Together and resourceful against worldwide hunger

Climate change disturbs the climate in Ethiopia. The answer from small farmers in the north is: diversify!

Ich bin ein Alternativtext
Overuse and deforestation, along with drought and heavy rainfall, are the main causes of the progressive erosion in the Ethiopian highlands © Christof Krackhardt/Brot für die Welt

Seye Ahmed has to climb so deep into the well to fill her watering can that only her head appears over the top. Climate change is clearly felt in the Ethiopian highlands. Despite being the rainy season, the water level of the well is low. It's just enough to water the vegetable garden that Seye and her husband She Ali Abebe created a year ago. Cabbage, spinach, onions and carrots grow in trim flowerbeds. Her husband dug the well together with local partners. They also obtained the vegetable seeds from them. "What we and the children do not eat ourselves, we sell on the market", says Seye. It is an important means of income for the family of five.

 

"The people here in the highlands are totally dependent on crop yields and livestock farming", says Endeshaw Kassa, project leader of the Mekane Yesus Church. "If there is no rain, they lose their crops or have to sell their animals to survive." Most farmers manage only small, widely dispersed and often degraded areas up to 3,000 metres high, where little grows. Only a few own an ox or donkey to till their fields. Usually, the harvest is only enough to provide families with food for a few months. Almost two-thirds of the population in the region suffer from food shortages for four to six months a year.

 

Ich bin ein Alternativtext
"With only one type of support you cannot tackle climate change", Endeshaw Kassa explains, Programme coordinator of „Ethopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus“.

"There used to be two rainy seasons a year here", says Kassa. "The 'small rain' from February to June and the main rainy season from July to the end of September." But for some years now, precipitation has become more and more unpredictable and droughts longer and longer. The rising average temperatures mean that more and more plant diseases are spreading. Another danger is the frost. As early as in October, temperatures can fall below freezing and destroy crops. Many families cannot feed their children sufficiently and stop feeding their livestock. They have to sell animals or lease their farmland to buy food or new seed. For many, this is the first step in the cycle of debt and poverty.

 

A major concern of this project is to diversify cultivation and adapt it to changing climatic conditions while creating new sources of income. The aim is for it to act as a kind of lighthouse for similar projects against the consequences of climate change. "With only one type of support you cannot tackle climate change", Endeshaw Kassa explains. "We therefore offer a variety of different activities for the most vulnerable families."

 

One of these is the cultivation of an old indigenous wheat variety, which has been displaced by other varieties. The grain not only survives frost and droughts, but is also very fruitful. The seeds are issued on a credit basis. After the harvest, the recipients return the seed to benefit other families. One of them is 18-year-old Seid Abebe. Like many young people, he does not own any land, but tills his father's field with his brother. Of the 50 kilos of wheat that they have sown, they expect a yield of around 800 kilos. After deducting the seed to be repaid, they will have a large surplus which they can sell, as well as enough seed for the next season.

 

The risk analysis enables us to specifically support those families that are at greatest risk and that have the least resources

 

The staff of Mekane Yesus Church have interviewed more than 4,200 households in four communities in the Legambo district since the beginning of the project. 905 of these were classified as particularly vulnerable. "The risk analysis enables us to specifically support those families that are at greatest risk and that have the least resources", says the project coordinator. For the second step, the team analysed what options and means each family has: whether they have arable land or pastures for livestock, or how many members of the family are able to work. Together with the concerned persons and experts, the appropriate work areas were selected.

 

Some of them are specifically aimed at women, because many of them have to take care of their children, their home and their fields without support. In more than 60 local self-help groups, up to 20 women come together every week to develop solutions for their daily lives together. In addition to discussions on topics such as health, family planning and climate change, the groups serve primarily as savings clubs. All of them have created joint savings accounts into which they regularly pay small contributions. If necessary, members can lend money to buy livestock or seeds, for example, or to deal with emergencies. Money is also saved for common purchases such as an ox for ploughing. 

 

(c) Christof Krackhardt/Brot für die Welt
In more than 60 local self-help groups, up to 20 women come together every week to develop solutions for their daily lives together. A success story: Seye Ahmed grows vegetables in herr own garden.

 

One of the main achievements of the groups is the distribution of energy-saving stoves. Ten women each learn how to make stoves from clay, straw and sand in workshops and pass on their knowledge to the others in the group. "It smokes a lot less", says Lubaba Ebre from Chulke and proudly shows the home-made oven with a vent pipe which leads outside.

 

Fighting Erosion in the Highlands

 

Overuse and deforestation, along with drought and heavy rainfall, are the main causes of the progressive erosion in the Ethiopian highlands. "The slope here was totally dead", says Yimer Mussa from Chulke and points to the area of colourful flowers and to the terrain permeated by a soft green that falls several hundred meters down into the valley. "Nothing used to grow here", Mussa says. For years, the inhabitants had grazed their cattle on the hillside and cut down trees as firewood and to build their huts. With every rainfall, more layers of earth were removed until only bare rock remained. The water rushed unchecked and unused into the valley.

