Twiga Foods
COVID-19 has caused many issues for poor families around the world. However, Kenyan food distributor Twiga Foods is helping families during COVID-19.

What is Twiga Foods?

Twiga Foods emerged in 2014 as a mobile-based food distribution company. What it does is source produce from local farmers and manufacturers. Suppliers can post their produce online so vendors can order it at an affordable price. Today, Twiga employs about 4,000 suppliers and about 35,000 vendors.

Fast Company has listed Twiga Foods as one of the most innovative companies. Twiga Foods was also listed as one of the World Economic Forum’s “Technology Pioneers.” The company has “reinvented Africa’s approach to retail, making it less time-consuming and more efficient.” The company “presents a convenient and reliable alternative to the current expensive farm and factory-to-market processes.”

The mission for Twiga Foods is simple: “to feed and supply Africa’s growing urban population with traceable, quality and affordable products whose quality, health and safety standards are at one with global conventions and best practice.”

What Twiga is Doing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The spread of COVID-19 created a lot of concern for Twiga Foods. Some of its clients include hotels and restaurants which have run minimally during the pandemic. However, Twiga was listed as an essential business, and the company was able to keep operating and employ thousands of people.

In June 2020, Twiga partnered up with Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) and Jumia to support families during the pandemic. The program these companies created offers a “convenient way for customers who wish to donate during the pandemic period.” Twiga Foods is providing discounted prices of fresh produce up to 50% as an incentive for people to donate to the cause.

How Companies like Twiga Foods Can Help the Market

The success of Twiga Foods matches Kenya’s growing economy and reduction of poverty. Kenya’s GDP went from $61.45 billion in 2014 to $95.5 billion in 2019. However, Kenya’s GDP in 2020 has gone down to about $80 billion.

Not only has the GDP risen over the past few years, but poverty rates in Kenya have gone down. From 2005 to 2006, 46.8% of Kenyans lived below the poverty line. From 2015 to 2016, the amount of Kenyans living under the poverty line dropped to 36.1%. This drop in the poverty rate was due to the increasing importance of non-agricultural income to supplement agricultural income for rural households.

Between 2013 and 2017, about 25% of the nation’s GDP came from agriculture. However, farmers across Kenya find it hard to make a living due to the insufficiency of the African agricultural market. Having companies like Twiga Foods support these farmers can help improve food safety, environmental and social practices.

When Twiga Foods connects rural farmers to informal retail vendors in the cities, it can enhance the agricultural market for both the suppliers and the consumers. Farmers can have guaranteed access to a fairly-priced, transparent and mobile marketplace. Vendors can get high-quality and fresh produce to sell to consumers at a lower price. Having food sold at a lower price is a way that Twiga foods is helping families afford the food they need to survive.

Jackson Lebedun
Photo: Flickr

Paraguay's COVID-19 ResponseParaguay is a landlocked country in South America surrounded by Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina. As many South American nations grapple with the spread of the coronavirus, Paraguay appears to have control of the disease. In total, the country has only had a few dozen deaths from the disease. Here are five facts about Paraguay’s COVID-19 response efforts.

