Storming the ivory towers: Time for scientists to get out, ‘get social’, to learn better, faster–Nature commentary

Framework for building an evidence base on impacts of social learning

An evaluative framework for assembling an evidence base on the impacts of social learning. Figure 1 in Social learning and sustainable development, article by Patti Kristjanson, Blane Harvey, Marissa Van Epp and Philip Thornton, published in Nature Climate Change 4, 5–7 (2014) (first published online 20 Dec 2013).

Most of us like learning new things. But while learning alone is no fun, it’s hard to convince scientists, who spend their professional lives attempting to learn new things, to adopt ‘social learning’ approaches. These could help bring about new understandings, and help transform such understandings into development benefits, by helping scientists learn with, and from, a diverse group of stakeholders, including non-scientists, holding common purpose.

Those assumptions are held by social learning advocates, who include Patti Kristjanson, an agricultural economist at the World Agroforestry Centre and lead author of a commentary on social learning published in the 20 Dec 2013 online edition of Nature Climate Change. Kristjanson gives a main reason for the reluctance of her agricultural research colleagues to take up social learning. ‘First and foremost’, she says, ‘is the worry of scientists about the large transactions costs of the “many conversations and messy partnerships” such joint learning necessarily entails.’

‘Yet many of the same scientists also worry about the slow pace of agricultural development in many parts of the world’, Kristjanson says.

Those of us attempting to use science to help solve complex agriculturally related development problems—like how to help hundreds of millions of smallholder farmers adapt to harsher, more erratic, climates while producing more food and lifting themselves out of poverty—need to try new approaches. If we keep doing science the way we’ve always been doing it, we’re going to run out of time.’

This Nature Climate Change commentary includes a ‘call to action’.

Kristjanson and her colleagues say it’s time for climate change scientists to step up—to help effect a step change. ‘We need the “social engagement” of many, many more scientists working on climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. We need them to help us build a solid body of evidence on the benefits—and the costs—of applying social learning approaches.’

The commentary provides a framework that can be used to assess when social learning is likely to be ‘really worth it’ and begins with an introduction, summarized here:

Agricultural research-for-development bodies such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, CGIAR and their partners are under mounting pressure from their funders to link their research knowledge to actions that achieve faster and more substantive and long-lasting ‘development outcomes’, such as CGIAR’s four ‘system-level outcomes’ of reduced rural poverty, increased food security, better nutrition and health, and sustainable management of natural resources. To bring about the many changes in behaviour, policies and institutions as well as agricultural practices needed to achieve such broad benefits, the authors argue that researchers and their projects need to be continuously informed by, and engaged with, many others, including the individuals and societies they are working to benefit, so as to better understand, and more effectively use, the processes by which people and communities, and policymakers and government officials, learn and adapt their behaviour in the face of climate and other changes and pressures.

Among the many advantages the authors cite of agricultural scientists employing social learning approaches are the following:

  • joint learning and knowledge sharing and co-creation are enhanced among diverse stakeholders around a common purpose
  • the established traditions of participatory development are built on, with learning and collective change placed at the heart of such engagement
  • diverse knowledge and value systems are integrated in ways that help us tackle so-called ‘wicked’ (highly complex) socio-agro-ecological problems

The Nature Climate Change commentary provides a table of examples of agricultural development projects and programs that are already using social learning approaches.

On the face of it, the authors says, social learning approaches should help research-for-development institutions become smarter and more effective. But while iterative learning processes appear to be critical to adapting to environmental and other big changes, it’s difficult to apply ‘learning tools’ in many developing-country situations, they say, where there is high uncertainty and great poverty. ‘And we have as yet little evidence of the impacts of social learning approaches on “hard” development outcomes’, says Kristjanson. Scientists are also concerned, she says, about a lack of demonstrated ability to replicate and scale out the benefits of localized social learning.

The authors of this commentary include Philip Thornton, an agricultural systems analyst and climate change specialist at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI). Thornton says that the authors are embarking on a ‘systematic evidence-gathering initiative, using a common evaluative framework to track new initiatives from a range of institutional settings that incorporate social learning approaches’.

‘The practical guidelines we provide’, he says, ‘should help those interested in applying social learning approaches to use the best available knowledge, information and tools to implement and document their initiatives’.

Acknowledgements
Patti Kristjanson and Philip Thornton both lead work of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Program (CCAFS), where Kristjanson leads its Linking Knowledge to Action Theme and Thornton its Data & Tools ThemeCCAFS is funded by the CGIAR Fund, AusAid, Danish International Development Agency, Environment Canada, Instituto de Investigação Científica Tropical (Portugal), Irish Aid, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, UK Aid, and the European Union, with technical support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Read
An authors’ version of this article is available for all to read on Cgspace.

Journal subscribers can read the whole article, Social learning and sustainable development, by Patti Kristjanson, Blane Harvey (International Development Research Centre, Canada), Marissa Van Epp (International Institute for Environment and Development, UK)) and Philip K Thornton, in Nature Climate Change 4, 5–7 (2014) doi:10.1038/nclimate2080 (first published online 20 Dec 2013).

A lively article about this Nature commentary was published by CCAFS yesterday (8 Jan 2014): Want sustainable development? Then it’s time to get social.

CCAFS, ILRI and their many partners invite you to join our efforts to create an evidence base on the impacts of social learning approaches. Leave your comments and ideas in the commentary section below or on the CCAFS website.

This Nature commentary article was produced as part of a continuing social learning process — see their wiki here: Climate Change and Social Learning initiative — in which knowledge is being co-constructed through many different channels. We are grateful and indebted to all who have participated in this process.

Capacity development is ‘back’: Reframing and repositioning an ‘orphaned’ CGIAR function for an expanded future

CGIAR CapDev Workshop: Javier Ekboir (ILAC at Bioversity) and Nicole Lefore (IWMI)

Javier Ekboir, of the Institutional Learning and Change (ILAC) initiative, hosted by Bioversity International, and Nicole Lefore, of the International Water Management Institute IWMI), listen to proceedings of a CGIAR Consortium Workshop, ‘Towards a CGIAR Strategy on Capacity Development’, hosted by ILRI, in Nairobi this week (21–25 Oct 2013); most of the participants are responsible for capacity development or are researchers working in the areas of social learning, innovation or partnership (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

Most of those in or around CGIAR institutions for any length of time will have heard, likely absorbed and sometimes themselves promulgated two hoary notions. The first is that CGIAR work is among the world’s ‘best kept secrets’. The second is that a well-trained cadre of developing-country agricultural scientists is among CGIAR’s biggest, if inadequately assessed, impacts. (These views are occasionally conflated, as in ‘The amount and quality of CGIAR training in agricultural sciences over the last four decades is among its best-kept secrets’.)

A group of CGIAR staff meeting in Nairobi this week is dusting off these views (convictions?) in an attempt to reframe what was once known as ‘training’, later transformed into ‘institutional learning’ or ‘capacity development’ (or one of its several [elegant] variations such as ‘capacity strengthening’ or ‘capacity building’), and reposition it at the centre rather than the periphery of CGIAR business.

The goal of the workshop is for CGIAR research centres, programs and partners to identify optimal ways to increase capacity in agricultural research for development work, particularly in achieving the four CGIAR system-level (and development-oriented) outcomes:

  • reduced rural poverty
  • increased food security
  • improved nutrition and health
  • more sustainable management of natural resources

CGIAR CapDev Workshop: Panel

Left to right: Zoumana Bamba (IITA), Joyce Maru (ILRI), Suresh Babu (IFPRI), Iddo Dror (ILRI), Per Rudebjer (Bioversity), Simone Staiger-Rivas (CIAT), Luis Solórzano (Consortium Office) are members of a panel at the CGIAR Capacity Development Workshop in 2013 (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

How this work has found itself off-centre (and how far off-centre) in CGIAR institutions and research programs was briefly reviewed in a panel discussion Monday (21 Oct 2013), the first of five days of a workshop on CGIAR Capacity Development organized and hosted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) at its Nairobi headquarters.

The panel session, led by Simone Staiger-Rivas, head of knowledge management and capacity development at the Colombia-based International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), comprised seven members who had contributed to a recently published discussion paper, Understanding capacity development experiences and lessons from the past, commissioned by Louis Solórzano, director of staff at the CGIAR Consortium, in France, for the purpose of helping to establish a new CGIAR strategy for capacity development.

Although capacity development at each of the 15 agricultural research centres that are members of CGIAR has had a distinctive trajectory, the following are some of the commonalities, as noted by Staiger-Rivas.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, when CGIAR centres had substantial core funding for training as well as research, many centres built strong training units. Those were among the ‘research support services’ that suffered most from reductions in CGIAR core funding beginning in the 1990s and the restructuring that followed in the next decade. Increasingly in this period, training was embedded directly into research programs.

Starting in the 1990s, a major shift in the amount and type of donor funding to CGIAR had a massive impact on how training was organized, funded and implemented across the system. The decline of core funding led to a reduction or elimination in most Centers of training as a stand-alone activity. The Centers relied on the ability of their scientists to attract funding for training within their research projects. Training units were weakened, with few staff qualified in training, pedagogy or adult education. The responsibility for training itself was often passed on to national or regional partners, with mixed results. On the positive side, this decentralization connected the Centers more directly with field activities, which allowed the Centers to involve extension, farmer, and market capacities (Staiger-Rivas et al. 2013).

In the following decade, as CGIAR centres grew into ‘middle age’ (most are now between 40 and 50 years old), what is now generally called ‘capacity development’ work widened its ambitions to train individuals and groups to include making impacts at the level of institutions and innovations.

The trend towards results-based management in CGIAR includes a perception of [capacity development] as means to enable social learning and innovation and promote sustainable development as a collective achievement (Staiger-Rivas et al. 2013).

Here is how this evolution is described by a group at a former CGIAR centre, the International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR), which first brought ‘innovation systems thinking’ to the CGIAR table in the early 2000s.

‘If agricultural research organizations are to be more successful in reducing poverty and increasing the sustainability of agricultural production systems, they must become less isolated, more interconnected and more responsive. In so doing, they must transform themselves into learning organizations, more in touch with field realities and better able to learn and to change. . . .

‘[I]f agricultural research centers are to cope with growing complexity and seize opportunities as they arise, they need not merely new approaches to research organization or practice, but more flexible and adaptive institutional arrangements. . . . [T]he CGIAR must change from a supply-led model of centers of excellence to a more responsive mode of operation in which partnership and client orientation are core principles. . . .

