Gender and individual irrigation technologies

 

 

Gender and water technologies use for irrigation and multiple purposes in Ethiopia

A new report by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) outlines the results of a study on gender and individual irrigation technologies in two Africa RISING Project sites in Ethiopia, Bale (Illu Sambitu Kebele) and Lemo (Jawe and Upper Gana Kebeles).

Based on a survey of 79 farmers (38 men and 41 women) across four types of water lifting technologies, the study explored the intra-household gender dynamics in Africa RISING pilots of water lifting technologies (rope and washer pump, tractor and drip, and solar pumps). The technologies are installed near farmer households to produce irrigated fodder, vegetables (carrot and cabbage) and fruits (avocado) in the dry season, and to serve multiple other purposes. Diesel pump users already producing dry season vegetables in the sites were included in the study.

The study found that farmers use the water lifting technologies for multiple purposes across seasons with improved water quality enhancing use for domestic purposes. While the project targets both women and men farmers, women still have lower access to most resources, particularly information. Men were found to mostly control the use of the technologies especially for irrigation, though both women and men perceive the level of control over the technologies differently. Nearly all respondents indicated that the technologies ease work both on-farm for irrigation and for domestic and livestock watering roles.

Women and men respondents ranked double cropping as the highest benefit of the technologies, followed by domestic uses and livestock watering, though men also considered social status improvement as a benefit. Most respondents said there is equal sharing of benefit within the household, though there is indication that men have more control over income from the technologies. Women primarily make decisions on use of the income from the technologies only for food and small household purchases. In addition to benefits at household level, respondents consider the technologies as beneficial to community, because they provide easy access to water for domestic purposes.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE: Africa-Rising

Pollution and desertification have a disproportionate impact on women and children

 

Photo credit: Jordan Times

Pollution, desertification and women’s rights linked — SIGI

By JT

 

Pollution and desertification have a disproportionate impact on women and children, the Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI) argued, as new figures ranked Jordan as the 10th most polluted country in the world.

The Kingdom is the 10th most polluted country globally (among 115 countries ranked) and the second most polluted in the Arab world, a SIGI statement released on Tuesday said.

Citing the Numbeo.com website, SIGI said that Jordan received 85.73 points regarding environmental pollution, while Egypt received 88.88 points.  Libya received the best ranking among Arab countries and the 84th rank globally with 45.30 points. 

The statement was issued on the occasion of World Environment Day, marked annually on June 5, in accordance with UN resolution 2994/27. 

Jordan faces many environmental problems, including desertification, waste, lack of water resources, industrial waste and air pollution, SIGI said, adding that the issues of women, environment and climate change are addressed in the Jordanian Woman National Strategy 2013-2017.

 The general goal of the strategy, the statement continued, is to build the capacities and knowledge of women, in order to preserve the environment through active participation in the policy and decision-making processes related to the environment and climate change. 

Women have an “important and vital role to play” in dealing with desertification, yet they are negatively affected by the increasing amount of lands facing this form of environmental degradation, SIGI said. 

The problem is especially acute in dry areas, because those lands lose their productive abilities, which in turn affects food supply and increases rates of hunger  around the world, with 70 per cent of those affected being  women, the statement added.  

Massive inequity between male and female farmers

 

Photo credit: USAID

 

Women in agriculture and food security programming: Promoting more meaningful change

Bryan Crawford-Garrett, Oxu Solutions

Women make up approximately half of the world’s farmers, but there is massive inequity between male and female farmers—especially in the developing world.

These inequities are most pronounced in terms of women lacking equal access to and control over productive resources. To address this ‘gender gap’ in agriculture, there are numerous NGOs, multilateral agencies, and donors working to improve women’s engagement in and empowerment through agriculture and food security programming. Certain programming principles promoted by these actors have been well-documented elsewhere, such as the importance of considering women’s time and workload demands and the benefit of including both men and women in training and other project activities. In order to promote more meaningful change, however, programs need to be more precise in their design and more ambitious in their measurement, and implementing staff must have the appropriate support and skills to facilitate lasting impact.

“Traditional agricultural development programs primarily serve men’s interests and often include increases in income and profits…as high-level objectives. Depending on the context, however, female farmers or entrepreneurs may have different preferences.”

How can we strengthen the impact of women in agriculture and food security programs in a development context?

