Posts Tagged ‘Kenya’

Dec22

Innovation of the Week: Community Animal Health Workers

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By Brandon Pierce

Animal health services for livestock owners in several parts of sub-Saharan Africa are limited because of poor infrastructure and high delivery costs. To address this deficiency, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has supported the training and use of Community Animal Health Workers (CAHWs) in these regions. CAHWs are community members who have been trained in basic animal health care. The FAO is taking steps to standardize how CAHWs are trained and to connect them with reliable sources of needed drugs and materials.

Community Animal Health Workers help livestock owners provide basic healthcare for their animals. (Photo Credit: iyufera.com)

In Ethiopia, government supply systems often run out of the drugs livestock owners need for animal healthcare, which makes it difficult for CAHWs to effectively care for livestock. To meet the high demand for drugs, the FAO has worked to establish private pharmacies in Ethiopia and establish partnerships with CAHWs. So far, these efforts have been successful: over 30 pharmacies have been established, and these pharmacies have been linked to 600 CAHWs. To further improve CAHW programs, the Ethiopian government has developed minimum requirements and standards—such as the availability of training manuals for workers.

Kenya has also benefitted from the FAO’s CAHW program. During the 1990s, many Kenyan livestock owners were unable to afford the cost of treatment for their animals. Today, various CAHW programs—including the Community Livelihood Empowerment Project—have improved the availability of animal healthcare, reduced the cost of treatment, and ultimately improved livestock owners’ livelihoods.

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Sep29

Sowing the Seeds of a Food-Secure Future

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By Dana Drugmand

Worldwide, 195 million children suffer from malnutrition, which adversely affects their development and overall well-being. Approximately 26 percent of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa. And according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, the number of malnourished children in the region will rise 18 percent between 2001 and 2020. Fortunately, innovations such as school feeding programs and kitchen vegetable gardens are working to combat malnutrition and hunger in African children.

Schoolchildren in Uganda are learning how to grow fruits and vegetables in kitchen gardens funded by Seeds for Africa. (Photo Credit: Kellogg)

One organization, Seeds for Africa, has been instrumental in helping children gain access to local, nutritious fruits and vegetables. A central part of this organization’s work is teaching children the value of growing their own food by helping them to establish kitchen gardens and fruit tree orchards. Seeds for Africa funds kitchen vegetable garden development at primary schools in Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, and Sierra Leone.

In Kenya, Seeds for Africa coordinator Thomas Ndivo Muema has helped primary schools in the Nairobi region establish vegetable gardens and orchards of 200 fruit trees and has also supplied water tanks. In Uganda, fruit trees and vegetable gardens have been established at 77 schools around Kampala, the capital city. And in Sierra Leone, Seeds for Africa coordinator Abdul Hassan King has helped oversee tree planting projects in 50 primary schools and advised kitchen vegetable gardens operating at 15 other schools.

In 2011, Kellogg UK donated £6434 (US$9,946) to Seeds for Africa to fund “breakfast clubs” in Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia—clubs in which schoolchildren are fed breakfast if they attend class. In many parts of sub-Saharan Africa, some 60 percent of children come to school without having eaten breakfast, if they attend school at all. By providing a nutritious breakfast, the initiative helps to improve attendance as well as academic performance and student well-being. Results from breakfast club trials indicate that students who participated scored better on school tests and were happier overall than students who did not participate. School attendance also increased to 95 percent.

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Aug13

What Works: Farmers Increasing Resilience to Climate Change by Diversifying Crops

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By Molly Redfield

The loss of arable land due to climate change may amount to as much as 21 percent in South America, 18 percent in Africa, and 11 to 17 percent in Europe, according to scientists at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. The potential of climate change to adversely impact food security in these regions is staggering.

Maurice Kwadha encourages crop diversity on his farm in Kenya.

Countries in Asia are also highly vulnerable. In Vietnam, for example, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) reports that by 2050, rice yield decreases associated with climate change may amount to 2.7 million tons. But the loss of arable land is just one of many climate change-related agricultural concerns. Many industrially produced crops are especially vulnerable to extreme weather conditions and the shifting demographics of pathogens. (more…)

Sep06

Innovation of the Week: Tunnel Farming to Boost Food Security

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By Carly Chaapel

In places where severe weather and pests threaten crop yields, farmers are turning to tunnel-shaped greenhouses that improve the quality of their vegetables, decrease the need for pesticides, and promise higher yields by protecting the plants from severe wind, frost, and hail.

Tunnel farming can increase food security in regions with harsh environmental conditions (Photo Credit: Hartwood Farm)

CEDE Greenhouses manufactures greenhouses and tunnels to be implemented throughout southern Africa. Over the past 30 years, they have helped over 350 farmers start their own greenhouse businesses. Recently, CEDE partnered with Klein Karoo Seed Marketing Company to create the Africa Tunnel. Its simple design consists of plastic cloth and supporting beams, and makes it possible for new farmers to enter the business.

Greenhouses can be valuable tools for protecting plants from harsh environmental conditions while also extending the growing season. Where sunlight is lacking, the structure can optimize what light it receives by trapping the long-wave-length heat radiation that is reemitted by objects within the greenhouse walls. In arid or semi-arid regions such as Kenya, greenhouses can lower temperatures by blocking some light with shade cloths and encouraging swift ventilation. Greenhouses may also limit the amount of water that plants lose through transpiration, which can significantly improve yields where water is in short supply. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 0.2 percent of the total agricultural land is irrigated.

