Rurban Africa: Challenges in Modernization

Another day, another lunch seminar. This time, though, with scientists! They presented a project called “RurbanAfrica“. The research questions included the following: Will agricultural modernization stimulate rural income generation? Is rural-urban migration a major development challenge? What is the relationship between rural-city connections and poverty dynamics? They have only just started their project, and thus presented … Continue reading Rurban Africa: Challenges in Modernization

Who Gets The Money? On Helping Africa To Feed Itself – in the US.

Philanthropy is an interesting concept. Here is one person, or a board of people, with more money to distribute than small nations have budgets. If they choose to concentrate on a topic, their impact can be immense and drive research, NGO actions and government policies in the direction of their liking because of the financial … Continue reading Who Gets The Money? On Helping Africa To Feed Itself – in the US.

Of Water and of Meat

Hi y’all, welcome to a new ‘what I’ve been reading!’ So much good information out on the internet these days… First up, National Geographic (my love) has an awesome article on The Evolution of Diet. It talks about scientists trying to analyze what the last hunter-gatherer societies on the planet are eating, in order to … Continue reading Of Water and of Meat

IFPRI 2013 Global Food Policy Report – What You Need to Know

gfpr2013_ch01timeline
They also provide a handy-dandy infographic – click through for a larger image!

Every year, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) presents a report on what happened in the previous 12 months in the global food policy arena. Of course, it is nearly impossible to shed light on every development, but the full report, spanning more than 120 pages, does a great job at attempting it! You can download it for free here if you are interested.

If, however, you don’t have the luxury of a free weekend or two at your disposal to catch up on everything that happened in 2013, the first chapter of the report (available here) gives a pretty comprehensive global overview, focusing both on regional policy issues as well as the overarching theme of nutrition security making a come-back on the political world stage. And if you just want the quick and dirty facts, look no further – I read through the chapter for explicitly that purpose and am here to give you a quick and dirty summary!

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A Life In the Day of a Ugandan Woman Farmer

What does a day in your life look like? Getting up, brushing your teeth, breakfast, off to work, maybe go to the gym on your way home to justify the indulgences at the dinner party this weekend?

What do you worry about? I’m sure about important things, but let me hazard a guess that it doesn’t include the following: whether you will have food tomorrow, whether your kids will be able to read and write, or whether you will be able to save up enough money to support yourself at an existence level once your body becomes too tired for bone-breaking daily labor.

Women’s groups, such as here the Kitokolo group, can be an important support system for women farmers to share resources and skills.
Image by Trees for the Future, via Flickr CC.

This BBC documentary podcast on a life in the day of Polly Apio, a women farmer in rural Uganda, gives us a very human and touching insight in the life of those whose daily existence depends on their toil, and in the process brings up multiple questions – on the difficulties of subsistence agriculture, on gender equality, legal or cultural, on the importance of education – and yet, inspires us to share. To hope. To be satisfied with the little (or plenty) we have. Since after a day of working from dawn till dusk, Polly Apio concludes with: “It’s been a good day.”

Find the episode from October 21st here in the BBC archive! It’s called ‘Women Farmers’.

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Coffee Reform in Burundi: Same Old, Same Old SAP?

Coffee is a vital crop in Burundi. It accounts for 60-80% of the country’s export revenues, and 55% of the population is dependent on coffee growing for their livelihoods. Thus, a reform of the coffee sector could make a huge difference for this country’s development – it currently ranks as the third-poorest nation in the world – but could also have vast impacts on the poor. Now two UN experts ring the alarm bells that the World Bank-backed reforms might do just that and repeat the mistakes made during the Structural Adjustment Programs (SAP) implemented in the 1980s and ’90s.

One of the coffee washing stations in Burundi.
Image by Counter Culture Coffee, via Flickr CC.

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Can A Bamboo Revolution Increase Food Security in Ethiopia?

Whenever we think about food security, we think about grain crops, yields, and whatever ends up on your plate. However, as I already discussed in this post about efficient cooking stoves, we tend to forget that most food (specifically grains) has to be cooked before it can be consumed, so that cooking fuel becomes part of the central equation of households: if you don’t have access to firewood, you will have to buy it; the more people cut down trees, the more expensive firewood (or charcoal) will become; and the more money you spend on your fuel, the less you can spend on your actual food – increasing your household’s food insecurity.

Bamboo has already been part of Ethiopian reforestation projects, but is moving into greater focus with its potential for quick growth and its link to industry projects.
Image by IPP State, via Flickr CC.

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