In this post I offer four overarching considerations that are critical to improving the outcomes of women engagement and gender equality programs in agriculture and food security. These recommendations are based on work across numerous organizations and contexts the past few years with colleagues at Oxu Solutions to design, evaluate and learn from initiatives that promote women’s engagement in and empowerment through agriculture and food security programming.

1. Be clear, precise, and realistic about the ultimate desired change for the program and for women within that program

Read the full article: People, Food and Nature

We need a programme to promote sacks gardening at a global level

Photo credit: Avantgardens

Sacks gardening in Kibera, Kenya

INTRODUCING SACKS GARDENING TO COMBAT HUNGER AND POVERTY

by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem – University of Ghent (Belgium)

 

Smallholders and rural producers have a vital role to play in overcoming global hunger and poverty, and new and varied partnerships are needed, with particular emphasis on the interests of women, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on February 17th, 2010.  He also confirmed that the growing international recognition of the role of agriculture and rural development in poverty reduction is helping to build the Global Partnership for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition.

* Sacks - Malawi - Photo Heifer - MW201204-320-e1365708582234-682x1024.jpg
* Sacks – Vegetables on sacks in Malawi – Photo Heifer – MW201204-320-e1365708582234-682×1024.jpg

 

Despite the hardships of the global recession, one saw an upturn in investment in agriculture, along with promises from world leaders of large additional increases over the next years, he said, thereby underscoring that “we need to continue creating diverse and innovative partnerships that can help people and communities achieve greater productivity, nutritional health and self-reliance. In this respect we must give pre-eminence to the interests of women, who juggle their time between food production, processing, marketing, child care and balancing the household budget”.

In every developing country people are suffering from the high food prices.

 

* Sack - Garbagenwealth GoodHealth - 58318_103530029804304_2040917991_n.jpg
* Sacks – Gardening on big bags – Garbagenwealth GoodHealth – 58318_103530029804304_2040917991_n.jpg

 

Taking into account that most of the rural women in the drylands spend the major part of their daily life with small-scale agricultural activities, it goes without saying that, when creating diverse and innovative partnerships that can help people and communities achieve greater productivity, the best return on investment will come from the creation of small kitchen gardens close to their houses.

* Sacks - Photo Crops in pots 386314_302266149815757_262706507105055_825194_1086186138_n.jpg
* Sacks – Students setting up a sack garden in Karachi (Pakistan) -Photo Crops in pots 386314_302266149815757_262706507105055_825194_1086186138_n.jpg

 

There is no need to offer them some financial resources.  Funding to start up a family garden can be done as a “micro-credit”, not with a certain sum of money, but in the form of the necessary materials and equipment. Success stories have shown that, in rural areas, offering a family garden to women is the easiest and most efficient way to combat hunger and poverty.

However, in urban areas the situation is quite different. With their extremely low income and having barely a patch of arable land, many of the urban families are confronted with some form of hunger and malnutrition.  In Nairobi (Kenya), hundreds of residents of the slums have adopted a new form of intensive gardening: growing vegetables and herbs in sacks.

 

* Sacks - potatoes - Photo Farm Curious - 81135230757539134_dRGYJxyM_f.jpg
* Sacks – Potatoes and other vegetables on plastic and burlap sacks – Photo Farm Curious – 81135230757539134_dRGYJxyM_f.jpg

 

Previously, women in densely populated cities planted vegetables on small plots of barren land. Nowadays, the novel form of gardening in sacks or all kinds of containers can be introduced in every urban area.  Indeed, as finding even small patches of arable land in a city or a town is becoming almost impossible, sacks or other containers, taking up less space than small-scale gardens, are an interesting solution for food production.

 

* Sacks (big bags) Treehugger vacant-lot-lfa.jpg
* Sacks – An urban garden on big bags –  Treehugger vacant-lot-lfa.jpg

 

With only a small budget, NGOs can easily start up a sacks gardening project with a small number of women and later extend invitations to more women, and even schools, to join the group.  This seems to be a fantastic way for almost every urban family or school to have access to affordable vegetables, herbs and fruits.

Wherever needed, a short training in sacks gardening can be planned. Women and children can learn in the shortest time these simple gardening techniques of container gardening, in particular those of water harvesting, soil fertilization and adequate irrigation.

