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My duty travel to Ghana, an eye opening experience.

Posted by daniela cuneo Wednesday, July 31, 2013 0 comments

IFAD’s mandate is a noble one, enabling  poor rural people to overcome poverty in developing countries and my passion for it dates back to when I was a student. I’ve been working with IFAD since the 90’s.  At IFAD, we, regardless of our functions - be it administrative or operational -  put  all our energy  and professional knowledge  to contribute to IFAD’s mandate. But  it’s when you are on the ground that you fully understand  “why” and” how” IFAD makes  a difference in transforming  the lives of millions of smallholder farmers.

28 June 2013: The opportunity

Business as usual until 10 a.m., then Roxy, my manager, asked me “Daniela, the President is travelling to Ghana to participate in the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week,  would you be available to join the delegation?" I thought “oh wow, first ever in my career at IFAD I was asked to join the President’s delegation” and guess what? My answer was “ YES”.

2 – 12 July: Getting ready

Hectic days! Little time to deal with all the logistic and administrative stuff you have to do before leaving on duty travel. Visa,  tickets, information kits you CANNOT forget at HQ, medical check, security clearances and hotel booking.

Have you ever tried to book an hotel a week before an event attended by more than 1000 people? If you did, you know  how hard it is! But if you have extraordinary colleagues like our team based in IFAD Ghana  Country Office  (thanks Sarah, Niels, Ulaç, Emmanuel and Daniel!) you can manage to have a  roof on your head  and we (Roxy and I) got a nice one, very close to the conference venue.  Kudos to the travel unit as well, the latest version of the integrated travel  module made my life much easier. Everything was well in place the  day before  “flying” to my destination, Accra, Ghana! 

16 – 18 July :– Our days in Ghana
The main event that the President had on his agenda was his participation in 6th African Agriculture Science Week , "a continental gathering of all stakeholders involved in Africa agricultural development” focused on the theme “Africa feeding Africa through agricultural science and innovation”.

In addition to 6th African Agriculture and Science Week  sessions,  Ulaç, our country director in Ghana, organized a number of high level meetings including a bilateral meeting with the Vice- President of the Republic of Ghana.

What a week!  I can’t even remember how many meetings the President had during those days but there is something I will never forget: the  standing ovation for  IFAD’s vision presented by our President to  the 1200 participants, experts with extensive knowledge of African agriculture  and  science for agricultural development,  attending  the opening of the 6th African Agriculture Science Week. Why a standing ovation for  IFAD’s vision ? Because  IFAD’s vision is what is needed to move from a stagnant agriculture to a productive and remunerative one.  Unfortunately, today we still have too many young people leaving Africa’s rural areas because there is no  future for them there. But rural areas can change.  African smallholder farmers can grow, and IFAD can help them grow by playing its role as development partner. But all this can happen only if governments, development partners and smallholder farmers change their mind-set and invest in agriculture, rural infrastructure, create vibrant markets and attract  the private sector. Strong public and private partnerships will enable poor rural people to become successful business farmers  and this is something that it’s already happening.

Meeting with Ministers of the Republic
of Ghana : an opportunity to be educated on the great job
IFAD does in Ghana where baobab  fruit production
can become a profitable business for Ghanaian
small holder farmer.

This is IFAD’s vision, this is what our President said at the opening of the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week,  this is why he received a standing ovation and inspired an engaging conversation on the social media channels.

That’s the difference we make!

Below some interesting blogs:

To  read more search the hash tag #AASW6

PICO Knowledge Net is organizing the IFADAfrica East and Southern Africa (ESA) Annual Knowledge Management Sharing Workshop, to be held on 13 – 16 August 2013 at the Laico Regency Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.  This is a follow-up workshop to the ESA All Country Learning Workshop that was held in Nairobi on 19 – 22 June 2012, under the IFADAfrica Regional Knowledge Management Network – Phase I. IFADAfrica Regional Knowledge Management Network-Phase II is being managed by PICO Knowledge Net with the overall aim of enabling continuous learning and sharing to achieve impact.

