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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

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