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Wednesday, April 10. 2013
Meet Komen, the small-scale rural ... Posted by Maurice Odhiambo in agriculture at 11:53
The most stressful time for any farmer is the planting season. Watching rain pouring relentlessly on a prepared field that has not been sown is a depressing feeling. It gets more pronounced when organised farmers who planted in time look at you in pity. Around the village shopping centre are many braggarts reminding anyone who cares to listen that they were done and planted two weeks ago. The cynical grannies weigh in, predicting hunger. On a really bad day, a relative from the city will be found delivering a free lecture on why villagers should get off maize dependency and look to export crops.
When long rains start, the surge for seed and fertiliser always outstrips the supply. It gets desperate as the weeks fly by, enough to raise Government attention. The ministry offers a reassurance that the Government is aware of the distress farmers are going through during these trying times, and to stay calm as cheaper fertiliser is on the way. When the Government talks of farmers, it usually means people with large acreages that are capable of supplying maize to the cereals board. The regular subsistence farmer, recycling crop on a depleted one-acre plot has to be a little more resourceful if they hope to have food at the end of the season. Certified seed and farm inputs have become major causes for concern lately in my part of the woods. In the old days, farmers produced and stored their own seed. In fact, in those days, farming was not a profession — it was a way of life. My grandmother retained good strains of seed stock through the years, and always saved for the new planting season. They did not need manufactured fertiliser as they perpetually produced farmyard manure. They cultivated by shifting land and the grounds always had time to replenish.
New generation subsistence farmers of my variety have little patience for natural processes. We only have one mantra, high yield. Therefore, we abandoned traditional genetic stock for high yielding new varieties that come with a whole range of accompanying inputs. With proper seeds and a green house, I should have been on my way to tidy profits. But typically of any quick-riches scheme, many fail to read the fine print. The seed manufacturers and their sales men always promise high yields as long as you use the recommended fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides that are available at premier prices. When the same process is applied to the sole piece of family land over many years, the soils get depleted and the returns diminish.
The following season, they are roused with more fertiliser and a new improved variety that guarantees high yields. The costs of farm inputs to achieve these aims eventually prove prohibitive for the small-scale farmer. I belong to a grain farmers’ cooperative that insists that farm inputs must be sold with certified seed. The combined cost is out of reach for most of the membership. The options are to hang around for a Government subsidy or return to the open to buy the quantities you can afford.
Our indigenous seed supply is disappearing at an alarming rate and many farmers are slowly finding themselves ensnared by tough restrictions of multinational agricultural corporations controlling the seed supply. At this rate, only those who can afford the inputs will be allowed to grow food.
Tuesday, December 4. 2012
Women Smallholder Farmers in Kenya ... Posted by Administrator in agriculture at 08:33
Women Smallholder Farmers in Kenya Find their Voices to Advocate for More Responsive Government Policies
Forty-two year old farmer Dinar Chemjor has a message for the Kenyan Government: “We have the means to eliminate hunger and malnutrition, our challenge here is market access!"
Chemjor is a smallholder farmer and the mother of seven children from Emining, Kenya, a town in Nakuru County in the Rift Valley province. Her small farm is helping her family survive, despite not getting any help from the Government. For two hours every day, Chemjor and her fellow women farmers often undergo the physical and psychological stresses of looking for markets for their produce.
Nearby, in Ngata, 47-year-old Joyce Malelei, worries about land ownership. After the death of her husband, his elder brother quietly sold back to her a two-acre parcel of the land on which the couple had built their home, claiming that the land was still in his grandfather’s name.
“My worry is how widows will be food secure if we are excluded from our husbands’ land, when it has been inherited from our fathers-in-law,” she says angrily.
Joyce is appealing to the Government to fast track implementation of land laws to guarantee women land ownership through co-ownership and joint ownership.
These farmers are part of an advocacy program that attempts to mobilize a local and national movement of farmers’ organizations to develop policies that advance the best interests of farmers. The project, spearheaded by Jamaa Resource Initiatives and funded by TrustAfrica, raises awareness of injustices such as those faced by Chemjor and Malelei and encourages the government to take action.