‘If scientists and CGIAR Centers are to contribute meaningfully to innovation, they must become continuous learners, evolving and adapting all the time. . . .

‘CG Centers must attempt to become “learning organizations”—organizations that are open and flexible, that identify and recognize both successes and failures as opportunities to learn and improve, and that build relationships with the many and varied participants involved in agricultural development’ (Watts et al. 2007).

The next panel member to speak, Per Rudebjer, of Bioversity International, in Rome, said that training is essential mechanism for partnership. ‘CGIAR has trained some 80,000 people, in formal as well as informal ways. With the funding reductions in the 1990s, centres started training fewer people and offering shorter training courses. In the next decade, we began to take on organizational as well as individual learning. Now we are seeing another change: training in support of outcome delivery.

Training is necessary but not sufficient for capacity development.

Iddo Dror (ILRI), head of ILRI’s capacity development unit, in Nairobi, spoke on the current state of capacity development in CGIAR. The capacity development strategy is not as mature as some of the other cross-cutting work in CGIAR research programs, Dror said.

Although lots of the things we’re grappling with were foreseen, Dror said, they still have little ‘meat’ on them. While CGIAR’s Strategic Results Framework anticipates an expansion in capacity development activities, the role and modalities of capacity development in the new CGIAR structure has not yet been fully fleshed out.

What’s needed now, said Dror, is capacity for applied or downstream agricultural research for development.

We need a new framework, one that helps us move innovations from the lab to the farmers, one that changes what we do as well as how we do it.

Dror then briefly reviewed what Purvi Mehta-Bhatt and Jan Beniest found in their 2011 report as shortcomings in a comprehensive review of capacity development for the CGIAR research programs. These include the following.

  • Capacity development plans are extremely ambitious but have insufficient focus.
  • Most capacity development plans make explicit mention of other cross-cutting kinds of work and expertise—in gender, youth, communications—but it remains unclear as to how these various work agendas interact.
  • CGIAR research programs tend to provide ‘laundry lists’ of capacity development-related activities but are unclear about how these will be coordinated. Some community of practice or other ways of aligning this work is needed.

We’re also grappling with different views of capacity development, Dror said. We have 1960s views, 1980s views, 21st century views, all of them working alongside each other, but not in tandem.

As capacity development practitioners, we haven’t kept up the pace. Our new capacity development approaches have huge implications for how we do research; this is not yet understood by all of us.

We need to look at how we can better embed capacity development in agricultural research for development, at how we can help sharpen, deepen and widen the impact pathways from research products to intermediate development outcomes to system-level outcomes.

The outcome orientation of CGIAR puts new demands on capacity development for partners who will be instrumental in scaling up/out research outputs (Staiger-Rivas et al. 2013)

Zoumana Bamba, of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), spoke on institutional capacity development and the new need for new skill sets among researchers.

We need to research how to up-scale and out-scale our outputs, Bamba said. We don’t know enough about the mechanisms of those processes.

Suresh Babu, of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), spoke on monitoring and evaluation.

We need quantitative and qualitative indicators, Babu said. IFPRI implemented a monitoring system just last year.

If CGIAR is going to be serious about capacity development, it has to be serious about putting in place a monitoring and evaluation system for capacity development.

Babu noted the long struggle in capacity development work to measure its impacts, reminding participants that what you cannot measure you cannot manage. The big changes and reduced funding for CGIAR in the 1990s led to piecemeal approaches, he said. The idea that capacity development was an ‘impact-making’ activity fell away. In some centres, capacity development work was put under the care of new knowledge management teams; in others, it became part of communications; in still others, it ceased as a discrete function altogether.

CGIAR CapDev Workshop: Dileepkumar Guntuku (ICRISAT)

Dileepkumar Guntuku, of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

Note on capacity development at the International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR)
In their recent (2012) book Capacity Building for Agricultural Research for Development: Lessons from Practice in Papua New Guinea,”Adiel N. Mbabu and Andy Hall describe ISNAR as follows.

ISNAR was unique in the CGIAR system in that unlike all the other international centres it had an explicit capacity building agenda rather than research (although as will be related, this eroded over time). The institute was also unique in that it was staffed by an eclectic set of professionals: economists, sociologists, human resource specialists, organisational development specialists, research management specialists, evaluators and policy researchers. As a result of this, it drew on professional perspectives outside of agricultural research. Many of these perspectives were already using systems ideas, particularly in the fields of evaluation, and organisational development. So, for example, ISNAR’s capacity development activities were already making use of learning and evaluation as ways of upgrading organisational performance (see Horton et al., 2003). The organisation was also unique in that it was focusing on retooling professional skills of agricultural researchers and research managers to help them cope with the changing context of agricultural development. This led to the rolling development of a series of capacity development modules aimed at helping research staff learn their way into new roles and ways of working” (Staiger-Rivas et al. 2013).

Spinning through the online media universe (geeky, social and otherwise)

Technical Online Communicators Workshop: Group picture

Group picture of the participants, resource experts and facilitator (Peter Casier, middle of back row, both hands raised) of the first CGIAR Technical Online Communicators Workshop, 27–31 May 2013, Rome.

Twenty-four technical online communicators (aka ‘web geeks’), representing 12 of the 15 centres of the CGIAR Consortium and 5 CGIAR partner organizations, along with a dozen or so experts in various technical web-related matters, recently participated in a five-day workshop at Bioversity International, a CGIAR centre based in Maccarese, outside Rome. This was the first such meeting of CGIAR (and partner organization) staff who, just a few years ago, would probably have been called ‘webmasters’, in the sense of technicians who design or maintain websites.

That designation has changed, however, splintering into dozens of specialities in recent years with the on-going explosion of social media and other online tools, vehicles and platforms. So ours was a motley group of people serving variously (and singly or in combinations) as ‘web developers’, ‘web designers’ or ‘web [or server] administrators’; as ‘social media coordinators’ or ‘content managers’; as ‘knowledge sharers’ or ‘workflow coordinators’. Some were more on the IT side, some more focused on user engagement; some were most interested in ensuring security, some in ensuring open access; some started as content designers, some as content writers; some are now specializing in web analytics, some in social learning. Interestingly, fully a third of the group still work mostly on originating online content (content still king?), while others now focus on ‘spinning’ the content through various social media channels (a task becoming a job on its own).

The online ecosystems in these agricultural research-for-development organizations are thus evolving rapidly. And the byzantine complexity of online expertise, staffing, monikors and structures in CGIAR centres is mirrorred in many other organizations today, some of which are now forming cross-cutting web management teams headed by ‘chief web officers’ operating at the level of chief information officers. What’s clear is the increasing need for better online strategies and coordination to further organizational communications, goals and missions. With CGIAR’s fast-growing online presence, the people who ‘pull the online levers’ should no longer, this group believes, labour in isolation but rather have spaces in which to share their trials, tribulations and successes in revamping websites, optimizing websites for search engines, making web infrastructure more secure, and so on (and on).

What the workshop also made clear is that ‘geeky’ (we have agreed among us that this term, rather than ‘nerdy’, best reflects the group’s persona*), while accurately depicting what might appear as odd or unconventional, as well as technically obsessed, behaviour (and worn as a matter of pride, I suspect, by this group), denotes neither social awkwardness nor social inferiority. The socializing among the group was intense—with the younger participants running a lively online digital conversation in parallel with the ‘real’ conversation in the workshop room every day, and with the online reporting as we went along instantly appearing seemingly everywhere on the web. And every evening almost everyone took the train into Rome—to consume its food, wine, street life, handicrafts, imperial antiquity—till midnight. And then managed the early train the next morning to Maccarese and the workshop. Unstoppable! Further demonstrations of the cultural/humanistic dispositions of these technical enthusiasts came in the course of the week in the form of spontaneous opera singing, a virtuoso violin performance, a love of fine typography, a passion for truffle cream, impromptu dancing and singing contests, and much more.

Peter Casier, the endlessly energetic (and endlessly energizing) Flemish man based in Rome (but self-described ‘serial expat’) who dreamed up, organized and facilitated this workshop, which was sponsored by the CGIAR Consortium, exemplifies the diverse approaches, expertise and passions of the workshop participants. Casier’s professional background is a kaleidescope of work experiences, from graphical engineer, to ecologist, to hightech IT head, to Antarctic explorer, to ham radio operator, to technical advisor for the Red Cross, to manager of relief operations for humanitarian organizations, to sailor of the Atlantic (or was it the Pacific?), to book author, to blogger and social media guru, to (currently) full-time online media consultant for NGOs . . . . With a knack for turning hobbies into professions, and knowledgeable about most of the topics raised in the week’s proceedings (and passionate about all of them), Casier changed ‘hats’ by the hour, going from chief organizer and facilitator to moderator to listener/learner to rapporteur to time keeper to evaluator to strategist . . . Throughout, he championed the work of the participants, calling them and their jobs the ‘orphans of the orphans’ of institutional communications and ICT departments. Time to change that, he thinks. (And he, being a self-confessed ‘agitator’, is probably just the man to do that.)

The purpose of the workshop, Casier says, was ‘to kick-start an active community of practice for this group of expert online workers in CGIAR and partner institutions, a network that each can rely on to help them address common challenges, such as in web management (web monitoring tools, cloud hosting, social media monitoring tools, web development tools and CMS platforms/plugins, web security), and establish common standards (e.g., metrics of reach, basic security measures).’

Among the topics covered in the five-day CGIAR workshop (dubbed TOCS, for ‘technical online communicators’) were:

  • Online media overview and strategy
  • Website revamp process and approach
  • Web usability, optimization and security
  • Online statistics, eNewsletter systems, search engine optimization, latest design technologies/trends
  • Online document repositories, intranets, hosting
  • CMSes (Drupal, Joomla, WordPress)

Links to 180 resources for online work mentioned or discussed in this workshop are posted on Delicious.

For more information, follow the hashtag #TOCS2013 on Twitter and Yammer and read the posts on blogs by Marina Cherbonnier and Codrin Paveliuc-Olariu, both of Young Professionals in Agricultural Research for Development (YPARD).

For a digital conversation running side by side with the physical conversation of the workshop, see the Twitter stream collected by Codrin Paveliuc-Olariu.

Or contact Peter Casier at p.casier [at] cgiar.org (check out his ‘home page’, My House on the Road; his The Road to the Horizon blog; his Blog Tips blog; his Humanitarian and several other news aggregators . . .).