5 Facts about Paraguay’s COVID-19 Response

  1. Paraguay, with a population of about 7 million people, has had about 5,338 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 49 deaths. This is drastically different from its neighboring countries of Bolivia and Brazil. Bolivia has about 11 million inhabitants, with 76,789 recorded cases and 2,977 deaths. Similarly high, Brazil has a population of roughly 210 million, with about 2.71 million confirmed cases and 93,616 deaths.
  2. According to epidemiologist Dr. Antonia Arbo, the reason that Paraguay’s COVID-19 response has had success in mitigating the effects of the virus is because of the stern measures put in place by the government as well as the “good behavior” from its citizens.The government of President Mario Abdo Benítez was one of the first in the region to implement containment measures after just the second confirmed case of COVID-19 on March 10.”
  3. Unlike other responses, Paraguay’s containment measures are effective due to the “fast and forceful” nature in which authorities acted. The country was in a consistent lockdown from March 20 until May 3. During this time, the Ministry of Health increased testing and improved contact-tracing capabilities. This allowed the country to initiate a “gradual reopening program.” Additionally, the country is still maintaining precautions even while they ease social distancing restrictions. Masks are still mandatory and medical professionals conduct temperature checks in the entrances to public spaces.
  4. Despite these successes in Paraguay’s COVID-19 response, the country’s economy has definitely suffered. In January, prior to the pandemic, most predicted the economy to grow as agriculture began to bounce back following the droughts and floods of 2019. Since then, however, the lockdown has severely impacted the country’s economy. There was a stark decrease in overall consumption, investment, imports on capital goods, tourism and trade. Though it is difficult to accurately predict the exact impact of the recession, experts predict that the GDP will decrease by 5% in 2020.
  5. The pandemic halted a project between Paraguay’s government and the Food and Agriculture Organization, which would have provided more opportunities for rural communities. Many Indigenous community members in Paraguay live in abject poverty and have no choice but to earn income through marijuana crop cultivation. Unfortunately, this has resulted in severe deforestation. The joint plan, named the Poverty, Reforestation, Energy and Climate Change (PROEZA) Project, intends to provide aid to these vulnerable, low-income families. However, this project has halted for the time being due to the pandemic.

Going forward with Paraguay’s COVID-19 response, as the country’s economy prepares to reopen, Paraguay is working to reduce the deficit and repair the damage to public finances. It is hopeful that with the implementation of social plans for low-income households, Paraguay will be able to truly prosper.

Shreeya Sharma
Photo: Flickr

Farming in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia, a desert country that saw its fortunes skyrocket due to the discovery of oil, uses its billions of dollars of oil profits to power many parts of its economy and its citizen’s lives. One of these facets is its food supply — the Kingdom imports more than 80% of its necessary food supply with its oil money. Only about 1.5% of the land area of Saudi Arabia is arable, and what agriculture the country does have ends up taking over 80% of the Kingdom’s precious water supply. While the country is currently food-secure, farming in Saudi Arabia has been a crucial area of interest for those who wish to expand Saudi sustainability and shore up potential risks in global food supply network crashes.

Farming Policy

Saudi Arabia originally attempted agricultural self-sufficiency with aggressive government subsidies for farmers in the 1980s due to volatile food imports. Poor techniques and mismanagement of water resources forced the reimagining of these efforts in 2007. Now, the Kingdom subsidizes the use of manufactured feed for livestock farmers and encourages vegetable growth using greenhouses and drip irrigation methods. These techniques conserve water while ensuring a more sustainable food supply.

The Saudi government has made concerted efforts to improve its agricultural sector as part of its Vision 2030 program. A top priority for the Kingdom is increasing efficiency in its use of limited natural resources while developing rural areas. Farming is an important source of employment in the Kingdom, so supporting agribusiness in Saudi Arabia not only improves food security but the overall lives of many. Farmers are often some of the poorest individuals in the world, so providing aid and focusing on agricultural efficiency simultaneously fights Saudi hunger and poverty.

New Developments

The Kingdom is still a major importer of cereals, meat, dairy products and fruits and vegetables, but there has been a growing emphasis on farming in Saudi Arabia as demand for food continues to rise. Following the failed attempts in the 1980s, Saudis have used technology to help make their agricultural industry as efficient as possible. New strategies include the use of satellites to obtain pictures of farmland. The intention of the resulting thermal images is to better understand the relationship between crop growth and overall water use. This helps farmers compare water requirements for different crops and estimate which crop has the highest yield given a certain amount of water.

Another newer form of technology recently came into play in the United Arab Emirates, which shares a border and climate with Saudi Arabia. There, a Norwegian scientist introduced her patented Liquid Nanoclay (LNC) to Emirati desert farms. LNC is a treatment that gives sand a clay coating by mixing nanoparticles of clay with water and binding them with sand particles. Since sand particles are loose, they cannot trap water efficiently, but this treatment allows them to do so. Without using any chemicals, LNC saved water consumption by over 50% in its trial run in the Emirati farms. While it is still quite expensive, international technology like this provides hope for farming in Saudi Arabia, as well as other regions that are water-scarce and relatively reliant on food imports.

