Pictures taken by Miriam HIRZEL in May 2008 in the refugee camps of the Saharawi people in the Tindouf area (S. W. Algeria) :
Category: kitchen garden
TIME TO ACT TO COMBAT GLOBAL HUNGER IS NOW (UNNews)
Read at : UNNews
TIME TO ACT TO COMBAT GLOBAL HUNGER IS NOW, IRELAND TELLS UN DEBATE
New York, Sep 28 2009 7:05PM
The fact that one billion people on the planet suffer from hunger represents a collective failure by the international community, Ireland told the General Assembly today, stressing that the time to act together to eradicate this scourge is now.
“Hunger is the result of many failings,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Peter Power said in his <“http://www.un.org/ga/64/generaldebate/pdf/IE_en.pdf”>address to the Assembly’s annual high-level General Debate. “Its eradication, and nothing less than its eradication, must be our goal.”
Ireland, which has experienced famine in its own land, has placed food security and related sectors as a cornerstone of its aid programme, he noted, adding that it aims to ensure that 20 per cent of its assistance by 2012 is focused on hunger.
Mr. Power said he was very encouraged by the event held at UN Headquarters on Saturday, under the leadership of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on boosting global food security.
Speaking at that event, Mr. Ban said last year’s food crisis highlighted the fact that the world’s food systems are in crisis, that they are failing too many people and many of the poorer nations. “There is more than enough food in the world, yet today, more than one billion people are hungry. This is unacceptable,” he told the gathering.
Mr. Power said it is clear what needs to be done to ensure a world free from chronic hunger. “We must tackle hunger in a comprehensive way to move from responding to symptoms to addressing the fundamental causes.”
In addition, it is necessary to invest in agriculture and agricultural research, and in particular to support women farmers, as well as to invest in rural infrastructure, enhance nutrition and support national and regional plans.
“Our aim is to halve the number of hungry by 2015,” the Minister noted, referring to one of the eight globally agreed Millennium Development Goals (<“http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/”>MDGs). But despite the wealth and advanced technology available in the world, the number of hungry is growing daily.
“We have a small window of time to achieve this objective. The time for concerted action by all of us is now.”
Among the areas that have been particularly hard hit is the Horn of Africa, where UN officials predict that hunger is likely to grow owing to a combination of poor crop prospects, below-average rainfall, violence and displacement.
“The number of people suffering from poverty and hunger has not been reduced; it has rather multiplied in many folds,” Eritrea’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Osman Saleh, <“http://www.un.org/ga/64/generaldebate/pdf/ER_en.pdf”>told the Assembly. He said that the peoples of Africa have been “victims of poverty and hunger,” and cited the need for “fundamental” change in the UN to not only preserve peace and security, but also to eradicate poverty and hunger.
Food security, said Angola’s Minister of External Relations, is one of the main concerns of the African continent due to its importance to health, productivity, social and political stability and economic growth.
“Hunger and poverty, aggravated by the fact that they are linked to endemic diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis, cause millions of deaths annually in Africa and are devastating an entire generation, dramatically jeopardizing the development and progress of the continent,” Assunção Afonso dos Anjos <“http://www.un.org/ga/64/generaldebate/pdf/AO_en.pdf”>told the Assembly.
He said he believed it is possible to substantially reduce the food security deficit in Africa if the international community is willing to maintain reserves of food and medicines for emergency aid and people in need, as well as work to adopt national and regional integrated strategies and programmes in areas such as agriculture, trade, transports, water, and training.
For more details go to UN News Centre at http://www.un.org/news
CONSIDERATION (Willem VAN COTTHEM)
Let us underline some sentences in the UN-text above :
- “The fact that one billion people on the planet suffer from hunger represents a collective failure by the international community, … the time to act together to eradicate this scourge is now.”
- “Hunger is the result of many failings, its eradication, and nothing less than its eradication, must be our goal.”