* Antonella Pastore, of the CGIAR Consortium, offers us the following attempt to distinguish connotations of ‘nerd’ and ‘geek’ (reminding us of the long period of attempts to reappropriate these terms). The piece includes this delightful, if unappetizing and cautionary, morsel:

The word geek is older [than nerd], starting out in the early 1900s to refer to a carnival performer whose only skill was the ability to bite the heads off chickens.’ — BBC News: Are ‘geek’ and ‘nerd’ now positive terms? 16 Nov 2012.

A few of our favourite (missed) livestock presentations in 2012

Here, for your New Year’s reading/viewing pleasure, are 20 slide presentations on 12 topics made by staff of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in 2012 that we missed reporting on here (at the ILRI News Blog) during the year.

Happy reading and Happy New Year!

1 LIVESTOCK RESEARCH FOR FOR DEVELOPMENT

>>> Sustainable and Productive Farming Systems: The Livestock Sector
Jimmy Smith
International Conference on Food Security in Africa: Bridging Research and Practice, Sydney, Australia
29-30 Nov 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 27 Nov 2012; 426 views.

Excerpts:
A balanced diet for 9 billion: Importance of livestock
•  Enough food: much of the world’s meat, milk and cereals comes from developing-country livestock based systems
•  Wholesome food: Small amounts of livestock products – huge impact on cognitive development, immunity and well being
•  Livelihoods: 80% of the poor in Africa keep livestock, which contribute at least one-third of the annual income.
The role of women in raising animals, processing and 3 selling their products is essential.

Key messages: opportunities
•  Livestock for nutrition and food security:
– Direct – 17% global kilocalories; 33% protein; contribute food for 830 million food insecure.
Demand for all livestock products will rise by more than 100% in the next 30 years, poultry especially so (170% in Africa)
– Indirect – livelihoods for almost 1 billion, two thirds women
•  Small-scale crop livestock systems (less than 2ha; 2 TLU) provide 50–75% total livestock and staple food production in Africa and Asia
and provide the greatest opportunity for research to impact on a trajectory of growth that is inclusive –
equitable, economically and environmentally sustainable.

>>> The Global Livestock Agenda: Opportunities and Challenges
Jimmy Smith
15th AAAP [Asian-Australasian Association of Animal Production] Animal Science Congress, Bangkok,Thailand
26–30 Nov 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 27 Nov 2012; 1,650 views

Excerpt:
Livestock and global development challenges
•  Feeding the world
– Livestock provide 58 million tonnes of protein annually and 17% of the global kilocalories.
•  Removing poverty
– Almost 1 billion people rely on livestock for livelihoods
•  Managing the environment
– Livestock contribute 14–18% anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, use 30% of the freshwater used for agriculture and 30% of the ice free land
– Transition of livestock systems
– Huge opportunity to impact on future environment
•  Improving human health
– Zoonoses and contaminated animal-source foods
– Malnutrition and obesity

>>> Meat and Veg: Livestock and Vegetable Researchers Are Natural,
High-value, Partners in Work for the Well-being of the World’s Poor

Jimmy Smith
World Vegetable Center, Taiwan
18 Nov 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 27 Nov 2012; 294 views.

Excerpts:
Livestock and vegetables suit an urbanizing, warming world
Smallholder livestock and vegetable production offers similar opportunities:
•  Nutritious foods for the malnourished.
•  Market opportunities to meet high urban demand.
•  Income opportunities for women and youth.
•  Expands household incomes.
•  Generates jobs.
•  Makes use of organic urban waste and wastewater.
•  Can be considered ‘organic’ and supplied to niche markets.

Opportunities for livestock & vegetable research
Research is needed on:
•  Ways to manage the perishable nature of these products.
•  Innovative technological and institutional solutions for food safety and public health problems that suit developing countries.
•  Processes, regulations and institutional arrangements regarding use of banned or inappropriate pesticides,
polluted water or wastewater for irrigation, and untreated sewage sludge for fertilizer.
•  Innovative mechanisms that will ensure access by the poor to these growing markets.
•  Ways to include small-scale producers in markets demanding
increasingly stringent food quality, safety and uniformity standards.

>>> The African Livestock Sector:
A Research View of Priorities and Strategies

Jimmy Smith
6th Meeting of the CGIAR Independent Science and Partnership Council, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
26−29 Sep 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 25 Sep 2012;  4,227 views.

Excerpts:
Livestock for nutrition
• In developing countries, livestock contribute 6−36% of protein and 2−12% of calories.
• Livestock provide food for at least 830 million food-insecure people.
• Small amounts of animal-source foods have large benefits on child growth and cognition and on pregnancy outcomes.
• A small number of countries bear most of the burden of malnutrition (India, Ethiopia, Nigeria−36% burden).

Smallholder competitiveness
Ruminant production
• Underused local feed resources and family labour give small-scale ruminant producers a comparative advantage over larger producers, who buy these.
Dairy production
• Above-normal profits of 19−28% of revenue are found in three levels of intensification of dairy production systems.
• Non-market benefits – finance, insurance, manure, traction – add 16−21% on top of cash revenue.
• Dairy production across sites in Asia, Africa, South America showed few economies of scale until opportunity costs of labour rose.
• Nos. of African smallholders still growing strongly.
Small ruminant production
• Production still dominated by poor rural livestock keepers, incl. women.
• Peri-urban fattening adds value.

>>> The CGIAR Research Program on Livestock and Fish and its Synergies
with the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health

Delia Grace and Tom Randolph
Third annual conference on Agricultural Research for Development: Innovations and Incentives, Uppsala, Sweden
26–27 Sep 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 13 Oct 2012;  468 views.

Excerpts:
Lessons around innovations and incentives
• FAILURE IS GETTING EASIER TO PREDICT – but not necessarily success
• INNOVATIONS ARE THE LEVER – but often succeed in the project context but not in the real world
• PICKING WINNERS IS WISE BUT PORTFOLIO SHOULD BE WIDER– strong markets and growing sectors drive uptake
• INCENTIVES ARE CENTRAL: value chain actors need to capture visible benefits
• POLICY: not creating enabling policy so much as stopping the dead hand of disabling policy and predatory policy implementers
‘Think like a systemicist, act like a reductionist.’

>>> The Production and Consumption of Livestock Products
in Developing Countries: Issues Facing the World’s Poor

Nancy Johnson, Jimmy Smith, Mario Herrero, Shirley Tarawali, Susan MacMillan, and Delia Grace
Farm Animal Integrated Research 2012 Conference, Washington DC, USA
4–6 Mar 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 7 Mar 2012; 1,108 views.

Excerpts:
The rising demand for livestock foods in poor countries presents
– Opportunities
• Pathway out of poverty and malnutrition
• Less vulnerability in drylands
• Sustainable mixed systems
– Threats
• Environmental degradation at local and global scales
• Greater risk of disease and poor health
• Greater risk of conflict and inequity

• Key issues for decision makers
– appreciation of the vast divide in livestock production between rich and poor countries
– intimate understanding of the specific local context for specific livestock value chains
– reliable evidence-based assessments of the hard trade-offs involved in adopting any given approach to livestock development

• Institutional innovations as important as technological/biological innovations in charting the best ways forward
– Organization within the sector
– Managing trade offs at multiple scales

2 LIVESTOCK FEEDS

>>> Livestock feeds in the CGIAR Research Programs
Alan Duncan
Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) West Africa Regional Workshop on Crop Residues, Dakar, Senegal
10–13 Dec 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare on 18 Dec 2012; 3,437 views.

>>> Biomass Pressures in Mixed Farms: Implications for Livelihoods
and Ecosystems Services in South Asia & Sub-Saharan Africa

Diego Valbuena, Olaf Erenstein, Sabine Homann-Kee Tui, Tahirou Abdoulaye, Alan Duncan, Bruno Gérard, and Nils Teufel
Planet Under Pressure Conference, London, UK
26-29 Mar 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 27 Mar 2012;  1,999 views.

3 LIVESTOCK IN INDIA

>>> Assessing the Potential to Change Partners’ Knowledge,
Attitude and Practices on Sustainable Livestock Husbandry in India

Sapna Jarial, Harrison Rware, Pamela Pali, Jane Poole and V Padmakumar
International Symposium on Agricultural Communication and
Sustainable Rural Development, Pantnagar, Uttarkhand, India
22–24 Nov 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 30 Nov 2012; 516 views.

Excerpt:
Introduction to ELKS
• ‘Enhancing Livelihoods Through Livestock Knowledge Systems’ (ELKS) is an initiative
to put the accumulated knowledge of advanced livestock research directly to use
by disadvantaged livestock rearing communities in rural India.
• ELKS provides research support to Sir Ratan Tata Trust and its development partners
to address technological, institutional and policy gaps.

4 AGRICULTURAL R4D IN THE HORN OF AFRICA

>>> Introducing the Technical Consortium
for Building Resilience to Drought in the Horn of Africa

Polly Ericksen, Mohamed Manssouri and Katie Downie
Global Alliance on Drought Resilience and Growth, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
5 Nov 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 21 Dec 2012; 8,003 views.

Excerpts:
What is the Technical Consortium?
• A joint CGIAR-FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations] initiative,
with ILRI representing the CGIAR Centres and the FAO Investment Centre representing FAO.
• ILRI hosts the Coordinator on behalf of the CGIAR.
• Funded initially by USAID [United State Agency for International Development] for 18 months –
this is envisioned as a longer term initiative, complementing the implementation of investment plans
in the region and harnessing, developing and applying innovation and research to enhance resilience.
• An innovative partnersh–ip linking demand-driven research sustainable action for development.

What is the purpose of the Technical Consortium?
• To provide technical and analytical support to IGAD [Inter-governmental Authority on Development]
and its member countries to design and implement the CPPs [Country Programming Papers]
and the RPF [Regional Programming Framework], within the scope of
the IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI).
• To provide support to IGAD and its member countries to develop regional and national
resilience-enhancing investment programmes for the long term development of ASALs [arid and semi-arid lands].
• To harness CGIAR research, FAO and others’ knowledge on drought resilience and bring it to bear on investments and policies.

5 LIVESTOCK AND FOOD/NUTRITIONAL SECURITY

>>> Mobilizing AR4D Partnerships to Improve
Access to Critical Animal-source Foods

Tom Randolph
Pre-conference meeting of the second Global Conference for Agricultural Research for Development (GCARD2), Punta de Este, Uruguay
27 Oct 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 29 Oct 2012; 385 views.

