Archive for the ‘South Africa’ Category


I’m Beige; You’re Brown

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Check out an excerpt from the post, “I’m Beige; You’re Brown,” from Mother City Mama, a regular column by Katherine J. Barrett written for Literary Mama. Barrett is a columnist and reviews editor for Literary Mama. She is currently living in Cape Town, South Africa. She holds PhD in Botany and Ethics from the University of British Columbia in Canada and her new series chronicles what it is like to be a mother, foodie and environmentalist in Cape Town.


Cape Town, South Africa (Photo credit:

I met Wendy the morning we arrived in South Africa. She breezed through the door of our empty home with local grapes, mini-pizzas, and a bouquet of flowers. At the time, she managed my husband’s office, but Wendy has since become a family friend. She has babysat our kids, brought chocolate at Easter, and involved me in the Christmas parties she plans for a nearby orphanage. Wendy has also told me stories of her youth and early motherhood in apartheid South Africa — stories that make me question how I teach my children about race and equality.

Like citizens of most countries, Wendy received an identity number at birth. Her ID, however, established not only citizenship, but race. Apartheid — the word derives from the Afrikaans apart — rested on the principle that races must be physically separated. Classification of people by their race was therefore institutionalized.

According to her birth ID, Wendy is Coloured. This term (always capitalized under apartheid) included people of mixed ancestry, usually a combination of African, Indian, Southeast Asian, and European. While subjected to fewer restrictions than Blacks, Coloureds could not freely choose a job, a beach, a spouse, a public washroom or a place of residence.

Wendy says that her parents acquiesced to their status as a Coloured family, probably out of fear. Wendy, however, was forced to question her race at an early age. Her skin, she tells me, is lighter than that of her siblings, a fact of biology made more complex by society. She recalls standing outside a whites-only swimming pool at age five. Her older sister and aunt stood with her, all of them eager to plunge into the cool water. But the gate attendant performed his own racial assessment and permitted only Wendy and her aunt to enter. What was a five-year-old to do? Wendy swam; her sister did not.

To read the rest of “I’m Beige; You’re Brown” or other posts from Mother City Mama, check out Literary Mama.


Neglect Farming at World’s Peril

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Check out this recent article in South Africa’s The Sunday Times, the newspaper with the largest print circulation in the country. The article, highlighting State of the World 2011, discusses the importance of government investment in agricultural development and the potential of urban farming to help counter the impact of rising food prices.


The Philippi Horticulture Area produces well over 50 percent of Cape Town's fresh produce. (Photo credit: Nazeer Ahmed Sonday)

About 925 million people around the world go hungry every day—and 239million of them live in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the Worldwatch Institute. In addition the environmental research organization has found that:

- Agriculture’s share of global development aid has dropped from 16 percent in 1980 to 4 percent today;

- Just nine African countries allocate even 10 percent of their national budgets to agriculture;

- In sub-Saharan Africa, just 4 percent of the cultivated land is equipped for irrigation;

-  In poorer nations 25 percent-50 percent of the harvest spoils before it reaches the table;

-Worldwide, 800 million people depend on urban agriculture for their food needs; and

- In Africa, 14 million people migrate to cities each year.

South Africa should invest more in agriculture and encourage urban farming to strengthen food security and counter the impact of rising food prices, said Danielle Nierenberg, project director at the Worldwatch Institute.

Nierenberg has spent the past year in 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa to investigate the most effective agricultural development interventions.



What Politicians Must Do To Boost Agriculture in SA

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Nourishing the Planet was recently featured in South Africa’s Sunday Independent. In the article, we suggest four agricultural recommendations that South African policy makers should include in their agendas.

The recommendations include scaling up such innovations as urban agriculture, improving farmers’ access to markets and increasing biodiversity. These agricultural practices, already working in sub-Saharan Africa, can help reduce food insecurity, while also building an equitable and environmentally sustainable economy.

As policymakers come together for the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) later this year, agriculture can be a crucial sector that can help achieve our collective environmental goals, as long as it is given the attention it deserves.

As the host of the conference, South Africa is already showing its commitment to the environment, but there is also room for growth. To the South African government, we present 4 innovations that are working in South Africa, but that can be scaled up to boost agricultural development:

Feeding our Cities. The U.N. estimates that more than 70 percent of the global population will live in cities by 2050, putting a strain on food security in urban areas. But urban agriculture projects are becoming a viable solution for feeding city dwellers, and they need support from the South African government. As Cape Town’s population expands, residents are relying on the Philippi Horticulture Area (PHA) to grow fresh produce to feed their families. The city government, however, is planning to buy up pieces of that farmland, threatening the livelihoods of urban farmers. Nazeer Ahmed Sonday, a businessman-turned-farmer, founded the Schaapkraal Developing Farmers Association, to help struggling farmers, and to protect the remaining farmland and the natural resources that they depend on. (more…)


Feeding Our Growing Cities

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Check out this new article published in VGP News, Vietnam’s largest newswire. It discusses how agriculture can help strengthen food security, especially as cities expand, climate change takes hold, and food prices escalate.

