Seeds of Hope

By Neha Khator | USAID| January 8, 2018


Improved seeds and better access to water have proved a winning combination for these Indian farmers.

Three spokes in his back wheel have almost come off, but farmer Kunwar Munda adjusts his feet and continues to cycle. Even as the breeze rushes through his hair, it is never enough to match the scorching sun. Trees and the ground have been burnt stony brown and dry.

After almost an hour of cycling, Munda arrives at a tented location in Mungadih village in Angara block in the eastern state of Jharkhand in India.

This is the third Kisan Mela (Farmer’s Fest) organized by USAID, the Centers for International Projects Trust (CIPT) and Birsa Agricultural University (BAU) under the Sustainable Agriculture and Farmers’ Livelihood (SAFAL) Program. Hundreds of farmers from across 15 villages have arrived here. Munda parks his cycle next to a large tree and joins a party of known faces from his village as a few hundred farmers continue to pour into the tent.

Among the arriving farmers is 22-year-old Sapna Devi. Unlike Munda, she had to cross a forested mountain on foot to reach the event.

Farmers gathered under a tent to collect their bags of high-yielding rice seeds. / Neha Khator, USAID

The farmers wait in anticipation before officials from the USAID-supported SAFAL project began distributing 1,200 bags of high-yielding rice seeds to the hundreds of farmers that have congregated.

As names are called one-by-one, farmers queue to get their bags, each containing five kilograms of high-yielding rice seeds.

Farmer Kunwar Munda smiles after collecting his bag of rice seeds. / Neha Khator, USAID

As Munda collects his bag and rejoins his group, his face beams with a smile that’s unstoppable.

“I have heard so much about these seeds. Farmers in villages near mine have doubled their crop production since they got these. And even the drought last year did not affect them. It is my turn now,” he says.

Munda, like every farmer in Jharkhand, is trapped in a vicious and complex agricultural quagmire.

The state has a mountain topography, which means that the land here is rocky, uneven and less fertile.

“Out of the state’s entire land mass, only 35 percent is cultivable land,” explains Kamal Vatta, director of CIPT. “And even though Jharkhand receives monsoon rains twice the national average, the state’s [sloping] geography means that 90 percent of the rainwater quickly washes away, leaving the farmers distressed with severe water shortage and periodic droughts.”

To compound these problems, farmers here grow a traditional, low-productive rice variety using farming methods passed on to them through generations. And, like most farmers here, Munda owns only a small plot of land. His father upon his death divided his one acre of farmland among Munda and his four brothers, leaving only one-fifth of the land each to cultivate. As a result, Munda barely produces enough to feed his family beyond six months.

To break this cycle of extreme poverty and food insecurity, USAID organized the first Farmer’s Fest in June 2015. Through this project, 730 farming families were selected from across 10 villages to receive high-yielding rice seeds along with training in modern sowing and farming methods.

Farmer Sapna Devi after receiving her bag of rice seeds. Through this USAID project, 730 farming families were selected to receive high-yielding rice seeds and training in modern farming methods. / Neha Khator, USAID

But seeds alone couldn’t do the magic.

“In India, farming is still rain-fed and rain-dependent. To cultivate a good crop, farmers need assured access to water during the months of shortage. That is why we began building dobhas or small ponds,” says Vatta.

Adobha is a low-cost rainwater harvesting technique where a 10-by-10 foot pit is dug to trap the rainwater.

“Under the SAFAL project, CIPT and agriculture scientists from Birsa University used geospatial mapping to carefully identify rain and water stream patterns to build the dobhas in strategic locations. In the first year, we built 20 such dobhas — two each in the 10 selected villages,” adds Vatta. The farmers then draw the required amount of water from the dobha using a pipe powered by a pump.

The dobha built near farmer Sukhram Bediya’s farm / Neha Khator, USAID

Farmer Sukhram Bediya from Mungadih village proudly shows the dobha built an arms-length from his less than 1-acre farmland. Whereas before he was producing barely 150 to 200 kilograms of rice a year, after utilizing the higher-yielding rice seeds and dobha irrigation technique, his production shot up to 450 kilograms in only a year.

“After I harvested the rice, the project staff provided me vegetable seeds which again turned out very well. I sold the vegetables in the nearby weekly bazaar, and now I earn an average Rs. 1,000 ($16) every week just by selling vegetables,” says Bediya.