Excerpts:
The challenge
• Can research accelerate livestock and aquaculture development to benefit the poor?
– Mixed record to date
– Systematic under-investment
– Also related to our research-for-development model?
• Focus of new CGIAR Research Program
– Increase productivity of small-scale systems
> ‘by the poor’ for poverty reduction
> ‘for the poor’ for food security

Correcting perceptions
1. Animal-source foods are a luxury and bad for health, so should not promote
2. Small-scale production and marketing systems are disappearing; sector is quickly industrializing
3. Livestock and aquaculture development will have negative environmental impacts

Our underlying hypothesis
• Livestock and Blue Revolutions: accelerating demand in developing countries as urbanization and incomes rise
• Industrial systems will provide a large part of the needed increase in supply to cities and the better-off in some places
• But the poor will often continue to rely on small-scale production and marketing systems
• If able to respond, they could contribute, both increasing supplies and reducing poverty
. . . and better manage the transition for many smallholder households.

6 LIVESTOCK INSURANCE

>>> Index-Based Livestock Insurance:
Protecting Pastoralists against Drought-related Livestock Mortality

Andrew Mude
World Food Prize ‘Feed the Future’ event, Des Moines, USA
18 Oct 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 22 Oct 2012; 576 views.

Excerpts:
Index-Based Livestock Insurance
• An innovative insurance scheme designed to protect pastoralists against the risk of drought-related livestock deaths
• Based on satellite data on forage availability (NDVI), this insurance pays out when forage scarcity is predicted to cause livestock deaths in an area.
• IBLI pilot first launched in northern Kenya in Jan 2010. Sold commercially by local insurance company UAP with reinsurance from Swiss Re
• Ethiopia pilot launched in Aug 2012.

Why IBLI? Social and Economic Welfare Potential
An effective IBLI program can:
• Prevent downward slide of vulnerable populations
• Stabilize expectations & crowd-in investment by the poor
• Induce financial deepening by crowding-in credit S & D
• Reinforce existing social insurance mechanisms

Determinants of IBLI Success
DEMONSTRATE WELFARE IMPACTS
• 33% drop in households employing hunger strategies
• 50% drop in distress sales of assets
• 33% drop in food aid reliance (aid traps)

7 LIVESTOCK-HUMAN (ZOONOTIC) DISEASES

>>> Lessons Learned from the Application of Outcome Mapping to
an IDRC EcoHealth Project: A Double-acting Participatory Process
K Tohtubtiang, R Asse, W Wisartsakul and J Gilbert
1st Pan Asia-Africa Monitoring and Evaluation Forum, Bangkok, Thailand
26–28 Nov 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 5 Dec 2012; 1,395 views.

Excerpt:
EcoZD Project Overview
Ecosystem Approaches to the Better Management of Zoonotic Emerging
Infectious Diseases in the Southeast Asia Region (EcoZD)
•  Funded by International Development Research Centre, Canada (IDRC)
•  5-year project implemented by International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
•  Goals: capacity building & evidence-based knowledge•  8 Research & outreach teams in 6 countries.

>>> Mapping the interface of poverty, emerging markets and zoonoses
Delia Grace
Ecohealth 2012 conference, Kunming, China
15–18 Oct 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 23 Nov 2012; 255 views.

Excerpt:
Impacts of zoonoses currently or in the last year
• 12% of animals have brucellosis, reducing production by 8%
• 10% of livestock in Africa have HAT, reducing their production by 15%
• 7% of livestock have TB, reducing their production by 6% and from 3–10% of human TB cases may be caused by zoonotic TB
• 17% of smallholder pigs have cysticercosis, reducing their value and creating the enormous burden of human cysticercosis
• 27% of livestock have bacterial food-borne disease, a major source of food contamination and illness in people
• 26% of livestock have leptospirosis, reducing production and acting as a reservoir for infection
• 25% of livestock have Q fever, and are a major source of infection of farmers and consumers.

>>> International Agricultural Research and Agricultural Associated Diseases
Delia Grace (ILRI) and John McDermott (IFPRI)
Workshop on Global Risk Forum at the One Health Summit 2012—
One Health–One Planet–One Future: Risks and Opportunities, Davos, Switzerland
19–22 Feb 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 5 Mar 2012; 529 views.

8 LIVESTOCK MEAT MARKETS IN AFRICA

>>> African Beef and Sheep Markets: Situation and Drivers
Derek Baker
South African National Beef and Sheep Conference, Pretoria, South Africa
21 Jun 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 24 Nov 2012; 189 views.

Excerpt:
African demand and consumption: looking to the future
• By 2050 Africa is estimated to become the largest world’s market in terms of pop: 27% of world’s population.
• Africa’s consumption of meat, milk and eggs will increase to 12, 15 and 11% resp. of global total (FAO, 2009)

9 KNOWLEDGE SHARING FOR LIVESTOCK DEVELOPMENT

>>> Open Knowledge Sharing to Support Learning in
Agricultural and Livestock Research for Development Projects

Peter Ballantyne
United States Agency for International Development-Technical and Operational Performance Support (USAID-TOPS) Program: Food Security and Nutrition Network East Africa Regional Knowledge Sharing Meeting, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
11–13 Jun 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 11 Jun 2012; 2,220 views

10 LIVESTOCK AND GENDER ISSUES

>>> Strategy and Plan of Action for Mainstreaming Gender in ILRI
Jemimah Njuki
International Women’s Day, ILRI, Nairobi, Kenya
8 Mar 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 8 Mar 2012; 876 views.

11 AGRICULTURAL BIOSCIENCES HUB IN AFRICA

>>> Biosciences eastern and central Africa –
International Livestock Research Institute (BecA-ILRI) Hub:
Its Role in Enhancing Science and Technology Capacity in Africa

Appolinaire Djikeng
Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Vancouver, Canada
16–20 Feb 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 20 Feb 2012; 2,405 views.

12 PASTORAL PAYMENTS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES

>>> Review of Community Conservancies in Kenya
Mohammed Said, Philip Osano, Jan de Leeuw, Shem Kifugo, Dickson Kaelo, Claire Bedelian and Caroline Bosire
Workshop on Enabling Livestock-Based Economies in Kenya to Adapt to Climate Change:
A Review of PES from Wildlife Tourism as a Climate Change Adaptation Option, at ILRI, Nairobi, Kenya
15 Feb 2012; posted on ILRI Slideshare 27 Feb 2012; 762 views.

Cows in the cloud: Kenyans are registering their cows, and increasing their milk yields, on their mobile phones

Su Kahumbu

Award-winning Kenyan agricultural entrepreneur Su Kahumbu (photo on Flickr by afromusing).

On Tue, 11 Dec 2012, Kenyan social entrepreneur Su Kahumbu gave ILRI’s fourth ‘livestock live talk’ seminar, titled ‘Livestock and mobile technology’, at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Nairobi, Kenya.

Kahumbu founded Green Dreams Ltd and Green Dreams Tech Ltd companies, which are focused on creating solutions for small-scale organic farmers in Africa. She has 14 years experience across the whole of the organic value chains in Kenya, from production to consumption and policy to advocacy. Kahumbu is a TED Fellow and is spreading her passion through the TED network; her ambition is to help ‘Build a better Africa from the ground up’.

Kahumbu is also the creator of an Apps4Africa Award-winning app known as iCow, a mobile application officially launched in June 2011 that she developed to help small-scale dairy farmers track their cow’s fertility cycle. It prompts  farmers on vital days of cow gestation period, helps  farmers find the nearest vet and all service providers, collects and stores farmer milk and breeding records, and sends farmers best dairy practices.

A mother of three, Kahumbu started her presentation by confessing to her largely scientific audience that she knew little cows when she started and know little about technology . “What I feel I do know about is what smallholder farmers need to help them mitigate the big risks of farming. My presentation will take you through the development of iCow.

What keeps her up at night
‘There are a few things that keep me up at night. One billion people on the planet suffering from malnutrition. And climbing. Largely due to unsustainable agriculture and ecological practices. . . . We do produce enough food for the planet, but we only consume half of what we produce. Millions of tonnes are lost in post-harvest, transport, processing and retail.

‘That’s worrying. More worrying is that more than one in four Africans—218 million people—on this continent are suffering from undernourishment.

‘The current solutions I feel that we’ve been delivering to small-scale farmers and to farmers in general have been at the expense of our ecosystem and is resulting in dependence on very heavy, expensive inputs: fertilizers, adapted and modified seeds that generally the farmers cannot afford.

‘In working with farmers over the last few years, I’ve seen this continual vicious cycle, with farmers being pushed to adopt new technologies, and to spend more, and to get money from banks. And I don’t see this as sustainable, especially when the core problem is that we’re not focusing on the fertility of our soils.

‘On top of that, who is it that we call a farmer? Farmers in industrialized countries are mechanized, industiralized, subsidized, compared to farmers here who are, literally, unsupported, yet, in our case in Kenya, supply 80% of the national food. It’s quite shocking.

‘Farmers risks [here] are enormous. If I were to say to you, “Let’s all of us get out there and go get a job where we’re going to have weather on our doorsteps, poor storage, poor infrastructure, high inputs”, how many of us would actually say “That’s great, let’s go do it”? Yet we depend on these same smallholder farmers to feed us.

Going forward, one of the things I think we really need to focus on is what I’m largely doing with iCow, and that is focusing on reducing the risks of the smallholder farmer. . . .

It became quite evident that what farmers needed was knowledge, markets and finance. . . .

Mobiles in Kenya: A ‘huge, huge, huge opportunity’
‘We have today 80% mobile phone penetration across the country, with 100% penetration among 20 to 29 year olds. On the African continent, we have 700 million mobile phones. That is a huge, huge, huge opportunity to get information out to farmers.

‘And that leads me to iCow. iCow is an agricultural information platform accessed primarily via mobile phones, although we do do some stuff on the web. You don’t have to have a smart phone. We started out using sms [short message service]. The objectives were to increase farmer productivity through increased knowledge.

The iCow ‘pipe’
‘I describe iCow as a pipe, with one end the farmers. . . . Farmers register their cow on the date the animal is served and we start to push sms’s to them along the gestation period of that animal, reminding the farmer when she’ll come into heat again. We continue to drip-feed information on best practices right up until the animal gives birth. If it’s a lactating animal, when tell them when and how to dry the cow off without it getting mastitis, etc.

