Information and stories on development news.

Poison Corn_opt
Of the many climatic, soil, and logistical challenges the Ghanaian agricultural industry has had to overcome in order to encourage economic growth and production capacity, none have posed a greater threat to crop efficacy than that of aflatoxin exposure. Aflatoxin – a cancer caused by product of the fungi Aspergillus – found in yam chips, groundnuts, cassava, and maize has been a chronic public health concern faced by much of the local farmers and agribusinesses of the sub-Saharan country. In an effort to ameliorate the carcinogenic side effects of the compound, health officials are working to implement a policy of aflatoxin prevention in Ghana.

Thanks in part to the increased coordination between the Food Research Institute (FRI), Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), and support funding from the Southern African Trust, a newly invigorated policy of aflatoxin prevention in Ghana will be launched. What exactly does the new prevention program entail? FRI officials are asking for mechanical driers – needed to quickly dry the grains – along with requisite storage facilities in order to prevent contamination during the rainy season. Once implemented, this robust policy of quick drying and storage is expected to mitigate the public health effects of the aflatoxin compound.

In regards to aflatoxin prevention in Ghana, FRI official George Anyebuno noted that, “These toxins are also potent causes of cancer and suppress the immune system, causing humans and animals to be more susceptible to diseases… But they are not often visible on the corn when purchased; once the maize is infected, nothing can be done to remove the toxins as they are very stable compounds even at high temperatures making the maize unwholesome.”

Thanks to a newly energized policy of aflatoxin prevention in Ghana, the chronic health and agricultural problems caused by the hazardous compound will now be addressed. Furthermore, through the deployment of a policy that includes public health awareness, prevention, and interdepartmental cooperation, the resulting health problems caused by aflatoxin contamination will finally be eliminated.

– Brian Turner

Source Ghana Business News
Photo Tree Hugger

Development Aid_opt
The GDP, growth, and income derivatives of sub-Saharan African nations help to inform NGO’s in both the structure and deployment of a well targeted policy of development. However, what if the data linking economic indicators and development in Africa were both statistically flawed and misleading? Surprisingly, there is an increasing body of evidence showing that much of the economic numbers currently being reported to aid and development organizations are in fact fictional, and that little is actually known about the income generation of many African nations.

Sub-Saharan African nations such as Ghana and Nigeria have raised the eyebrows of World Bank leaders and policy makers with their upward revisions of their economic outputs over the last several years. Both countries initially reported their GDPs as much lower than they actually were, with the former upwardly revising their numbers by 60% and the latter increasing theirs by 15%. These numbers – although seemingly unimportant from the outset – have huge implications in regards to economic status and aid apportionment. The net result of misleading economic indicators and development in Africa means that resources allocated to specific countries by donors may in fact be better utilized by nations with lower GDP’s, and that targeted development plans may or may not be yielding the results originally reported.

Regarding the misleading economic indicators and development in Africa, New York Times author Jeffrey Sachs noted that current Malawi leadership “broke old donor-led shibboleths by establishing new government programs to get fertilizer and high-yield seeds to impoverished peasant farmers who could not afford these inputs. Farm yields soared once nitrogen got back into the depleted soils.”

The generous aid packages deployed by well meaning NGO’s have been instrumentally important in the international development of many low-income countries. However, flawed economic indicators and development in Africa leads to a misappropriation of aid that could be better used by other “high-priority” targets requiring greater attention and economic assistance. International aid is a finite resource that carries with it equal amounts of opportunity and responsibility, and should be allocated primarily to those nations that are plagued by the loop of global poverty.

– Brian Turner

Source CNN
Photo The Guardian

Instagram to Fight World HungerOne of the most common types of pictures posted on Instagram is food.  We love to share what we cook, what we eat, and what we enjoy. One charity has decided to capitalize on the idea of sharing pictures of your food.  Food Share Filter, a new app, is the first supportive Instagram filter. The idea is to use Instagram to fight world hunger. The app was created by DDB Spain and all money raised goes to support a Salvadoran charity called Manos Unidas.

Manos Unidas is a non-profit organization working with the Association of the Catholic Church in Spain. The charity works to promote development in the third world. They focus on working to eradicate the structural causes of hunger, disease, and underdevelopment such as injustice, prejudice, and inequality.  Geographically, Manos Unidas works in Africa, Asia, American, and Oceania to assist in development causes there.

The filter can be downloaded from the Apple Store or Google Play store. Once downloaded, anytime a user post a picture of food, they can add the filter #FoodShareFilter.  This immediately adds the message, “This picture helps millions of people not to suffer hunger.”  It is an easy way to raise awareness in posting photos that would normally be posted.

The #FoodShareFilter is available in both English and Spanish and costs$0.99 in the Apple Store and $1.16 in Google Play.  The app was launched late last week and all proceeds from the purchase of the app go directly to the charity.  Check it out and download the app to start raising awareness on world hunger!