 

(c) Christof Krackhardt/Brot für die Welt
Ansha Seid, 10 years, lives in Chulke

By working extremely hard together as a team, the residents of Chulke began a year ago to build terraces and stone walls, so that the area would not be degraded even more. Behind it, soil was piled up and planted with tree seedlings. The trees do not only store nitrogen and provide the soil with nutrients. Their leaves as well as the newly planted “festuca grass” also provide valuable animal feed. More than 95 percent of the seedlings have taken root, Mussa reports. The ditches that have been dug behind collect the water when it rains so that it slowly seeps into the ground.

 

The vegetation has already visibly recovered within the first year

 

In addition, everyone in the village have committed not to graze any more animals in the rehabilitation zone. In turn, when the vegetation has grown enough, they can cut branches and grasses and feed them to their livestock. In a few years, the members hope the brown slope will turn green again. "The vegetation has already visibly recovered within the first year", says project manager Kassa. The trained forester is now promoting the approach to the government. "Representatives of the Ministry of Agriculture have looked at the protection zones to learn from them", said Kassa. - keeping the spirit of the lighthouse idea.

 

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Good health is impossible without healthy food

By Heino von Meyer

Corona makes it even more difficult to achieve a world without hunger by 2030. So that this perspective does not get out of sight, Germany must play a stronger role internationally - a summary of the Strategic Advisory Group of SEWOH.

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© GIZ

Actual Analysis: The locusts came with the crises

By Bettina Rudloff and Annette Weber (SWP)

The Corona-Virus exacerbates existing crises through conflict, climate, hunger and locusts in East Africa and the Horn of Africa. What needs to be done in these regions? To face these challenges for many countries, all of these crises need to be captured in their regional context.

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© GIZ

One Health – What we are learning from the Corona crisis

Dr. May Hokan and Dr. Arnulf Köhncke (WWF)

Due to the coronavirus crisis, the connection between human and animal health has gained new attention. Politicians and scientists are joining forces to propagate the solution: One Health. But what is behind the concept? And can it also guarantee food security for all people worldwide?

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Resilient small-scale agriculture: A key in global crises

By Kerstin Weber and Brit Reichelt-Zolho (WWF)

Biodiversity and sustainable agriculture ensure the nutrition of whole societies. But there is more: These two factors also provide better protection against the outbreak of dangerous pandemics. Hence, the question of preserving ecosystems is becoming a global survival issue.

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Ideas on the ground: Local solutions for global challenges

Interview with Sebastian Lesch (BMZ)

A world without hunger and with sufficient healthy food as well as climate-friendly agriculture can only be achieved if ideas are transformed into innovations and ultimately also applied - a conversation with BMZ Head of Division Sebastian Lesch on the Innovation Challenge programme of the new Agricultural Innovation Fund.

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Developing countries hit doubly hard by coronavirus

By Gunter Beger (BMZ)

In most African countries, the infection COVID-19 is likely to trigger a combined health and food crisis. This means: In order to cope with this unprecedented crisis, consistently aligning our policies to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is more important than ever, our author maintains.

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“Corona exposes the weaknesses of our nutritional systems"

Interview with Arif Husain (WFP)

The United Nations plan a Food Systems Summit - and now the Corona-Virus is dictating the agenda. The Chief Economist of the UN World Food Programme takes stock of the current situation: a conversation with Jan Rübel about pandemics, about the chromosomes of development - and about the conflicts that inhibit them.

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“Healthy ground brings good and many fruits”

Interview with Ben Sekamatte and Boaz Ogola

Africa's cotton production plays a key role in the fight against poverty. The "Cotton Made in Africa" initiative promotes sustainable cultivation - one element of which is the use of organic pesticides. Entomologist Ben Sekamatte and cotton company manager Boaz Ogola talked with Jan Rübel about soil and yields.

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Hier steht eine Bildbeschreibung

Statement from GAFSP Co-Chairs: GAFSP and COVID-19 Pandemic

By GAFSP

COVID-19 has unprecedented effects on the world. As always, the most vulnerable are the hardest hit, both at home and - especially - abroad. A joint appeal by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) and the Department for International Development (DFID).

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(c) Welthungerhilfe

5 questions to F. Patterson: Why is there more hunger?

Interview with Fraser Patterson

Every year in October, the "Welthungerhilfe" aid organisation, with the Irish "Concern Worldwide" NGO, publishes the Global Hunger Index, a tool with which the hunger situation is recorded. What are the trends - and what needs to be done?

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(c) Joerg Boethling/GIZ

What it takes now

By Heike Baumüller

Artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain are the hottest topics of our time. The digital transformation of the African agricultural sector is ready for take-off. What will it take for the future of technology to hit the ground running?

