how to process the crops we’re growing,” he says. According to him, farmers don’t have a lot of bargaining power in most villages in Ghana, but “processing gives them more leverage.”

Chief Osbararima Mana Tibi II is a self described “young leader with a love for the environment.” (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

One of the groups’ biggest accomplishments since it began in 1992, according to Chief Mana Tibi, is organizing palm oil processing groups. Typically, farmers collect palm oil fruits and sell them to a processor, instead of processing and extracting the oil—and having the opportunity to make additional income— themselves.

But by “coming together,” says the Chief, and building three palm oil processing centers, farmers are able to boil, ferment, and press the palm fruits themselves, allowing them to make a better profit. The processing plants, or “service centers,” which are run mainly by women, also help save time and labor because the community is working together to process and then package the oil. And because the three facilities aren’t enough to “fill the need” they’re working on building three or four additional processing plants.

The group is also involved in helping restore watersheds and barren land through agroforestry. They’ve started growing nitrogen-fixing trees, including Lucina to help restore soils, as well other trees, such as the so-called “green gold of Ghana,” moringa. When they’re processed into powder, the leaves of the moringa tree are very high in protein and can be manufactured into formula for malnourished children. And because the processing of moringa into powder “generates a lot of trash,” says Chief Tibi, the stalks and other leftover parts of the plant can be used as fodder for animals. New Frontier is also providing moringa seedlings to a group of 40 people living with HIV/AIDS, who not only use moringa as a nutritional supplement, but are also growing moringa to earn income.

The palm oil processing centers allow farmers to boil, ferment, and press the palm fruits themselves. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The group is doing some of its own community-based research by testing the effect moringa has on livestock. According to their research, feeding sheep moringa leaves has reduced fat in the meat dramatically, “making it taste more like bushmeat,” and it lasts longer when it is preserved than regular mutton. They’ve also found that goats who eat moringa are healthier.

In addition, the Chief is hoping that the business opportunities provided by moringa and other crops, will help make agriculture and agribusiness more attractive to youth and prevent their “drift” to the cities. He’s created a Amanmae Fe, or home of tradition, a place in  the community that uses dancing and music “to bait the youth,” says the  Chief. By bringing them together, he hopes the youth will learn more about their traditions and the ways of growing food that were in Ghana before Western interventions, as well as more modern practices that can help increase production and improve their livelihoods.

Please don’t forget to check out our other posts about ECASARD’s work in Ghana: Part 1: Working with the Root; Part 2: Something that Can’t be Qualified; Part 3: With ECASARD You Can See A Real Impact; Part 4: The Abooman Women’s Group: Working Together to Improve Livelihoods; Part 5: The Abooman Women’s Group: We Started Our Own Thing; and Part 6: Making a Living Out of Conservation.

May27

Innovation of the Week: Using Livestock to Rebuild and Preserve Communities

Share
Pin It

Anikole cattle is disappearing from Central and Eastern Africa (Photo Credit: ILRI)

For pastoralist communities like the well-known Maasai in Kenya, livestock keeping is more than just an important source of food and income; it’s a way of life that has been a part of their culture and traditions for hundreds of years.

But, in the face of drought, loss of traditional grazing grounds, and pressure from governments and agribusiness to cross-breed native cattle breeds with exotic breeds, pastoralists are struggling to feed their families and hold on to their culture.

The key, however, to maintaining the pastoralist way of life, at least in Kenya, may also be the key to preserving the country’s livestock genetic biodiversity, as well as improving local food security.“Governments need to recognize,” says Jacob Wanyama, coordinator with the African LIFE Network in Kenya— an organization that works to improve the rights of pastoralist communities in Eastern Africa, “that pastoralists are the best keepers of genetic diversity.” (See also: The Keepers of Genetic Diversity)

Anikole cattle, for example, a breed indigenous to Eastern Africa, are not only “beautiful to look at,” says Wanyama, but they’re one of the “highest quality” breeds of cattle because they can survive in extremely harsh, dry conditions—something that’s more important than the size and milk production of the cattle, especially as climate change takes a bigger hold on Africa. And indigenous breeds don’t require expensive feed and inputs, such as antibiotics to keep them healthy.

More than just a consistent and reliable source of food, Anikole cattle also help preserve the pastoralist culture and way of life. Though most pastoralists recognize that  many of their children might choose to go into the cities instead of continuing the nomadic herding lifestyle of pastoralists, the preservation of Anikole cattle and other indigenous breeds will allow those that choose to stay to feed and support their families and community for years to come. (See also: Maintaining Links to Tradition in a Changing World)

And, similarly, in Mozambique, the International Rural Poultry Center of the Kyeema Foundation and International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics are promoting livestock as more than just a means to improve food security.

The two organizations are partnering to work with farmers—most of them women—to raise chickens on their farms. Because women are often the primary caregivers for family members with HIV/AIDS, they need easy, low-cost sources of both food and income. Unlike many crops, raising free-range birds can require few outside inputs and very little maintenance from farmers. Birds can forage for insects and eat kitchen scraps, instead of expensive grains. They provide not only meat and eggs for household use and income, but also pest control and manure for fertilizer. (See also: Prescribing Improved Nutrition to Combat HIV/AIDS in Africa)

In Rwanda, Heifer International is helping farmers use livestock to rebuild their homes and improve their income after the devastating genocide that occurred 15 years ago.  Heifer began working in Rwanda in 2000, introducing a South African dairy breed, known for its high milk production, because, according to Dr. Karamuzi, “no stock of good [dairy cow] genes” was left in the country after the genocide.

And he says that these animals help prove “that even poor farmers can take care of high producing cows.” Heifer has certain conditions for receiving cows—including that farmers build a pen and dedicate part of their land to growing pasture—which made people skeptical, especially when they were used to letting animals roam freely to graze on grass. But as people began seeing the results of Heifer’s training, they become less suspicious and more interested in working with the group.

And these animals don’t only provide milk—which can be an important source of protein for the hungry—and income to families. They also provide manure, which provides not only fertilizer for crops, but also is now helping provide biogas for cooking to households raising cows in the country as part of a the National Biogas Program. And they give families a sense of security as they, and the entire country, continue to recover and rebuild. (See also: Healing With Livestock in Rwanda)

To read more about how smallscale livestock can improve food security and preserve and rebuild communities, see: Teacher Turned Farmer. . .Turned Teacher, Got Biogas?, Conserving Endangered Animal Genetic Resources in Kenya.