The people of Earth really love their cities

Photo credit: Citylab

World Population split in half

Half the World Lives on 1% of Its Land, Mapped

In the simple map above lies a stark spatial imbalance: half the people in the world cram into just 1 percent of the Earth’s surface (in yellow), and the other half sprawl across the remaining 99 percent (in black).

Data viz extraordinaire Max Galka created this map using NASA’s gridded population data, which counts the global population within each nine-square-mile patch of Earth, instead of within each each district, state, or country border. Out of the 28 million total cells, the ones with a population over 8,000 are colored in yellow. That means each yellow cell has a population density of about 900 people per square mile—“roughly the same population density as the state of Massachusetts,” Galka writes in the accompanying blog post. The black regions, meanwhile, reflect sparser population clusters.

Take this close-up of South and East Asia. The region in this image alone contains about 46 percent of the world’s population, which isn’t all that surprising considering India and China are the two most populous countries in the world.

Asia’s densest spots are mostly concentrated in the inland urban areas. Europe, on the other hand, is nowhere as dense as Asia but has its population hotspots sprinkled more uniformly across its area:

Read the full article: Citylab


Grow food on an A-riser or a H-riser to alleviate malnutrition

Photo credit: 

* Wooden Riser A-form – Photo Jojo ROM – 283225_4230820167045_1991451138_n.jpg

One of the best practices: The A-riser or the H-riser

By Willem Van Cotthem (University of Ghent, Belgium)

My good friend Jojo ROM (Davao City, The Philippines) is one of the famous experts on container gardening.  He was one of the first to construct in his own backyard an A-riser on which he grew (and still grows) vegetables and herbs in different types of containers.

It has been clearly shown that this is one of the best practices to grow vegetables and herbs in the smallest space.  As container gardening has many advantages over traditional gardening (mostly in bad soils !), this successful method deserves to be promoted at the global level, in particular in an environment with poor soils, e.g. in the drylands.

One of the applications to be strongly recommend is: construction of risers for the refugee camps, where people never have sufficient space or the necessary means to install a kitchen garden for their family.  Imagine the refugees’ joy being enabled to grow fresh food close to their tents: interesting time spending, being busy for a nice part of the day, and producing their own fresh food, herbs and mint for their tea.

Impossible you say ?  Have a look at the pictures below and convince yourself that minimal investment in risers loaded with containers will automatically yield a maximal food production.

You want to forget about the refugee camps ?  OK !  But please remain convinced that risers can be installed in small backyards and even on a flat roof, all over the world, also in your own neighbourhood.

Now then, enjoy the pictures !