The IFADAfrica Regional Knowledge  Management Network – Phase II which started early this year 2013, is focusing on putting the knowledge management into practice, testing and applying the framework, and learning what is needed to make the KM and learning system work and institutionalize it in the countries. It will focus on developing the competencies that project and government staff needs to incorporate the integrated KM system into their daily work.

The IFADAfrica Regional Knowledge Network-Phase I project focused on setting up the foundation for using knowledge management and learning, by building buy-in among project staff, developing a model for integrated knowledge management (KM) system and a conceptual framework and guidelines for how to operationalize KM in projects.

To facilitate efficiency and effectiveness in the learning process, three country groups were formed during IFADAfrica Regional Knowledge Management Network – Phase 1. These consisted of Group 1: Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique and Tanzania; Group 2: Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Uganda; and Group 3: Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. A series of meetings were organized for the groups, which culminated in the June 2012 all-country group workshop. The workshop participants shared their practical experiences of integrating KM and learning in their projects, the challenges experienced, and the strategies employed to address those challenges.  They also discussed the importance of peer learning, and communities of practice in facilitating learning across sectors within projects. At the end of the workshop, project teams developed action plans illustrating concrete actions and targets for adapting and operationalizing KM and learning that were to be achieved by June 2013.

It is expected that the above activities will strengthen knowledge management (KM) and learning at project and country programme levels. This is a priority for the IFAD ESA Division and is consistent with IFAD’s knowledge management strategy, which aims to strengthen knowledge-sharing and learning processes. The overall purpose is to improve project management processes by fully integrating knowledge management into all aspects of project management, including M&E, financial management, supervision and reporting- all aimed at enhancing the impact and scaling up of innovations and good practice.

IFADAfrica goal is to connect people, organizations and networks for the communication of experience, mutual learning and innovation for rural poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa. This network is about sharing, uptake and utilization of information, knowledge and practices generated by development projects and programmes supported by IFAD and other development partners in the region.

When was the last time you thanked your boss for making your job easy?

Earlier today, IFAD President, Dr Kanayo Nwanze, delivered a passionate speech to the over 1200 participants of the sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week in Accra, Ghana and received a standing ovation.

Thought provoking speeches that touch people's heart are rare. Words only come alive if they are delivered with flair and passion.

When this happens, you are on cloud nine!!!!! Because you are not only able to share soundbites that go viral on social media but also your job of rallying journalists and organizing interviews becomes easier.

This morning, I was lucky enough to experience this first hand. And believe me it was a rewarding experience.

After the inaugural session and the press conference, my colleague Daniela and I had to manage the journalists who wanted to interact and interview the President.

The President's messages are being echoed by all the speakers who followed him. His messages and call for action are travelling beyond the conference hall in Accra and are travelling across the African continent.

This speech will be one that will be remembered and cited for many years to come.

Science can help smallholder farmers feed Africa #aasw6

Posted by Roxanna Samii Tuesday, July 16, 2013 0 comments

by Clement Kofi Humado and Kanayo F. Nwanze

Grace peeling cassava and plantain
to use in the local food in Asueyi.
©IFAD/Fabiana Formica
Agricultural development is essential if Africa is going to feed itself and reduce poverty, which we believe it can. It is also central to achieving other priorities, including economic and industrial growth to provide jobs for young people, and promote political stability. Science can help deliver on these long-term national and regional goals, but only if it receives proper support—especially within Africa itself. Some steps have been made, but more needs to be done and done quickly.

While spending on agricultural research in sub-Saharan Africa grew by 20% between 2001 and 2008, most of that growth was in just a few countries. Only 8 of 31 countries have met the target for agricultural R&D investment of 1% of GDP, which was set at the 2004 AU Summit in Khartoum, Sudan.

The Sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week and the General Assembly of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) taking place in Accra draws attention once again to the benefits that agricultural science and innovation can deliver. The development of a Science Agenda for Agriculture in Africa under the auspices of FARA, a process that is Africa-owned and Africa-led, is an important step toward improving the transfer of the outcomes of scientific research to end-users.