‘To get a vet or AI, farmers simply send the word “vet” or “AI” plus the short code—the short code is 50-24—over one of the three largest networks in the country. When they send the word “vet”; they get a response asking them where they’re located, and they receive the telephone numbers and the names of the vets in their locality. Same with AI. This service is offered 24/7.  The system is automated so they can receive the information whenever they like. Both these features are quite popular.

‘As we took the product to market, we had to build in a customer care centre . . . . We found that many farmers knowing that there is a voice at the end of the system helps them adopt new technologies.

‘As we started to roll out the platform, on 3 June 2011, . . . we had to build another feature quite quickly, and that is what we call Mashauri. That is where farmers register to receive three sms messages a week, at this point in time across the value proposition of the cow. And so they get information on feeding, on vaccinations, on calf care, etc. But they don’t have to have registered their cow.

‘Soon after that, farmers started saying “I want to buy a cow”, “Where do I get  a heifer calf”. Or “I want to buy a dairy goat”. So we built a marketplace [called Soko]. Very, very easy. Just like Craig’sList [an online classified ad service in many cities and countries throughout the world], but on a mobile phone [rather than the internet]. Through a series of steps, a farmer posts what it is he wants to sell, and through a series a steps whoever is looking for that will simply get his telephone number. So if you’re selling a Toggenburg goat, you will put in “Toggenburg goat” and farmers looking for Toggenburg goats will get your number. . . .

‘As our database started to grow—today our database is 42,000 farmers—we put on a feature called Sauti. Again, farmers register for it, and if anything critical comes up, we can send them that information on their authority. . . .

‘And then Videos. An sms is only 160 characters long; you cannot put too much information in an sms. So we’ve put up 2-3-minute videos on our website and we’ve shown farmers who are registered what to do when they get to the nearest cybercafe; we send them short links where they’ll find short videos about  the information they’re looking for. . . .

TEDx Nairobi 2010: Su Kahumbu

Su Kahumbu is a TEDX Fellow (picture on Flickr by Wa-J, Joshua Wanyama).

Both ends of the iCow pipe are working
‘What we found was that as we were dealing with farmers, other people started getting interested—the other end of the pipe—the NGOs, government, practitioners on the ground, etc. We started getting requests from them to help reach farmers, in some cases just to do surveys, so that they could see very quickly how their programs were impacting on the ground. So both ends of the pipe are now actually working.

Virtual vets
‘We also found that sometimes farmers were requesting things from us that we couldn’t answer. And they weren’t very happy about the vets on the ground. So we thought, “What can we do about that?”. So we started looking at using vets in the virtual sense.

‘We formed a very simple system using Google Docs. We upload any question that we can’t deal with or that the farmer didn’t get an answer to on the ground to a few vets, and the vets send the messages among themselves and come up with the best answer that they send to us, that we then forward to the farmer.

‘It’s really interesting because we have vets in Uganda answering questions from farmers in Kenya. And we’ve had requests from Senegal, where they had only four vets on the ground, asking whether they can use the same system.

‘Long-term, it makes it very interesting how expertise and skills using the cloud can actually network and reach out across borders quite easily, if it is planned right and there is political support.

iCow snapshot

  • 42,000 farmers in the iCow database.
  • iCow is becoming an educational tool.
  • Profile of iCow farmer: 1–2 acres land, 2–3 cows, 20% women.
  • After 7 months, iCow farmers are getting 2–3 extra litres of milk per cow per day.
  • Other gains:
    Reduced calf mortality
    Fee conservation
    Fodder production
    Reduced veterinary costs
    Healthier animals

Amazing maize story
‘An interesting thing happened on April 10th, when the first information started coming out about maize disease in the country. Farmers were up in arms—they weren’t getting any responses from government. They wanted to know “What is the solution? What can we do?” Government was being quite, everybody was being quiet, because nobody knew what to do.

‘But we heard from some farmers on Facebook that one of the seed multiplication centres of KARI [the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute] had some good-quality disease-free seed. So we took that information, put it on our system and sent it to 11,000 farmers, using iCow. And literally, within minutes, the phone in that centre was ringing off the hook and farmers started to buy the seed using MPESA [Kenyan mobile phone financial service] and having it sent by matatu [Kenyan taxi]. Within three days, there was no seed left in that centre.

‘We called KARI and asked “What was the reaction?”. They said, “How did that happen? We now have to bulk up three times as much seed as we thought we needed. They expected to sell the seed over a six-month period and they sold it, literally, within days. So again, using technology to make those links, make those connections work. It was 6 weeks later that the seed problem hit the headlines in Kenya. I was so happy that at least we could do something that much earlier for farmers.

East Coast fever vaccine: 99% of Kenyan farmers want it
‘Many of you know, especially here in ILRI, that the ECF [East Coast fever] vaccination has just been launched  in Kitale. We worked with GALVmed to do a survey using iCow to find out what farmers felt about the vaccination. And 99% of those surveyed said they want the vaccination and said “When can we have it? Let us know straight away.”

‘We were invited to the launch and I’m happy to say that this is going to be a huge thing for the farmers in Africa. This is an awful disease killing up to 1.1. million livestock a year on the continent.

‘That brings me to the end of my presentation.

What iCow is doing, I believe, is turning our farmers, our survivors, our people on the land, whatever you want to call them, into knowledgable farmers. We currently have farmers in 42 different counties; we have 42,000 farmers in our database using different features of the platform.

Thank you.’

Watch and listen to this Part 1 of ILRI’s ‘livestock live talk’ seminar here: http://www.ilri.org/livestream. Part 2 of this talk, in which Kahumbu tells us more about herself and answer questions, will be posted here soon.

Or view her slide presentation here: Livestock and mobile technology, presentation by Su Kahumbu at ILRI on 11 Dec 2012.

You can contact Su Kahumbu at su [at] greendreams.co.ke

 


 

Livestock live talks’ is a seminar series at ILRI that aims to address livestock-related issues, mobilize external as well as in-house expertise and audiences and engage the livestock community around interdisciplinary conversations that ask hard questions and seek to refine current research concepts and practices.

All ILRI staff, partners and donors, and interested outsiders are invited. Those non-staff who would want to come, please contact Angeline Nekesa at a.nekesa[at]cgiar.org (or via ILRI switchboard 020 422 3000) to let her know. If you would like to give one of these seminars, or have someone you would like to recommend, please contact Silvia Silvestri at s.silvestri[at]cgiar.org (or via ILRI switchboard 020 422 3000).

KARI agricultural innovations big hit with young smart business farmers: ‘Those are OUR people’

13th Biennial Scientific Conference at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) in Nairobi

 A few of the tents on the exhibit grounds at the 13th Biennial Scientific Conference held at KARI in Nairobi from 22–26 Oct 2012 (photo by ILRI/Alexandra Jorge).

The 13th Biennial Scientific Conference and Exhibition at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) took place last week at KARI’s headquarters in Nairobi’s leafy suburb of Loresho.

This correspondent—enamoured of the sea of white tents erected across KARI’s rolling green lawns to showcase hundreds of exhibitors of ‘Agricultural Products, Technologies & Innovations’—never actually made it to the proceedings of the conference itself. But if the conference was anything like the exhibits, it must have been a great success.

My organization, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), tried to distinguish its exhibit on livestock forage research and capacity building from the hundreds of other tents just like it with decorations of African artefacts—wooden bowls, woven baskets and traditional cloths and the like—as well as safari chairs inviting passersby to come inside for a conversation. So successful were we that many people upon entering the ILRI tent promptly asked to buy some of the display items (and were promptly disappointed when we told them they weren’t for sale.) The big cattle and camel bells were also a big hit, with the visitors having to explain to ILRI staff the difference between the bell sounds appropriate for cows and those for bulls!

We were at KARI to promote opportunities for young Kenyan scientists to train at ILRI, the headquarters of which are located just a 15-minute drive from KARI. And we showcased our collaborative research with KARI scientists, including Solomon Mwendia, on disease-resistant varieties of Napier grass, aka ‘elephant grass’, on which so many Kenyan smallholder farmers depend for feeding their milk cows.

ILRI forage seed display at KARI event

Forage seed display at the ILRI booth (photo by ILRI/Alexandra Jorge).

Visitors showed great interest in ILRI printed materials about improved forages and feeds (lab lab, oats, vetch), seed samples and Napier grass cuttings and leaves, and a research-based feed assessment tool for selecting appropriate feeds for different regions.

13th Biennial Scientific Conference at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) in Nairobi

Alexandra Jorge, head of ILRI’s Forage Genebank, in Addis Abba, Ethiopia, talks to a visitor in ILRI’s booth on the exhibit grounds at the week-long KARI scientific conference; in the basket are varieties of disease-resistant Napier from the genebank (photo by ILRI/Paul Karaimu).

‘The demand for information was huge’, says Alexandra Jorge, who heads ILRI’s Forage Genebank, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and came down to Nairobi to answer questions and provide expertise at KARI’s week-long event. ‘We had questions about the best feeds for dairy goats, how to maximize forage production for feeding dairy cows, the best methods for raising pigs, the best breeds of chickens to keep, how to transition to stall-fed (‘zero grazed’) dairy animals, how to start hydroponic and screen-house forage production, and what climate change is likely to change in Kenyan agriculture—and what livestock farmers can do now to cope with it.’

‘I really enjoyed participating in this exhibit,’ Jorge says ‘having real contact with our users and clients and chatting about their challenges and projects. It made me think hard about what we researchers do and the impact and benefits we can bring to farmers. It also made me realize how little I know about the work that many colleagues are doing and that we should make this information much more available.’

‘It was amazing to see the amount of interesting and innovative work KARI and many Kenyan universities are doing. Many people had stories to share, or tasty food, like the amazing sorghum sausages that taste just like meat!’

Sausages for sale at KARI event

Sausages for sale at the KARI event (photo by ILRI/Alexandra Jorge).

ILRI research manager Sandra Rwese was most impressed with the number of young entrepreneurs at this event looking for agricultural innovations and good ideas. ‘Scores of youth finding few jobs in urban areas appear to be calling city life quits and heading to rural farming villages. The numbers of these young new farmers that I met at the KARI event are much larger than I’d expected. This young generation is clearly keen on taking agriculture and livestock farming to the next level.’

Jane Gitau, a communications officer at ILRI, agrees. ‘Many of the visitors to ILRI’s tent inquiring about better methods of livestock keeping appeared to be in their thirties and early forties. They wanted information to take away with them; they wanted to learn more efficient methods of farming. It was refreshing to witness this drive to make agriculture a knowledge-based business.’