The project consisted of six farmers’ forums which were used to raise awareness on what the Government is doing and what it is supposed to do to meet the priorities of the smallholder farmers. Kenya is one of six target countries of the Agriculture Development Project (the others being Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi and Nigeria) which seeks to build an effective advocacy movement around agricultural development across the continent. The goal is to make national agricultural policies comply with the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program or CAADP, agreed to by 53 African governments during the African Union summit in 2003.
For Kenya, the failure to adequately recognize women farmers is life threatening, slowing food production and poverty reduction rates in the country since women are key actors in Kenyan farming, constituting over half of the agricultural labor force and producing 70 per cent of food.
Despite that, there is no budget allocation specifically targeting women farmers.
According to the women farmers, inaccessibility to credit facilities, poor road networks, lack of equipment and irrigation facilities, and lack of storage facilities are some of the major challenges they face.
Monday, October 22. 2012
Reflections on Advocating for ... Posted by Administrator in agriculture at 12:15
The case of Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF), August 2011 to August 2012
ESAFF is a small-scale farmer’s forum working in 13 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Region. ESAFF is a relatively new organisation with a long history of struggle for space and recognition in regional policy processes. ESAFF was established during a parallel farmer’s conference at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) held in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002. ESAFF works to “Empower small scale farmers in eastern and southern Africa to influence development policies and promote ecological agriculture through capacity strengthening, research and networking”
ESAFF was awarded a grant worth USD 34,600 from TrustAfrica in mid-2011. The goal of the support was to strengthen the capacity of Small Scale Farmers Forums to hold States accountable in fulfilling and translating the Maputo Declaration and CAADP Compact for sustainable agriculture and food security in Eastern Africa. The geographical focus of the project was in three countries; Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.
Continue reading "Reflections on Advocating for Agricultural Development Project"
Monday, October 22. 2012
Advocacy Program Leads to Success ... Posted by Administrator in agriculture at 07:52
Dare Masate is part of SEND-GHANA’s Women in Agriculture Lobby Teams in the Kpandai District of the Northern region of Ghana. She is a proud nominee for the best female yam farmer in the Kpandai District for 2012.
“I owe my success to SEND,” stated Dare, a forty-three-year-old farmer and a mother of seven. Dare is just one of hundreds of women who are becoming successful in agriculture due to SEND-Ghana’s facilitation of engaging marginalized groups with district-level actors.
SEND-GHANA organized capacity building sessions to increase poor people’s access to opportunities and services in SEND-GHANA’s operational districts. Dare took part in the communication and advocacy skills training session organized for the District Citizen’s Monitoring Committee (DCMC) in Kpandai. She gained skills in advocacy at the district level; and engaged the District Agriculture Development Unit (DADU) in Kpandai for support and extension services for her soya beans farm.
“SEND-GHANA gave me information about government policies and opportunities for women farmers and I got motivated to engage the district agriculture officials for support....I was initially tilling one and half acres of soya beans for home consumption.”
In less than two years, Dare expanded her farms and cultivated more than ten acres of soya beans. She then contacted SEND-Ghana Eastern Corridor Livelihood Promotion Programme to help her access a market for her produce. She was linked with Savanna Farmers – a produce marketing company in the Northern Region - which readily assisted her sell her produce. She has scaled up the production of soya beans and has diversified to include yam. She is now able to provide the basic needs and pay the school fees of all her seven children who are at various levels of education.
“Two of my children are at the tertiary level, two are in senior high school, and the remaining three are in the basic level. I now pay all their fees and even have some money to save,” Dare noted.
Thursday, April 19. 2012
Thanks for taking the time to check out our Impact page and read our latest publications in "Everybody's Talking." If you'd like to share your thoughts or start a discussion regarding what you have read, please feel free to do so, below. Alternatively, if you have specific questions regarding the research presented in the ICBE Research Fund reports, please let us know and we can put you in touch with the author directly. Again, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts!
Wednesday, January 4. 2012
In an elite part of an African city lived a very rich man who never attended the funerals and burials of neighbours, relatives and colleagues. Every time somebody close to him died, he would sign a cheque and send it to the bereaved family.