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(c) Katapult/GIZ

The digitised farmyard

By Jan Rübel

Lots of apps are entering the market, but what really makes sense? For African agriculture, some of it seems like a gimmick, some like a real step forward. So this is what a smallholder farm in Africa could look like today - with the help of smartphones, internet and electricity. 

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(c) Christoph Pueschner/Zeitenspiegel

Can this end world hunger?

By Stig Tanzmann

Time to dig deeper: We can only benefit from technical progress if we have a solid legal framework for everybody. But so far, none is in sight - in many countries. Instead, international corporations grow ever more powerful.

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(c) Christoph Pueschner/Zeitenspiegel

From start to finish: a vision of interconnectivity

By Tanja Reith

At the moment, the agricultural industries of African countries exist in relative isolation. Imagine peasant farmers digitally connected to the value chains of the global food industry. How could this happen? A guidebook.

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"Pandemic increases violence against women"

Interview with Léa Rouanet

African countries still face huge gender gaps in terms of access to work and capital. What are the consequences of Corona for women in Africa? Jan Rübel interviewed Léa Rouanet on lockdowns and gender-based violence. The economist works at the Africa Gender Innovation Lab of the World Bank.

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Gender equality: Essential for food and nutrition security

By Carsta Neuenroth (BfdW)

The majority of producers in developing countries are women. Although they contribute significantly to the food security of their families, they remain chronically disadvantaged in male-dominated agriculture in terms of access to land, credit, technology and education.

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Building our food systems back better

By Jes Weigelt and Alexander Müller

What is required to make food systems provide sufficient, healthy food while not harming the planet? How should food security be maintained given the threat posed by climate change? Our authors look at some aspects of tomorrow’s food systems against the backdrop of the corona crisis.

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"We must mobilise all available resources"

By Ismahane Elouafi (ICBA)

Freshwater deficits are affecting more and more people throughout the world. In order to counter this, our global food system will have to change, our author maintains. A case for more research on alternative crops and smart water solutions.

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Do we have to dare a new food system?

By Dr. Felix zu Löwenstein (BÖLW)

Lack of seasonal workers and virus explosion in slaughterhouses, rising vegetable prices, climate crisis – all this demonstrates: Our food system is highly productive and (at least for the rich inhabitants of planet earth) guarantees an unprecedented rich and steady food supply - but it is not resilient.

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Video diaries in the days of Corona: Voices from the ground

By Sarah D´haen & Alexander Müller, Louisa Nelle, Bruno St. Jaques, Sarah Kirangu-Wissler and Matteo Lattanzi (TMG)

Young farmers’ insights on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on food systems in Sub-Saharan Africa @CovidFoodFuture and video diaries from Nairobi’s informal settlements.

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"The virus does not need visa"

Interview by Dr. Ahmed Ouma (CDC)

Countries across Africa coordinate their efforts in the fight against corona by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) of the African Union in Addis Abeba. Until now, the curve of new infections has been successfully flattened – why? Dr. Ahmed Ouma, Deputy Director, explains the work of CDC in an interview with Tilman Wörtz.

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Double interview: The Forest Maker and his director

By Jan Rübel

Tony Rinaudo uses conventional reforestation methods to plant millions and millions of trees – and Volker Schlöndorff is filming a cinema documentary about the Australian. The outcome so far: An educational film on behalf of the BMZ (Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development).

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Ms Rudloff, what are the benefits of a supply chain law?

By Jan Rübel

The Federal Government is fine-tuning a law that would require companies to ensure human rights – a supply chain law. What are the consequences for the agricultural sector? Dr Bettina Rudloff from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) discusses linking policy fields with added value.

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School Feeding: A unique platform to address gender inequalities

By Carmen Burbano de Lara (WFP)

Besides the well known impacts of Covid19 lockdowns for the adult population, the associated school closures led to 90 percent of the world’s children with no access to schools. However, school meals are in often the only daily meal for children. Without access to this safety net, issues like hunger, poverty and malnutrition are exacerbated for hundreds of millions of children.

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Africa's rapid economic transformation

By T. S. Jayne, A. Adelaja and R. Mkandawire

Thirty years ago, Africa was synonymous with war, famine and poverty. That narrative is clearly outdated. African living standards are rising remarkably fast. Our authors are convinced that improving education and entrepreneurship will ensure irreversible progress in the region even as it confronts COVID-19.

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From Berlin to Yen Bai: 10,000 trees for Vietnam

By GIZ and BMZ

It began with clicks at a trade fair and ends with concrete reforestation: a campaign at the Green Week in Berlin is now enriching the forests of the Yen Bai Province in Vietnam. A chronicle of an education about climatic relevance to concrete action - and about the short distances on our planet.

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