- “Last year’s food crisis highlighted the fact that the world’s food systems are in crisis,
- “We must tackle hunger in a comprehensive way to move from responding to symptoms to addressing the fundamental causes.”
- “Our aim is to halve the number of hungry by 2015, but despite the wealth and advanced technology available in the world, the number of hungry is growing daily.“
- “…………. the need for “fundamental” change in the UN to not only preserve peace and security, but also to eradicate poverty and hunger.“
- “He said he believed it is possible to substantially reduce the food security deficit in Africa if the international community is willing to maintain reserves of food and medicines for emergency aid and people in need.” …………they are failing too many people and many of the poorer nations.”
If this is true, and why shouldn’t it, then I retain from it :
- That hunger represents “a collective failure by the international community” (it is the result of many failings).
- That our classical “world’s food systems are in crisis”, so that we have “to move from responding to symptoms to addressing the fundamental causes.”
- That there is a “need for “fundamental” change in the UN”.
- That “it is possible to substantially reduce the food security deficit in Africa” (and in all the drylands !).
Let me ask you to have a close look at the pictures below, keeping in mind the 4 points above. For now, I leave the conclusion to you :
Small-scale gardening, a big step in combating desertification (Willem VAN COTTHEM)
Testimonial pictures from family gardens in S.W. Algeria (Sahara desert), taken by Miriam HIRZEL :
Combating desertification, hunger and poverty : a small-scale solution (Willem VAN COTTHEM)
The best way to show how a small-scale achievement brings remarkable changes in the daily life of people in the drylands is to publish some pictures. Well, here are a few photos of a small family garden in the refugee camps of S.W. Algeria. No one can deny that this “little oasis” changed dramatically the life of all family members : daily fresh food is now within hand reach and the children have plenty of vitamins and mineral elements.
A small-scale solution for a global problem ? Just ask the people who got a garden thanks to the UNICEF ALGERIA project !
FOOD AID TO THOUSANDS OF REFUGEES IN YEMEN (UNNews)
UN REFUGEE AGENCY DISTRIBUTE FOOD AID TO THOUSANDS OF REFUGEES IN YEMEN
New York, Sep 3 2009 6:05PM
The United Nations has shipped much needed food supplies to thousands of mainly Somali refugees in Yemen as they mark the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast during daylight hours.
Monday’s delivery of pasta, sugar and dates reached some 11,000 refugees sheltering in the makeshift Kharaz camp, which is located about 150 kilometres west of Aden, as well as around 800 needy Yemeni families in nearby villages.
Leila Nassif, head of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (<“http://www.unhcr.org/4a9fd6b96.html”>UNHCR) office in Aden, said the donation by the Red Crescent and a federation headed by United Arab Emirates President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan was further proof “of the extreme generosity of Muslims and Muslim countries towards people in need.” Continue reading “FOOD AID TO THOUSANDS OF REFUGEES IN YEMEN (UNNews)”
“Addressing immediate hunger needs is a critical long-term investment” But which one ? (Willem Van Cotthem)
Please read attentively my former posting on :
“UN AGENCIES URGE ACTION BY G8 LEADERS TO SUPPORT WORLD’S HUNGRY” (UNNews of July 7, 2009)
Let me select some interesting paragraphs of this excellent paper and add to them my personal views or questions.
(1) “According to FAO, the most recent increase in hunger is not the consequence of poor global harvests but is caused by the world economic crisis that has resulted in lower incomes and increased unemployment. This has reduced access to food by the poor, it said”.
MY COMMENT : If the incomes are lower and the unemployment higher, why don’t we take the initiative of long-term investment in construction of small family (kitchen) gardens to offer the hungry families a chance to produce their own fresh food and take the road to sustainable development. This can be achieved in the rural areas and in the cities as well (e.g. with allotments).
(2) “Meanwhile, the head of the World Food Programme (<”http://www.wfp.org/”>WFP) is urging G8 leaders to boost long-term agricultural production while continuing to support immediate hunger assistance“.