Current Trends

High seafood consumption levels have driven the Kingdom to transform and expand its aquaculture industry, or the farming of aquatic species in some body of water like a tank, cage or pond. Aquaculture also saw its start in the 1980s, but today it is the fastest-growing animal food cultivation industry in Saudi Arabia. Government support is a large driver of this — to enhance food security, the government allocated $35 billion toward Vision 2030 projects that include aquaculture funding. Examples of these projects include establishing a seafood processing plant for high-end fish and marine fin-fish cages in the Red Sea in addition to several other initiatives focused on land farming.

Better-informed practices and technological advancement of farming in Saudi Arabia have helped in creating a more sustainable domestic food supply in the Kingdom. Learning from its mistakes in the 1980s, the Saudi government has targeted its subsidies and projects toward more efficient crops and projects, like fish farming. Additionally, it has pivoted away from crops and growth methods having to do with wastewater. Technology like satellite use aides in current Saudi production while new, pioneering technology like Liquid Nanoclay provides hope for the future of Saudi food security and sustainability. Even though food imports still make up the majority of its supply, the Saudi government has recognized this issue and is making a concerted effort into reforming its agriculture industry. These efforts have the potential to help Saudi Arabia avoid a major food and poverty crisis in the future.

Connor Bradbury
Photo: Flickr

Global Infancia

Global Infancia is a nongovernmental organization (NGO) that specializes in protecting children from abuse in Paraguay. It was founded in 1995, “Global Infancia works towards creating a culture which respects the rights of children and adolescents in Paraguay.”

It has attempted to promote the human rights of children in a myriad of ways, ranging from creating a branch of the government tasked with protecting children to founding a news agency focusing on children’s rights. Global Infancia represents the blueprint for a successful NGO because of its ability to form partnerships with governments, influence local communities, and follow through with its goals.

Partnerships with Governments

Studies have estimated that roughly 60 percent of children in Paraguay have been victims of violence. Faced with this fact, Global Infancia worked with the National Secretariat for Childhood and Adolescence along with the Paraguayan Government to pass a law stating “all children and adolescents have the right to be treated properly and with respect for their physical, psychological and emotional well-being. This includes protections for their image, identity, autonomy, ideas, emotions, dignity and individual values”.

Additionally, Global Infancia spearheaded the forming of Municipal Councils for the Rights of Children and Adolescence who have become instrumental in protecting children’s rights throughout Paraguay. Global Infancia’s work is proof of how a successful NGO can form fruitful partnerships with local governments.

Integration into the Local Community

Since the end of authoritarian rule in Paraguay, it has been working to integrate itself into local communities and promote the recognition of children’s rights. In the town of Remansito, Global Infancia is providing supplementary nutrition and school support to over 1,000 children. Approximately 22 percent of Paraguayans live below the poverty line. The child labor force of participation with a rate of 25 percent, shows that the conditions for many children in Paraguay are not ideal.

However, Global Infancia recognized these problems and has created national media campaigns to raise awareness for children’s rights and used training forums around the country to educate the public that violence against children will no longer be tolerated. Finally, Global Infancia has harnessed the power of local communities by “installing an alert system which reduces the demand for childhood labor”. These actions illustrate how a successful NGO employs the power of the communities they are working in.

Accomplishing Goals

At its inception, it was primarily focused on fighting the trafficking of babies and children. Today it has evolved into a children’s rights organization with a bevy of goals. Whether it be their success at establishing legal rights for children in Paraguay or the founding of CODENIS bodies which protect children throughout the country today, Global Infancia has had a considerable impact on Paraguayan society. In a 2017 report by the United States Department of Labor, experts found significant advancement in Paraguay’s fight to end child labor.

However, the current situation still puts many children in danger, requiring more resources to fully end child labor. With the help of Global Infancia and the multitude of other successful NGO’s, there are no doubts that Paraguay will continue to see improvements to children’s rights.

Overall, Global Infancia is a perfect example of how a successful NGO operates. From its crucial government and community partnerships to their impressive track record of accomplishing its goals.