In addition to manufacturing the materials necessary for tunnel farming, CEDE also offers training sessions for sustainable crop production. The company teaches farmers how to sow seeds, manage plant growth, and finally market their own fruits and vegetables.

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Sep05

Nourishing the Planet TV: Aqua Shops

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In this week’s episode, Nourishing the Planet discusses FARM-Africa’s aquacultural initiative in western Kenya, which has established an Aqua Shop franchise that provides farmers with technical advice about aquaculture practices and give them the necessary materials to set up and maintain healthy fish ponds.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOR8RJC9BSk&feature=plcp

To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE.

Aug01

Innovation of the Week: Aqua Shops

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By Eleanor Fausold

Aquaculture has potential to stimulate economic growth and increase food production in Kenya. (Photo credit: Lilian Kamola Kaivilu)

In Western Kenya, where nearly 60 percent of households depend on fish as a source of income, dwindling fish supplies are hurting the economy and those who rely on fish as a source of food. Lake Victoria currently provides over 90 percent of Kenya’s fish supply, but a combination of overfishing and pollution have led to a decline in fish stocks, causing prices to rise because supply is not keeping up with demand.

As a solution, Kenya’s government is supporting the development of aquaculture in an effort to promote economic growth and stimulate food production. In addition to providing basic infrastructure and supporting research and development, the government is also providing funding for the construction of 46,000 fish ponds in 160 of the country’s 210 constituencies and has given farmers catfish and tilapia fingerlings, or very young fish, and fish feed to help get them started. Despite these governmental efforts, however, many farmers still lack access to the support and inputs required for long-term success.

In an effort to supplement and further the Kenyan government’s initiatives, FARM-Africa, in partnership with Natural Resources International, the University of Stirling, Imani Development, the U.K. Department for International Development Research Into Use Programme, and the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, has established a series of six Aqua Shops in western Kenya. These shops provide farmers with technical advice about aquaculture practices and give them the materials, including fish feed and manure (for fertilization), needed to set up and maintain healthy fish ponds and lakes.

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Jul03

What Works: Using Technology to Give Farmers Better Information

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By Jeffrey Lamoureux

For a farmer good information is time sensitive. Good information must move quickly and freely to reach those who rely on it when they make decisions. Digital technologies have revolutionized the way information travels worldwide, and the increasing availability of the mobile phone in particular is allowing better information to reach greater numbers of people than ever before. Several innovative programs are demonstrating the immense impact that simplest asset—timely and accurate information—can have on farmer’s livelihoods.

Better information allows farmers to make better decisions (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) was founded in 2008 to be a clearinghouse for the country’s agricultural commodities. Comprised of a central trading floor in the capital, Addis Ababa, and regional warehouses across the country, the ECX is able to provide farmers with up-to-the-minute price information. Trades are conducted and recorded digitally, allowing instantaneous communication of prices. When a farmer delivers a harvest to the ECX’s warehouses they know they are getting the right price for it. Additionally, the ECX’s modern facilities help minimize post-harvest losses from rotting. The ECX and its founder, Eleni Gabre-Madhin, were featured in a PBS documentary following the initial days of the exchange’s life.

While the ECX is streamlining the market, in Kenya techies have been developing mobile applications to help farmers manage their land and animals. They are building on the success and popularity of the mobile banking application M-PESA, a service that allows anyone with a cell phone to transfer money domestically. The best known of these is iCow, an application that helps farmers manage their herds. The application allows farmers to register their cows, allowing them to receive individualized messages reminding them of their cow’s gestation and feeding schedules. It sends updated market prices and best practices advice, and keeps a database of experts for consultation.

In Turkey, the Agricultural Directorate is utilizing the ubiquity of cell phones to distribute critical pest and weather information to farmers. Utilizing data gleaned from meteorological stations around the country, the Directorate sends text message alerts to farmers before peak pest season and before an oncoming frost. This has allowed farmer’s to reduce the number of pesticides applied each year, and to take preventative measures to protect their crops from frost.

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Jun07

Let Us Honor the Earth’s First Stewards

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This week an op-ed, “Let us honour the Earth’s first stewards,” co-authored by Danielle Nierenberg, director of Nourishing the Planet, and Rebecca Adamson, President of First Peoples Worldwide was featured in Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper.

A meeting of Samburu pastoralists in Kenya. (Photo credit: Bernard Pollack)

The article addresses the inequity in how Indigenous Peoples have been excluded from the decision making process regarding their traditional land, water, and mineral resources. Land traditionally owned by indigenous people, often officially belongs to others—former Kenyan President Moi for example—who sell the land, resulting in resource depletion and marginalization of the communities.

The article highlights work that First Peoples Worldwide and other organizations are doing to help indigenous people to maintain economic and cultural self-determination.

Click here to read the full article.

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.

May29

The Last Hunger Season

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Today, our friend Roger Thurow, senior fellow for Global Agriculture and Food Policy at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, releases his new book, The Last Hunger Season: A Year in an African Farm Community on the Brink of Change.

The Last Hunger Season, by Roger Thurow, is now on sale. (Image credit: Amazon.com)

The book is an intimate portrait of the lives of four smallholder farmers in western Kenya who are working with One Acre Fund to move from subsistence farming to sustainable farming, from farming to live to farming to make a living.

To order the book, click here or visit www.thelasthungerseason.com.

May12

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.

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