 

* Sack - veggies - Photo Terry Schreiner - 574890_3304491894160_1114278384_n.jpg
* Sack – Onions and herbs on a plastic sack – Photo Terry Schreiner – 574890_3304491894160_1114278384_n.jpg

 

As sacks gardening can provide a sustainable source of vegetables and fruits, one can foresee a growing success of this novel form of gardening both in rural and in urban areas. NGOs and foundations can help women and schools to fence their gardening plots and to store irrigation water (not drinking water).

With a limited number of sacks of vegetables family members or school children do not fear to be hungry.  It would be a remarkably easy way of food production in refugee camps, where every family could have a small number of sacks close to the tent.

 

* Sacks - garbage - Photo Crops in pots Treehugger 404459_315544111821294_262706507105055_858274_1606004967_n.jpg
* Sacks – Gardening on garbage big bags – Photo Crops in pots Treehugger 404459_315544111821294_262706507105055_858274_1606004967_n.jpg

 

The success of similar projects in developing countries on all continents should encourage NGOs, foundations, banks and international agencies like FAO, WFP and UNHCR to invest in this efficient way of combating hunger and poverty.

If there is really a growing international recognition of the role of agriculture and rural development in poverty reduction, helping to build the Global Partnership for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition, along with promises from world leaders of large additional increases over the next years, like Secretary-General BAN KI-MOON said, then it should not be so difficult to set up a programme to promote sacks gardening at a global level.

 

Imagine all the people … (John LENNON).

First help the local people to decent food

Photo credit: WVC 1997

Photo taken at the start of the community garden photographed 12 years later by Willemien (see photo of 2009-02 in Niou). At the first training session, the local women learn how to apply the soil conditioner TerraCottem.

Do hungry people need trees or a garden?

by Prof. Dr. Willem Van Cotthem – University of Ghent (Belgium)

Four years ago, a friend has sent a message, in which a short paragraph got my special attention:

The …………………… (name) Movement started a project in the Senegal many years ago. I participated in the information campaign. The field workers planted about 20.000 Acacia trees. Visiting the project one year later they saw that all the little trees dried out.  The local people answered that they had not enough water for the trees; they used it for their cows and goats.  But how could we plant 20.000 trees with …………. (name of a technology)?  It would be too expensive!

Here is my reply to him:

Dear Friend, You are completely right.  All those big projects are doomed to be unsuccessful, simply because a number of limiting factors (like water) will always hinder the achievement of the goals.

Instead of spending all the good money at reforestation without taking care of the hunger and poverty of the local people, foreign aid should concentrate on agro-forestry, creating small family gardens and surround these with fruit trees (these are TREES too).

Photo credit: Willemien Maastricht
Photo credit: Willemien Committee Maastricht-Niou

2009-02 – Burkina Faso, Niou village, Jardin des Femmes: community garden combined with mango trees, created in 1997 by the Belgium TC-Dialogue Foundation in cooperation with the Committee Maastricht-Niou for the local village women’s association Gueswende.

We should not look first at economic return on our investment, e.g. planting trees and shrubs for biofuel, but first of all eliminate hunger and diseases in a region, which is a conditio sine qua non to count on the collaboration of the local population at bigger reforestation projects in the future.

How can we ever justify that we ‘help‘ the local people if our main objective is to gain ‘something’ for ourselves?

For me, there is only one solution: first help the local people to decent food and then see how they can really help us to create return on investment.

Photo credit: Willemien Committee Masstricht-Niou
Photo credit: Willemien Committee Masstricht-Niou

2009-02 Burkina Faso: Jardin Kabouda, a community garden created with the support of the Committee Maastricht-Niou. A splendid example of combating hunger, child malnutrition and poverty.

Unfortunately, it has been and still is always business as usual, even for some international organizations, surviving thanks to the unsolved problems like hunger, child malnutrition and poverty, for which billions of dollars are repeatedly collected, without changing much at the grassroot level.

I get tears in my eyes, thinking at all those poor people out there, seeing how billions are spent year after year at what is called combating the problems.

Hunger, child malnutrition and poverty should be combated in the field itself, at the grassroot level, by offering people a chance to grow their own fresh food and fruits in a private family (kitchen) garden or in a community garden (see photos above).

We will never win that war if we continue to ship only food (the ammunition) to the frontline, not the necessary weapons (a fence, fertilizers, seeds, …) to create small gardens, the ideal platform for self-sufficiency.

For sure: victory can be ours!  Let us make the right strategic move.