It has been estimated that for sub-Saharan Africa, growth generated by agriculture is eleven times more effective in reducing poverty than GDP growth in other sectors. Agriculture can drive African development forward, and science can drive agriculture toward greater productivity, better nutrition and improved sustainability.

The need is urgent. Africa has the fastest growing population and the highest rate of urbanization in the world, along with a growing middle class. A productive and efficient food and agricultural sector are essential for sustainable economic growth, food and nutrition security, and stable communities and nations. Africa’s potential is enormous: the continent has the largest share of the world’s uncultivated land with rain-fed crop potential, underutilized water resources, a developing middle-class market for value-added food products and an underexploited intra- regional trade. Unlike many other parts of the world, in Africa there is room for agriculture to expand.

But it is also a continent of small farms, and to get the maximum returns, development efforts must focus on this sector. Small farms account for 80 per cent of all farms in sub-Saharan Africa. In some countries, they contribute up to 90 per cent of production. Without them we cannot meet the growing demand for food, nor lift millions of Africans out of poverty and hunger.

Peeling and washing cassava on
Josma Agro Ind. Ltd. Mampong, Ghana.
"We plant our own cassava and also
buy from other people".
©IFAD/Nana Kofi Acquah

Ghana’s support for the cassava sector is a good example of how science and agricultural development can work hand in hand to empower the smallholder farmer of Africa to reduce hunger and poverty. The first phase of the IFAD-supported Root and Tuber Improvement Programme which began in 1999, targeted the development, testing, multiplication and distribution of new varieties of roots and tubers, mainly cassava. The new varieties had faster growth, better taste and higher yield. Today,  cassava, once considered a subsistence crop of the poor, has been transformed into a cash crop producing enormous profits along the value chain, including small farmers, who are themselves part of the private sector. Better linkages with markets can enable them to realize higher incomes and enhanced livelihoods. Currently the Roots and Tubers Improvement and Marketing Programme is proving that cassava can generate income for processing enterprises as well as millions of farmers, the majority of whom are women and youths. Uganda presents another success story, where the introduction of cassava varieties resistant to cassava mosaic virus (CMV) have resulted in an average yield increase of 10 tonnes per ha .Science can also produce more nutritious crops, such as Quality Protein Maize, which has been widely used by farmers and is reducing malnutrition in developing countries. NERICA rice (New Rice for Africa) is helping reduce rice imports  across many countries in Africa and helping poor farmers increase incomes.

These examples show how science and research can stimulate agricultural modernization and attract private investment in agricultural value chains that are profitable, generate employment and incomes, and diversify smallholders’ livelihoods while making them more resilient to climate change and market price fluctuations. Successful technology development has made cassava an economic and strategic crop with multiple uses: as food, industrial starch, sorbitol for brewer's yeast, biofuel, glue, animal feed, and many others yet to be exploited by African agricultural research and development.This success story tells us another lesson: that research and development are most effective when they focus on primary concerns of their users. Technologies are only going to be adopted when agricultural businesses see their benefits, such as increased productivity, profits and resilience, or reduced production and marketing risks. Sustainable development means making our enterprises, including small farms, more productive and competitive.

But scientific innovation alone is not enough; getting the innovative technologies and approaches into the hands of farmers is key, hence the role of agricultural extension services must be strengthened. Coordination both nationally and regionally is important to develop and to transmit research—putting scientific advances to work on the ground. The private sector also has a key role to play in the growth of agriculture and the many related benefits for poor rural people and communities. That is why there is a loud cry now for productive and beneficial public-private partnerships to develop agriculture in a socially inclusive manner.

To ensure a sustainable food supply for a global population that will surpass 9 billion by 2050, more research will need to be directed towards agricultural growth that is ecologically sustainable, conserves biodiversity and ecosystems, and ensures that the land will be able to provide for future generations. As we look toward the post-2015 development agenda, clearly food and agriculture must have a central place, as they are vital to transforming rural areas. Therefore, let the celebration of the “6th Africa Agriculture Science Week” be a wake up call for African Governments, global partners, policymakers, research and science administrators, producer organizations and agribusiness entrepreneurs to embrace the Science Agenda, and to take action to enable science to play its part in developing agriculture to feed Africa and the world.