MY COMMENT : Excellent ! Boosting long-term agricultural production is the well-known long-term goal of the FAO. Never change a winning team ! As for the “immediate hunger assistance“, don’t give the man a fish, but teach him how to fish (don’t give him fresh food, but teach him how to grow it in his own kitchen garden).
(3) “We learned a lesson last year when rising food prices caused an epidemic of hunger leading to food riots in more than 30 countries. Without food people revolt, migrate or die. None of these are acceptable options,” ………………..said Executive Director Josette Sheeran.
MY COMMENT : Lessons learned are the best ones ! If rising food prices caused an epidemic of hunger and food riots, why is it not possible to avoid hunger and riots by creating kitchen gardens in the developing countries? Spending money on small family gardens, out of which people can eat fresh food already 3-4 months after installation, would be a long-term investment with immediate and long-lasting results.
(4) “We cannot afford to lose a generation to malnutrition, starvation and despair,” said Ms. Sheeran. “Addressing immediate hunger needs is a critical long-term investment in healthy, stable societies.”
MY COMMENT : If “Addressing immediate hunger needs a critical long-term investment”, the question remains which are the best ways and means to achieve healthy and stable societies.
I believe that the answer may be to set up in some countries a large-scale demonstration program to show that people are able to produce themselves, in their own kitchen or family gardens, their daily fresh food, which will most certainly improve their health condition. Imagine that besides the small gardens for every family, we could also create school gardens for every school and hospital gardens for every hospital or maternity. The overwhelming success of such demonstration programs in developing countries would for sure convince most of the donors to invest in this breakdown of the vicious circle.
Wouldn’t that be the start of a new era in which we could significantly reduce food aid (mostly DRY FOOD or CANNED FOOD). Instead of repeating continuously the need for more financial resources for transporting at regular intervals tons of food without changing a thing at the real causes of malnutrition, we will bring new hope for a better life to the hungry of this world by “giving” them a chance to set up their own little garden, be it a container garden in the most hostile conditions.
Together with the world’s hungry, and in particular their children, I cross my fingers today, but what about the international food aid organizations, foundations and many other groups combating hunger, malnutrition and poverty ? There has been enough talking, let action start tomorrow !
PS : My personal initiative “Seeds for Food” is heading for a breathtaking success. More info on www.seedsforfood.org
Food security – an unavoidable solution (W. Van Cotthem)
I was reading with great interest the content of my former posting :
FOOD SECURITY MAJOR CHALLENGE FOR WORLD’S POOREST, BAN TELLS US STUDENTS
“Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a gathering at an American university that the daily reality for one third of the world’s population who live on less than $2 a day include decisions such as which of their children gets to eat.
Mr. Ban noted that one billion people around the world, known as the “bottom billion,” live on less than $1 a day and two billion live on less than $2 a day, and many if not most are children suffering from hunger and malnutrition.
Some families ended up eating one meal a day instead of two, explained Mr. Ban, with some family members going without food. “Sometimes parents have to choose among their children as to who gets to eat, and who doesn’t.”
He pointed out that families who spend more on food have less for health and education, beginning a social spiral which the whole society goes down.
The challenge of food security must be addressed immediately, said Mr. Ban. “We need to strengthen agricultural infrastructure, increase productivity and do away with unfair terms of trade.”
So far, so good for some parts of Mr. BAN’s speech at St. Louis University in Missouri last Friday.
Today, I can’t avoid dreaming, eyes wide open, of a world within which every family has its own allotment, its own kitchen garden (and not only the Queen at Buckingham Palace !).
Let’s dream together, eyes still wide open : all the international organisations, nowadays carrying responsibilities for food programmes (WFP, FAO, UNICEF for the children’s health and education, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, etc.), working together to ban malnutrition, hunger, famine, starvation from this world, could start up a worldwide programme to construct family gardens or kitchen gardens and school gardens “for one third of the world’s population who live on less than $2 a day include decisions such as which of their children gets to eat”. They would certainly find the necessary donors for such a global programme, because the survival of our whole human society is at stake.