KARI display of range grass seed at KARI event

KARI display of range grass seed at KARI event (photo by ILRI/Alexandra Jorge).

‘Walking from booth to booth’, Gitau said, ‘I was amazed to see all that KARI had to offer from its 22 centres countrywide, from Kibos to Kiboko, Muguga to Thika, each with a different mandate in agricultural research. Staff from KARI’s Kiboko Research Station, located about 150 km southeast of Nairobi and the institute’s drylands station, exhibited various imported and hybrid rangeland grasses they are trialing. KARI’s Muguga Station was exhibiting some of Kenya’s important plant and livestock genetic resources. And an improved rice variety grown under irrigation at Kibos, in western Kenya, was on display, along with rice flour, rice cakes, rice doughnuts and rice cookies!’

Selling traditional Kamba baskets at KARI event

Traditional Taita woven baskets for sale at the KARI event (photo by ILRI/Alexandra Jorge).

Finally, Gitau remarked on the close connections KARI has to its constituency. ‘Those of us manning the ILRI booth often directed visitors to the many KARI booths to get their specific farming and livestock keeping questions answered. These people sought practical help and region-specific recommendations we didn’t have’, Gitau said. ‘When I asked people if they knew where to find KARI, I several times got the reply, ‘Hao ni watu wetu’, colloquial Swahili for, “Those are our people”.

 

Participatory radio’s power in driving adoption of farming technologies: Lessons from Farm Radio International

The African Farm Radio Research Initiative

A Ghanaian radio presenter talks with farmers during a broadcast. Participatory radio can hasten adoption of new technologies by smallholder farmers in Africa (photo from Flickr, Gates Foundation).

A recent study by Farm Radio International shows participatory radio campaigns that use local languages, allow farmer participation and that highlight tested and available technologies are particularly useful in hastening the adoption of new technologies by small-scale farmers in Africa.

In an experiment carried out between 2007 and 2011 under the African Farm Radio Research Initiative, Farm Radio International tested a participatory radio campaign in in Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Tanzania and Uganda. The campaign carried out 49 participatory radio campaigns through 25 state, community and religious radio stations across the 5 countries.

Nearly 80 percent of small-scale farmers in Africa have access to radio and farm radio broadcasts have existed in the continent for a long time but most have not inspired large-scale change.

The African Farm Radio Research Initiative wanted to see how radio could be used to reach farmers at a larger scale. Using radio broadcasts that explained available and tested farming improvements, the initiatives focused on what farmers in the target communities said they wanted. Broadcasts were then scheduled at times that were most convenient to the farmers in each region. The programs featured interviews and content from members of participating ‘active communities’ and each week a successful farmer’s experience was featured in the shows. Listeners were asked to decide if they would try the improvement they had heard about and they were given a chance to comment and be heard through live calls and short message service (SMS).

The study compared the reach and impact of 14 participatory radio campaigns in a participating community and a control community which never received the signals. The experiment also assessed the impact of the broadcasts in the larger community that was reached by the broadcasts.

‘The results were compelling,’ says David Mowbray, the manager in charge of training and standards at Farm Radio. ‘We found that 39 percent of the active listeners and 22 percent of the passive listeners had started new practices to improve their farming since the start of the broadcasts,’ he said. Mowbray, who presented the findings of the survey at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) on 17 September 2012, said that as a result of the initiative, nearly 1 million small-scale farm households tried what they heard on radio in the 5 countries.

‘The participatory radio campaign approach worked because radio programs were broadcast in local languages and allowed farmers to learn from each other,’ said Mowbray.

Farm Radio is now carrying out a follow-up survey to investigate how the adoptions spread after the end of the campaign and if the early adopters have continued using the methods they learnt. The organization hopes to scale out the methodology used in this study to other parts of Africa.

View David Mowbray’s presentation here: http://www.slideshare.net/cgiarclimate/david-14357710

To find out more about the approach visit www.farmradio.org

Above the fold: Remembering Jeff Haskins

Jeff Haskins at GFRAS conference in Nairobi 9 2011

Jeff Haskins at a conference of the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services in Nairobi in Nov 2011 (photo credit: Eric McGaw).

We at the Kenya-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and at CGIAR and other institutions working for agricultural development in poor countries are still reeling from the news that our chief media strategist, writer, consultant and friend for the last six years, American Jeff Haskins, of Burness Communications, died of a heart attack at the Kenya coast early Saturday morning on 14 Jul 2012.

Just ten days before that, Jeff had sent out a news release he had shepherded through at least a dozen drafts about a new ILRI report that maps the likely hotspots of poverty and diseases shared by people and animals. This, the latest media campaign Jeff and his colleagues at Burness had waged with ILRI, was in some respects ILRI’s most successful yet. Our news ran in hundreds of print and online media and blogs across six continents, 20 countries and 10 languages, from the most prestigious scientific journals (Nature, Science, The Lancet), to popular science media (New Scientist, The Scientist), to broadcast heavyweights (BBC, Deutsche Welle, Voice of America), to top-tier print newspapers (Globe and Mail, Le Monde, New York Times, Sydney Morning Herald, Times of India) and magazines (Der Spiegel, Wired), to some of the biggest wire services (Bloomberg, Reuters, Xinhua), to some of the hottest blogs (Fast Company’s Co.EXIST, Gizmodo). In a cruel irony Jeff would have appreciated, we have continued to get alerts of new press clippings throughout these first ten days of mourning his loss of life, the ILRI news being published on the very morning of his death in the New York Times Sunday Review, with the headline and an accompanying illustration appearing on the front page of the Times, above the fold.

Jeff had turned 32 the week before he died. He had just celebrated his fourth wedding anniversary with Meredith Braden, with whom he’d been together since he was sixteen. He and Meredith had just moved from their work-efficient apartment at Nairobi’s Yaya Centre into a nearby house with a small garden. He had just started growing (and eating) his own vegetables. He had just bought a BMW touring motorcycle. He had just announced that he and Meredith were expecting their first child.

He was going to buy land in Kenya and settle and raise his children here. He was going to start escaping on weekend motorcycle safaris with Meredith and friends. He was going to find new ways to reach the new social as well as traditional media. He was going to learn how to combine his fine still images with sound in powerful photofilm formats.

He was going to be big. As big as his outsized heart. His outsized commitments. His outsized passion and energy.

Do it

Jeff and a friend, ‘Do it’, by Jeff.

A hyper-active, hyper-productive journalist working 24/7 for all seasons and many centres of CGIAR (the mothership of ILRI and 14 other institutes working for global food-security), Jeff worked in Africa for six years for Burness Communications, a US-based public relations company, setting up their first Africa office and then becoming director of BurnessAfrica.

Consortium media briefing at ILRI on drought in the Horn: Jeff Haskins

Voice of America journalist Cathy Majtenyi and media specialist Jeff Haskins, of Burness Communications, at the CGIAR News Briefing on ‘Research Options for Mitigating Drought-induced Food Crises,’ 1 Sep 2011 (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

In this job, Jeff crisscrossed the globe, working with whoever and whatever would advance his cause. Over time he became a veritable one-man farmers’ almanac of even the most arcane aspects of research on developing-country agriculture. In Nairobi he worked with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the CGIAR Gender & Diversity Program, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute (KARI) and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). He worked with the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the Montpellier-based CGIAR Consortium and the Copenhagen-based CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). He worked with the Cornell University-based Borlaug Global Rust Initiative and the Accra-based Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). He worked with the Paris-based International Council for Science, and with the Cali-based International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the Ibadan-based International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the Colombo-based CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF), and the Rome-based Global Crop Diversity Trust.

Untitled

Jeff’s media badges, by Jeff.

To cover their stories of cassava, maize, potato, bean, millet, rice, wheat, groundnut, livestock, land, water, wildlife, policy, women, he travelled more in his short life than most of us. From Lagos to Ibadan. Cotonou to Monrovia, Accra to Dakar. Limuru to Marsabit. Bangkok to Chiang Mai. London to Paris. Rio to Rwanda.

He covered agro-dealers in Uganda, black-eyed peas in Senegal, logging in Liberia, legumes in Lamu, grain markets in Abuja, maize in Malawi, dairies in Ol Kalou, seed suppliers in Malawi, ministerial dialogues in Ouagadougou, press conferences in Nairobi, foresters in Yaoundé, yam festivals in southeast Nigeria.

Jeff Haskins with Kofi Annan in Ghana

Jeff Haskins with Kofi Annan in Ghana (photo credit: Eric McGaw).

He hung out with journalists and farmers, with film-makers and drivers, as well as with the luminaries of our agricultural development world—people like Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution, Kofi Annan of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, Monty Jones of the Forum for a Green Revolution in Africa, Cary Fowler of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, and Carlos Seré of the International Livestock Research Institute.

Nsawam, Ghana

Jeff in Nsawam, eastern Ghana, by Jeff.

Moving from place to place, Eldoret to Moiben, Samburu to Soy, he attended farmer association meetings, school outings, installations of weather stations and launches of insurance schemes. He photographed and choreographed media coverage of a world cowpea conference in Dakar and starving cattle outside Nairobi, Hilary Clinton’s visit to Nairobi and the African Women’s Agricultural Research Development program, and the opening of the ‘doomsday’ seed vault in Svalbard, deep in the frozen wastes of the Arctic Circle.

IMG_2446

Jeff on the road, by Jeff.

With his ever-inquisitive, ever-roving mind, he was always pushing, pushing, pushing against our institutional agenda with his questions. What was the future of livestock, he would ask. Why weren’t we (ILRI) doing more with camels to help pastoral herders cope with climate change? What did we think of the guinea pig as a dinner staple? Is rabbit meat the next big thing? Could we replace cows with artificial lab-grown meat? (Those who have been on the receipt-end of a Jeff Haskins-led media campaign will recognize the onslaught of interest and queries.)

From the food price crises to devastating droughts and crop failures to plagues of disease to malnourished children to water scarcity to the marginalization of women to lousy markets and worse weather to catastrophic livestock losses, Jeff was there, talking, probing, organizing, photographing, texting on his iPhone, writing on his iPad. Usually all at once.

DSC_0113

Jeff at work, by Jeff.

He did all this with the urgency of a war correspondent needing to get stuff captured, and captured fast. And yet, unlike many war correspondents, he was full not of doom but of cautious optimism. And a kind of irrepressible energy that inspired hope even in dire situations.