Originally posted on AllAfrica

The authors are: Clement Kofi Humado, Minister for Food and Agriculture, Republic of Ghana and Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency based in Rome, Italy.

By Evan Axelrad

Small fish species are an integral part of the diets of many living in coastal or water-rich areas of the developing world. They provide important proteins, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals to compliment the consumption of carbohydrate-rich staple foods such as rice or maize. But paradoxically, even as rural fishers are beginning to improve their livelihoods by engaging in aquaculture and commercializing their catch, malnutrition and micronutrient deficiencies have persisted or worsened in places like Bangladesh, where approximately half the population lives below the food poverty line.

Experts from WorldFish at IFAD
This is because commercial aquaculture has emphasized the production of more profitable large fish species such as silver carp but overlooked the nutritional contribution that small fish can make, says Dr. Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, Senior Nutrition Adviser to CGIAR’s WorldFish Center. Dr. Thilsted, along with Dr. Patrick Dugan (Deputy Director General of WorldFish), came to IFAD headquarters in Rome on Friday, July 12th to discuss the important role which small fish can and must play in aquaculture in the developing world. During their well-attended morning presentation, they also shared some of the latest findings and successes from a relevant IFAD-supported project in Bangladesh.

Dr. Thilsted noted that official estimates of fish production and consumption tend to exclude fish caught, consumed, and traded in rural areas – therefore, the nutritional benefits of the small fish that are widely eaten in such areas remain poorly documented and largely underestimated. Additionally, preliminary data has found that fish intake in rural areas of developing countries is decreasing due to factors such as population growth, increased urbanization, and changing consumer preferences. The situation is particularly acute in Asian countries such as Bangladesh, where recent changes in rice production systems have diminished small fish habitats and affected migratory routes and breeding grounds. At the same time, pond aquaculture has become increasingly centered on the production of larger species of fish; in Bangladesh, the cultivation of these fish for markets has involved the practice of poisoning all smaller fish species in the pond, under the false notion that such small species compete with larger species for resources. All of these factors have led to decreased small fish intake – and therefore decreased nutrient intake – among the rural poor.

But research done by Dr. Thilsted and her colleagues at WorldFish is working to bring small fish back to their rightful place at the table. The research has highlighted that small fish can provide an excellent and sustainable source of both income and nutrition for poor fisher communities. Importantly, WorldFish research has also found that small fish tend to promote more equitable intra-household food allocation than do larger species, benefiting women and children. This can be particularly crucial for pregnant or breastfeeding women and their infants, who need the nutrients offered by small fish for their physical and cognitive development.

To harness the potential of aquaculture to improve nutrition and health, WorldFish has partnered with IFAD in Bangladesh on a grant-funded project, Linking Fisheries and Nutrition: Promoting Innovative Fish Production Technologies in Ponds and Wetlands with Nutrition-Rich Small Fish Species in Bangladesh. The project targets approximately 1,500 households with small fish ponds in the northwest districts of Rangpur and Dinajpur – areas that experience particularly high poverty rates and seasonal food insecurity (‘monga’) – and approximately 500 households in the northeast district of Sunamganj, an area dominated by wetlands and open water fishing. The project has focused on introducing  small, nutrient-dense fish species, particularly Mola (Amblypharyngodon mola) in highly efficient, diverse polyculture systems that include high value fish such as carp and freshwater prawn. It has involved the deployment of recently developed technologies and better  management practices for small fish production, including the introduction of Mola broodfish in sanctuaries, closed fishing seasons, fishing gear regulations, and market linkages for small fish commercialization. Preliminary results show that small fish productivity in the project’s ponds has increased from less than one to more than three tons per hectare, with concomitantly significant increases in household incomes and nutrition.