 

Women Plant Seeds of Hope : “We need all the nutrients we can get here” in Dabaab (Somalia) – IPS

Read at :

http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/11/braving-dust-storms-women-plant-seeds-of-hope/

Braving Dust storms, Women Plant Seeds of Hope

By UN Women

“The lack of livelihood opportunities is a contributing factor to sexual and gender-based violence at the camp.” — Idil Absiye, Peace and Security Specialist with UN Women Kenya

In the world’s largest refugee complex – the sprawling Dadaab settlement in Kenya’s North Eastern Province – women listen attentively during a business management workshop held at a hospital in one of its newest camps, Ifo 2.

Leila Abdulilahi, a 25-year-old Somali refugee and mother, has brought her five-month-old along, while her four other children wait at home. She asks question after question, eager to learn more. Leila has lived in the camp for the past three years and has no source of income, so her family depends on the rations distributed by the World Food Programme (WFP).

Unlike others, who have called Dadaab home since 1991, at the start of the civil war in Somalia, Leila is a ‘new arrival’ – a term used for those who came after the 2011 drought and more recent military intervention against extremist groups.

According to the UN Refugee Agency, as of September 2014 there were 341,359 registered refugees in Dadaab — the world’s largest refugee camp — half of whom are women.

“We are afraid to go fetch firewood in the forest. Bandits also attack us in our own homesteads and rape us,” says Leila. “If I had the money I would just buy firewood and I wouldn’t have to go or send my daughter to the forest.”

………………………………

I want to open a shop. With the profit I make, I will buy clothes, vegetables and fruits for my children,” says Leila.

She and 300 other vulnerable women will be trained in business management and horticulture agriculture and supported to start a business that will help sustain their families.

Higala Mohammed, a farmer from Somalia, is optimistic about the group’s labour. Inspired, she has also set up a small vegetable garden next to her makeshift tent where she grows barere, a traditional Somalian vegetable. “We need all the nutrients we can get here,” she adds.

Leila’s pathway to independence makes her hopeful. “I want to work and support my family, even when I return home someday — and I will open a bigger shop,” she says.

(continued)

Waste and wasteland, a green oasis in Dakar’s bustling outskirts (New Agriculturist)

Read at :

http://www.new-ag.info/en/focus/focusItem.php?a=3000

Transforming waste and wasteland in Dakar

Once renowned for their beauty, the public gardens of Senegal’s capital, Dakar, have suffered decades of neglect. The 400 metre long HLM Patte d’Oie, like other supposedly ‘green spaces’ in the city was, until recently, an ugly combination of rubbish dump and car park. But in 2010, the site was chosen to house Dakar’s new municipal plant nursery. Construction and improvement of the site began in December 2010, quickly producing a green oasis in the city’s bustling outskirts. As part of the Sustainable Cities International (SCI) Network, Dakar is one of forty towns and cities around the world that are piloting social and technology innovations for more sustainable urban futures.

Table top gardens and a tree nursery

About one-third of the HLM Patte d’Oie area is dedicated to micro-gardening. Using groundnut and rice husks instead of soil, 145 table-top micro-gardens have been set up by a core team of 42 women. Taking care of the table gardens is a community activity; children, mothers and grandmothers cultivate over 30 species of plants, including tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplants, lettuces, carrots and cabbages. The gardening project gives these women a productive activity outside their homes, helping them improve their families’ diets, reduce money spent on food and earn income from sales. Every day they come to water their crops and sell; many others come to find out information, buy vegetables or to chat, the area becoming a valuable social hub.

The rest of the area is dedicated to the trees, shrubs and flowers of the municipal plant nursery, destined for the streets and parks of Dakar, to improve air quality, lower temperatures and help to control noise pollution. Hardy, climate-tolerant species comprise the nursery’s inventory. The nursery itself is managed by a team of technicians and support staff from the municipality, but a monitoring committee has also been put in place, including four women and two young people from the district. Nursery staff provide training in nursery techniques and micro-gardening to unemployed youth and women in the area.