– Amanda Kloeppel

Source: WkBW Eyewitness News
Photo: Goodnet

Human Rights a Priority for World BankIndependent United Nations experts are advising the World Bank to include human rights standards in their criteria for giving loans and all other interactions with developing countries. The World Bank will hold a review in the upcoming months to discuss its social policies and is expected to adopt international human rights standards.

When the World Bank does not consider the human rights of a specific country before investing, the organization risks unintentionally hurting the extremely poor in that country. This happens because some development ends up benefiting the wealthy people while the poor suffer. For example, poor farmers may lose their land, and therefore livelihood, in order to build new housing structures that have been sanctioned by the World Bank.

The group advocating for human rights standards in the World Bank includes representatives for the Special Rapporteur (and its sub-groups on extreme poverty and human rights, rights of indigenous peoples, and rights to food) and the Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights.

As such, the World Bank can expect to hear arguments from this group urging them to consider issues like “disability, gender, labor, land tenure, and the rights of indigenous people” in the meeting. These suggestions will also be open for public comment. The goal of adding human rights criteria to World Bank standards is to ensure that the poor benefit development as well as wealthy people.

The World Bank will update its “safeguard policies,” its social and environmental policies, to make sure that the voices of the poor are not overpowered by the wealthy. This review, which will analyze the activities of the World Bank for the past two years, is a huge opportunity for the organization to begin to reach out to the world’s poorest.

– Mary Penn

Source: India Blooms
Photo: The Foundry

Most Generous Donor Countries
The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development has released their list of the world’s most generous countries in terms of granting foreign aid. The list is topped by European countries, even though the amount of international giving among European Union member countries has continued to fall for the past three years.

The countries are listed by the highest percentage of aid given compared to each country’s Gross National Income (GNI). The most generous countries on the list are Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and The Netherlands. Luxembourg was easily the most generous, giving 1% of the country’s GNI. Switzerland and France tied for tenth place, each giving 0.45% of their GNIs.

The United States did not even come close to being placed in the list of the top ten. The United States gave only 0.2% of our GNI in the past year. One of the common misconceptions about U.S. foreign aid is that we give a massive amount of foreign aid. This list of top donor countries shows how untrue that is. With less than 1% of the U.S. federal budget set aside for international aid and development we, as a country, could certainly do better and make a bigger, more positive, difference in the world.

– Kevin Sullivan

Source: 24/7 Wall St.
Source: CRW Flags

Growth of Sustainable Coffee and Global Poverty Reduction
In both unexpected and unprecedented turn of events, 2012 saw a huge increase in the amount of growth of sustainable coffee imported from developing nations. Sales of the environmentally friendly Rainforest Alliance certified coffee jumped from 3.3 percent global output in 2011 to an astounding 4.5 percent in 2012, and imports of the certified coffee jumped 18 percent in the United States and Canada; effectively shifting the paradigm of business efficacy in regards to the future of sustainably sourced products.

The increase in 2012 sales is thanks in part to the efforts of Rainforest Alliance and Fair-Trade USA, two US-based non-profits that work to both train and certify overseas growers in techniques that encourage sustainable farming practices. These two non-profits have also sought to change public demands for products that promote responsible environmental stewardship abroad. Surprisingly, the growth of sustainable coffee has been bolstered primarily by its sales to US-based fast food companies such as Caribou Coffee Co. and McDonald’s USA, which recently shifted 100 percent of their espresso coffee beans to be sourced from Rainforest Alliance certified coffee growers.

In regards to the huge growth of sustainable coffee, Rainforest Alliance’s press release remarked that “Over 118,000 coffee farms covering almost 800,000 acres (323,500 hectares) are now Rainforest Alliance Certified and meet rigorous standards for best practices and environmental and social sustainability.”

By empowering farmers in developing nations to produce crops using environmentally sustainable methods such as those utilized by Rainforest Alliance certified coffee growers, American consumers can – through their purchasing power – effectively mitigate the systemic global poverty afflicting many South American countries. Furthermore, as the growth of sustainable coffee provides increased economic incentives for many residents of the global south, global poverty levels will continue to contract as certified coffee sales expand.

Brian Turner

Source: Chicago Tribune
Photo: Select Drinks

Seattle Ambassador Offers Unique ExperienceThe Seattle Ambassador program is giving Seattle residents the opportunity to see global poverty being fought firsthand.  The initiative was launched as a joint effort between the City of Seattle and the Seattle International Foundation.

The goal is to get Seattle residents involved in fighting global poverty. Home to over 3oo international organizations, Seattle is making a difference in over 144 different countries around the world. Already an impressive feat, Seattle is encouraging residents to take advantage of the opportunity to make a global difference. Out of that desire came the Seattle Ambassador program.

The Seattle Ambassador program is a very simple format. Residents sign up for text and email alerts from participating organizations. The organizations signed up with the program will send out updates on the work they are doing and opportunities to volunteer and get involved. In return, one resident will win a trip to go to either Africa, Asia, or Latin America to see and participate in the work being done in the host countries.