Fisher in Bangladesh.
As part of this project, household members involved in small fish production have also been trained on methods to effectively process and cook small fish, with a particular emphasis on nutrition education. Getting mothers to value small fish so that they are used in the household’s meal preparation is an important aim of the project, says Dr. Thilsted. Finally, so that the important role of small fish may be better understood and more widely accepted, a consumption survey will be conducted in the project’s households. This survey, the first of its kind, will seek to capture species level consumption information as well as seasonal trends in fish consumption related to micronutrient nutrition.

Through such advocacy and education, WorldFish and IFAD are working together to spread awareness of the big part that small fish can play in improving nutrition. Hopefully, the idea will “catch” on.

  • Estimated number of small household ponds in Bangladesh: 4 million
  • Estimated minimal production of Mola/pond/year: 10 kg
  • Estimated contribution that Mola production can make toward adequate vitamin A intake in Bangladesh: an additional 6 million children 

By Clare Bishop Sambrook

On Friday 12 July, the IFAD gender desk hosted a very stimulating presentation by Ranjitha Puskar, senior scientist from the WorldFish Center in Penang, who is heading up the gender activities in the CGIAR Aquatic Agricultural Systems. WorldFish is taking the lead on promoting gender transformative approaches (GTA), a step beyond ‘business as usual’ by addressing not only the consequences of gender inequality but also its causesThe event attracted interest from around the house and colleagues from WFP and Gender inAgriculture Partnership (Global Forum for Agricultural Research).

GTA provides the chapeau for the ongoing work that thegender desk is undertaking to promote household methodologies in order to realise the productive potential of smallholder households. A workshop/writeshop will be held in Uganda in October, with financial support from the Government of Japan.
Moving beyond closing the gender gap

Close the gender gap in access to resources and services, and ensure women have a voice!

This has been the mantra of the gender and development community for decades
And progress has been made

We now see women ….
Gaining new skills and seizing opportunities
Engaging in market-linked activities
Accessing finance
Entering the world of profitable entrepreneurship
And participating and leading groups, from small producers to apex organizations

But is this enough?

Is a woman empowered….
If she has no voice within her home?
Is overburdened by laborious household tasks that consume her time, energy and damage her health?
Does not control the income she earns?
Is unable to prioritise the use of scarce household resources?
Cannot determine the number of children she willbear?
Is subject to domestic violence?

No! Merely closing the gender gap is necessary but not sufficient

We need to move beyond addressing the symptoms of gender inequalities
To understand the underlying norms and cultures
That determine behaviour and shape attitudes
That define power relations in the household, community, market and organization
That are the fundamental barriers to achieving sustainable development for all

Society has demonstrated it hacapacity to change
Norms and practices that were once considered sacrosanct and inviolable
Have been adapted tthe new social realities,
Such as abandoning widow inheritance in high HIV-prevalence communities

And how can we do this?

We need to identify and address norms that perpetuate social inequality and women’s vulnerability
Engage with men and women for participatory learningdialogue and action
Support household planning to work towards common objectives that benefit all householdmembers
Create an enabling environment at the community level to support behaviour change

And then we need to ensure
That our understanding of the livelihoods, underlying norms and social behaviour of rural women and men
Lie at the heart of the design and implementation of IFAD-supported projects
To really enable the rural poor to overcome all forms of poverty.

Africa CAN and WILL feed itself #aasw6

Posted by Roxanna Samii Sunday, July 14, 2013 1 comments

In a little bit more than 24 hours, I will have the privilege of being part of and experiencing  the buzz of the sixth Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6) organized by the Forum for Agricultural Research in  Africa (FARA) which will be focusing on  "Africa feeding Africa through agricultural science and innovation".

The readers and followers of IFAD social reporting blog know that this theme is very close to IFAD's heart and one that we all feel passionate about. At IFAD, we believe that Africa CAN feed Africa and more importantly we are convinced that Africa WILL feed Africa.