Myles McBride Roach

Photo: Flickr

Bangladesh’s Food Processing IndustryBangladesh, a small country in South-East Asia about the size of Arkansas, has the seventh-largest population in the world. With over 1,115 citizens per square kilometer, Bangladesh is also one of the most densely populated and poorest countries. Like many overpopulated nations around the world, Bangladesh has experienced a huge spike in poverty over the last thirty years. Lack of resources and capital causes a decrease in food production and sales. However, there has been a breakthrough in Bangladesh’s food processing industry.

Bangladesh and Agriculture

Bangladesh is a country heavily-reliant on agriculture to boost the economy and support the people. The agricultural sector makes up 30 percent of the total GDP and 60 percent of the total labor force. As a result, agriculture is the largest source of capital in Bangladesh.

Even with a large value, the agricultural sector alone wasn’t enough to fully support the economy and alleviate high levels of poverty. This is particularly due to the fact that farming is dependent on the climate. Heavy rains and flooding lead to a poor harvest of rice, tea and jute, Bangladesh’s greatest exports. To prevent an economic crisis from agro-production failure, farmers and officials came together to revolutionize Bangladesh’s food processing industry to increase production and overall profit.

Transition to Agro-Processing

The Bangladesh Agro-Processors’ Association (BAPA) has been dedicated to establishing a sustainable agro-processing and food exporting system to improve harvests and monitor financial trends throughout the region.

Established in 1998, the BAPA began as a small nonprofit organization with few members. The organization has a goal of increasing food production and export value in the agricultural sector. By training local farmers to use advanced technology and techniques, the BAPA could see improvement in the amount of crops harvested. Additionally, they could see the reduction of crops lost to insects and weather.

The process was a slow start. The beginning of the 21st century was mostly spent training farmers to adopt modern agro-processing techniques, conducting experiments and gathering data. Studies show that, without agricultural reform, poor farmers only had food security during the good harvest years and even less in the bad ones.

With productive agro-processing training and innovation local farmers were able to increase their market output throughout the region. In fact, profits also increased. Poverty was decreasing now that the food and labor industry was increasing. Within ten years, the benefits began to spread.

Improvement of Bangladesh’s Food Processing Industry

By 2013, Bangladesh’s’ food processing industry was generating over 150 million dollars in revenue from food exports each fiscal year, with no signs of slowing down. In the 2017-2018 fiscal year, this number sky-rocketed to 372 million dollars. Consequently,  Bangladesh’s economy became one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.

With the economy improving, citizens of Bangladesh are earning more money and seeing prosperity even in the poorest neighborhoods. The food processing industry has had a significant impact on the level of poverty in South-East Asia. For example, the number of people living below the poverty line in Bangladesh dropped from 44 percent in 1991 to 13 percent in 2017.

With the agro-processing industry striving to generate $1 billion by 2021, there is hope to completely eliminate poverty in what was once a seemingly hopeless community. With improvements being made every day, there is a bright future for Bangladesh’s food processing industry.

– Becca Cetta
Photo: Flickr

How Rising Fuel Prices in Zimbabwe
A 150 percent rise in fuel prices in Zimbabwe has had dramatic consequences on the lives of the country’s citizens. The rise in Zimbabwe’s cost of living initially started because of confusion behind its currency, but it has leaked into every aspect of living. For example, after the price increase, the price of bread almost doubled within a week. Organizations like USAID and the World Food Program are trying to help alleviete the true cost of the rise in fuel prices in Zimbabwe.

The Currency Crisis and Fuel Prices

After rampant inflation, Zimbabwe got rid of its own currency and adopted others, such as sterling or the South African Rand. Now, however, there is not enough hard currency to back up $10 million in digital funds. This shortage of imports is affecting local stores and supermarkets by making it more difficult to stock their shelves. Thus, the supermarkets that do have stock have been raising their prices. Fuel has also become a big problem.

Zimbabwe now has the highest priced petrol in the world at more than $3 a liter. The second highest prices are in China at around $2 a liter. The government has stated that the significant rise in fuel prices was put in place to prevent fuel shortages and counteract illegal fuel trading. The country mostly imports its fuel, but without hard currency, imported products are difficult to obtain. In addition to this, the government has been accusing people of hoarding fuel and selling it on the black market, which is said to be much cheaper than buying it up front because of the country’s currency crisis.