Currently, lush green colocasia leaves (cultivated for its nutritious leaves and root) and ripened tomatoes cover his field. These will soon be cleared to be sold at the weekly bazaar and will make way for his next rice crop.

Farmer Sukhram Bediya shows his field. / Neha Khator, USAID

“In the last two years, I have never left my fields empty. I’m producing something throughout the year now,” says Bediya, a new gold-coloured watch reflecting the sun as he smooths his crisp, light-blue shirt with his hands.

With rising farm production came rising incomes, and farmers like Bediya and Bharat Ram, who is from a nearby village, owe their newfound prosperity to the seeds and dobhas backed by USAID.

Bharat Ram’s daughter had just passed her Grade 10 exams the year he made Rs. 15,000 ($244) by selling a bumper cucumber harvest. “From that money, I paid Rs. 5,000 ($77) for her admission fees to enrol her into the Women’s College in Ranchi (the state capital).” Adds Ram with a tone of disbelief: “Who would’ve thought that cucumbers could one day pay for my daughter’s education.”

As these stories of transformed livelihoods travelled across villages far and wide, farmers like Munda and Sapna Devi began joining the SAFAL project. Like Bharat Ram, Munda too wants to send his sons to study in a private school in the city. “They are talented, bright boys and I know they’ll do well for themselves if they get the right education,” says Munda.

In the last two years, the project has built 320 dobhas in 30 villages in the Angara block alone and has enrolled over 2,100 farmers, providing them with access to water and seeds of hope.

The project has been so successful that the local state government has taken notice and plans to drastically ramp up dobha construction going forward.

“Based on the success of our program, the Jharkhand state government has now committed to constructing 500,000 dobhas across the state by 2022, collectively saving 12.5 million cubic meters of rainwater,” says Vatta. The Jharkhand state government’s efforts support the Indian Prime Minister’s flagship national goal of providing “water to every farm” and doubling farmers’ incomes and productivity.

Farmer Sapna Devi, though, has simpler dreams. With the increased farm income, she hopes to buy herself a red saree. “It would look good on me, right?” she asks. “Oh yes, you’ll look very pretty,” giggle her friends from behind.


About the Author

Neha Khator is a development and outreach communications specialist with USAID’s mission in India.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by USAID Frontlines and retrieved on 01/09/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


Keeping our promise to the ocean – from commitments to action

In June 2017, 193 Member States of the United Nations gathered at the first-ever Ocean Conference and committed to a set of ambitious measures to start reversing the decline of the ocean’s health.

The Ocean Conference marked a global breakthrough in the sustainable management and conservation of the ocean, bringing the world one step closer to implementing the Sustainable Development Goal 14. The conference resulted in the outcome document, Our Ocean, Our Future: Call for Action, and close to 1,400 voluntary commitments for concrete action by governments, UN organizations, civil society, academia, the scientific community, and the private sector.

Now comes the time to turn these pledges into reality, to galvanize new partnerships, inspire international cooperation and mobilize resources for ocean action.

In September 2017, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Mr. Peter Thomson as his Special Envoy for the Ocean, aiming at galvanizing concerted efforts to follow up on the outcomes of the UN Ocean Conference in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, maintaining the momentum for action to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Mr. Thomson will lead UN’s advocacy and public outreach efforts inside and outside of the UN system, ensuring that the positive outcomes of the Ocean Conference, including the voluntary commitments, are fully analyzed and implemented.  He will also work with civil society, the scientific community, the private sector, and other relevant stakeholders, to coalesce and encourage their activities in support of the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14.

To support the implementation of the voluntary commitments, Mr. Peter Thomson, in collaboration with UN DESA, will be supporting Communities of Ocean Action among all stakeholders to spur further action and maintain the momentum generated by the first-ever UN Ocean Conference held in June 2017.  As a first step, on 7 September 2017, a webinar was organized with a focus on arrangements for following up on voluntary commitments, establishing action communities among stakeholders, and hearing updates from participants on commitments related to mangroves.

Mangroves are a vital coastal ecosystem, which hosts a spectacular diversity of animals and plants, including up to three-quarters of the world’s commercial fish species. They also help fight climate change and its consequences by sequestering nearly 23 million tonnes of carbon each year and by protecting coasts from extreme weather events.