On 18 July 2013, IFAD President, Dr Kanayo Nwanze (@knwanze), a scientist by training and with a career spanning over three decades, will deliver the keynote address at this event highlighting the unprecedented opportunities that the agriculture sector offers and how right policies and increased investment in agriculture, research and infrastructure will allow Africa to FEED itself.

The event will focus on how and what researchers,  scientists and development community need to do to make sure that:

  • smallholder farmers can take full advantage of agricultural growth
  • science and appropriate technology can bring about greater productivity, ensure food security and improve nutrition for all and doing all of this while respecting the environment.

We will be reporting live from the event on Twitter - @ifadnews, on FacebookGoogle+ and on IFAD social reporting blog and proud to be part of #aasw6 social reporting team.

La multifonctionnalité des arbres dans le Sahel ouest africain

Posted by Roxanna Samii Friday, July 12, 2013 0 comments

par Ilaria Firmian

Ma mission de la semaine dernière dans le Sahel ouest africain pour la supervision d’un don FIDA a été l’occasion une nouvelle fois de mettre en évidence le rôle capital de l’arbre dans les champs agricoles.
Le don objet de la supervision s’intitule «Les arbres des parcs agroforestiers et les moyens de subsistance: adaptation aux changements climatiques dans le Sahel ouest-africain».

Il est géré par l’ICRAF (World Agroforestry Center) et mis en œuvre au Burkina Faso, Mali et Niger par les instituts nationaux de recherches agricoles en collaboration avec les équipes de quatre projets d’investissement financés par le FIDA dans les trois pays.

Le but général du projet est d’améliorer les moyens de subsistance des communautés agricoles et pastorales pauvres vivant dans les zones d’intervention, grâce à la diversification et à la conservation des parcs agroforestiers, ainsi qu’à l’accroissement de la valeur des produits des arbres commercialisés dans le cadre d’entreprises communautaires.

Les parcs agroforestiers sont des mélanges d’arbres que les paysans choisissent pour certaines fonctions et cultivent en combinaison avec des cultures vivrières de base telles que le petit mil et le sorgho. Dans le Sahel ouest-africain, les communautés rurales utilisent plus de 115 espèces locales d’arbres à différentes fins : alimentation humaine, fourrage, médicaments, bois de feu, bois de construction, outillage agricole et ménager, sculptures, instruments musicaux, fibres, etc… ces arbres rendent également des services environnementaux essentiels comme l’amélioration de la fertilité du sol, la conservation des sols et de l’eau, la création d’un microclimat etc.). Beaucoup d’ espèces d’arbres contribuent ainsi au revenu familial. Cependant, plusieurs d’entre elles sont en voie de disparition au niveau local faute de gestion appropriée et en raison du climat de plus en plus chaud et sec.

Les visites de terrain confirment magnifiquement ce  qu’indiquent les rapports à savoir  le rôle crucial que jouent les arbres dans la réduction de la vulnérabilité, le renforcement de la résistance des systèmes agricoles et la protection des ménages pauvres contre les risques liés aux changements climatiques. Les arbres grâce à leur système racinaire parfois très profond, mobilisent d’importantes réserves d’hydrate de carbone, et sont, par conséquent, moins vulnérables que les cultures annuelles à la sécheresse et aux fluctuations des niveaux de pluie d’une année à une autre.

L’approche du projet se base sur l’identification des espèces prioritaires pour des groupes différents (hommes – femmes - jeunes hommes - jeunes femmes) et sur la recherche-action pour conserver ces espèces et améliorer leur productivité et leur résilience.

Selon les scientifiques de ICRAF, les bonnes techniques pour conserver et améliorer les espèces arbustives existent, et sont pour la plupart faciles et accessibles, mais le lien entre recherche et paysans est encore trop faible, et c’est là qu’il faut intervenir.