Food Insecurity

Without fuel, many farmers cannot operate the basic machines that they need to cultivate and harvest crops. Many rural households rely on agriculture as a main source of food, and the prediction of bad harvests by USAID only makes the situation seem worse. In addition, the current drought has left farms without rainfall to water crops, and without fuel, farms cannot power their irrigation systems to counteract poor rainfall.

The Food and Agriculture Organization has stated that “2.4 million people in rural Zimbabwe will be food insecure by March 2019.” This is in part due to the droughts and in part due to the overwhelming increase in fuel prices.  With crop failure and the cost of imports being so high, the government is finding it difficult to import basic necessities such as food and medication.

Plans for Aid

Some citizens believe that effective aid should not come from the local government due to previous allegations that the dominant party prioritizes aid to its own supporters. Organizations like USAID and WFP are partnering to provide emergency food assistance to 665,000 hungry people in Zimbabwe. USAID also supports developmental programs in Zimbabwe such as Amalima.

The Amalima program has families come together to learn productive tasks such as raising livestock and cultivating farmland. The program aims to use these learning tasks to be able to improve child nutrition and help the people in rural communities to better prepare for a food crisis.

The country is certainly in a crisis stage when it comes to food security. Due in part to both the rise of fuel prices in Zimbabwe, the economic crisis and poor harvests due to drought. As aid ramps up to keep up with the needs of the region, many can be saved from starvation and malnutrition. Emergency aid and ongoing developmental programs are doing their part to make sure the people of Zimbabwe lead healthy and fruitful lives.

Olivia Halliburton
Photo: Pixabay

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Slovakia

Slovakia is a country located in Central Europe. It shares its borders with Poland to the north, Hungary to the south, Austria and the Czech Republic to the west and Ukraine to the east. In July 1993, Czechoslovakia split into two independent states: Slovakia and the Czech Republic. From the beginning of its time as an independent state, Slovakia has taken steps to eliminate hunger even though the country suffers from high rates of poverty. In the article below, the top 10 facts about hunger in Slovakia are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Slovakia

  1. In 2018, Slovakia ranked 16 out of 119 countries on the Global Hunger Index scale. It has a score of 5.0 which means that its hunger level is very low. In fact, hunger levels in Slovakia are better than in Russia, which has a score of 6.1.
  2. Less than 10 percent of the population in Slovakia are considered malnourished. According to the Global Hunger Index (GHI), about 5 percent of Slovakians are lacking adequate food. The graph shows that hunger levels have been consistently dropping since the year 2000.
  3. The number of people who are considered undernourished in Slovakia is at 2.7 percent. Undernourishment has been declining since 2001 when it hit its peak at 6.7 percent. Even though Slovakia does not suffer from a hunger crisis, they still have to deal with other issues relating to food security and malnutrition. Changes in economic life have led to increased food prices, less spending money for the general population and groups of nutritionally-vulnerable people. Furthermore, changes in the economy have led to difficulties in food distribution. This is a very unique problem regarding the Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Slovakia.
  4. In Slovakia in 2011,  61.8 percent of adults were overweight. Men have higher rates of being overweight in Slovakia in comparison to women. Just under 69.6 percent of males are overweight in Slovakia while 56 percent of women are overweight. By the year 2030, it is estimated that the obesity rate for men will be around 28 percent and, for women,  18 percent.
  5. Agriculture is dominated by large scale corporations in Slovakia, so small, local farms are rare. One major problem is that the youth of Slovakia are uninterested in the farming industry. The Slovak Agency of Environment holds out-of-school environmental programs to increase education and training in agrobiodiversity.
  6. In 2005, there were about 81,500 people working agricultural jobs and more than 59,000 people working in the food industry. A decade later the numbers dropped to 51,000 and 50,200.  In 2016, only one-fifth of companies in the agriculture industry expected growth in their market share. Most of the agricultural companies revenue declined that same year.
  7. Between 2007-2014, milk production in Slovakia fell by 10.7 percent; although milk consumption increased by 17.5 percent. Meat production also fell, beef by 25.4 percent and poultry by 12.1 percent, as the result of a decrease in livestock. However, the consumption of beef, poultry and pork fell as well. The inconsistencies are due to constant changes in EU subsidy programs. “Sanctions against Russia leading to an excess of pork, record-breaking grain harvests, and unresolved problem of milk prices are all factors,” said Jiri Vacek director of CEEC research. This may directly affect some of the most important details about understanding the 10 Ten Facts About Hunger in Slovakia.
  8. In 2016, dairy producers experienced a crisis due to overproduction and low retail prices of milk. As an answer to the problem, the Agricultural Ministry stabilized the industry by supporting employment in dairy farming regions and focusing on a long-term solution. This plan included $33 million of support for milk products. Later that year, 1,760 dairy farmers had joined the project, giving financial support to farmers and providing important information.
  9.  In 2013-2014, subsistence farmers made up slightly less than 50 percent of the total number of vegetables produced. The biggest share of subsistence farmers per vegetable was cabbage at around 24 percent, tomatoes were just below 14 percent and carrots at just below 12 percent. Some of the other vegetables include peppers, onions and cucumbers.
  10. Slovakians do not eat enough fruits and vegetables per capita on a daily basis. The WHO/FAO recommends an intake of 600 grams of fruits and vegetables every day. Slovakians fall short of this number by more than 100 grams per day. Slovakians eat an average of 493 grams of fruits and vegetables per capita per day. This may be a factor in why Slovakians life expectancy falls shorter than the EU average.