(continued)

REACH-ing for good projects to REALLY tackle child hunger and malnutrition (Willem Van Cotthem)

Let us read attentively some paragraphs (or parts thereof) of the former posting on this blog (UN News) :

RIO+20: UN AGENCIES SAY TACKLING CHILD HUNGER CRUCIAL TO ACHIEVING ‘THE FUTURE WE WANT’ (June 28, 2012)

  1. United Nations agencies today stressed the need to tackle child hunger and undernutrition in the pursuit of sustainable development, highlighting a joint initiative (REACH) that offers practical and effective approaches to combat this problem in the most affected countries.
  2. Under the REACH initiative, the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have committed to a renewed effort against child hunger and undernutrition.
  3. …the main causes of child undernutrition – food insecurity, poor health and inappropriate care – are all known and preventable.
  4. … governments and other actors know why nutrition interventions are necessary and there is evidence for what works, when and where.
  5. “The greatest challenge, however, is how to scale up programmes so that they can have a real impact, and this is where the REACH approach can provide direction,”
  6. The whole idea is to share knowledge to come up with good projects that really tackle the issues and do it in a very un-bureaucratic way.

————

Now, let us understand the essence of this message :

  • Acknowledging the need to tackle child hunger, WFP, UNICEF, FAO and WHO have committed to a renewed effort : the REACH initiative.
  • Seemingly, the main causes of child hunger and malnutrition are all known and preventable.
  • All key actors know why nutrition interventions are necessary.
  • They all know what works, when and where.
  • Remains to scale up their programmes with direction provided by REACH, so that they have a real impact.
  • Therefore, the key actors will share knowledge (un-bureaucratically) to come up with good projects that really tackle the issues.

————–

As we all know what works, when and where, it seems to me that we do not have to share a lot of knowledge for years, not even for months.  We even know what to do today.

We do not have to scale up existing (expensive ?) programmes, in order to have a real impact.  On the contrary, we should use the available resources and means to replace those huge, but rather inefficient programmes by a multitude of very efficient small projects (an advice already given since decades).

We can use the lessons learned from the best practices to come up with good projects that really tackle hunger and malnutrition.

Let us follow Mr. Ban Ki-moon’s advice and join our efforts to promote small-scale farming, in which women play a very important role, at the largest scale.  It has been shown over and over again that all the women of this world can become “experts” in food production, simply by offering them a small kitchen garden for their family (see UNICEF’s project on family gardens in the Sahara desert of S.W. Algeria).

One of the hundreds of family gardens in a refugee camp in the Sahara desert of S.W. Algeria (UNICEF project) – (Photo WVC)

If it has been possible in the past to provide fresh food in a sustainable way to thousands of people living in the desert, and this within the shortest period of  some months, it should be possible for WFP, UNICEF, FAO and WHO to REACH a consensus over good projects for urban gardening, family gardening, container gardening, vertical gardening and other successful techniques of which we all know the lessons learned very well (see sack gardening in Nairobi and in the refugee camps of Dabaab).

May these international organizations work hand in hand with the national governments and other key actors, like the NGOs, to find the best lay-out for such good gardening projects, directly profitable for the hungry and malnourished children.

Hopefully, they will agree to do this in “a very un-bureaucratic way“, because “TACKLING CHILD HUNGER IS CRUCIAL TO ACHIEVING ‘THE FUTURE WE WANT’ “.

GHANA: Volta Foundation to harness youth for faster development (NGO News Africa / Willem Van Cotthem)

Read at : NGO News Africa

GHANA: Volta Foundation to harness youth for faster development

Ho, Feb 18, GNA – The Volta Foundation, a development advocacy NGO, is to harness the energies of the youth to accelerate the economic growth of the Volta Region. Mr Dumega Raymond Okudzeto, President of the Foundation, was addressing its fourth anniversary durbar on Thursday in Ho under the theme “Harnessing Our Energies for the Accelerated development of the Volta Region: 2010, the Year for Youth Empowerment”. He described the youth as the region’s most treasured asset without whom the repositioning of the region for accelerated development cannot happen. Mr Okudzeto said the Foundation had assembled a team of resource persons to talk to the youth and inspire them to go the extra mile to achieve their life’s ambitions and become useful to the region and the country as a whole.

Volta Foundation has since its establishment campaigned alone and also partnered other organizations to find antidotes to the sluggish economic growth of the region. This culminated in the November 2009 Volta Trade and Investment Exposition in Ho held by the Foundation in collaboration with the Region’s political authority and the National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI) with technical support from the SNV. The Eastern Portfolio Coordinator of the Dutch Development Agency (SNV), Mr Dick Commandeur, said a good option for the youth in the region now was to get the skills and the cash to produce high quality agricultural produce.