The first winner will be announced in June and up to three winners will be selected in the first year. Local media and communication have teamed up to share the program and help get residents involved.

For more information on the program check out the website at www.seattleambassador.org.

Amanda Kloeppel

Video: Seattle Ambassador

Nature Iraq: The One and Only
In a land where so much global attention is focused on its politics, Iraq’s environmental and agriculture issues have been left on the back burner. Until 2003, there was no sustainability or environmental organization that dealt with the dried-up marshlands of Iraq. Saddam Hussein purposefully dried them up to reduce the use of the marshes as hiding spots during his reign. This in turn damaged irrigation systems and the flow of water, almost bringing an end to thousands of years of Iraq’s farming culture.

Azzam Alwash, an Iraqi-American civil engineer and former CEO of Nature Iraq, found himself back in Iraq to tackle this very issue in the early 2000s. “If Iraq does nothing to improve irrigation standards, agriculture is going to die in the place where it started,” Alwash stated. After hefty biological surveys, Alwash and his team began restoring the marshlands and reintroducing sustainable irrigation techniques. Their work was met with constant adversities and even threats from the government. Despite these obstacles, about half of the marshlands have been restored in the past decade and will now become a national park.

Achieving such a success is vital to the economy of Iraq, as many of its people rely on farming for food and livelihood. Alwash’s next project is working with the Syrian and Turkish governments to address the issues of the dams that are being built on the borders of those countries which stop the flow of water to the marshes. While the main goal is to prevent the loss of water, Alwash also sees this as an opportunity to prevent war in the Middle East. Of it, he says, “If we succeed in creating economic ties [between the countries], it’s going to be too difficult to go to war. Borders disappear when ties are strong.”

Nature Iraq, still the only environmental non-profit in Iraq, has expanded since its founding in 2003. It works with global organizations such as the UK’s Darwin Initiative to collect data on biodiversity and educate communities in those areas about the dangers of ignoring environmental issues. It also built the Adobe House on the banks of the Euphrates River to illustrate how people can build low-cost and sustainable housing even in marshlands.

Among all its projects, Azzam Alwash’s organization has proven that no matter the political stability of a country, environmental issues can be addressed. By creating stable communities that will foster a growing economy, it eliminates possible grounds of impoverished people and politicians forming uprisings.

– Deena Dulgerian

Source: Co.EXIST

Ethiopia Embraces Bamboo
According to the government of Ethiopia, the country is experiencing an industrial boom due to the supply of bamboo, foreign investment, and interest from foreign markets.

Although there has been no existing bamboo economy in Ethiopia, minister for agriculture and rural development Mitiku Kassa has said that the country now has the right mix of resources, foreign interest, and investment to create an industry from the 2.47 million acres of bamboo previously untouched.

Africa Bamboo, a public-private partnership between Ethiopia and a German development group, plans to invest over $10 million into manufacturing for bamboo flooring products. Associate engineer Felix Boeck of Africa Bambo commented that there was much market potential for bamboo in Europe. “We believe that there can be a reliable and effective supply chain built here in Ethiopia to create a bamboo manufacturing industry,” said Boeck.

Unlike traditional wood sources, bamboo is fully sustainable and sees regrowth within three years. In comparison, trees can take up to 30 years until they are mature enough to harvest again for wood. Many local farmers hope to capitalize on the booming bamboo industry in the country, and hope that foreign investment is available to small-scale growers.

Other organizations are stepping in to ensure that the government of Ethiopia recognizes the vast potential that bamboo has to create economic growth and development.

Christina Kindlon
Source: Guardian

American Chemical Society Advocates For Reduced Food Waste
Did you know that the average American wastes almost 20 pounds of food a month? How about that 4 out of every 10 pounds of food produced in the United States goes to waste? These surprising facts – gleaned from recent scientific research calling for reduced food waste – was discussed at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society last week in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The topic of reduced food waste, along with various other subjects highlighting specific energy and sustainability challenges was raised in order to meet the needs of an estimated worldwide population of nine billion by 2050. As the global population increases and demands greater food quality – via development and increased standards of living – new and creative methods of food security must be implemented in order to prevent future agricultural and energy constraints. John Floros, dean of the College of Agriculture at Kansas State remarked that “We will need another ‘Green Revolution‘ to feed the world by 2050, That will mean scientific innovations, such as new strains of the big three grains — rice, wheat and corn — adapted for a changing climate and other conditions. It also will require action to reduce a terrible waste of food that gets too little attention.”

The emergence of the Chinese middle class – roughly the size of the entire US population – was a popular topic, including their greater demand for energy and evolving dietary tastes predicted to strain worldwide energy and food resources, necessitating increased sustainability and seed development. By taking the first steps in raising awareness of issues such as reduced food waste, scientists are optimistic about meeting future food security challenges through greater collaboration and agricultural research. John Floros further remarked that “Consumers, industry, universities and governments all need to pitch in. The first step is more awareness of these issues and the need for action on multiple levels of society.”

Brian Turner

Source: Science Daily
Photo: Salon