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June 2011

Securing Livelihoods through Riverbed Farming

Shiva P. Aryal's picture

In 2008 Development Marketplace competition, Helvetas was among the 22 winners with its proposal on Riverbed Farming for Landless and Land-Poor. The project has now entered its third season of cultivation.

Cultivation is done on large tracks of dry riverbeds in the Tarai region of Nepal, where land poverty is wide-spread and where at least 20 percent of households do not own land. The Nepalese climate allows riverbed farming for a maximum of seven to eight months a year except during monsoon season.

As a part of the project, local farmers are trained as extension agents. They receive technical assistance from the District Agriculture Development Office (DADO) staff and a Helvetas agriculturalist.

Currently 3,000 households in Kailali and Kanchanpur districts are cultivating watermelon, cucumber, pumpkin and other vegetables on about 400 hectares of riverbed land. Through a lease signed between the landless groups and the land owners, (generally the village development committees or community forestry user groups), landless groups cultivate produce and generate a significant income from their harvest.

Solar Sister: Bringing a market based, gender inclusive, bottom up clean energy revolution to Africa

Neha Misra's picture

Solar Sister LogoAlmost 1.6 billion people on the planet don’t have access to electricity. And 70% of these are women and girls for whom the darkness is quite literal. Today, even though portable solar LED lighting technology is an affordable solution; lack of innovation in distribution channels has kept the products from being available in the rural markets where traditional supply chains simply do not exist.

The challenge is to marry technology innovation with a delivery system that is efficient, sustainable and scalable. Solar Sister is an innovative social enterprise addressing this weakest link through a market-based, gender inclusive, bottom-up solution to bring a new kind of clean energy revolution in Africa.

With an Avon-style women-driven business model, Solar Sister addresses both geographical access - making clean energy products available at the rural customer's doorstep; and cultural access - closing the gender-technology gap by including women as key players in the provision of technology solutions instead of as passive consumers of energy.

A Locally Based Model Goes Global

Kirsten Spainhower's picture

Photo Courtesy: Pachamama Coffee CooperativeDevelopment Marketplace winner Pachamama Coffee Cooperative (PCC) was featured in the New York Times not too long ago. Its newest initiative found its roots in humble beginnings. Springing from the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement which began in the 1960’s in Switzerland, consumers receive their produce directly from the farmer through a household subscription paid for in advance. Then on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, the consumer cum subscriber receives a portion of the overall harvest. is a platform that allows consumers to pay in advance for a coffee subscription ranging from one month to one year. There consumers have a direct link to farmers who grew their coffee in Ethiopia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru or Guatemala. And the advance subscription provides a more stable income to farmers. It’s a great adaptation of an old model for coffee farmers who often live on only $2 per day.

Hybrid Value Chains – a Method for Solving Grand Challenges in Development?

Kirsten Spainhower's picture

Bill Drayton, Founder of AshokaIn mid-may Bill Drayton of Ashoka visited the World Bank to present his thinking on Hybrid Value Chains (HVC). In a recent article published in the Harvard Business Review, Drayton and Ashoka-colleague Valeria Budinich warned that “if you are not thinking about HVC collaboration, you’ll soon be guilty of strategy malpractice.” (Click here to view a recorded video of the event).

So what does Ashoka mean when they talk about HVC collaboration? The best way to illustrate is through an example.

In 2004, tackling the dismal living conditions in the slums of Gujarat, India, social entrepreneur Joshi Rajendra founded SAATH, an organization that has developed an innovative and integrative approach to development, and is focused on equipping residents of poor urban settlements to become willing customers of basic services and access schemes. The program was rooted in the belief that the poor would be willing to pay for services if the prices were affordable.

The World Challenge is Back!

Dougg Jimenez's picture

2 Weeks left to nominate and win US$20,000!


The World Challenge LogoFor the 7th consecutive year the World Challenge is searching for grassroots community projects that promote sustainable development through innovation and original thinking. Their mission is simple: to reward small businesses which have found solutions to some of the world's most pressing problems.

If you have what it takes, they would like to hear from you. Please check their website and fill in an application form. You have until the 19th of June, at midnight. Their judging panel will select the best 12 entries to be filmed by BBC World News and featured in a special ad series in Newsweek magazine.