Together with Mr. BAN I notice that “one billion people around the world, known as the “bottom billion,” live on less than $1 a day and two billion live on less than $2 a day, and many if not most are children suffering from hunger and malnutrition“. So, why don’t we construct school gardens for these kids, not to make them richer, but to learn them how to produce vegetables in the school yard for at least one decent meal with fresh food, vitamins and minerals per day ?
If it is true “that families who spend more on food have less for health and education, beginning a social spiral which the whole society goes down“, why don’t we stop that sliding down of the whole society simply by teaching the world poorest people how to grow their own vegetables and offer them their own small kitchen garden.
“Don’t give them a fish, but teach them how to fish” or in this case “Don’t send them food, but teach them how to grow it“, for even in the most difficult situations of poverty, drought and desertification, we have already the most appropriate ways of soil conditioning, water harvesting and food crop production. Methods and techniques are well known; they have shown their cost-effectiveness.
If Queen Elizabeth felt the need to have an organic vegetable patch at Buckingham Palace of about 10 yards by eight yards in size, why do the poorest families of this world don’t get a similar patch for their own welfare , close to their humble home? (see my posting at http://containergardening.wordpress.com).
Impossible, you say ? Just have a look at my former postings about the family gardens in the refugee camps in S.W. Algeria on this blog (a former UNICEF-project !).
Have a look at the picture below and judge for yourself : if such a kitchen garden is possible in the Sahara desert, why not everywhere else. Even a much smaller one would do, don’t you think ?
I strongly believe that family (kitchen) gardens and school gardens are an unavoidable solution for the hunger and health problems of this world.
It suffices to believe in it to find ways and means for the realization of such a programme, full of beauty and supreme human feelings. Isn’t that one of the the main goals of the United Nations and of many of the aid organizations ? It’s not a dream anymore, for reality knocks at our doors. Why would we keep our doors locked for such an idea, such a fantastic solution (that’s what the people, having already a small kitchen garden, told us) ?
So, who takes the lead ? The winner takes all the honours !
Just wait and see ? No, don’t wait anymore, let’s do it together, tomorrow or the day after.
Papaya seeds from Florida, USA, for development projects (Bob CALDWELL)
I felt really happy receiving some papaya seeds from Mr. R.W. “Bob” CALDWELL :
Since 2006, I am collecting seeds of tropical fruits in order to send these to development projects in the drylands, where rural people can’t afford to buy commercial seeds (too expensive). All over the world, seeds of melon, watermelon, cucumber, pumpkin, papaya, cherimoya, lychee, avocado, etc. are thrown into the garbage bin or on the compost heap. However, these seeds can easily be washed and dried. People sending these seeds to my personal address (Prof. Willem VAN COTTHEM – Beeweg 36 – B9080 ZAFFELARE (Belgium) can be sure that these seeds are sent to different development projects in Africa, Asia and S. America, where people can grow these tropical fruits in their own small family garden. Thus, we are contributing to food production in the drylands and we help these poor people to some juicy fruits, rich in vitamins, in particular for their children.
Sincere thanks to Mr. Bob CALDWELL for his small but valuable contribution. let me express the hope that many more people will follow his example. See my blog “http://www.seedsforfood.org“
Seeds for Food, an action for sustainable development and poverty alleviation (Willem)
Seeds for Food
Photo: Fresh food full of vitamins and mineral elements in the Sahara desert (Tindouf area, S.W. Algeria) grown from seeds collected by people in developed countries (UNICEF’s family garden and school garden project).
Collecting seeds of tropical fruits and vegetables for developing countries
Let us ban hunger and poverty from the world.
In 2005, I was invited by UNICEF ALGERIA as an advisor for the project “Family gardens and school gardens in the Saharawi refugee camps in South-East Algeria”. A preliminary study gave evidence that we were able to show families and schools of these refugees (most of them are nomads or fishermen), who have lived in those Sahara camps for more than 30 years, how to layout small kitchen gardens. We also showed them how to grow fruits and vegetables with a minimum of water and fertilizers, using a water stocking soil conditioner.