VGP news-Vietnam-urban-farming-UN-Habitat-Kenya-Kibera-South-Africa-Cape-TownThe article echoes Nourishing the Planet’s recommendation to strengthen farming in cities. According to U.N. HABITAT’s State of the World’s Cities 2010/2011 report, 70 percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050. With 14 million people moving to urban areas each year, Africa is urbanizing faster than any other region in the world. And by 2020 it is estimated that 30-35 percent of Africans will depend entirely on food grown in cities.

But there is also no shortage of successful and thriving urban farms that are cropping up across the continent. Women in Kibera slum, outside Nairobi, Kenya, are growing spinach and kale in vertical gardens and farmers in Cape Town, South Africa have formed the Schaapkraal Developing Farmers Association that is helps makes sure their voices are heard by the city government.

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


State of the World to Launch in South Africa

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We are launching State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet in Pretoria, South Africa this week, in partnership with the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN).


We are partnering with FANRPAN to launch State of the World 2011 in South Africa this week. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The event will take place on Thursday, April 21st at 9 am at Pretoria’s Agricultural Research Council Institute in Silverton. Nourishing the Planet co-project director, Danielle Nierenberg will join local agricultural experts in an engaging discussion to highlight agricultural innovations that are working to alleviate hunger in South Africa and across sub-Saharan Africa.

Sithembile Ndema, State of the World contributing author and FANRPAN Program Manager, will discuss innovative initiatives to encourage women farmers’ to participate in framing agricultural policies.

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


NtP in the New Age

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Nourishing the Planet was recently featured in an article in South Africa’s The New Age. The article talked about urban farming initiatives in Cape Town, including the Schaapkraal Developing Farmers Association, that are improving food security and incomes of urban residents.

As urban migration continues to increase–14 million people move to cities annually in sub-Saharan Africa–urban agriculture is emerging as a solution for both feeding people and providing jobs.


State of the World 2011 Launch in Denmark

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State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet will be launched in Copenhagen, Denmark on February 25th to mark the official opening of Worldwatch’s European office, in partnership with the European Environment Agency.

Hans Herren Millennium Institute State of the World Launch Copenhagen Denmark

Hans Herren, President, Millennium Institute, will speak at the State of the World Launch in Copenhagen. (photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

Worldwatch President Christopher Flavin will join Worldwatch Europe Director Bo Normander in Copenhagen to discuss the extension of the Institute’s research into the European policy sphere.

The launch, which will feature refreshments from local sustainable caterers, Hahnemann’s Kitchen and Dirt Café, and will showcase a policy debate on Europe’s role in promoting sustainable agriculture practices towards the creation of a healthier global food system. The debate will include speakers such as Elsebeth Krogh, Chairwoman of ActionAid Denmark, Hans Herren, President of Millennium Institute and contributing author to State of the World 2011, and Jacqueline McGlade, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency.

Senior Researcher and co-project Director Danielle Nierenberg, who spent the last year researching on the ground in over 25 countries in Africa, will also participate in the launch events.  She will present key findings from the report, including a roadmap for agricultural investment in successful projects that can prevent food waste, build resilience to climate change, and strengthen farming in cities.

The event will be hosted by the European Environment Agency at Kongens Nytorv 6, 1050 Copenhagen K. To register for the event email or, or call +45 3336 7187 in Denmark or (+1) 202-452-1999 x514 in the United States.


Innovation of the Week: Healing Hunger

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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…)


But Who Can Listen?: FANRPAN Launches Theatre for Policy Advocacy Campaign in Rural Malawi

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by Thembi Ndema

This is the first in a series of guest posts about the Food and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network’s Theatre for Policy Advocacy, which helps educate communities about the challenges women farmers face in Africa.

The Food and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network‘s (FANRPAN) Women Accessing Realigned Markets (WARM) project recently launched a series of Theatre for Policy Advocacy (TPA) campaigns in rural Malawi. Working with its Malawi-based partners, FANRPAN had the first community performances in October 2010 in Sokelele Village  in Lilongwe District.

Part of the audience that attended the TPA performance (Photo credit: Thembi Ndema)

Story Workshop, which is the theatre lead for the WARM project in Malawi, spent a week in Sokele village where 23 women and men from the community interested in acting, dancing, and singing were selected to be part of a community drama group. The Story Workshop team then spent a week with the community learning their challenges and created a story that best portrayed the challenges faced by women farmers in the community. It is from this story that a play based on two prominent challenges: lack of land ownership and lack of access to input markets was developed and performed for the community.

In the play the main characters included a widowed woman having problems supporting her family of five after her late husband’s relatives seized her best farmland, and a married woman who is constantly arguing with her husband because he doesn’t help her with the farming, but spends all their money on beer. (more…)


Nourishing the Planet TV: Water From Thin Air

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In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, people are forced to travel long distances and several hours a day collecting the water for cooking and drinking. In this week’s episode of Nourishing the Planet TV, Nourishing the Planet research intern, Dan Kane, explains how one community in South Africa has developed a unique solution for the area’s lack of clean water. By setting up nets across a high mountain pass, the village of Cabazane is harvesting fog to produce water from thin air.


To read more about innovations that are bringing clean water to households and farms, see: Water Out of Thin Air .