The mangrove community – over 50 representatives of governments, UN organization, civil society and other partners – met on 7 September at a webinar organized by Mr. Thomson and UN DESA to review progress and plot the way forward to protect these unique ecosystems.

The community members reported some remarkable achievements. For example, the UN Development Programme / Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme Pakistan has successfully conserved 7,000 acres of mangroves in the Indus Delta. The Bay Islands Conservation Association (BICA) on the Honduran Island of Guanaja has planted 20,000 mangrove plants in 10 hectares of wetland.

Actions reviewed at the webinar range from huge, global initiatives, to small local projects – all equally important and necessary for ocean action. For example, the Global Mangrove Alliance, set up by three large international nongovernmental organizations is aiming to increase mangrove habitat worldwide by 20 percent by the year 2030. On the other side of the spectrum, the WiseOceans community has partnered with resorts and schools in Seychelles to educate the youth on the importance of oceans and mangroves.

More webinars for other ocean communities will be soon announced here and the new Ocean Action newsletter will bring regular updates on the progress to save our ocean.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by United Nations Department of Economics and Social Affairs and retrieved on 01/07/2018 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM Inc. accordingly.


Changing the way the world views and manages water: Storytelling through photos

SUBMITTED BY WATER COMMUNICATIONS  |THURSDAY | 06/08/2017


The Joint Secretariat of High Level Panel on Water and Connect4Climate announced today that the winner of the Instagram Photo Competition — #All4TheGreen Photo4Climate Contest Special Blue Prize — for the best photo on water is Probal Rashid, from Bangladesh, with a photo taken in his country showing how water stress is affecting individuals in his community.

The Special Blue Prize was created as part of the #All4TheGreen Photo4Climate Contest and aimed to select the best photo on the value of water: clean water, dirty water, lack of water, how inadequate access to water and sanitation causes poor health and stunting, how too much or too little water contributes to environmental disasters and human suffering, or how water insecurity can lead to fragility and violence. What is the value of water to you?

  Probal Rashid, Bangladesh   |   Shyamnagar, Satkhira, Bangladesh

 Rani, 9, collects rainwater for drinking. Rainwater is the main source of drinking water in the village of Shyamnagar, Satkhira, Bangladesh. Due to sea-level rise resulting from climate change, limited sweet water sources of the coastal area have widely been contaminated with saline water.

“I have been documenting the impact of climate change in my country, Bangladesh, over the last years. It’s a great honor to win this competition and I hope it will create more awareness on this issue,” said Probal Rashid during the announcement of the winner, on June 8th, World Oceans Day.

Probal was presented as the winner at the UN Ocean Conference SDG Media Zone in New York City, which connected live with the All4TheGreen Media Zone in Bologna, Italy. “Rainwater is the main source of drinking water due to sea level rise. Sometimes people have to travel long distances to collect drinking water,” he added.

Rashid, a documentary photographer, will be awarded with a trip to New York City to learn more about the High-Level Panel on Water at the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in September — and presumably, take lots of photos.

“There are two things that are really distinct and unique about the [High Level Panel on Water]. First, they want to change the way the world views and manages water. That is not an easy undertaking. And secondly, as sitting heads of governments, they want to lead by example, by taking initiative in their country and on the regional level. This prize is very important because it will help the world change the way we view and manage water,” said Juwang Zhu, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development at the UN.

After the announcement, Director Zhu added: “By an interesting coincidence, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh is on the [High Level] Panel, and we are going to meet towards the end of July. So I hope we will be able to meet with the winner in person and introduce the work to the Panel. It will help publicize the importance of water for Bangladesh, and for the region as a whole.”

The jury also decided to award four honorable mentions in addition to the winner to the following photos:

  Dorte Verner, Denmark   |    Tadmor, Syria

A Syrian boy in Tadmor desert around Palmyra in Syria. Climate change is making the harsh environment harder and water resources more limited.

  Dorte Verner, Denmark   |    Niger

Young girl in Niger doing the washing with water she has fetched in the river. Water is already a scarce resource for many people in arid parts of the planet and climate change is making it even scarcer.