He said it was not enough for officialdom to recognize that agriculture and tourism were the important economic sectors in the area, but also to “invest ideas, time and money to make the sectors give a good income so that they become attractive to young people”.

Mr Commandeur called for efforts to stimulate informal businesses, and urged young people to be “impregnated with the idea of entrepreneurship. They should also learn to “take initiative, take risk, elaborate new ideas and partner with others”.

Mrs Dorothy Gordon, Director of the Ghana/India Kofi Annan ICT Center, advised the youth to take advantage of the Volta Foundation’s ICT centers to be established in various parts of the region to gain skills that would enable them to boost their chances of getting employment.

Other papers delivered were on the state of agriculture in the region and its prospects.

Source: GNA http://www.ghananewsagency.org/s_economics/r_12679/

—————————————————————

MY COMMENT (Willem VAN COTTHEM)

Before gaining skills in the ICT centers “that would enable them to boost their chances of getting employment“, getting the skills and the cash to produce high quality agricultural produce would certainly be far more profitable for the African youth, not only that of Ghana.

Young people can deliver a tremendous contribution to the sustainable development of their region after being trained in the best practices of agriculture and horticulture.  On the African continent, in particular in rural regions where a high percentage of the population is regularly affected by hunger, NGOs should concentrate their efforts on small-scale farming and small-scale gardening.

Boys and girls can effectively help their families to secure sufficient food and to improve the families’ financial situation.  Take the example of Patrick HARRY in Malawi (see former postings on this blog), who has set up a “Youth Club”, called the “Future of Malawi”, in which he is training young people in container gardening.  His first successes were booked within a period of 2-3 months.

With very limited financial resources, rural and even urban youth can get the skills and the cash to produce high quality agricultural produce, be it with kitchen gardens, container gardening, allotment gardens or with vertical gardening in the cities. No one can deny all those success stories showing the remarkable return on investment of these cultivation methods, going back to the roots of the population in all the drylands of the world.  Once small-scale farming produces sufficient fresh food to bring food security, time will come to introduce new technologies.  Let us not put the horse behind the wagon !

Helping their families to quality fresh food and creating possibilities to take quality food to the market offers more opportunities to “harness youth for faster sustainable development”.

That is a noble challenge for all NGOs and Foundations, if not for the international agencies concerned.

No Green Wall without small-scale gardens for women (Willem Van Cotthem)

My attention was caught by some statements in Mrs. Priscilla ACHAKPA’s interview, referred to a former posting on my desertification blog:

Nigeria: WEP Wants Green Wall Sahara Programme (http://allafrica.com/stories/201002180504.html)

This Executive Director of the Women Environment Programme (WEP) urged the Nigerian Government to speed up the implementation of the Green Wall Sahara programme (GWSP), which she called “an integrated development strategy for combating desertification and mitigating the effects of drought and climate change” (see also UNCCD).

Mrs. ACHAKPA observed that the impact of desertification raised security concerns, especially among the vulnerable groups.  She stated that “the impact of climate change is more on women in the rural areas as they have little or no understanding of the issues involved”.  Her NGO, the WEP, intends to conduct a study on gender awareness of climate change issues, because adequate information on climate change is necessary to evolve steps to control it.

Agreeing with some of Mrs. ACHAKPA’s ideas, I want to congratulate her for asking to speed up the implementation of the Green Wall programme.  Indeed, such a nice programme, being a real challenge for all the Sahelian countries involved, merits massive support to speed up its achievement.

On the other hand, I disagree with her that Nigerian and other Sahelian rural women will be better off with “adequate information on climate change necessary to evolve steps to control it“.  Even supposing that there would be a small chance to find adequate information on climate change for rural women, I am not so sure that this will help these vulnerable women to handle their security concerns raised by the impact of desertification.

Even if the Green Wall programme may play a little bit of an interesting role in some aspects of climate change, it will not be tremendously important for the rural families in the northern provinces of Nigeria and in the other countries concerned.  I rather believe that it would be more efficient to invest in awareness building of the local population about the need to combine small-scale agriculture (or gardening) with reforestation in the Green Wall programme (agroforestry).

No doubt, we are all aware of the fact that such an enormous reforestation plan, with billions of trees to be planted in the Sahel belt, can never be achieved without “an army” of labourers for growing seedlings, digging plant pits and planting the seedlings.  These labourers will have to be well fed.  Tons of food will have to be produced at the local level.  By whom ?  By the local women ?  In this case, we would prefer that long time before the activities of the GWSP start all women can get “adequate information on ways and means to cultivate sufficient food for hundreds (thousands ?) of labourers of the GWSP working in their region”.