Dans les cas où la vulgarisation des techniques d agroforesterie est effective, les paysans peuvent d’eux-mêmes quantifier les revenus procurés par les arbres. Un petit sachet de fruits du tamarinier est maintenant vendu sur le marché à Bamako à 1.000 FCFA, alors qu’il y a quelques années il n’était pas du tout considéré sur le marché, et un tamarinier adulte peut atteindre une production de 50 à 100 kg /an.
La recherche a montré qu’avec des techniques de coupe appropriée, les arbres  peuvent produire toute l’année, ce qui peut se traduire par un doublement des revenus. Avec des techniques de greffage il a été démontré aussi que des plantes comme le karité commencent à devenir productives en deux-trois ans au lieu de dis.

Et puis chaque espèce arbustive a bien plus qu’une seule fonction. Par exemple avec les feuilles de neem les paysans fertilisent le sol, mais ils les utilisent aussi en pharmacopée sous forme de tisane ; le bois de neem est un des meilleurs bois de feu, o les feuilles et les fruits sont d’excellent insecticides, et avec son huile on fait du savon qui a des propriétés antibactériennes.

L’Acacia Nilotica est aussi utilisé pour faire des haies vives, pour ses gousses et feuilles comme alimentation animale, pour le tannage à partir de la décoction de ses gousses, et pour le soin des enfants en utilisant son écorce.

Les fruits du Résinier sauvage sont très appréciés et normalement récoltés et vendus par les enfants sur le marché. Les femmes les sèchent et en font une décoction sucré riche en vitamines et bue en période de soudure. Le même arbre est aussi élagué pour faire du paillage améliorant la fertilité du sol.

Les agronomes se  concentrent souvent sur les cultures annuelles, en oubliant que les arbres peuvent satisfaire beaucoup de besoins des familles, comme le montre bien le Docteur Bationo, Maître de Recherches en Biologie et Ecologie de l’Institut national de l’environnement et des recherches agricoles (INERA) au Burkina Faso dans cette interview:

El 8 de Marzo: ¡todos los días!
El papel imprescindible de la mujer en la lucha contra la pobreza

El 8 de marzo 2013 –“cien años de celebrar el día internacional de la mujer nos ha llevado a cien años de lucha. No se puede hablar de igualdad ante la ley cuando la sociedad no ha cambiado. Hablar por nosotras de mi condición, de legisladora, de profesional, de madre, de esposa y sentir que en el paso a paso que doy todavía sigo discriminada.” Lourdes Tibán- Legisladora Ecuatoriana.

Lourdes Tibán (2°), Legisladora Ecuatoriana, 8 de Marzo, Día Internacional de la mujer, evento en el PMA

Lamentablemente en muchas de nuestras sociedades modernas en Latinoamérica aún persiste la discriminación de género, las mujeres están subordinadas a patrones culturales obsoletos que son difíciles de erradicar, como son la falta de instrucción, el maltrato físico o mental no sólo en los hogares sino en la cotidianidad, el duro trabajo casi sin cesar ya sea en casa como en el campo, prácticamente sin remuneración ni garantías.

Es por esa razón que ya es hora que todos nos demos cuenta que la evolución necesaria en nuestras sociedades va de la mano con el mejoramiento de las condiciones de vida de las mujeres, y al mismo tiempo que comprendamos que ellas son la clave para salir de la pobreza. Existen innumerables casos que demuestran que las mujeres administran óptimamente los medios con los que cuentan cuando logran acceder al microcrédito, son puntuales en sus cuotas y producen lo necesario para mantener su hogar, para alimentar a sus hijos y para proveer digna y tangiblemente en el diario vivir.
“El 99% de soberanía alimentaria, lo hace la mujer. Si la mujer es la responsable de dar de comer al mundo, entonces nos damos cuenta que hay que tomar conciencia de que la mujer no solamente es para producir bebés, la mujer produce conocimientos, valores, ciencia, tecnología, sabiduría, y desde ese punto de vista vivir ahora cuestionando de que todavía somos discriminadas, yo creo que le falta tomar mucha conciencia al mundo y a la sociedad”
Nos dice Lourdes Tibán, Legisladora ecuatoriana, una mujer que conoce en carne propia esta realidad, quien durante la celebración del Día Internacional de las Mujeres, que se llevó a cabo en el Programa Mundial de Alimentos PMA en Roma, nos ha hecho un llamado acerca de estos factores y nos exhorta a no desmayar en el cometido de empoderamiento de las mujeres. “las mejores condiciones de trabajo y el acceso a la tierra, al agua, al microcrédito con consecuente  acceso a los mercados, son medios idóneos y eficaces para combatir diariamente  la pobreza”.