  Madeline Dahm, USA   |   Vientiane, Laos

Ms.Pheng from Ekxang Village, Lao PDR waters her organic garden. Ekxang is the trial site for the International Water Management Institute’s project to sustainably use groundwater as a supplement to primarily rainfed agriculture. This supplementary resource helps farmers become more resilient to unpredictable climates and increase their productivity during the dry season. We must intensify agricultural output if we wish to feed the world, but this is only feasible if it is done sustainably.

  Artur Cabral, Portugal   |   São Tomé and Príncipe

It is common in some beaches of São Tomé to share moments and experiences with local people, especially the kids who are more curious and daring. This is what happened on a beach in the town of Santana, south of the capital of São Tomé Island. After some football games in the sand and some dives in the sea, a shower of fresh water made the day of those kids.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by The World Bank and retrieved on 01/07/2018 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM Inc. accordingly.


Game-changing water solutions for the Middle East and North Africa


SUBMITTED BY CLAUDIA W. SADOFF ON WED, 11/22/2017 | CO-AUTHORS: ANDERS JAGERSKOG


Also available in  العربية

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have become a hotspot of unsustainable water use, with more than half of current water withdrawals in some countries exceeding the amount naturally available. This could have serious long-term consequences for the region’s growth and stability. Solutions for narrowing the gap between the supply of and demand for water are an urgent priority.

As the Fourth Arab Water Forum gets underway next week in Cairo, Egypt much is at stake in the region’s water management. Armed conflict and massive numbers of refugees have put tremendous additional stress on land and water resources in MENA as well as on infrastructure in communities receiving the refugees. In Jordan alone, according to the country’s Ministry of Water and Irrigation, climate change and the refugee crisis have reduced water availability per person to 140 cubic meters, far below the globally recognized threshold of 500 cubic meters for severe water scarcity.

These recent developments compound the impact of decades of rapid population growth, urbanization and agricultural intensification. A recent World Bank report notes that more than 60% of the region’s population is concentrated in places affected by high or very high surface water stress, compared to a global average of about 35%. The report further warns that climate-related water scarcity is expected to cause economic losses estimated at 6-14% of GDP by 2050 – the highest in the world.

As governments search for solutions, two trends, in particular, could present game-changing opportunities to bolster water security. As captured in two recent reports by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the viability of these solutions will depend on how governments and societies respond to them.

The promise and perils of solar-powered agriculture

One trend is the rapid rollout of solar-powered irrigation in some countries, with the triple aim of strengthening water, energy and food security. Morocco, for example, expects to install more than 100,000 solar pumps by 2020. Similarly, Egypt is implementing a program of desert agriculture, involving the irrigation of 630,000 hectares with solar technology. Other countries are embarking on such ventures as well, taking advantage of lower costs for solar technology and the region’s high solar radiation. Such initiatives will replace polluting and expensive diesel pumps, and offer a new option to farmers who lack access to energy grids. Reductions in traditional fuel subsidies strengthen the incentive for shifting to the use of solar and other renewable energy sources.

Governments hope that solar technology will offer a way for farming communities to leapfrog from chronic vulnerability toward resilient and sustainable intensification of production. The option has a downside, however, stemming from inadequate understanding and poor regulation of groundwater. These shortcomings, by permitting groundwater overexploitation, have caused water tables to fall, making it more expensive to pump from greater depths, while also creating problems such as soil salinity. Solar-powered irrigation could make matters worse by permitting the extraction of more groundwater at lower cost, impacting vulnerable rural communities with poor access to water resources.

Innovative monitoring technologies (such as remotely controlled pumps and smart water meters) could help address some of the challenges. Moreover, as is already happening in Jordan, experts can use remote sensing techniques to help governments control the expansion of groundwater-based irrigation.

Tapping the only increasing natural resource

A second trend centers on wastewater, 82% of which is not being recycled in the region, compared to just 30% in high-income countries. This presents a major threat to human and environmental health but also a massive opportunity to better satisfy water demand. Wastewater is the only natural resource that increases as cities and populations grow. Countries in the MENA region already generate 18.4 cubic kilometers of municipal wastewater per year.

Many technologies are available to treat and reuse wastewater for productive purposes, including forestry, agriculture, landscaping, and aquifer recharge. The uptake of these options has so far been slow, however, because of rigid regulations and a policy disconnect between the agricultural, sanitation and other sectors. When reuse projects do get underway, the lack of appropriate tariffs and economic incentives undermine their sustainability by making it difficult for them to recover the costs of wastewater treatment. Key considerations going forward are the selection of crops best suited for irrigation with reused water and measures for addressing specific health concerns.