In this part of the Sahara (the area around the city of Tindouf, S.W. Algeria) there are two seasons:
(1) the autumn-winter season (from September till January) in which various vegetables can be grown: lettuce, beetroots, carrots, onions, parsley …
(2) the spring-summer season (from February till August) in which it is too hot for vegetables, but in which one can grow various tropical fruits such as melons, watermelons, pumpkins, peppers, avocados, papayas and eggplants (aubergines).
The planning and layout of family and school gardens is no major problem, since there is plenty of space. If one uses a soil conditioner that can store irrigation water, a very small amount of water will do to create sufficient moisture in the soil for granting a continuous plant growth. Unfortunately, there is lack of seeds of tropical fruits and vegetables. Commercial seeds are much too expensive. Vitally important to these people is not to grow special high quality varieties, but to have at their disposal some juicy food in the hottest period of the year, when nothing else is growing in the desert.
Therefore we call on you to show your solidarity with those poverty-stricken refugees or with this poor rural population of India.
We don’t ask you any money.
Only send, when it suits you, the seeds you find in the fruits you eat yourself: melons, water melons, pumpkins, sweet pepper, avocado, papaya, zucchini, cherimoya, pawpaw, etc.
Just rinse these seeds in water and dry them on a plate (not on a piece of paper as it would stick to the seeds). As soon as the seeds are thoroughly dried, put them in a paper envelope and put the name of the species on it. Then send it to me. It will only cost you the stamp.
The more we gather seeds, the more families we can help.
One thing we know for sure: this project can turn out to be a world initiative, since we, citizens of the developed countries, young or old, (grand)parents, children and grandchildren, we can work together. However small your contribution, however small the parcel of grains you send us, we can assure you that it will contribute to improve the standard of living of the poor, since YOUR SEEDS GET TO THE PEOPLE without any go-between.
This way we will contribute together to fight hunger and poverty in the world.
Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM
B-9080 ZAFFELARE (Belgique)
Tél. +32 9 356 86 16
e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also group your seeds with friends and send larger packages to the same address. Thank you so much!
Improving plant growth with a soil conditioner in the drylands of Tamil Nadu (India)
A Belgian group around the Past-President of one of the Rotary International clubs in Antwerp (Belgium), Dr. Stany PAUWELS, and SCAD (Social Change and Development), an Indian NGO directed by Dr. Cletus BABU in Tamil Nadu (South India) were recently introducing trials on the use of the soil conditioner TerraCottem (TC) for improving plant production in the drylands of Tamil Nadu. The Belgian group offered an important quantity of TerraCottem to SCAD and trials were set up at SCAD headquarters in Cheranmahadevi, at SCAD KVK Agricultural Center and in different villages in the drylands of Tamil Nadu.
SCAD has initiated intensive training programmes to promote the use of Terracottem and to motivate the rural people to set up kitchen gardens. The period of June – July is the prime Agriculture Season of Tamil Nadu. Farmers who received some soil conditioner have started application in their test plots.
As far as the test plots raised at KVK are concerned, the Terracottem-treated fields are showing a lot of favorable results. The Bhendi (okra)-fruits harvested from the treated plots are healthier and more vigourous than those of the control plots.
Since the farmers have started their work with TC recently, they are yet to see the results.
This year, SCAD has fixed 2000 Kitchen Gardens as a target in the Tuticorin District alone. In the first phase local native seeds have been distributed to 1250 gardens, along with the seeds offered by the Belgian groups. The production in these gardens will be closely monitored.
SCAD is also interested in “bottle gardening“, an idea launched in a former posting on this blog (see “My vegetable garden in plastic bottles“, 2008-02-13). SCAD has already given a training on bottle gardening to the Self Help Groups (SHG)-members. They showed a lot of interest on that method, motivating local people to eliminate plastic bottle from their environment.
