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Kenya

Ecosystem services: Seeking to improve human and ecological health together

Daniel Kammen's picture

While attending the CITES (Convention on Trade in Endangered Species) biodiversity summit in Nagoya, Japan, late last year, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said that we must foster development and reduce poverty, and at the same time preserve and improve the planet’s biodiversity and ecological resilience.

 

He noted during a speech at the Cancun COP16 Climate Convention that “empty forests are greatly diminished.” He is completely right, but globally efforts to achieve ecologically sustainable development have been difficult and fraught with failure. Sadly, to some the issue is yet another complication to be ignored or avoided.

 

I spent this weekend at the Mpala Research Center, in Laikipia, central Kenya, which is a remarkable partnership with the National Museums of Kenya, its local partners in Laikipia district, the Smithsonian Institution, and Princeton University in the United States.

 

Mpala is very dear to me. Working more than a decade ago with a remarkable doctoral student of mine who is now a professor, Majid Ezzati, and a fabulous team of local Kenyan medical and energy researchers and extension officers, we completed a detailed “dose-response” study of the health benefits of improved cookstoves. We found that while initial particulate levels were very high–7,000 or more micrograms of particulates per cubic meter (mg/m3)–combinations of improved stoves and clean burning fuels could reduce the incidence of acute respiratory illness by 50%.

Kenya steps ahead into solar future

Daniel Kammen's picture

For Africa’s poorest families, lighting is often the most expensive item in their budget, typically accounting for 10–15 percent of total household income. The energy poor in Africa spend about US$17 billion a year on fuel-based lighting sources. To put the full energy sector in perspective, independent estimates place worldwide spending on fuel-based lighting in developing countries at $38 billion.

Beyond household use, commercial use of fuel-based lighting can have even more acute economic impacts. Fishermen on Lake Victoria in Kenya, for example, often spend half their income for the kerosene they use to fish at night. Yet, while consuming a large share of scarce income, fuel-based lighting provides little in return. Fuel-based lamps, such as kerosene lamps, are costly, inefficient, and provide poor lighting. The smoke they emit causes respiratory and eye problems, while the flames from kerosene lamps are responsible for thousands of severe burns among children every year, along with untold numbers of devastating house fires.

 

But many African countries are making strides to put fuel-based power behind them. Kenya, for example, as I discuss in an article this week posted on InterPVNet, has one of the largest and most dynamic per capita solar PV markets among developing countries, with over 300,000 households having installed solar PV systems since the mid-1980s. Since 2000, annual sales for these systems have regularly topped 15 percent, and they account for roughly 75 percent of all solar equipment sales in the country. In addition, exciting and rapid developments in off-grid lighting with highly efficient long-lasting light emitting diodes (LED) lamps are also changing the set of options in formerly neglected markets.

Life in a School

Jishnu Das's picture

We usually think of schooling as a positive learning experience. However, sometimes this is not always the case. As recent news reports in the Hindu and on NDTV from India remind us, unfortunately for some children in low-income countries, schooling can be a nasty, brutal and short experience. They may suffer physical abuse, humiliation and be forced to endure the worst possible learning environments, while returning for the same punishment day after day after day.

Development Marketplace was Early Investor: Small Scale Renewable Power

Edith Wilson's picture

Great New York Times story going viral today on how villagers around the world are finally getting electricity in their homes with solar devices.  With this tiny bit of power, they can charge cell phones, get news, study at night, check market information for crops, and stop using carbon and so much more.  This is one area where in the past 10 years, Development Marketplace competitions identified and funded early stage projects, so we should all be proud.

Supporting Innovation by Connecting Local Actors: Reporting Tax Research in Kenya

Antonio Lambino's picture

Findings from the study of the social diffusion of ideas, products, and practices, suggest that innovation can be cultivated by building bridges that link previously disconnected networks and communities of practice.  CommGAP supported a project in Kenya which could very well be undergirded by this idea.  Implemented by the Panos Network's Relay Programme, the project has been documented in a recently published case study entitled “Reporting tax research: Connecting researchers and journalists for improved media coverage and debate in Kenya”.

Evaluating the evaluating of the Millennium Villages Project

Michael Trucano's picture

not all millennium projects are this neatly contained within clearly defined bordersWhen is the rigorous impact evaluation of development projects a luxury, and when is it a necessity?

This is a question asked in a new paper examing the Millennium Villages Project (MVP), a high profile initiative that, according to its web site, offers a "bold, innovative model for helping rural African communities lift themselves out of extreme poverty".

In the words of one of the authors of When Does Rigorous Impact Evaluation Make a Difference? The Case of the Millennium Villages, "We show how easy it can be to get the wrong idea about the project’s impacts when careful, scientific impact evaluation methods are not used. And we detail how the impact evaluation could be done better, at low cost."  The paper underscores the importance of comparing trends identified within a project activity with those in comparator sites if one is to determine the actual impact of a specific project.  This sentiment should come as no surprise to those familiar with an area of exploding interest in the international donor and development community -- that of the usefulness of randomized evaluations.

Delivering Aid Differently – The New Reality of Aid

Wolfgang Fengler's picture

This month Homi Kharas and I published a book titled “Delivering Aid Differently – Lessons from the Field”. We launched the book yesterday at the University of Nairobi.  Here is a summary of the main messages:

We live in a new reality of aid. Rich countries delivered US$ 3.2 trillion of aid to poor countries between 1960 and 2008, and it is a US$ 200 billion dollar industry today. Despite disputes and convulsions, the core of the aid industry has changed little over the past few decades. Now the new pressures on the aid systems may be too strong to resist fundamental change.

City livin'

Saadia Iqbal's picture

Maybe it's the bright lights and majestic skyscrapers. Or maybe it's theaters and shopping and cafes. Usually, though, it's just the pragmatic search for employment. Whatever the reason, big cities have lured people throughout the ages, and in many cases it really is a siren call...urban life can be tough going.

Gordon Brown hails education as the best anti-poverty program

Kavita Watsa's picture

World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Global Campaign for Education’s youngest 1GOAL ambassador Nthabiseng Tshabalala of South Africa.

This morning, 69 million children would not have gone to school around the world. And of those who did, many did not learn what they should have. It is a good thing that education has such energetic champions as Queen Rania of Jordan and Gordon Brown, former UK Prime Minister, both of whom made strong statements today in New York in support of universal access to good-quality education.

“I have one goal—to advocate that every child receives a quality education,” said Queen Rania, who is the co-founder and co-chair of 1Goal , a campaign that was founded with the objective of ensuring that education for all would be a lasting impact of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.


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