MENA has much to gain from efforts to overcome these barriers. With appropriate treatment, wastewater has the potential to provide irrigation and fertilizer for more than 2 million hectares of agricultural land. This would contribute to the conservation of freshwater, making more available for domestic use and a wide variety of productive purposes. Jordan’s success in harnessing private sector technological innovation and financing to recycle wastewater offers an especially instructive case. Such technologies, reinforced by new policies, could help put MENA on course toward water security. This will require commitment at all levels of society to address cultural barriers impeding change in water use, bridge institutional and policy divisions, and revise overly stringent regulations.

Turning threats into opportunities

Solutions to the growing problem of water scarcity are within reach. The challenge is to accelerate the development and spread of innovation for sustainable water management. This, in turn, requires a new “water consciousness,” as noted in Beyond Water Scarcity, which recognizes that everyone – from individual farmers and consumers to businesses and public agencies – has a responsibility to overcome water scarcity.

Participants in the Arab Water Forum will hear a lot about such innovations in water management. The challenge will be to build momentum behind solutions that can make a difference.


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by The World Bank and retrieved on 12/30/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


 

Be Inspired: 10 of USAID’s Best


Here’s how our actions, ideas, and passions helped empower people and expand opportunity around the globe this year

From responding to Hurricane Maria to announcing a unique way to fund our efforts to reduce maternal and newborn deaths, USAID has been busy in 2017 ensuring our assistance to developing countries will have the greatest impact possible.

Check out this list of 10 stories from this year. While we can’t describe all our efforts around the world here, these examples show that aid works.

1. After the Hurricanes

On St. Martin, a member of Joint Task Force-Leeward Islands (center) and DART member Anne Galegor (left) help a local resident to fill a water jug with filtered seawater made portable through a reverse osmosis process. The U.S. military produced a total of 83,020 gallons of potable water for St. Martin during its mission. / Ricardo ARDUENGO/AFP

On Sept. 7, USAID deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to lead the U.S. Government’s humanitarian response to Hurricanes Irma, Jose, and Maria in the Caribbean — three of the six major storms to form during a record-breaking Atlantic hurricane season. Our disaster experts never imagined they would end up riding out and responding to the devastation caused by three back-to-back hurricanes, including two Category 5 storms. But they did and quickly jumped into action to aid storm survivors. At its height, the DART comprised 54 people deployed to 11 countries. USAID also airlifted more than 185 metric tons to help nearly 84,000 people, representing the best of American generosity. Check out this infographic about the response.

2. Saving Newborns and New Moms

The BEMPU Hypothermia Alert Device was featured in TIME as one of the Top 25 Inventions of 2017. / BEMPU

USAID and our partners support innovators with groundbreaking ideas to ensure newborns and their mothers survive childbirth. One of these inventions — the BEMPU Hypothermia Alert Device — was featured in TIME as one of the Top 25 Inventions of 2017. The newborn temperature-monitoring wristband intuitively alerts caregivers if their newborn is losing too much heat, enabling intervention well before complications or death can occur. With our support, the device has helped an estimated 10,000 newborns. We are looking forward to 2030 when this and other innovations could potentially save 150,000 lives.

3. Feeding the Future

Feed the Future is helping to boost food security around the globe.

Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s initiative to combat global hunger, announced this year that it is launching its next phase, partnering with 12 countries to focus on promoting long-term, sustainable development. This comes after helping a combined 9 million more people live above the poverty line and 1.8 million more children avoid the devastating results of stunting. Our goal continues to be addressing the root causes of hunger and poverty and helping communities be less dependent on emergency food assistance.

4. Wildlife Trafficking

An elephant is killed every 15 minutes; an average of 96 per day. USAID is committed to stopping environmental crime and protecting the wildlife and human communities that depend on them. / Lara Zanarini, Shutterstock

Protecting endangered species benefit more than the often majestic animals themselves. USAID’s work combating wildlife trafficking, environmental crime and mismanagement of natural resources strengthens the U.S. and international security, rule of law and global economic prosperity. This year we put together the video below to help strengthen law enforcement from parks to ports, reduce consumer demand for illegal wildlife products, facilitate international cooperation and build partnerships.