Like many of Jeff’s clients, I work for a research institute that remains largely ignorant of the manic ways and means of major media. Jeff understood that. He knew that scientists were a cautious bunch, tending (compared to himself) to move at glacial speeds. So he tried hard—with only some success—to keep a lid on his impatience as his interest built inexorably in a barrage of emails he would start sending one’s inbox the moment he hatched an idea for a possible new story.

Nungwi

Jeff at Ras Nungwi Beach, Zanzibar, by Jeff.

Jeff’s appetite for life was big. His interests wide. His friendships deep. Somehow, he always made time for building relationships, for mentoring the young and learning from experts he admired. In his non-existent spare time, he managed visits to the Great Wall of China, the canals of Amsterdam, the streets of Paris, the art of Rome, the wildebeest migration in the Mara. He liked to retreat at the end of hectic projects to the balmy beaches of Diani, on the south coast of Kenya, which is where, at the break of a tropical dawn ten days ago, he suffered fatal cardiac arrest.

Wonderwoman and me

‘Wonderwoman and me’, Jeff and Meredith, by Jeff.

He packed in a lot in his 31 short years, from teenage rock guitarist to loving family man to science reporter to global journalist advocate for African agriculture.

Jeff had everything to look forward to. That he died in the midst of building an uncommonly big life, enriched by close family and friends, a mission to serve others, an impossible job he loved and did impossibly well, and a driving passion to excel, is heartening. And heart-breaking.

Like many of the people he worked with and for, Jeff Haskins died long before his time.

Those of us he has left behind could do worse than learn from his legacy what we might do with the works and days that remain to us.

Samburu_Sabache_wings

 

25 major ILRI news releases produced over the past five years by ILRI and Africa media specialist  Jeff Haskins, of Burness Communications

2007

(1) Sep: A ‘livestock meltdown’ is occurring as farm animals face extinction

(2) Nov: Cutting-edge breed technologies help Kenyans capitalize on dairy boom

2008

(3) Apr: Rising milk and meat prices bring threats and opportunities

(4) Sep: Uniting human and animal health in Africa

2009

(5) Apr: Drastic declines in wildlife in Kenya’s Masai Mara

(6) May: Conference promotes US$150-billion African produce market

(7) Jun: Climate change could ruin 1m sq km of African staple crop farming

(8) Oct: American TV show ’60 Minutes’ features ILRI research in Masai Mara

(9) Nov: Climate change to create losers as well as winners in East Africa

(10) Dec: Producing more livestock foods with fewer greenhouse gas emissions

2010

(11) Jan: Insuring Kenya’s pastoralists against drought

(12) Feb: New investments need to support mixed crop-livestock farmers

(13) Jul: Losses of Africa’s native livestock threaten food supplies

(14) Sep: Better pastures and breeds could reduce carbon ‘hoofprint’

(15) Nov: Four-plus degree world will create widespread farm failure in Africa

2011

(16) Jan: Mixed farmers on extensive frontier critical to global food security

(17) Feb: Livestock boom risks aggravating animals plagues

(18) Feb: Livestock one of three ways to feed the growing world—Economist

(19) May: Scientists identify livestock genes responsible for resisting disease

(20) Jun: Mapping hotspots of climate change and food insecurity

(21) Jun: East Africa, Middle East prevent livestock diseases from disrupting trade

(22) Jun: Livestock and climate change: Towards credible figures

(23) Aug: Invest in pastoralism to combat drought in East Africa

2012

(24) Mar: Farmers must be linked to markets to combat Africa’s food woes

(25) Jul: Hotspots mapped of new and old human-animal disease outbreaks

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20 major ILRI opinion pieces developed over the past five years by ILRI and Africa media specialist  Jeff Haskins, of Burness Communications

2007

(1) Is eating meat worse for the environment than driving? Science in Africa

(2) Another inconvenient truth, letter to The New York Times

2008

(3) When worlds collide: Those who eat too much—and those who eat too little, ILRI News Blog

(4) Rising world food prices, CGIAR media roundtable

2009

(5) Livestock and climate change: Towards credible figures,
letter to the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times

(6) Demonizing livestock hurts one billion poor, unpublished letter to The New York Times

(7) Renewing African agriculture, Science Alert

(8) Putting food on the climate change table: Time for climate negotiators to put meat on the bones of the next agreement, ScienceAfrica

(9) No simple solution to livestock and climate change, SciDevNet

(10) Balancing the global need for meat, BBC News viewpoint

2010

(11) Should we eat less meat to increase food security?: Vicki Hird and John McDermott disagree, British Science Association

(12) Livestock diversity needs genebanks too, SciDevNet

(13) Animal farm: Ending poverty by keeping cows on the farm, World Food Prize Symposium

(14) Backing smallholder farmers today could prevent the food crises of tomorrow, Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog

2011

(15) Animal farming and human health are intimately linked, Guardian’s Poverty Matters Blog

(16) A famine-proof world requires investment in farm research, Des Moines Register

(17) Investment in pastoralists could help combat east Africa food crisis, Guardian’s Global Development Blog

2012

(18) Bring markets to farmers’ doorstep: Jimmy Smith and Namanga Ngongi say agricultural markets could be the engines of Africa’s development, The Star (Kenya)

(19) Turning defeat into new destiny—Going beyond food aid in the Horn of Africa, ILRI News Blog

(20) More on getting credible figures for livestock emissions of greenhouse gases, ILRI News Blog

 

IMG_2587

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Jeff, by Jeff.

 

Putting a price on water: From Mt Kenya forests to Laikipia savannas to Dadaab drylands

Ewaso Ng'iro Catchment A map of the Ewaso Ng’iro watershed catchment, taken from Mapping and Valuing Ecosystem Services in the Ewaso Ng’iro Watershed, published in 2011 by ILRI. The Ewaso Ng’iro watershed incorporates the forests of Mt Kenya, the second highest mountain in Africa; the wildlife-rich savannas of Laikipia; and the arid scrublands around Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, located in Kenya’s Northeastern Province near the border with Somalia.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) published in 2011 a ground-breaking assessment of Kenya’s Ewaso Ng’iro watershed that maps its key ecosystem services—water, biomass, livestock, wildlife and  irrigated crops—and estimates their economic value. Based on the quantification of, and the demand for, these services, the ILRI scientists estimated their economic value and then obtained downscaled climate change projections for northern Kenya and assessed their impact on crop conditions and surface water hydrology.

Excerpts from the first chapter of the ILRI report
‘The Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) cover 80% of Kenya’s land area, include over 36 districts, and are home to more than 10 million people (25% of the total population) (GoK 2004). A vast majority (74%) of ASAL constituents were poor in 2005/06; poverty rates in the ASALs have increased from 65% in 1994 (KIHBS 2005/6 cited in MDNKOAL 2008), which contrasts with the rest of Kenya — national poverty rates fell from 52% to 46% in the decade 1996–2006. Similar stark inequalities between the ASALs and other areas of Kenya are found in health and education as well as infrastructure development and services provisioning (MDNKOAL 2010a).

‘After decades of neglect, the government is committed to close the development gap between the ASALs and the rest of Kenya. To do so, it charged the Ministry of State for Development of Northern Kenya and other Arid Lands (MDNKOAL) to develop policies and interventions addressing the challenges specific to ASAL, mostly regarding their climate, pastoral and agro- pastoral livelihood strategies and low infrastructure, financial, and human capitals (MDNKOAL 2008). Unlike line ministries with sectoral development planning, MDNKOAL has a cross- sectoral mandate, which requires a holistic approach to development, weighting trade-offs and promoting synergies between sectoral objectives. . . .

‘ASALs, with 24 million hectares of land suitable for livestock production, are home to 80 percent of Kenya’s livestock, a resource valued at Ksh 173.4 billion. The current annual turnover of the livestock sector in the arid lands of Kenya of Ksh 10 billion could be increased with better support for livestock production and marketing. Since livestock is the main source of livelihood of ASAL constituents, any improvement in livestock value could substantially reduce poverty. While rainfed crop production is quite marginal and restricted to pockets of higher potential areas within ASAL districts, there is a sizeable area that could support crop production if there were a greater investment in irrigation (“Pulling apart” and ASAL Draft Policy 2007 cited in MDNKOAL 2008). Wildlife-based tourism, which contributed 10% to GDP in 2007/2008 (World Bank 2010) is largely generated in the ASALs (MDNKOAL 2010a). While tourism revenue has been constantly on the rise (21.5 Million Ksh in 2000 to 65.4 Million Ksh in 2007 (Ministry of Tourism 2007)), the sector would benefit, among others, from improved road and tourism infrastructure (World Bank 2010).

‘Reliance of the ASAL on their natural capital for their development: the importance of ecosystem services In most of Kenya’s arid and semi-arid areas, pastoral livelihood strategies dominate. This involves moving livestock periodically to follow the seasonal supply of water and pasture. Agro-pastoralism, combining cropping with pastoral livestock keeping, is a livelihood strategy in areas where rainfed agriculture is possible and around more permanent water sources. In areas with slightly more rainfall, there is mixed farming with sedentary livestock. These agricultural lands are typically dominated by a mix of food, livestock and increasingly cash crops, such as flowers and high value vegetables which are often destined for export. The cash crops often rely on irrigated agriculture. Wildlife conservation and tourism are also important land uses with an increase in the dryland area under a protected status.

All of these livelihood strategies are directly dependent on ecosystem services, the benefits people get from ecosystems. As described, dryland ecosystems supply food from livestock and crops, water for domestic use and irrigation, and wood for fuel and construction (provisioning services). Beyond contributing to people’s livelihood strategies, healthy dryland ecosystems contribute to their standard of living (health, physical security) by delivering regulating services such as mitigating the impacts of periodic flooding, preventing erosion, sequestering carbon, purifying water, and affecting the distribution of rainfall throughout the region. These, in turn, all depend on supporting services, such as soil fertility that underlies the productivity of dryland and crops in particular and the production of biomass (vegetation) that sustains livestock and wildlife grazing. Moreover, Kenya’s dryland ecosystems provide important cultural services that maintain pastoral identities and support wildlife tourism.

‘ASAL ecosystems must be managed effectively so that they continue to provide these services. In developing land use planning, decision-makers need to understand and holistically manage the complex linkages between ecosystems, ecosystem services and people. The ecosystem services approach will provide tools to integrate socio-economic and bio-physical aspects providing a holistic approach to look at synergies and trade-offs in terms of land and water between land uses across the catchment.