* Wooden Riser - A-form - Photo Jojo ROM - 942231_10200263483608038_661084805_n
* Wooden Riser – A-form with bottles – Photo Jojo ROM – 942231_10200263483608038_661084805_n
* Riser - Bottles, Tetrapots - Photo Jojo ROM - 299197_2027431123696_1181604134_31907234_795222_n
* Riser – with bottles and tetrapots – Photo Jojo ROM – 299197_2027431123696_1181604134_31907234_795222_n
* Bamboo Riser with clay pots - Photo Victor S. Cabag (Philippines)  - 10422170_10201509648703265_4177847876384089747_n
* Bamboo Riser with clay pots – Photo Victor S. Cabag (Philippines) – 10422170_10201509648703265_4177847876384089747_n
* Riser with jugs - Photo Berlin ramos Sadler - 528880_3501510093823_1437046645_n
* Riser with jugs – Photo Berlin Ramos Sadler – 528880_3501510093823_1437046645_n
* Riser -with bottles, canisters and tetrapots - Photo Almar B. Autida430068_2870346474042_1121267916_32155811_1625702319_n
* Riser with bottles, canisters and tetrapots – Photo Almar B. Autida – 430068_2870346474042_1121267916_32155811_1625702319_n
* Riser - bottles and jugs - Photo Berlin Ramos Sadler - 549094_3575738549488_607260712_n
* Riser with bottles and jugs – Photo Berlin Ramos Sadler – 549094_3575738549488_607260712_n
* Riser with different containers - Photo Fe Mondejar - 66729_373215606134201_1286771557_n
* A simple riser with different containers – Photo Fe Mondejar – 66729_373215606134201_1286771557_n
*  An impressive riser for massive food production - Photo Almar B. Autida - 10255663_10201730750126773_1525730629288922985_n
* An impressive riser for massive food production – Photo Almar B. Autida – 10255663_10201730750126773_1525730629288922985_n
* Riser A-form with canisters and tetrapots - Photo Almar B. Autida - 578325_3062890287517_1121267916_32233687_1268465493_n
* Riser with canisters and tetrapots – Photo Almar B. Autida – 578325_3062890287517_1121267916_32233687_1268465493_n
* Riser with jugs - Photo Ako Si Arvin - 9999_363495210436408_1949884367_n
* Riser with jugs – Photo Ako Si Arvin – 9999_363495210436408_1949884367_n
* Riser - different containers with flowers - Photo Berlin Ramos Sadler - 538869_3628175340375_1965966353_n
* Riser – different containers with flowers – Photo Berlin Ramos Sadler – 538869_3628175340375_1965966353_n
* Riser - H-form -Photo Big Bug Creek Farm Store and Garden Center - 971804_565714960118122_175305211_n
* Riser – H-form – Photo Big Bug Creek Farm Store and Garden Center – 971804_565714960118122_175305211_n
* Philippinos constructing a metal riser - A-form - 12003284_1255229017836495_6671859800920701771_n
* Constructing a metal riser – A-form – in The Philippines -12003284_1255229017836495_6671859800920701771_n
 * Constructing a metal riser - A-form - in The Philippines -11218075_1255229134503150_2797106863206369602_n
* Constructing a metal riser – A-form – in The Philippines -11218075_1255229134503150_2797106863206369602_n


Still not convinced about the great value of this method to alleviate malnutrition and hunger ?  Please, send us your better idea.

Local people are important actors in advancing research and new technologies

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Dieter Telemans / Panos

Involving local people in climate change adaptation

by Gilbert Nakweya

I have always wondered why local communities are often neglected or not engaged in the developing innovations and technologies that provide solutions to challenges facing them such as climate change.

As I attended the 9th International Conference on Community-Based Adaptation to Climate Change (CBA9) held in Kenya last month (27-30 April), I pondered over many issues.

Why do local communities feature on the lower scale of innovation and technological development although they are important actors in advancing research and new technologies or innovations?

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Sustainable land management

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Image credit: ILRI/Duncan

Partnerships ‘key to sustainable land management’

Lindsay Stringer, University of Leeds. : “Sustainable land management needs all these: traditional knowledge, modern scientific research yielding innovations, and methods for best practices and informing policymaking processes.” 

Speed read

  • Teamwork could prevent competition for resources needed for solving land issues
  • Local and scientific knowledge could be mixed to aid climate change adaptation
  • Scientists should create knowledge to increase drylands values, says an expert

[CANCUN, MEXICO] An integrated approach — involving stakeholders such as researchers, policymakers and local people — for addressing land degradation, climate change and sustainable land management challenges is beneficial than working in silos, says a conference.   According to the 3rd United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Scientific Conference in Mexico this week (9-12 March), an integrated approach to sustainable land management should be promoted.   “There is a need to change institutional arrangements to prevent the danger of duplication and competition for resources by various stakeholders in addressing issues of sustainable land management,” says Lindsay Stringer, a professor of environment and development at the UK-based University of Leeds.   Stringer, who has conducted research in countries in Sub-Saharan Africa such as Botswana and Malawi, says indigenous knowledge among pastoral and farming communities in Africa on coping with challenges such as drought can be added to modern scientific research outcomes to promote good land management and address climate change-related impacts.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Role of science in combating desertification

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Image credit: Flickr/ CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems

  • Science ‘has big role in solving desertification issues ’

    William Payne, UNCCD 3rd scientific conference advisory committee : “This scientific conference will consider, in particular, the role of sustainable land management in building resilience and adaptation to climate change.”