Nowadays, SCAD KVK-scientists are closely monitoring the effect of TerraCottem (TC) on vegetables and other plant species and on the planned Kitchen Garden programmes. Promotion of TC among the farming community is going on in selected SCAD-sponsored villages. Feedback from the communities will be send later.
Family gardens or kitchen gardens are relatively new to this dryland region. The rural population has no tradition in gardening during the dry season. Together with bottle gardening, this method can improve food patterns and public health in a significant way. It can also alleviate poverty, offering farmers a chance to take their vegetables produced locally to the nearby market, thus competing with vegetables important from distant production centers in other Indian states.
Here are some pictures illustrating the actual situation in June-July 2008 :
2008-06 : Village Vedanatham – Mrs. Mariyammal – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans, etc. (DSCN 1768)
2008-06 : Village Vedanatham – Mrs. Mariyammal – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans, etc. (DSCN 1769)
2008-06 : Village Vedanatham – Mrs. Mariyammal – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans, etc. (DSCN 1770)
2008-06 : Village Vedanatham – Mrs. Mariyammal – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans, etc. (DSCN 1787)
2008-06 – Village M.Velayudhapuram – Mr. Muniyasamy – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans etc. (DSCN 1835)
2008-06 – Village M.Velayudhapuram – Mr. Muniyasamy – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans etc. (DSCN 1838)
2008-06 – Village M.Velayudhapuram – Mr. Muniyasamy – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans etc. (DSCN 1839)
2008-06 – Village M.Velayudhapuram – Mr. Muniyasamy – Crops raised : Gourds, Sesbania, Cluster beans etc. (DSCN 1840)
2008-06 – Village Thulukkan kulam – Mrs. Pushparani – Crops raised : Zinnia, Bhendi, Amaranthus & other greens (DSCN 4430) – Mixing the TC with top soil.
2008-06 – Village Thulukkan kulam – Mrs. Pushparani – Crops raised : Zinnia, Bhendi, Amaranthus & other greens (DSCN 4439) – Applying TC to Drumstick (Moringa) tree
2008-06 – Village Thulukkan kulam – Mrs. Pushparani – Crops raised : Zinnia, Bhendi, Amaranthus & other greens (DSCN 4449) – Mrs. Pushparani applying TC to Brinjal (Egg Plant) raised in a small pot (Container Gardening). Asparagus and Alternanthera in the small containers.
2008-06 – Village Thulukkan kulam – Mrs. Pushparani – Crops raised : Zinnia, Bhendi, Amaranthus & other greens (DSCN 4464) – Proud owner of the garden with Zinnia, Marigold plants. In the rear end, some papaya trees.
2008-06 – Village Thulukkan kulam – Mrs. Pushparani – Crops raised : Zinnia, Bhendi, Amaranthus & other greens (DSCN 4477) – Little girl sitting in her TC-treated kitchen garden with Amaranthus greens.
2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Women SHG members – Test Plots showing healthy Bhendi (Okra) fruits – (DSCN 7690) – SCAD Anbu Illam cook is harvesting the Bhendi fruits (Abelmoschus esculentus).
2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Women SHG members – Test Plots showing healthy Bhendi (Okra) fruits – (DSCN 7692) – Healthy bhendi plants with long fruits.
2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Women SHG members – Test Plots showing healthy Bhendi (Okra) fruits – (DSCN 7695) – SCAD Anbu Illam cook in the TC-treated Bhendi garden
2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Women SHG members – Test Plots showing healthy Bhendi (Okra) fruits – (DSCN 7696) – Fresh and healthy bhendi fruits harvested from TC-treated bhendi garden.
2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Training for Kitchen gardens by KVK Staff Members – (DSCN 7712)
2008-06 – SCAD KVK – Training for Kitchen gardens by KVK Staff Members – Self Help Group of Women after training. -(DSCN 7713)
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