This continued until the day he lost his own daughter. The community and all the people who knew him reciprocated -- they signed cheques and sent them to him. And, like him, they did not attend the funeral of his daughter. He was left alone.Continue reading "Giving is key to Africa's wellbeing"
Friday, September 30. 2011
Spotlight on Dr. Nestorine Compaoré: Gender Activist/Minister for the Promotion of Women, Burkina Faso
On the outside, Dr .Nestorine Compaoré has the comportment of a high-ranking government official. Intelligent, thoughtful, well-dressed, articulate, she is at ease speaking to everyone. One could easily believe that she came to her current position as a civil servant through the usual channels. However, once Dr. Compaoré begins to discuss her favorite subject, gender, the activist in her emerges. Her eyes light up, her speech quickens and you can almost see the ideas travel through her as she transmits them to the listener.
Continue reading "Spotlight on Dr. Nestorine Compaoré: Gender Activist/Minister for the Promotion of Women, Burkina Faso "
Wednesday, September 21. 2011
Sustaining Responses on Gender ... Posted by Sue Telingator in women and gender at 07:05
Days 2 and 3 of the conference dug deeper into the heart of the reason we were all there, to pool responses across West Africa to issues related to gender, determine best practices and develop a way forward. The morning session of Day 2 focused on peacebuilding and security. Ms. Yasine Jusu-Sheriff, Vice Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone talked about war in the context of the poverty of women during conflict. While women are victims of unspeakable crimes, there are men amassing assets. Post-conflict, she reminded us, is the time when state assets are up-for-grabs and women need to be mindful of ensuring that they are at the table during the discussion. "While we are talking about rape, brothers and cousins are buying and selling the wealth of our future," she said.
"We must end the cycle of female poverty. Whomever becomes owner of the leading private commercial bank of Sierra Leone, none of his great grandchildren will be poor, but it won’t be your grandchildren, it will be his," she said.
She also talked about the importance of cross-border trade for women and how, post-conflict, cross border trade avenues can be lost. Additionally, as new investors enter the country, mining firms, for example, it would be a prime opportunity to ensure that female engineers, lawyers and accountants are hired to work with such firms.
In the afternoon session, budgeting, planning and decentralization was the focus. The conference planners invited not only Ministers of Gender to represent their governments, but also Ministers of Finance. It is clear that gender needs to be examined from an economic perspective within government institutions and representation from financial ministries is critical to engaging decision makers around policy reform and equity issues. Dr. Alioune Sow, Minister of Decentralization from Senegal talked about how the establishment of the Parity Law in Senegal has a direct impact on the budget decisions regarding resources for government divisions enacted in Parliament. "I don’t think the 50% of women in parliament will let a 'masculine budget' pass through," he said.
That evening, UN Women released its latest publication, "Progress of the World's Women: In Pursuit of Justice 2011" which you can find here.
During the final day of the conference, the plenary focused on developing a Declaration for action. Two parts of the declaration highlighted the equal importance of gaining commitments from ECOWAS Member State governments, as well as from other conference participants representing the private sector, donor organizations, civil society and stakeholders. One of the key suggestions for the Declaration mentioned by TrustAfrica's MDG3 Project Coordinator Sandra Zerbo, was to institutionalize a mentorship program so that the next convening would also include emerging young women leaders. In this way, we can continue to ensure that women's already resonant voices continue to ring out loud and strong.
For more detailed information regarding the Symposium, please visit the UN Women West Africa blog.
Wednesday, September 14. 2011
Sustaining Responses on Gender ... Posted by Sue Telingator in women and gender at 06:27
The first day of the conference “Sustaining Responses on Gender Equality in West Africa,” has just ended and the power of the voices that have expressed themselves, voices that are impassioned, committed, and hopeful about the future of women and their status in the world are still resonant within the walls of the conference room as the people wander out. All walks of society are represented here, from Ministers of Gender and Finance from many of the ECOWAS countries to Ms. Olivia Sugri, the Permanent Queen Mother of Sekati, a traditional upper east region of Ghana (see photo).
TrustAfrica is one of the major sponsors of the conference, run by UN Women, flying in women from several of the civil society organizations it funds. During the opening ceremony, Program Director Bheki Moyo mentioned the Enhancing Women’s Dignity project, which over the last two years has allocated a total of 39 grants to civil society organizations working to combat violence against women. He also reminded people that in 2010, the African Women’s Decade was launched, and that the conference, therefore, was a timely event that “fit squarely within the roadmap” of strong and implementable solutions to the challenges women face.