La educación, la salud, la protección contra la violencia doméstica, la tutela de nuestras mujeres, son factores imprescindibles.
“Un trabajo tiene que nacer con la familia. Tiene que cambiar la familia. La educación tiene que ser con los hijos. Las madres estamos destinadas a parir, pero también somos destinadas a educar hijos para la libertad, hijos para la democracia, hijos que no salgan desde el hogar a maltratar a la hermanita. Desde pequeños tenemos que enseñar al hombre y a la mujer a lavar los platos, a tender la cama, desde pequeños los dos cogen el azadón para cavar las papas para cavar la tierra. Ese es el camino donde necesitamos volver a la familia y mirar el reflejo de que familia estamos construyendo. Cambiar a la sociedad de la actualidad.” 

Para el bien de las generaciones futuras, no perdamos de vista este elemento crucial de nuestras sociedades a todo nivel y en todo lugar, dignidad a las mujeres, en especial a las más desprotegidas. No nos olvidemos de esto:  dan todo con abnegación, con empeño, con amor... merecen inmensamente más de lo que reciben.

By Eduardo Vides y Carla Francescutti


Empowering Maasai women pastoralists

Posted by Alessandra Pani Thursday, July 4, 2013 0 comments

When I first met the Maasai women back in December 2011, I was impressed by their shyness. Their eyes were trying to communicate to me but at the same time they preferred staying silent. Almost none of them talked. The project "Increasing HouseHold Income for Maasai Women Livestock Pastoralists in the Amboseli Area, Kenya" (funded by the Finnish supplementary funds and implemented by the NGO African Wildlife Foundation) was just at its very beginning and its impact on the Maasai women's livelihoods was not visible yet. The project aims at supporting income-generating activities which enhance pastoralist women's self-esteem and strengthen their socio-economic position both within the household and in the community. The project is part of the AWF's Kilimanjaro Livestock Initiative which aims at demonstrating that, with relatively modest investment in market integration, it is possible to yield positive results in terms of returns and incomes to livestock producers while at the same time manage the natural resource base in a sustainable way that is compatible with viable wildlife populations living in the landscape.

18 months later, I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya again to meet the same women's group and see if any progress had been made. I had a candid chat with the women pastoralist. Things are now positively different and not only at the economic level. This time I have found them confident and assertive. They are no longer afraid to raise their hands to express their needs; nor are they scared of the challenges ahead of them. Their body language talks clearly and their eyes have that particular sparkle that only highly-motivated people have. Some of the Maasai women even had the opportunity to travel to India and Tanzania for a learning trip. For a few of them, this was their first journey ever.

While talking to them, I realised that a sense of pride emerged from these women. Maseto and her fellows are now aware that their contributions to the household income is vital. All of them think big when it comes to their children's future. Although they all realise that the livestock activities have played and still play a big role in the improvement of their livelihoods and the lives of their families, the Maasai women hope that their children will leave the land to head to a better future. To them a better future is inextricably associated to access to education. For this reason, some of these women are already taking care of their children's college fees and their sense of pride is almost tangible.

But, how do the Maasai men see such a strenghtening of their women's role considering the male-dominated society? They candidly admitted that at the beginning, they did not appreciate having their wives taking on responsible roles. Back in the early days, the Maasai men did not allow their wives to join the group. The women decided to sit and bravely found the heart to face their husbands, who reluctantly allowed them to attend the group. Only at a later stage, the men realised that having a pro-active wife has a positive impact on the household.

While the project is now moving towards its exit phase, I can truly affirm that witnessing the Maasai women being empowered can surely be considered as a sustainable impact of the project. The sense of pride has emerged from us too.

                                                                Maasai women walking proudly