We can’t imagine that these women would be more interested in climate change issues than in best practices of food production in their dry region.

If well trained in cultivating all necessary species of vegetables and fruits, (dryland farming), they can not only use these skills during the implementation of the GWSP, but also for the rest of their life and that of their children, grandchildren, …

Therefore, just allow me this little piece of advice : start today laying out a small-scale garden for every woman in the northern provinces of Nigeria where the GWSP will be applied, because if there is not sufficient food production in those provinces when the labourers have to start planting trees, there will not be a Green Wall at all. Never, because planting trees with an empty stomach is so extremely difficult.  We all know this, even those strongly interested in climate change.

Give women a chance to slash global hunger with small-scale gardening (Willem Van Cotthem)

Have you read the former posting on this blog  ?

SMALLHOLDERS, RURAL PRODUCERS KEY TO SLASHING GLOBAL HUNGER AND POVERTY – BAN (UNNews)

Please pay attention to the following parts of Mr. BAN KI-MOON’s statement :

(1) Smallholders and rural producers have a vital role to play in overcoming global hunger and poverty, and new and varied partnerships are needed, with particular emphasis on the interests of women.

(2) The growing international recognition of the role of agriculture and rural development in poverty reduction is helping to build the Global Partnership for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition.

(3) Despite the hardships of the global recession, last year saw an upturn in investment in agriculture, along with promises from world leaders of large additional increases over the next three years.

(4) We need to continue creating diverse and innovative partnerships that can help people and communities achieve greater productivity, nutritional health and self-reliance,” he said. “In this respect we must give pre-eminence to the interests of women, who juggle their time between food production, processing, marketing, child care and balancing the household budget.

————————————————

Here is my conclusion :

The growing international recognition of the role of agriculture and rural development in the combat of hunger and malnutrition and the reduction of poverty is largely based upon the vital role played by smallholders and rural producers.  In order to achieve greater productivity, nutritional health and self-reliance, priority must be given to the interest of the women.  They take care of food production, processing, marketing, child care and balancing the household budget.

Taking into account that most of the rural women in the drylands spend the major part of their daily life with small-scale agricultural activities, it goes without saying that, when creating diverse and innovative partnerships that can help people and communities achieve greater productivity, the best return on investment will come from the creation of small kitchen gardens close to their houses.

There is no need to offer them some financial resources.  Funding to start up a family garden can be done as a “micro-credit”, not with a certain sum of money, but in the form of the necessary materials and equipment.

Success stories have shown that offering a family garden to women is the easiest and most efficient way to combat hunger and poverty.

Is this something for NGOs or a Foundation ?  or should one of the International UN agencies take the responsibility for such a practical programme to limit world hunger within the shortest period ?

If only every Kenyan school had a school garden ? (Willem)

Did you read the former posting on this blog : Kenya: Drought Forcing Children to Quit School ?

I did it very attentively and one important question came up : “What if every Kenyan school had a school garden ?”. The children, under the able guidance of their teachers, would have a magnificent possibility to produce their own daily fresh food for the school cantine. They would learn essential horticultural techniques, which they can apply when growing into adults and thus contribute to sustainable development of their country.

Impossible because of drought, you say ?  Now then, how comes that people in the refugee camps in the Sahara desert are nowadays constructing kitchen gardens in a far more hostile environment, for which they use only a minimal quantity of slightly saline water to produce all kinds of vegetables and fruits ?

The solution ?  Application of  a modern soil conditioning method to keep the desert sand sufficiently moistened over a longer period, thereby preventing fertilizers to be leached, and receiving seeds through our action “Seeds for Food” (see http://seedsforfood.wordpress.com).

2008-02 Plenty of vitamin rich vegetables in a family garden in the Sahara desert (Tindouf area, Algeria), a fantastic tool to avoid malnutrition in the drylands
2008-02 Plenty of vitamin rich vegetables in a family garden in the Sahara desert (Tindouf area, Algeria), a fantastic tool to avoid malnutrition in the drylands

If refugee kids in the Sahara desert are not hungry anymore because eating vegetables and fruits all year long, why would Kenyan kids have to quit school because of drought ?  Learning lessons from successes is  thing of beauty, thus, a joy for ever !