Also during the opening ceremony, Ruby Sandhu-Rojan, UN Resident Coordinator for Ghana, raised several interesting points in relation to the struggles gender workers face in achieving their objectives for fulfilling the MDG3 goals. Among the issues she mentioned: turning rhetoric into action, closing the gender gap, deepening democratic practice, policy coherence, finding adequate resources, land rights and assets, protection from violence and increasing gender budgeting to ensure women are not left behind in socio-economic development. A number of speakers have mentioned that across the continent of Africa there will be many elections this year, a prime opportunity for women to increase their participation and representation in government. Others, such as Sierra Leone’s Human Rights Commissioner, Yasmin Jusu-Sheriff, urge women to go beyond government institutions to those organizations that directly interface with government. As she says,
“Don’t underestimate the importance of leadership of women in our human rights institutions as they relate to the judiciary.”
Perhaps one of the most eye-opening presentations came from Dr. Josephine Odera, Regional Director for UN Women West Africa. “We must not do as the Romans do,” she exhorted. She told the story of how she had started doing morning walks in an effort to stay in shape. One day, as she was taking her regular morning walks, she looked up and saw her boss running past her. When she came home and told her family, her young son reminded her that, if she wanted to get ahead, just “walking” wasn’t enough.
”If we are walking, we must start running because we will not get to the top doing things the way we have always done them.”
For too long, women in West Africa have heard the excuse that “This is our tradition, this is our culture,” she explained. It has become a way out, an excuse for not making positive change. “If we want to sustain positive responses to gender equality, we must change. We must not do as the Romans do,” she said.
She then offered the following statistics to demonstrate the problem with allowing tradition to determine behavior:
-Despite the progress of CEDAW in West Africa, inequality rates in West Africa are among the highest in the world.
-West African countries are at the lowest end of the Gender Equality Index. The best West African country on the list is 32nd from the bottom worldwide.
Six of the top achieving the MDGs however are from West Africa.
-In terms of political participation, women comprise less than one third of the legislators in all of the countries in West Africa. Senegal is among one of the few WA Countries that boasts greater than 20% participation of women. Senegal has a parity law and five other West African countries have some form of quota in place.
-Eight West African countries have not yet reach 75% ratio male to female enrollment in schools. At this rate, it will be hard to reach the MDG goal of gender parity by 2015.
-Female literacy rates are staggering low in West Africa. As a region West Africa has the lowest female literacy rates. Out of the ten lowest literacy rates in the world, seven of the countries are in West Africa. There is definitely a case for addressing illiteracy in general and female literacy in particular, particularly since not having literacy skills keeps women from participation in decision making.
-Last but not least: In the US, the risk of dying during childbirth is 1 in 250,000, in Sweden, it is 1 in 30,000, and in West Africa is up to 1 in 10.
Enough said. On Day Two, we start making a plan! Stay tuned.
Wednesday, August 10. 2011
Cont. of Day 1 at the African Youth ... Posted by Harris Ayuk-Takor in Youth at 21:20
Blog of the First Session
The following session was titled the African Economic Forum.
This session focused on...
The last few years have witnessed a population explosion the world over. This burgeoning population growth is more alarming in developing countries of which the African continent has its fair share. With the highest birth rate of any continent, Africa’s population is projected to grow to two billion by 2050 with majority of the population aged between 15-24 years. Currently, over half of Africa’s population are under 25 years and 36% of the working-age population are made up of young people between the ages of 15-24 years in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).Continue reading "Cont. of Day 1 at the African Youth and Governance Conference (AYG)"
Wednesday, August 10. 2011
Day 1 at the African Youth and ... Posted by Harris Ayuk-Takor in Youth at 15:48
Day 1 at the 3rd African Youth and Governance Conference (Website for African Youth and Governance Conference) has kicked off with a slew of topics being discussed in and around the table. The conference is being attended by youth from many nations, the biggest coming from Nigeria and Ghana. I noted and it was also stated during the opening of the conference that the ratio between francophones and anglophones was very wide, seeing a greater portion of anglophones present at the conference. One recommendation for the next conference is to ensure that there is a balance of anglophone youth and francophone youth.