‘One of the challenges the Ministry faces in taking the most of ASAL’s ecosystem services is to manage the various uses of water and land, as both are and will increasingly be the major limiting factors in improving standards of living in ASAL. In this context, the Ministry needs tools to compare alternative land and water uses between livestock, crop production, and wildlife-based tourism to enable its future assessments of how and how much each use will improve standards of living and whose standard of living. . . .’

Download the whole publication, Mapping and Valuing Ecosystem Services in the Ewaso Ng’iro Watershed, by Ericksen, PJ; Said, MY; Leeuw, J de; Silvestri, S; Zaibet, L; Kifugo, SC; Sijmons, K; Kinoti, J; Ng’ang’a, L; Landsberg, F; and Stickler, M. 2011. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI.

Authors
ILRI’s Polly Ericksen was the project leader and editor/compiler of the report. ILRI scientists Mohammed Said, Jan de Leeuw, Silvia Silvestri and Lokman Zaibet wrote much of the material for the chapters. Shem Kifugo, Mohammed Said, Kurt Sijmons (GEOMAPA) and Leah Ng’ang’a compiled the data and made the maps. World Resources Institute’s Florence Landsberg contributed ideas and material for chapters 1 and 2. World Resources Institute’s Mercedes Stickler contributed information from Rural Focus.

Note
The following journal article is forthcoming: P Ericksen, J de Leeuw, M Said, S Silvestri and L Zaibet. In press. Mapping ecosystem services in the Ewaso N’giro Watershed. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management.

 

The CGIAR hits 40: 1971-2011

CGIAR 40-year logo

Established in 1971, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) hits 40 this year. A 40th-anniversary celebration is being held today, 6 July 2011, from 9:15 to 11am EST at the World Bank, in Washington, DC.

The collaborative work of the CGIAR has resulted in development impacts such as improved crop varieties and livestock breeds, better cropping and crop-livestock farming methods, pro-poor policy shifts and associated new knowledge. These products are made freely available to all stakeholders in development.

The CGIAR gleaned a set of 40 largely quantitative findings on CGIAR impacts since its inception in 1971 from a 2010 Food Policy journal article written by Mitch Renkow of North Carolina State University in the USA and Derek Byerlee, a former adviser in the World Bank’s Agriculture and Rural Development Department and co-author of the World Development Report 2008: Agriculture for Development.

The study noted that for every US$1 dollar invested in CGIAR research, $9 worth of additional food is produced in developing countries.

The economic benefits of the CGIAR as a whole were estimated to range from about $14 billion to more than $120 billion. Even under quite conservative assumptions, the benefits of research have been roughly double the investment.

Importantly, in addition to its direct research impacts, the CGIAR has trained some 80,000 professionals in developing countries.

Among the set of 40 beneficial impacts of the CGIAR cited are two related specifically to livestock research conducted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), which is supported by the CGIAR, and its partners:

The production and delivery of a vaccine for East Coast fever—a tick-transmitted disease that threatens some 25 million cattle in 11 countries of eastern, central and southern Africa—is being placed in the hands of private sector partners. It is expected to save more than a million cattle, with benefits worth up to $270 million a year in the countries where the disease is now endemic.

Research and advocacy aimed at decriminalizing the marketing of milk by small-scale vendors in Kenya created benefits for producers and consumers having an estimated value of $44–283 million.

Read the program of the event celebrating the CGIAR 40th anniversary on 6 July 2011, which includes an address by Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank.

Watch live webcasting of the event beginning on July 6 at 9:15am EST.

‘Virtual Kenya’ web platform launched today: User-friendly interactive maps for charting human and environmental health

Map of the Tana River Delta in Nature's Benefits in Kenya

Map of the the Upper Tana landforms and rivers published in Nature’s Benefits in Kenya Nature’s Benefits in Kenya: An Atlas of Ecosystems and Human Well-Being, published in 2007 by the World Resources Institute, the Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing of the Kenya Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, the Central Bureau of Statistics of the Kenya Ministry of Planning and National Development, and ILRI.

For the last nine months, the World Resources Institute (USA) and Upande Ltd, a Nairobi company offering web mapping technology to the African market, have been working to develop what has been coined ‘Virtual Kenya,’ an online interactive platform with related materials for those with no access to the internet.  The content was developed by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the Kenya Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing (DRSRS) and the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (previously the Central Bureau of Statistics). The Wildlife Clubs of Kenya and Jacaranda Designs Ltd developed offline educational materials. Technical support was provided by the Danish International Development Assistance (Danida) and the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida).

The Virtual Kenya platform was launched this morning at Nairobi’s ‘iHub’ (Innovation Hub), an open facility for the technology community focusing on young entrepreneurs and web and mobile phone programers, designers and researchers. Peter Kenneth, Kenya’s Minister of State for Planning, National Development and Vision 2030, was the guest of honour at the launch.

The minister remarked that:

Given that the government has facilitated the laying of fibre optic cabling across the country and is now in the process of establishing digital villages in all the constituencies, the Virtual Kenya initiative could not have come at a better time. I hope that it will accelerate the uptake of e-learning as an important tool in our school curriculum.

Virtual Kenya is designed to provide Kenyans with high-quality spatial data and cutting-edge mapping technology to further their educational and professional pursuits. The platform provides, in addition to online access to publicly available spatial datasets, interactive tools and learning resources for exploring these data.

Users both inside and outside of Kenya will be able to view, download, publish, share, and comment on various map-based products.

The ultimate goal of Virtual Kenya is to promote increased data sharing and spatial analysis for better decision-making, development planning and education in Kenya, while at the same time demonstrating the potential and use of web-based spatial planning tools.

The Atlas
At the moment, the Virtual Kenya platform features maps and information based on Nature’s Benefits in Kenya: An Atlas of Ecosystems and Human Well-Being, published jointly in 2007 by the World Resources Institute (USA), ILRI, DRSRS the National Bureau of Statistics. Publication of the Atlas was funded by Danida, ILRI, Irish Aid, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sida and the United States Agency for International Development.

The Atlas overlays geo-referenced statistical information on human well-being with spatial data on ecosystems and their services to yield a picture of how land, people, and prosperity are related in Kenya.

By combining the Atlas’s maps and data on ecosystem services and human well-being, analysts can create new ecosystem development indicators, each of them capturing a certain relationship between resources and residents that can shed light on development in these regions. This approach can be used to analyze ecosystem-development relationships among communities within a certain distance of rivers, lakes and reservoirs; or the relations between high poverty areas and access to intensively managed cropland; or relations among physical infrastructure, poverty and major ecosystem services.

Decision-makers can use the maps to examine the spatial relationships among different ecosystem services to shed light on their possible trade-offs and synergies or to examine the spatial relationships between poverty and combinations of ecosystem services.

Virtual Kenya Platform
The Virtual Kenya platform is designed to allow users with more limited mapping expertise, specifically in high schools and universities, to take full advantage of the wealth of data behind the Atlas. The website also introduces more advanced users to new web-based software applications for visualizing and analyzing spatial information and makes public spatial data sets freely available on the web to support improved environment and development planning.

The Virtual Kenya website provides users with a platform to interactively view, explore, and download Atlas data in a variety of file formats and software applications, including Virtual Kenya Tours using Google Earth. In addition, GIS users in Kenya will—for the first time—have a dedicated online social networking community to share their work, comment and interact with each other on topics related to maps and other spatial data.

For those with limited mapping and GIS experience, Virtual Kenya will increase awareness of resources and tools available online to visualize and explore spatial information. For users and classrooms that do not have access to the Internet yet, other materials such as wall charts, student activity booklets, teachers guide, as well as the DVD with all the Virtual Kenya data and software will be available, giving them the opportunity to interact with tools available on the Virtual Kenya website.

Virtual Kenya email: info@virtualkenya.org

Virtual Kenya on the web:
Website: http://virtualkenya.org
Twitter: @virtualkenya
Facebook: VirtualKenya
YouTube: http://youtube.com/user/VirtualKenya

Read more about Nature’s Benefits in Kenya: An Atlas of Ecosystems and Human Well-Being, or download the Atlas, published by World Resources Institute, ILRI, Kenya Central Bureau of Statistics, and Kenya Department of Remote Surveys and Remote Sensing, 2007.

Editor’s note: The Kenya Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing (DRSRS) was incorrectly named in the original version and corrected on 26 June 2011.

ILRI livestock insurance scheme wins inaugural Vision 2030 ICT Innovation Award

Andrew Mude, Scientist, Targeting and Innovation

Andrew Mude, scientist leading the award-winning Index-Based Livestock Insurance project at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

A novel livestock insurance scheme for poor pastoral herders in Kenya’s Marsabit District, initiated by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) with private sector and other partners, has won the inaugural Vision 2030 ICT Innovation Award.

‘Eleven companies received a V2030 ICT Innovation Award at a ceremony held on 20 April 2011 in Diani as part of the Kenya ICT Board’s Connected Kenya Summit. The Kenya ICT Board and the Kenya Vision 2030 Delivery Secretariat invited companies that have developed solutions that drive economic growth and social development as outlined in Kenya’s Vision 2030 to participate in the inaugural Vision 2030 ICT Innovation Awards. The Award is proudly co-sponsored by Accenture Development Partnerships (ADP).

‘Over 170 companies participated in the online process. All applications were received on an online platform set up by the Kenya ICT Board that allowed applicants to create an account and fill out their application over time. Of the companies that participated in the Call for Applications, 82 successfully completed the process.

‘The Kenya ICT Board convened a team of seven independent judges representing the ICT private sector, academia, public sector and civil society. The judges began their work on April 13 and reviewed each complete proposal against the criteria outlined in the call for applications. To ensure integrity in the process, Deloitte Consulting are auditing the review process.

‘The winners each get a commemorative trophy, certificate and $1,000 prize money from Accenture. The overall best innovation award was awarded to International Livestock Research Institute for their mobile-ICT based livestock insurance solution. ILRI received an additional $ 5,000 as their award.

‘Index-based livestock insurance (IBLI) is a promising and exciting innovation in insurance design that allows the risk-management benefits of insurance to be made available to poor and remote clients. The IBLI product being piloted in Marsabit District aims to provide compensation to insured pastoralists in the event of livestock losses due to severe forage scarcity. Incorporating remotely-sensed vegetation data in its design, delivered via mobile ICT-based transactions platforms, and with experimental extension methods used to educate the remote pastoral herders, the IBLI product boasts many firsts in product development.’

Read more about the Vision 2030 ICT Innovation Awards on the Connected Kenya website.

IBLI web site