Slovakia is considered one of Europe’s biggest success stories. When Slovakia originally separated from Czechoslovakia in 1993, the newly independent nation had an uphill battle to climb. However, a decade later Slovakia has taken major strides in becoming a successful, independent democracy. The country is not perfect, however, as Slovakia’s Romany population still suffers from high levels of poverty and social isolation. These top 10 facts about hunger in Slovakia show that hunger is not seen as a major problem.

Nicholas Bartlett
Photo: Flickr

mangroves
Yelibuya, an island in Sierra Leone, provides a case study of mangroves and their importance to life in marine areas. The coastline sinks further into the ocean year by year as a direct result of the high proportion of the diminishing mangroves that buoy Yelibuya. Many community elders and members are aware of the necessity to maintain the trees. In efforts to find a way to save the mangroves, new ideas on sustainable farming are being implemented throughout the country.

The Dangers of Losing the Mangroves

The ocean is starting to swallow Yelibuya like a fish swallows a lure. As the essential mangrove trees disappear from deforestation, the island seems to be sinking into the ocean, causing further erosion. Fresh food and water are imported, but because of its location near Sierra Leone’s capital, its main profit for Yelibuya comes from fish, salt and rice farming.

Over-harvested or dying trees means the soil, which was once reinforced by mangrove roots, is beginning to crumble away, leading to landslides and the destruction of homes and the shoreline. Elders in the central town of Yelibuya estimate that they have lost 300 meters of coastline over the last 30 years. Many of the inhabitants would leave if they could, but they cannot abandon their families or businesses.

As the island sinks, the tides rise and erode groves of trees, making it difficult for more trees to grow. A disaster in 2017, the Freetown landslide, wiped out many homes and killed more than 1,000 people. The primary protection against rising ocean is Sierra Leone’s dying mangroves, which also double as the main source for heat and fuel since Yelibuya possesses no alternative fuel.

Solutions to preserve Sierra Leone’s dying Mangroves

Over the last 30 years, the size of global mangrove forests in hectares had decreased from 167,700 to 100,000 as of 2005. As more renewable energy and alternative farming options become available, however, this number can turn around. In fact, the rate of deforestation had already decreased from the 1990s compared to the 1980s.

Recent projects introduced by a branch of USAID in West Africa partnered with rice farmers to integrate mangroves into their fields (agro-silviculture) instead of cutting down trees to build fences. Though the plan was met with apprehension by some community members, many were excited by the idea of not harvesting trees each year. In 2017, 55 percent of farmer pledged to use agro-silviculture in their rice farms. As of June 2018, the selected areas for the rice agro-silviculture case study in Sierra Leone are reaping the benefits of healthier lands from preventing soil erosion.

