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Ethiopian woman farmer's message: 'Be on our side'

Tom Grubisich's picture

The future of Ethiopia’s drought-threatened agriculture is in the hands of the country’s resourceful women farmers, Development Marketplace 2009 winner Ehsan Dulloo says.

Dulloo calls the women Ethiopian agriculture's “primary seed custodians.”  They’re the ones who “have to confront significant uncertainty in the climate every year and regularly face food shortages as crops fail,” he says.  That’s why Dulloo and the Institute of Bioversity Conservation in Addis Ababa – where he is a scientist – developed the winning project Seeds for Needs.  (Participating farmer Bertukan Kebede is shown with daughter in photo from project workshop.)

Seeds for Needs aims to benefit 200 woman farmers who are running out of options on their subsistence plots in the increasingly dry highlands of eastern Ethiopia.  Through Seeds for Needs, the woman farmers will get access to new strains of seeds -- produced at gene banks -- that may prove more hardy than the traditional varieties of seeds the farmers have been using to overcome droughts that are more frequent and intense because of climate change.

How Development Marketplace finalist helps climate-proof struggling farmers in Mozambique

Christian Steiner's picture

Mozambique’s weak socio-economic infrastructure and geographic location make the country particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Rain-fed agriculture is the main livelihood for subsistence farmers in this southeastern Africa country.  But the resources farmers depend on are severely affected by the climate hazards of drought, flooding, and epidemic disease, and the outlook is for even more adverse impact.  Moreover, the Government of Mozambique currently has neither the capacity nor the financial resources for an integrated adaptation strategy.

Helvetas (Swiss Association for International Cooperation), which has promoted rural development in rural Mozambique for more than 30 years, is working to close those gaps through activities concentrated in rural areas in the Northern Provinces of Cabo Delgado and Nampula. (Photo above shows Zero Emission Fridge seed storage silo that was Development Marketplace 2009 finalist and which subsequently won $2 million funding from European Commission Food Facility.) The Food Security and Value Chain (SAAN) project aims to contribute to increased livelihoods of semi-subsistence farmers and increased income from cash crop sales.  To achieve its goals, SAAN promotes organizational and entrepreneurial capacity for improved productivity, post-harvest management, and processing and commercialization of agricultural produce.

Climate proofing of the Helvetas Mozambique Food Security and Value Chain (SAAN) project should decrease the vulnerability of farming families and increase their adaptation capacity. A Vulnerability Assessment and Evaluation of Adaptation Capacity (CVCA) in Cabo Delgado Province improved understanding of links between climate related risks, people’s livelihood, and project activities.

Development Marketplace 2009 winner honored as 'Young Laureate'

Tom Grubisich's picture

Development Marketplace 2009 winner Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu of Nigeria is the recipient of a $50,000 Rolex "Young Laureate Award" newly given to five pioneering social entrepreneurs under the age of 30 from around the world.  Besides the cash that will be earmarked to advance their innovation-focused projects over two years, Ikegwuonu, 27, and the other Laureates will have access to mentoring from groundbreaking experts who are past winners of the watch company's long-established Awards for Enterprise.

Ikegwuonu and the other awardees were selected from almost 200 nominees for launching "innovative projects [that] have begun to have a profound effect on their communities and potentially could improve the lives of millions of people," the citation said.

The young Nigerian was recognized at the Development Marketplace 2009 competition for his plan to produce an interactive 20-episode radio drama designed to help small farmers in the southeastern region of his country figure out how to better manage the risk of growing crops in extreme weather that swings from storms to droughts. The adverse weather has been intensified by climate change that has hurt farming across Sub-Saharan Africa and clouded the hopes of many developing countries to reach their 2015 Millennium Development Goals.

Development Marketplace Honors Earth Day

Tom Grubisich's picture

Sustainable development has been one of Development Marketplace's themes since its beginning 10 years ago.  It's hard to count all the DM winners and finalists who have come forward with innovative "green" ideas that they wanted to share.  Just a few examples:

One of the winners in DM2007 -- themed "Health, Nutrition, Population" -- was a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-sponsored project to develop clean-burning cooking charcoal from agricultural waste.  Haiti's traditional cooking fuel often comes from wood.  But wood burning produces high pollution that is a cause of widespread respiratory disease.  Substituting charcoal for cooking not only improves the health of Haitian families, but also means fewer trees -- a major protection against soil erosion -- are cut down.

Climate Projects Can Win Big Bonuses in 'Green' Fund-Raising Challenge

Tom Grubisich's picture

Innovative climate change projects that succeed in raising at least $4,000 will be eligible for bonuses that could win the top performer up to $13,000 extra in the Green Open Challenge sponsored by "online marketplace" GlobalGiving.