    Speed read

    • The conference identified poverty, climate change and desertification linkages
    • It showed how sustainable land management could aid climate change adaptation
    • An expert said local knowledge could be key to sustainable land use systems

    [CANCUN, MEXICO] Science has a major role to play in combating desertification, aiding climate change mitigation and adaptation, and sustainable land management practices, especially in the developing world, a conference has heard.

    During the opening session of the 3rd United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Scientific Conference in Cancun, Mexico, this week (9-12 March), Tarja Halonen, UNCCD’s drylands ambassador and former president of Finland, said poverty, climate change and desertification are closely linked in their causes, impacts and solutions.

    According to Halonen, women, youth and the poor are key when looking for available resources. “Majority of the farmers are women. In Africa, women produce 80 per cent of staple food. In Asia the figure is 60 per cent,” she said. “Scientific works, conclusions and recommendations will play a most important role in advising decision-makers.”

    Read the full article: SciDevNet

Empowering poor rural people in Peru

Photo credit: Rural Poverty Portal

Rural development in Peru (IFAD)

Empowering communities to innovate for rural development

Over the last 15 years, IFAD-funded development projects in the Southern Highlands of Peru have generated considerable knowledge, experience and good practices on empowering poor rural people and their associations. They have raised the interest of other IFAD and external practitioners and a high demand for knowledge sharing. Yet, the processes and methods that made these results possible remain poorly understood.

Peru as a Learning Territory aimed to fill this knowledge gap by creating a space for learning and capacity-building for both national and international rural development practitioners. The project focused on local experiences and knowledge, and gave local leaders and authorities, technicians, and development professionals from the region and beyond the opportunity to learn about IFAD’s most relevant innovations directly from the actors who were instrumental in developing them.

Areas of focus included approaches, mechanisms, strategies, and successes and failures in the implementation of rural development projects in the areas of civic and financial inclusion, territorial development based on cultural identity, and local knowledge management.

The project’s targets were to identify the most successful elements and processes to obtain sustainable results in these areas; disseminate best practices using the Learning Territories approach, where rural development practitioners can learn from the local talents; and form a network of local talents and rural development practitioners to share knowledge and replicate best practices.

Rights to access and use forests

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Image credit: Rights and Resources

Liberians need legal rights to forest, says report

Land rights found to be the best way to prevent deforestation or natural resource exploitation by palm oil firms.

Speed read

  • Forest inhabitants are best at managing these areas, says panel
  • Call to enshrine their rights to access and use forests in international law
  • This will protect natural assets such as trees and scientific resources
The state of roads in Liberia demonstrates one obstacle to using forests for obtaining marketable sustainable goods for rural people in Liberia. -
The state of roads in Liberia demonstrates one obstacle to using forests for obtaining marketable sustainable goods for rural people in Liberia. –

Liberia’s government must do more to award land rights to forest dwellers to protect natural resources from exploitation and encroachment of palm oil plantations, warns a report published by a global coalition pushing for forest policy reform.

Forests should be maintained as a future economic resource, says the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) report on Liberia’s palm oil industry. Forests are valuable because of the carbon price of trees and the variety of genetic and scientific resources found in forested land, a panel discussing the report heard.

The panellists said local residents have proven to be the best managers of forest areas, and that their rights to access and use forests must be enshrined in international legislation.

They added that international actors, specifically the World Bank, should push for more stringent land rights and impose tougher standards on the palm oil industry.

“World Bank standards are the starting point for legislation all around the world,” said Andy White, the RRI’s coordinator.

Even if local people retain access to their forests, land rights need to be properly implemented to ensure forest stewards benefit from other types of forest use, the panel heard. This is because pharmaceutical companies increasingly look to African forests to find medical plants and the chemicals found in these plants that can yield innovative medicines and products.