Increasing Sustainability

The Ramsar Convention on Biological Diversity is an inter-governmental treaty studying ways to improve the coastline biodiversity and poverty reduction in Sierra Leone. Ramsar is looking into work on water policies and other strategies in the country, such as sustainable development, energy, poverty reduction and food security. It is working to develop and integrate programs such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy, Sierra Leone’s Vision 2025 and the Food Security Framework that directly link poverty and its effect on the environment.

In 2000, when Sierra Leone officially contracted with Ramsar, it was believed that “traditional fishing and agro-forestry for fuelwood can be sustainably managed in collaboration with an existing EU-funded Artisanal Fishing Community Development Program.” The goals of the convention are to promote sustainability in coastline development, poverty reduction and the introduction of alternative fuels. All of these goals would contribute to the preservation of Sierra Leone’s dying mangroves.

Maintaining Sustainability

A report released in 2016 shows that 1 percent of the mangroves in Sierra Leone Coastal landscape disappear each year. It is essential to find alternative fuels so that Yelibuya’s inhabitants can support the growth of the mangroves rather than depend on them for firewood too. Many other communities found ways to introduce new methods of fueling and construction, and the availability of these new methods for Yelibuya will determine its adaption to using mangroves as environmental protection rather than fuel.

Overall, Sierra Leone recognizes the wetland and mangrove crisis, and many inhabitants show eagerness to adopt new mangrove-friendly fuel options. The magnitude of Yelibuya’s sinking problem illustrates a connection between poverty and the inaccessibility of alternative fuels and how these two problems impact the land and marine life. Hopefully, as awareness spreads and new methods are adopted, the roots of mangroves will grow to sustain the buoyant communities that depend on these trees.

Hannah Peterson

Photo: Flickr

5 Facts about Food Assistance in Burundi
Burundi is a small, landlocked country located in East Africa, bordered by Rwanda and the Republic of the Congo. Though Burundi is rich in agriculture, with coffee as its main export, more than 65 percent of citizens live in poverty. About 1.4 million people or 13 percent of the Burundi population require emergency food assistance, including 56 percent of children who suffer from stunting. Food assistance in Burundi is crucial to the survival of these people as without outside food assistance, Burundi would only manage to produce enough food to last every citizen 55 days. In this article, the top five facts to know about food assistance in Burundi are presented.

Top 5 Facts about Food Assistance in Burundi

  1. As one option for providing food assistance in Burundi, an organization will directly provide emergency food, whether that be through providing meals to children at school or giving families livestock for milk, meat, or eggs. The World Food Programme (WFP) is a United Nations organization that works with the Burundi government and other U.N. agencies to provide immediate emergency food assistance in Burundi. In 2017, WFP fed over 464,000 children through their homegrown school meals program and provided 31 percent of all school meals in the country. This act of food assistance has decreased school dropout rates by 10 percent from 2014 to 2017 because children now know that they will be fed at school, no matter what their situation at home.
  2. The United States, along with the U.N., also provides emergency food assistance in Burundi. In 2017, The United States gave almost $50 million in emergency humanitarian assistance that includes both medical assistance and food assistance. USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) works through WFP to provide food for refugees and specialized nutritious food for malnourished children and pregnant women. In 2018 alone, FFP contributed $30.1 million, which amounts to 11,360 metric tons of food to Burundi.
  3. As a second option for providing food assistance in Burundi, organizations will conduct research to figure out how best to optimize food assistance programs. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), with support from USAID, conducted a study called Tubaramure from 2009 to 2014 to see the impact of food assistance on pregnant mothers and children younger than 2 years. They found that food assistance has the greatest effect on a child from the time of their conception to their second birthday, and can reduce the risk of stunting throughout their childhood. This information greatly assists food assistance programs and can help them concentrate their efforts on children under the age of 2.
  4. As a third option for providing food assistance in Burundi, organizations will help the citizens of Burundi provide food for themselves. This includes training farmers, thinking of innovative ways to farm and control erosion, a big problem in Burundi because of the many hills, or providing the means for a family to start their own farm. For example, after doing extensive research, Wageningen University is implementing a project called Supporting Agricultural Productivity in Burundi (PAPAB). This project will work with 80,000 farmers to improve their access to fertilizer, their knowledge of current farming methods and their overall motivation to farm.
  5. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) also participated in this method to provide food assistance in Burundi. They worked with Farmer Field Schools (FFSs) to integrate livestock manure, used as fertilizer, into regular farming practices, reinforce erosion control through forest planting and train farmers in specialized areas, such as mushroom cultivation. This way, farmers can provide additional income for their families. Through FAO and FFS’s work, 200 families in urban areas now have micro-gardens and the community has planted more than 49,000 fruit tree saplings. In the future, FAO plans to provide families with goats for breeding and continue teaching them about micro-gardens to supplement their nutrition intake.

Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world, and more than 50 percent of the Burundi population is chronically food insecure. However, organizations who provide food assistance in Burundi, such as USAID, WFP and FAO are giving life-saving support to the people who need it most.

– Natalie Dell

Photo: Flickr

Organic Farming and Poverty Reduction
Organic agriculture carries varying degrees of significance for people around the world. Consumers rely upon the health benefits that organic products provide, some producers depend on the higher prices organic products allow them to charge and producers and consumers alike depend upon the environmentally conscientious philosophy that organic lifestyles promote. For these reasons and more, organic farming and poverty reduction are intimately related.

Organic Farming Benefits and Deterrents

Organic agriculture is a method of production that forgoes the use of pesticides and chemicals in favor of practices that respect the health and purity of the land on which production occurs. Producing without fertilizers and pesticides, however, can be extremely difficult as crop growth is less predictable and plants are much more vulnerable to weather conditions and natural disaster. Thus, when considering the relationship between organic farming and poverty reduction, it is important to remember that organic farming communities do not necessarily always benefit from this form of production. It requires sacrifice and risk.

A major impediment to the ability of farmers to produce and sell organic products on the international market is the extremely high price of organic certification. First, farmers must pay an application fee, then they must pay an annual inspection fee and, finally, an annual certification fee. In Africa, the average cost for organic cocoa certification is $5,500. This is far too much for many small-scale organic farms to pay. They are thus left to sell their products locally.

Still, in countries around the world, people are heavily dependent upon the land for their income and sustenance. This means that any damage to the land severely impedes their ability to sustain an income and to feed themselves. The use of chemicals and pesticides can provide fatal long-term damage to land that could otherwise produce valuable resources. This means that organic farming, despite its difficulties, must be promoted in poverty-stricken areas. Consumers who are able should spend the extra dollar to buy organic products in order to support these farming communities.

How Organic Farming and Poverty Reduction Go Together

There are many important ways that organic farming and poverty reduction go hand in hand. In the long term, organic farmers are likely to earn higher incomes than conventional farmers due to lower costs of crop production and maintenance and the ability to charge higher premiums.

Organic farming also ameliorates food insecurity as organic farmers are able to grow a diversity of crops that help sustain one another. Farmers are able to live off their own production and if one crop fails in a given season, they can still depend on others both to sell and to feed their own families.

Organic farmers also face lower healthcare costs. The use of pesticides and chemicals is often the source of several kinds of medical problems, which can result in expensive medical bills for poor agricultural families. Organic farming is, overall, better for the farmer’s health.

There are parts of the world that recognize the important role of organic farming in poverty reduction. In Asia, it is predicted that organic food sales will rise 20 percent in the following five years. Additionally, organic agriculture around the world increased from $18 billion to $64 billion from 2000 to 2012.

Organic farming can play a crucial role in the reduction of global poverty. Many have already begun to recognize this and are taking action to spread organic practices. Still, it is very difficult for farmers to attain certification impeding the ability for organic farming to stand as a viable option for a great many. If these problems are addressed, the role of organic farming in poverty reduction can only continue to positively grow.

– Julia Bloechl