In particular, the Challenge is a perfect fit for DM2009 finalists -- whose  projects are built around climate adaptation -- and DM2008 finalists -- whose agriculture projects almost always include climate adaptation.  Other nonprofit climate projects that emphasize innovation and are locally based -- like the DM ones -- are also prime candidates.  Fund-seeking projects can find out how to join the Challenge here.  The deadline for applying is April 25.

Participating projects that meet the $4,000 threshold in donations from at least 50 donors during the Challenge period from July 5 to July 30 will be showcased by GlobalGiving on its website and have ongoing access to the organization's considerable, and proven, fund-raising know-how. Since 2002, 96,147 donors have given $27,596,968 to 2,538 projects promoted by GlobalGiving.  The nonprofit organization's specialty is matching givers to specific development causes around the globe. On top of that, GlobalGiving keeps donors up to date on what their targeted money achieves in results.

Green Open Challenge is just one of a series of challenges that GlobalGiving sponsors annually to build and energize relationships between givers -- anyone anywhere who contributes at least $10 -- and nonprofit causes and developing countries.  Targeted donations can be made quickly on GlobalGiving's website.

How 'Big Data' Can Benefit the Public Good

Aleem Walji's picture

Patrick Svenburg, co-founder of Random Hacks of Kindness, tells "Developers for Development" audience: "There's no shortage of big ideas in the world.  It's the action part that's often lacking."

“Big Data” –- the billions upon trillions of bytes of digital information that are pumped into cyberspace every nanosecond –- has a single, secular mission: to keep growing. Now, software developers – the not-so-nerdy techies who keep Big Data growing at its feverish rate –- are striving to channel Big Data into the public good.

On Monday at the World Bank, developers came together with the development community -- in person and virtually through Skype video -- to figure out how to do that.

The entire "Developers for Development" can be seen on B-Span, the World Bank's webcasting service.

The afternoon event, which attracted an auditorium-ful of in-person visitors (many of them curious staffers from risk management and ICT at the World Bank) and many more via the live webcast that was offered in English, French, and Spanish, started with developers showing what's already been achieved since the first CrisisCamp about data and the public good was convened in Washington with CrisisCommons-World Bank co-sponsorship in June 2009.

The first demo was about the on-the-fly proliferation of CrisisCamps internationally in response to the earthquake that devastated Haiti in February.

Water and Poor People: No More Charity

Tom Grubisich's picture

When Ned Breslin, CEO for the international social company Water for People, talks, the effect can be like a splash of cold water on your face.  Development-speak is not his style.

Take this snippet from his new "Rethinking Hydro-Philanthropy" essay:



"Success will require less single-minded focus on the absolute number of people without access to water and sanitation facilities and more focus on the serious questions around long-term impact and sustainability. So that years after the cameras have left, the donor reports have been filed, and the press release circulated, the community is not forgotten."

"Sweat equity" from needy communities is not enough, Breslin argues.  "Up-front community contributions," he says, are essential to making new water -- and sanitation -- facilities sustainable.

Water for People won a US$200,000 Development Markektplace 2007 award for water facilities in Malawi, which Breslin, in this radio interview, says "has some of the worst water and sanitation problems in Africa."

Breslin's credo -- that water and sanitation in poor countries should not be viewed as a charity mission -- is being validated elsewhere.

'Hot Spots,' 'Bright Spots,' and Hidden Strengths in Capacity

Tom Grubisich's picture

There is a laser-like focus on the capacity of developing countries to respond effectively to the steep challenges of their Millennium Development Goals and

Ethiopian farmer, with his children, shows newly irrigated crop to extension agent.

destructive climate change.  Capacity gaps are relentlessly pinpointed.  Sometimes national governments themselves provide the toughest evaluations, like this one from Bangladesh's Ministry of Environment and Forest on the country's climate adaptation action program:

"...institutional capacity including human resource quality [is] weak and poor and needs substantial improvement if the challenges of climate change are to be faced squarely....A lack of awareness, both of the potential gravity and the extent of the problem as well as possible actions that could be taken, is the foremost [barrier]. This lack of awareness exists at all levels from national level policy makers to sectoral and local level officials as well as amongst civil society and the most vulnerable communities themselves...."

There are, to be sure, capacity gaps in Bangladesh and other developing countries, and identifying what and where they are is the first step in closing them.  But there are also "bright spots" and, perhaps more important, underlying strengths, especially at the local level across all developing countries that can be masked by the emphasis on gaps.