Posts Tagged ‘Ghana’

Aug21

First Peoples Worldwide Awards Over US$1 Million in Grants to Indigenous Communities

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By Sophie Wenzlau

This past July, First Peoples Worldwide (FPW) reached a milestone of US$1.2 million in grants awarded “directly to Indigenous projects, programs, and communities” around the world. First Peoples, an international, Indigenous-led advocacy organization, seeks to promote economic determination and strengthen Indigenous communities by awarding grants directly to Indigenous Peoples. To fulfill these objectives, the organization provides “Indigenous Peoples with the tools, information and relationships they need to build community capacity to leverage assets for sustainable economic development.”

First Peoples Worldwide has surpassed $1 million in grants to Indigenous organizations. (Image credit: FPW)

According to the United Nations’ State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, “Indigenous Peoples all over the world continue to suffer from disproportionally high rates of poverty, health problems, crime, and human rights abuses.” In the United States, for example, Indigenous Peoples are 600 times more likely to contract tuberculosis and 62 percent more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Worldwide, Indigenous Peoples’ life expectancy is 20 years lower than the non-Indigenous average.

Despite these sobering statistics, Indigenous Peoples are responsible for some of the most vibrant and diverse cultures on earth. Of the world’s 7,000 languages, the UN estimates that over 4,000 are spoken by Indigenous Peoples. Indigenous communities are also strongholds of traditional knowledge, preserving ancient technologies, skills, and beliefs.

The grants awarded by FPW have funded innovative projects in countries like Botswana, Bolivia, Ghana, and Sri Lanka, and have focused on topics as diverse as land reclamation, water development, and traditional medicine.

In Ghana, FPW funded a project designed to prevent wild elephants from destroying farms located along the boundaries of Kakum National Park. The Association of Beekeepers in Ghana, the organization that received the grant, developed the novel idea of constructing a beehive barrier along the community’s perimeter. According to FPW, “the presence of the hives has naturally prevented elephants from crossing the grounds, and the honey production has increased income for farmers through sales, which has improved local commerce.”

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Jun30

Saturday Series: An Interview with Sarah Alexander

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By Olivia Arnow

Nourishing the Planet’s new Saturday Series, in which we interview inspiring people that our readers have nominated. These people are working on the frontlines to improve the global food and agricultural systems. Want to nominate someone? E-mail your suggestions to Danielle Nierenberg!

Sarah Alexander and the Keystone Center work to facilitate problem-solving models in the areas of sustainability, agriculture, and environmental cleanup. (Photo credit: keystone.org)

Name: Sarah Alexander

Affiliation: The Keystone Center

Bio: Sarah serves as the Director of Environmental Practice for The Keystone Center. Her work with conflict resolution and consensus building on sustainability issues over the past 18 years has resulted in important agreements, innovations, and policy impacts for agriculture and land use.

How did you come to the Keystone Center? What sort of work you do?

After studying environmental studies in college, I had a particular interest in agriculture and food systems and knew I wanted to help find solutions to environmental issues. That’s what the Keystone Center does: they bring people together to fight problems collaboratively and proactively.

Keystone does a broad variety of work with health and energy and initially I worked with cold war infrastructure, finding ways to return federal facilities and military bases back to the community. It was through Keystone’s sustainability work that I got back into agriculture.

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Jan06

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

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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.

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Dec12

Shea: For people and planet

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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.

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Nov16

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

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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

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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

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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.

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Oct01

Don’t waste energy, turn waste into energy

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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.

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Sep21

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

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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

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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.

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