Continue reading "Day 1 at the African Youth and Governance Conference 2011"
Friday, July 29. 2011
Revolution has come to North Africa, but can it bring lasting transformation?
Originally published in African Decisions magazine.
One of Africa’s biggest questions remains unanswered. Will the political upheaval sweeping across North Africa lead to sustainable democracy and development?
After all, most revolutions do not. Will the uprisings we have witnessed in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya change the status quo and transform the leadership, economic trajectory and social relations in those countries for good?
At the heart of these protests are issues relating to social justice, equality and dignity. What we have seen in North Africa and beyond are young revolutionaries taking up arms against ‘resolutionaries’ such as Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi — long-serving dictators who make a habit of declaring resolutions that are never implemented. Continue reading "Winds of Change"
Monday, June 27. 2011
Everyday Heroes Posted by Christopher Reardon in women and gender at 04:27
We hope you've enjoyed our "Everyday Heroes" series. Over the last seven weeks we have profiled 14 inspiring women from seven African countries. Each in her own way, these civic leaders are working to end injustices and create better opportunities for women and girls.
You can scroll back through the entries here on the blog, or read the collected set in PDF format. Then ask yourself: What can I do to be a hero today — and everyday.
Thursday, June 23. 2011
Everyday Heroes: Soyata Maïga (Mali) Posted by Sandra Zerbo in women and gender at 05:07
This profile is the fourteenth in a series commissioned by TrustAfrica's MDG3 Project to showcase the work of inspirational women leaders in Francophone West and Central Africa.
In Mali there is a woman lawyer who devotes much of her time to denouncing violence and abuses against women and working to increase their political participation. Her name: Soyata Maïga. Since November 2007 she has served as the Special Reporter on the Rights of Women for the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), the main body for promoting and protecting human rights on the continent. Hers is a very strategic post for African women.
Maïga’s duties include studying issues related to women’s rights and identifying ways to ensure that decision-making processes address the underlying factors that create and perpetuate the violation of women’s rights. She also works to identify opportunities for the commission to take more effective actions to safeguard women’s rights and implement national and international legal instruments related to human rights.
Maïga is a native of Gao, near the frontier with Niger, an ethnically mixed zone populated by the Tuareg, Songhai and Hausa. She was the first girl in her family who was allowed to complete her education up to the senior high school level, earning her Diplôme d’Etudes Fondamentales from the Ecole de Ménaka. From there she went on to obtain her Baccalauréat at the Lycée de Jeunes Filles de Bamako, where she gravitated toward the legal sciences. In 1972 she enrolled at the national school of administration and four years later graduated first in her class. She went on to become a magistrate after studying at the Ecole Nationale de Magistrature de Paris.
Continue reading "Everyday Heroes: Soyata Maïga (Mali)"
Wednesday, June 22. 2011
Everyday Heroes: Saran Sere-Sereme ... Posted by Sandra Zerbo in women and gender at 10:57
This profile is the thirteenth in a series commissioned by TrustAfrica's MDG3 Project to showcase the work of inspirational women leaders in Francophone West and Central Africa.
The political involvement of women remains a major undertaking in Burkina Faso, where the accession of women to decision-making posts is still largely a dream. Women currently make up less than 4 percent of the National Assembly. Women still must work twice as hard to legitimize their position. For more than 15 years, one woman has fought for women’s rights, for their promotion and building of their capacities. Her name: Saran Sere-Sereme. She has even financed the construction of a training school for girls in her region of Sourou.
This woman has already achieved two major feats: first, she has served in the country’s Parliament for more than seven years; second, she was the youngest Deputy ever elected at the time. Sere-Sereme is also a very astute businesswoman who broke into the closed domain of building construction in Burkina Faso. Today she is the Director General of the Société de Bâtiment Frs. Matériels et Travaux Publics (SBFMT).
Looking back, 1968 was a year that was marked by a series of revolts and uprisings, around the world, especially among students. It was also in this year that Sere-Sereme was born in Sourou, a region that is widely considered the nation’s breadbasket. Young Saran was quite smart and she paved a stellar academic path and received her degree in business management in 1993.
Continue reading "Everyday Heroes: Saran Sere-Sereme (Burkina Faso)"
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