5. Fighting Hunger

Workers in Ethiopia offload a USAID food donation. The Agency is at the forefront of helping the United States respond to, counter and prevent complex threats and crises around the globe. / Petterik Wiggers, WFP

In four countries — South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen — more than 20 million people are at risk of severe hunger or starvation. In February, officials declared famine in parts of South Sudan, making 2017 the most food-insecure in the country’s history. But a massive humanitarian response by the U.S. Government and the rest of the international community helped roll back that designation just four months later. USAID is continuing to leverage its resources to help the people of South Sudan, and those living in Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen respond to natural and man-made disasters.

 

6. Women in Charge

Nanda Pok (left) is not only the owner of her own successful business in Cambodia but keeps busy by grooming other women to start their own businesses. She participated in a USAID-funded coffee production training program for female business leaders from Southeast Asia. She has shared with she learned with other women entrepreneurs in her country, helping them to start their own businesses. / Thomas Cristofoletti for USAID

USAID supports women entrepreneurs worldwide as catalysts for economic growth and inclusive development. Nanda Pok is not only the owner of her own successful business in Cambodia, but she also keeps herself busy by grooming other women to start their own businesses. Nanda participated in a USAID-funded coffee production training program for female business leaders from Southeast Asia. Pok believes that when women are economically-empowered, money flows back into businesses and towards the health, education, and well-being of families. And we couldn’t agree more. In Cambodia and across the globe, USAID helps women entrepreneurs realize their dreams.

7. When a Latrine Brings a New Lease on Life

A family works together to install their new Digni-Loo. The entire installation process only takes about 10 minutes. Photo credit: Melissa Burnes, USAID WASH for Health

We live in a water-stressed world. USAID is tackling this issue on a number of fronts, including in Ghana where we piloted installation and use of the Digni-Loo, a latrine that is simple to install, affordable, comfortable and easy to clean. More than 800 million people worldwide still defecate in the open. This results in billions of lost dollars from the global economy due to diarrheal illness and widespread threats to public health, including a heightened risk of global epidemics. This November the Agency and the U.S. State Department launched the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy, which outlines ways we can reach 15 million people with clean drinking water and 8 million people with sanitation services.

8. Smart Ways to End World Hunger

Baby Shikari is a rural rice farmer in Bangladesh. After receiving agricultural training, her family eats more nutritious food, shares some with their relatives, and sells the rest at the local market. / Morgana Wingard for USAID

Today, nearly one in 10 people around the world suffer from hunger, and that figure is rising. As we’ve learned over decades, there are no simple solutions. Supporting food security requires much more than filling people’s bellies. We can combat global hunger and malnutrition, but it takes a holistic approach to ensure long-lasting impact. Here are five ways USAID is investing in agriculture and food security to end hunger.

9. Investing in Change

USAID’s new development impact bond could save up to 10,000 moms and newborns. / Project Ujjwal

At the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, USAID Administrator Mark Green announced the launch of the Agency’s first health development impact bond, dubbed the Utkrisht Impact Bond after the Hindi word for “excellence.” Impact bonds are focused on outcomes and can leverage private investor capital to address some of the world’s greatest challenges. This impact bond — the largest and most ambitious of its kind — aims to reduce maternal and newborn deaths by improving the quality of maternal care in Rajasthan, India’s health facilities. It is expected to improve access to care for up to 600,000 pregnant women and save up to 10,000 maternal and newborn lives.

10. Meeting Nature’s Wrath with Resilience

Elsie Nambri is a teacher and community activist on Vanuatu. / USAID

When Mt. Yasur Volcano on Vanuatu emits ash, it sometimes damages the community’s crops. And widespread hunger follows. USAID is working with island residents to strengthen resilience so they can bounce back faster from natural disasters. Our work is also helping to elevate women to decision-making roles that are normally reserved for men in these communities. During a recent tropical cyclone, residents broadcasted early warnings on loudspeakers and mobilized disaster committees. This was the first time that the island prepared with concerted and inclusive measures. “This is our land, our ancestors’ land,” said Elsie Nambri, a teacher and community activist here. “Just as we have learned to live with Mount Yasur, I feel we are now ready for anything.”


