News / Africa

Fighting Hunger With Ideas From Africa

Newly arrived refugees from Somalia fleeing war and hunger gather near the Hagadera refugee camp in Dadaab, in Kenya's northeastern province, Dec 8, 2010 (File Photo)
Newly arrived refugees from Somalia fleeing war and hunger gather near the Hagadera refugee camp in Dadaab, in Kenya's northeastern province, Dec 8, 2010 (File Photo)

Multimedia

As population growth, resource depletion and climate change strain the world’s food supplies, a new report highlights solutions from some unexpected places. Sub-Saharan Africa harbors most of the world’s hungriest countries. The report from the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington, DC-based environmental group, however, says the continent also is home to a wealth of ideas that can help the world fight hunger and poverty.

Here in one of the largest slums of Africa, Danielle Nierenberg, a researcher at the Worldwatch Institute, said there's something surprising and hopeful. "We've met with some great women farmers who are doing this really innovative way of growing food so they don't have to buy anything from the market."

These urban farmers in Nairobi are growing vegetables just outside their doorsteps using nothing more complicated than old sacks filled with soil. What they don't eat, they sell, and use the revenue to put their children through school.

Back in Washington, Nierenberg said it’s not what she expected from a neighborhood plagued by poverty. "It’s a slum. It’s depressing. It’s crowded. It’s dirty. It’s noisy. But these people are finding ways to make their lives better."

With half the world’s population living in and around cities, experts are increasingly looking to these kinds of ideas to feed malnourished city dwellers - not just in Africa, but around the world.

Nierenberg saw many innovations in agriculture during a year-long tour of 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. What she learned is at the heart of a new Worldwatch report.

"I think there are a lot of lessons that we in the Western world can learn from Africa. And what they are doing is certainly applicable to other developing countries," said Nierenberg.

In a world with nearly a billion hungry people, Nierenberg said these lessons can serve as a roadmap for global investment in agriculture. For example, in Nigeria, village processing centers are helping farmers reduce their losses and earn more income by processing cassava, a root vegetable, into staple foods.  

Developing-world farmers often lose 25 to 40 percent of their harvest to improper handling, spoilage and pests, before it ever reaches the market. That aggravates hunger and pushes up prices.  

The report highlights how more attention can be paid to preserving harvests.

"Given all that we invest in producing food in the first place, we need to devote the same amount of attention to making sure that it’s not wasted," said Nierenberg.

Daniel Gustafson heads the Washington, D.C., office of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. He said programs for developing-world farmers are often driven by outside interests. And that, he said, brings up another point.

"How important it is for researchers and donors and governments to pay attention to farmers and what they know and what they’re trying out," said Gustafson.

With hunger and conflict dominating Western news from Africa, Nierenberg said her year-long excursion was different than she expected.  "I went to Africa with very little hope in my heart, and was so surprised by everything I saw. So I do see hope in all the innovations we saw on the ground."

She said, though, that farmers in the developing world need more backing from donors and their own governments to make these innovations work.


You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More