Read the full article: SciDevNet


Food safety, the environment and desertification in China (Google Alert / Chinalyst / China Dialogue)

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Google Alert – desertification


Securing our food — and our future

Submitted by panamajack on Thu, 2007-08-16 16:08. ::

This article was aggregated from China Dialogue

Food safety is being discussed across China. With concerns about contamination growing, says Gaoming Jiang, it is time for producers to think seriously about protecting the environment.

My article “The truth about dead chickens“, published by chinadialogue on June 14, attracted widespread attention in the Chinese press. A report and an interview with me appeared in the newspaper Southern Weekend on July 19, and aroused further public debate on food safety. Thousand of articles commenting on the matter have been published, with Google finding 355,000 related articles. Chinese premier Wen Jiabao recently held a special meeting of the State Council to discuss these product quality and food safety issues. Continue reading “Food safety, the environment and desertification in China (Google Alert / Chinalyst / China Dialogue)”

Family gardens, school gardens, roofs, balconies and windowsills for the hungry (Willem / About: Gardening)

Today, I received the new “About : Gardening” with interesting contributions of Marie IANNOTTI. My attention was immediately drawn to a message entitled “Plant A Row for the Hungry” (PAR).

Indeed, I have been spending the major part of my life combating desertification and alleviating poverty for the benefit of the rural people in the drylands. I always have tried to convince people to start this combat with programs and projects to eradicate malnutrition and hunger. There is a simple reason for that : no one can work with an empty stomach, every malnourished child is weaker for all kinds of diseases (see the fantastic programs of UNICEF).

Teach the hungry people how to grow their own food (vegetables and fruits) and you see the positive social effects within the shortest time.

For many years, we have been constructing community gardens, family gardens and school gardens in the drylands of developing countries. It can also be done, and even more easily, in the developed world. Two-three months later, the local people and children were eating the vegetables they had grown. What’s the kind of key we used to open that door to their “new way of life” ? It’s quite simple : we were teaching them first how to combine their traditional agricultural methods with cost-effective modern technologies (water harvesting, water stockage, keeping the soil moistened for a longer period with less water or water use efficiency, stockage of nutrients in the soil to limit leaching, enhancement of microbiological activity in the soil, choice of drought resistant varieties, even marketing their produce, etc.). It took us only a few days of teaching the local women, children and technicians or teachers. That’s capacity building to obtain almost immediate, but sustainable results.

These results are really remarkable : instead of spending millions or billions on huge programs or projects, it suffices to eradicate hunger by setting up small-scale projects of family gardens and school gardens. Forget about the large-scale projects, submerging the local people and leaving them disappointed when the aid stops. I have seen a good number of failures. We know the lessons learned. Let’s keep it small, so that they can handle it with their own capacities and skills when the project stops !

Healthy people are in a better position to take care of their own standards of living. Hungry people don’t have the force to react upon the deficiencies. So, first teach them how to produce their own food. Don’t leave them dependent on truckloads of food coming from others (international organisations, national aid programs, NGOs, etc.). It has been shown for decades that huge food aid programs are not sustainable. Yes, we have to help when famine shows up. No, we cannot let those people starve. But we should do more than offering them food alone : we should also learn them how to grow crops, even in the most difficult circumstances, e.g. in all the refugee camps of this world. That’s where applied science and technology are coming in, to be combined with successful traditional methods, based upon indigenous knowledge and local experience. It all depends upon the cost-effectiveness of such a combination. And such good combinations undeniably exist !

I have seen many times little stars twinkling in the eyes of people and children when they showed me proudly their first carrots, beetroots, onions, tomatoes, potatoes and cabbages in their little family garden or school garden, only a few square meter big. For me, that’s combating hunger, that’s combating desertification, that’s sustainable development of the poorest, not only in the drylands, but everywhere, even on the smallest open spaces in the cities, even in containers on all the windowsills : see therefore my other weblog

It would be a nice way to make all the cities completely green : from rooftops to basements, from balconies to window ledges, not only with ornamental plants, but in the first place with vegetables and fruit trees. Why would vegetables and fruit trees be less beautiful than exotic ornamentals ? Don’t we see the beauty of our crops anymore, or don’t we want to see it ?