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by USAID and retrieved on 12/30/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


Empowering youth to protect fisheries in the Solomon Islands


By Faye Aborina Siota | 


In the Solomon Islands, discussions and decisions on managing local fisheries mostly involve men, who are typically the elders and hold the leadership positions in communities. Yet research from across the world shows that broad community involvement and commitment is critical for equitable fisheries management.

A key challenge is to arrive at a model of community management of natural resources that integrates the voices of all community members, including youth, while also respecting traditional social hierarchy.

Spear fishing, Solomon Islands.

In the Solomon Islands, fish and fishing is important as a source of food and income and is integrated into the way of life of households and communities. Youth participate in fisheries by fishing from shore or from canoes, diving to gather invertebrates and to Spearfish, and helping to clean and prepare to catch for sale or for consumption – all of which are important contributions to the collective activities of a rural and coastal community.

Yet the strong cultural hierarchy in many rural and coastal communities limits the extent that youth can participate in discussions on fisheries governance. Respect for community chiefs, elders, religious leaders and resource owners as the decision makers sometimes restrains the ability that youth have to contribute ideas. This can mean that youth become disenfranchised, resulting in many being uninvolved and even unaware of such deliberations. The trend for youth to move away from rural communities to bigger urban centers adds to the challenge.

Encouraging the greater involvement all individuals, including youth, in fisheries management has been a focus of efforts by WorldFish in partnership with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to test, refine and promote community-based resource management (CBRM) in the Solomon Islands since 2005.

The CBRM approach involves local communities managing natural resources in partnership with government bodies and civil society groups through such mechanisms as discussing customary access rights, sharing contemporary scientific and local knowledge about marine environments and fish ecology, promoting sustainable harvesting and practicing enforcement. This approach resonates well in the Solomon Islands, where, because of customary marine tenure, communities have always managed their local fisheries with little intervention from government authorities.

CBRM training participants, Solomon Islands.

To ensure CBRM initiatives reach and involve youth, WorldFish has partnered with the regional organization Pacific Community (SPC) to run workshops on CBRM specifically targeted toward youth. Since November 2016, three youth-targeted trainings have been held involving 47 young people.

The three-day training empowers youth to increase their knowledge and confidence so as to allow them to get actively involved in, and even lead, marine resource management in their communities. It encourages young people to open up, interact and share ideas on tackling fisheries issues and solutions in their own communities. By giving them the opportunity to recognize their capabilities, youth understand that they can contribute to resource management programs, and affect a range of decisions that impact upon the future of their communities.

Look & learn trip, Solomon Islands.

The gaining of basic marine biology knowledge and a deeper understanding of the interconnection of the marine environment to us humans was an evident impact of the training. With this new knowledge, youths discussed ways that they would be able to better manage community resources and work together to improve their management when they returned home. To capture these ideas, the youths drew up action plans that outlined activities such as holding awareness talks to carry out on their return to their communities.

In the Solomon Islands, we are all resource users that depend on fisheries for food and income. If we don’t all participate in managing our natural resources and protecting our environment, then we can’t ensure the continued benefits of fisheries for the people who depend on them. Appreciating our youth and recognizing them as agents of change in our communities is therefore critical to achieving sustainable outcomes from CBRM initiatives.


AUTHOR

Faye Aborina Siota

Faye Aborina Siota

Faye Aborina Siota has been working for WorldFish as a Research Analyst since 2012. She has been involved in research on community-based resource management (CBRM), nearshore fish aggregating devices (FADs) and most recently, on food and nutrition in rural communities. She believes in community empowerment and the strength-based approach.


 


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by The Fish Tank and retrieved on 12/21/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.


 

Urban Wastewater for Food Security – Averting the Next Health Crisis in Africa

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Photo Credit: African Development Bank. Wastewater is one of the unresolved development challenges facing rapidly growing African cities.

Analysis 


Wastewater from sewage that is churned out by expanding cities and towns worldwide helps meet food security globally, especially in developing regions.  It is the one resource (unlike land, labour, or freshwater) that is continuously growing in volume and used to cultivate vegetables, grains, animal feed, and fish at a larger scale than we ever realised.

A new study shows how widespread this practice is among farmers who grow our food. Using satellite images, geo spatial data sets, and computer modelling of the water cycle, the report estimates that because most wastewater remains untreated 885 million people are at health risk through the food chain, not counting those otherwise in contact with the water.