Green cities, green drylands ? Only a dream ? Absolutely not ! But we cannot wait for the hungry themselves to take initiatives (think at the new wave : guerilla gardening). All depends on the goodwill of all of us. Thus, let us start small, for small is so beautiful. And so are family gardens and school gardens, green roofs, green balconies, green windowsills, green walls, green parking lots, etc., etc., etc.

In the meanwhile, I am sincerely wishing PAR (see below) a lot of success !

Willem Continue reading “Family gardens, school gardens, roofs, balconies and windowsills for the hungry (Willem / About: Gardening)”

Traditional knowledge and biodiversity conservation (id21)

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id21NRNews 31 – the latest id21 Natural Resources research highlights


Saving traditional knowledge from the ‘biopirates’

Indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge about the use of natural
resources is vital for conserving biodiversity. This knowledge is now
under threat from intellectual property systems and globalisation. A new
legal framework is needed to protect traditional knowledge.

Email request: GET
(see end of message for full instruction on how to receive full research
highlights by email)

Ecotourism, protection of biodiversity and poverty reduction (id21)

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id21 – <>

id21NRNews 30 – the latest id21 Natural Resources research highlights

Ecotourism: an innovative conservation and development strategy or a celebration of poverty?

Jim Butcher, a lecturer at Canterbury Christ Church University, questions how much ecotourism really benefits poor communities.

Many organisations support ecotourism as an effective way to integrate conservation and development. Non-governmental organisations with a conservation focus (such as WWF) and those with a rural development focus (such as SNV) have pioneered ecotourism to this end. However, the assumptions underlying ecotourism as a tool for sustainable development are rarely questioned.

Ecotourism retains its status as an important form of sustainable development. This was formalised through the 2002 United Nations International Year of Ecotourism. Supporters identify communities that have benefited from ecotourism revenue, which creates incentives for local people to engage in cultural and economic activities that protect the environment. This ‘win-win’ scenario is strongly associated with sustainable development in policy documents from USAID, WWF and many others. This association is also made in popular culture by connecting ecotourism with ‘ethical tourism’. This is important, given that ‘ethical’ consumption and fair trade are seen as solutions to poverty. Yet whilst many studies show the limited gains for communities, they overlook what is ruled out of the debate. The fundamental idea behind ecotourism is establishing a symbiotic relationship or ‘harmony’ between the lives of rural communities and the biodiversity around them. Whilst this can, in theory, contribute to poverty relief and the provision of basic needs, it implicitly rules out any development beyond this harmony, as this would be considered unsustainable. Continue reading “Ecotourism, protection of biodiversity and poverty reduction (id21)”

Aborigines remain in poverty, bad health (Google Alert / People’s Daily)

Read at :

Google Alert for Poverty

People’s Daily on line

Aborigines remain in poverty, bad health

Australia yesterday marked 40 years since a historic referendum granted Aborigines citizenship, but celebrations were muted by stark reminders the continent’s original inhabitants are still poverty stricken and die much younger than the rest of society. An overwhelming 91 percent of Australians voted in favor of reforms in the 1967 referendum that gave the federal government the power to make laws covering Aborigines and to count them in the official census for the first time. Before then, Aborigines’ legal rights varied from state to state, with some jurisdictions including them in laws covering wildlife and plants.

Rallies, marches and other ceremonies were held in capital cities on Saturday and yesterday to mark the anniversary – but the focus was on the Aborigines’ continuing plight. A minority of about 400,000 among a population of 21 million, Australia’s Aborigines today suffer health and lifestyle problems more common to people living in the Third World than a fully developed nation like Australia. On average, they die almost 20 years earlier than other Australians and suffer much higher rates of drug and alcohol abuse, diabetes and heart disease. Many live in slums in or on the fringes of cities, or in poverty in tiny, remote Outback communities. Prime Minister John Howard said at a function in Canberra to mark the anniversary that many of the improvements in Aborigines’ lives that supporters of the referendum had hoped for have not happened. Continue reading “Aborigines remain in poverty, bad health (Google Alert / People’s Daily)”

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