Health risks are most common in low- and middle-income countries, where facilities to treat wastewater have lagged behind population growth, and yet food production must rely on expanding wastewater flows because alternative, freshwater sources for agricultural irrigation are increasingly scarce. Without action, we could be allowing diseases like parasitic worms, diarrhea and even cholera to wipe out the impressive gains made in increasing food supply.

West Africa – with its high population growth – is a particular hotspot, signalling an increasing risk in a region already beset by health challenges. In Ghana, up to 90% of the fresh, leafy vegetables consumed raw in urban areas are grown in or near cities under irrigation with highly polluted water. A survey from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), who contributed to the new study, showed that in Ghana only 16% of wastewater treatment facilities are fully functional, treating a small fraction of the country’s wastewater. As a result, water pollution is common, and unsafe irrigation water is used to grow vegetables eaten daily by about 800,000 urban dwellers.

Acting now is crucially important – the daily health risks and loss of life, especially of children, are unacceptably high in low-income countries. At present levels of investments in wastewater infrastructure coupled with rapid urban expansion, most of these countries will never reach 80 or 90% treatment; it has taken Ghana decades to get its wastewater treatment up to 15%.

Risk “barriers” are needed along the food value chain

Fortunately, there are several alternative approaches where conventional wastewater treatment remains a distant prospect, that are approved by the World Health Organization (WHO). An IWMI estimate for Ghana indicates that investing in these options has a five-fold return in public health benefits.

Options to reduce risk exist from the moment wastewater is generated to the point contaminated food is eaten. For example, on-farm water treatment, protective clothing for farmers, safe irrigation practices that minimize the contact farmers and crops have with pathogens (disease-causing microbes), improved hygiene in markets and effective vegetable-washing in kitchens. Ideally, several of these pathogen barriers are used in combination.

Create market incentives to improve sanitation

Treating the pathogen-contaminated sludge in septic tanks and pit latrines receives scant attention and is severely underfunded in most developing countries. Yet, business opportunities exist across the entire sanitation value chain, as demonstrated through a recent a report on promising business models published by researchers of the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems(WLE). Wastewater holds great potential to create marketable resources, such as fertilizer, energy and clean water. If captured and sold, these could offer significant incentives for investment in treatment.

For example, more than 40 million hectares of land could be irrigated with the added benefits of substantially meeting the crop fertilizer needs (up to 322 kilograms of nitrogen and 64 kilos of phosphorous per hectare per year). Alternatively, the global wastewater supply could generate enough electricity for about 130 million households. If businesses or public-sector enterprises tap into this market to generate revenues, they would significantly improve sanitation and global health outcomes by responsibly managing health risks while still allowing treated water to be used in food production and other uses.

A twin solution: safe sanitation and food security in Ghana

In Ghana, the public and private sector has come together to launch a compost plant in Greater Accra. Taking household fecal sludge, which is often dumped illegally, the plant filters and dries this material on beds of sand. Next, the dried sludge is mixed with organic food waste or sawdust and “co-composted” for three months. This involves regular heaping and turning of the material as it decomposes.

Heat generated in the process kills pathogens in the compost that meets both WHO safety standards for reuse of human excreta and Ghana’s fertilizer standards. For improved marketability the compost is enriched with fertilizer and pressed into pellets. The production of the so-called Fortifer™ compost provides incentives for private sector engagement in the sanitation service chain, thus directly offering new jobs and a cleaner and healthier environment, while generating revenues to cover operations and other costs. This is an impressive model for future businesses to take note of, also in view of the Sustainable Development Goals 6.3 and 12.5, which call for increased investments in resource recovery and reuse.

As we look for solutions to advance the Sustainable Development Goals – addressing wastewater challenges will make great strides in improving sanitation, safeguarding our food, and more effectively using scarce water, land, and labour for the benefit of all.

Director of the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy & Professor and Distinguished Scholar, University of Arizona


Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the AllAfrica.com and retrieved on 07/13/2017 and posted here for information and educational purposes only. The views and contents of the article remain those of the authors. We will not be held accountable for the reliability and accuracy of the materials. If you need additional information on the published contents and materials, please contact the original authors and publisher. Please cite the authors, original source, and INDESEEM accordingly.