Oxfam International Blogs - technology http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/tags/technology en Day 8: The Future is Already Here http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-12-19-day-8-future-already-here <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em><strong>The future has arrived, it’s just not at the scale required. The spread of bottom-up approaches to farmer innovation, coupled with breakthrough technology developed by input companies, will make smallholders productive and profitable. Crucially, new technologies must be accessible, appropriate and affordable.</strong></em></p> <p><em>By Kavita Prakash-Mani, Head of Food Security Agenda, <strong><a href="http://www.syngenta.com/global/corporate/en/Pages/home.aspx" rel="nofollow">Syngenta International</a></strong></em></p> <p>How can we develop smallholder farming in a way that is appropriate, equitable and helps to feed the 8 billion people who will inhabit the world in 25 years – including the 870 million who are hungry today – and still live within Earth’s planetary boundaries? New models are already being developed and tested, some led by donors and NGOs, others by multinational food companies or small entrepreneurs, and still others by multiple players working together. </p> <p>Successful examples of public-private partnerships can be seen in Brazil, Vietnam and increasingly in Africa. For example, the <strong><a href="http://growafrica.com" rel="nofollow">Grow Africa</a></strong> partnership platform that began in 2011, brings together governments from a number of countries including Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, as well as donor agencies, local and multinational companies, and civil society organisations to invest in agricultural transformation by placing smallholders at the heart of development.</p> <p>However initiatives like this are not enough. Much more needs to be done – and even more important, to be done at scale. </p> <p><strong>The technology debate</strong>While farmers are stewards of their land and experts in their local cultivation practices, there is a role for other players and for technology to make the job of farming less hard, more productive, and more sustainable. Currently, there is disagreement on the impact of technologies and what intervention or techniques are appropriate. Will technology make the farmer profitable or will she get caught in a debt spiral? Will it create a dependency for the farmer or enhance farmer choice? Will it have a detrimental impact on the environment or conserve resources and ecosystems? </p> <h3><em>“Will technology make the farmer profitable or will she get caught in a debt spiral?”</em></h3> <p>Going forward, we foresee the need for ‘hybrid’ solutions tailored to different geographies, climates and crops. We see the debate moving on from the simple choice between organic versus technology-driven solutions to one where seemingly opposing approaches come together to create the most effective solution. </p> <p>For example, conservation practices which protect soil and water will be enabled by the use of crop protection solutions, and may also result in a decreased use of fertilizers. Pressure from pests will be reduced by crop rotation and integrated pest management approaches, including the use of beneficial insects and biological controls. Certified clean seeds, bred for local conditions and able to withstand changing weather patterns, will result in much higher yields and use less environmental resources. </p> <p><strong>Farmers as innovators</strong>Farmers know their land better than anyone else.  They have learned over generations what works on their farms – which crops do well, what to plant and when, how to manage their soil and water. They can often be risk averse and slow to adopt new ideas, but they can also be innovative and come up with new, locally relevant, economically feasible solutions. </p> <p>There is no doubt that farmers’ innovations will need further support. Even now, according to the FAO , $83 billion needs to be invested in agricultural research and downstream services, to support the development and scaling up of local knowledge and best practice. </p> <p>We see a future where there will be greater emphasis on learning from farmers and more investment to enable farmers to develop their own approaches to such challenges as soil fertility, seed productivity, fighting pests and diseases, and climate change. </p> <p>Greater government investment in local agricultural schools will make for better trained local scientists, agronomists and extension workers. Local universities will work with farmers to understand, catalogue and review the farmers’ own practices and use of inputs – and, in turn, invest in further developing and disseminating local best practice. </p> <h3><em>“Greater government investment in local agricultural schools will make for better trained local scientists, agronomists and extension workers.”</em></h3> <p>Development of local capacity should also help address the lack of investment in orphan or neglected crops. These are locally relevant crops such as sorghum, tef and cassava, which form the dietary staple for many resource-poor farmers and their families, but have seen no investment in research and development to improve their productivity. </p> <p>A bottom-up approach to innovation would be supported by multinational companies and research organizations through investment, training and student exchange. Donors would provide grants to local scientists and agronomists. Partnerships would be developed like the <strong><a href="http://www.gatesfoundation.org/agriculturaldevelopment/Pages/water-efficient-maize.aspx" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Water Efficient Maize for Africa initiative</a></strong>, where the private sector, development agencies, public research organizations and local research institutes work together to develop drought-tolerant maize varieties suitable for the African region. </p> <h3><em>“Geographic distance will not be a constraint in the future.” </em></h3> <p>In the decades to come, there will be much more open-source innovation and knowledge sharing. All types of organizations, whether multinational companies, research institutes or local NGOs, will recognize local knowledge and disseminate it more widely – farmer to farmer, region to region. Innovative solutions shared through cloud sourcing and social media will enable farmers globally to freely access and share their own experience and learning. We know farmers learn best from other farmers. Geographic distance will not be a constraint in the future. </p> <p>Such grassroots innovation should result in lower cost, locally applicable and globally adaptable solutions that also provide an economic benefit to the farmer innovator. </p> <p><strong>Technology that is appropriate, accessible and affordable</strong>While bottom-up farmer-led innovation will make a substantial difference to smallholder productivity and profitability, farmers cannot develop all the solutions required. They will also need investment in breakthrough technology in the form of better seeds, fertilizers, crop protection, mechanization, irrigation and even better agronomy practices. Given the scale of investment required to develop such technologies, agriculture input companies will continue to play a critical role. </p> <p>The challenge of how to make these inputs accessible, available and affordable for smallholder farmers will be addressed. For one, more farms will be profitable in the future and more farmers should have the income to access these solutions. But it is likely that there will be a subset of farmers who can’t afford them or can only afford them through loans at very high interest rates. In a profession that is plagued by disasters − environmental forces such as droughts or floods, or through pests and disease − the risk to the farmer is very high. </p> <p>With more public investment in agricultural R&amp;D, the cost of development could be subsidized. Newer techniques, such as marker-assisted breeding and precision agriculture, greater collaboration between public and private entities, open-source idea generation, virtual teams and collaboration, should all enable faster and cheaper technology development. Working more closely with the farmers themselves will enable companies to target more clearly identified needs and develop more appropriate responses.  </p> <h3><em>“Working more closely with the farmers themselves will enable companies to target more clearly identified needs and develop more appropriate responses.”</em></h3> <p>More investment in infrastructure, clarity of regulation and opening of markets will in turn facilitate easier distribution of these technologies to those who need it most, even in remote areas – and not at exorbitant costs. </p> <p>In addition, providing credit at fair terms, pricing products so they are affordable, enabling farmers to secure a purchase with affordable insurance to reduce their financial risk, setting up contracts for farmers to sell their products, are all methods being tested in the market now to enable farmers to access inputs and technology without high risk. Such financial solutions will be the norm in the future.</p> <p>In many ways, the future is already here. It’s just not at the scale required to make a significant impact. While we need to invest in bottom-up innovative solutions as well as global technologies, we have to ensure that these are accessible, appropriate and affordable to the farmers who need them most. That’s both the challenge and the opportunity facing us. Only then can we secure economic growth for 500 million smallholder farmers and achieve food security globally. </p> <p>Download: <strong><a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/blogs.oxfam.org/files/future-already-here-prakash-mani-dec2012.pdf" target="_blank">The Future is Already Here</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Day 8: The Future is Already Here</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_fr first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/12-12-19-jour-8-avenir-est-deja-la" title="Jour 8: L’avenir est déjà là" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> <li class="translation_es last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/12-12-19-dia-8-el-futuro-ya-llego" title="Día 8: El futuro ya llegó" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Tue, 18 Dec 2012 23:02:00 +0000 Kavita Prakash-Mani 10167 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-12-19-day-8-future-already-here#comments Day 8: Frame new ideas within indigenous knowledge http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-12-19-day-8-frame-new-ideas-within-indigenous-knowledge <div class="field field-name-body"><p><em><strong>Experts’ ideas about how resource-poor farmers could improve productivity ought to be guided by indigenous knowledge. Low-cost, micro-innovations that make use of local resources have great potential but are often overlooked by mainstream developers of agricultural technology.</strong></em></p> <p><em>By Dr. Florence Wambugu, CEO, <strong><a href="http://africaharvest.org/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International</a></strong> (AHBFI)</em></p> <p>Although many people know me because of my frontline work in advocating for Africa’s right to Genetically Modified (GM) technology, many don’t know my early involvement in this technology was largely driven by the desire to increase agricultural productivity for resource-poor farmers. I remain true to my calling, but wiser to know that the GM technology is only one in the large arsenal of tools available to scientists and farmers. </p> <p>There is, of course, a place for conventional technologies, but what I really wish to explore in this article is how “expert ideas” targeted to resource poor farmers need to be framed within the indigenous knowledge of technology recipients.   </p> <p>When HIV/AIDS robs a woman of her husband, does the widowed mother, now alone to take care of her seven children, have anything to contribute to her plight? Does the fact that she owns only one acre of land in Kenya’s arid and semi arid lands  make her a mere recipient of development interventions? Could her experiences with the myriad of challenges provide a solution to her problems?? </p> <h3><em>“The mainstream drivers of agricultural R&amp;D often fail to incorporate home-grown ideas and innovations into their interventions.”</em></h3> <p>Sadly, the mainstream drivers of agricultural R&amp;D often fail to incorporate home-grown ideas and innovations into their interventions. Forced by years of limited success, development players are now searching for how best to tap farmers’ indigenous knowledge and innovations. </p> <p>A case in point is a project funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and implemented by Africa Harvest. The Food Security and Ecosystem Management for Sustainable Livelihoods in Arid and Semi Arid Lands of Kenya (FOSEMS) Project, demonstrates how to unlock value by tapping indigenous ideas and innovations. </p> <p>The project takes an integrated approach to food security, ecosystem management and sustainable livelihoods using five components: traditional food crops, horticultural crops, soil fertility management, water (conservation, harvesting and management) and short-cycle livestock. </p> <p>The project location represents the poorest of the poor in the harsh arid and semi-arid environment of Makueni District and Central Kitui of the Eastern Province of Kenya. The communities depend on agriculture or agro-pastoralism for their livelihoods; they include subsistence farmers, traditional crop processors, livestock farmers, HIV/AIDS affected households, unemployed rural people and farm produce dealers.   </p> <h3><em>“While not applying advanced systems of agricultural production, they managed to increase their incomes by making small improvements with few resources.”</em></h3> <p>At project inception, we were very conscious that among target resource-poor farmers, there existed indigenous knowledge and innovation. We were therefore on the lookout for farmers doing novel things to mitigate the challenges they faced.  </p> <p>Our staff (a multi-disciplinary team of scientists, sociologists, economists and field workers) joined hands with local communities and other stakeholders and pursued an approach we call farmer-first-and-last (FFL) and it has proven more effective than the often used alternative, the technology transfer (TT) model.  </p> <p>We started with a systematic process of understanding the conditions of farmers, and in consultation with famer leaders developed home-grown adaptable solutions to resolve the challenges people faced. . </p> <h3><em>“Farmers are innovators who generate agricultural practices which are very well adapted to the prevailing conditions.”</em></h3> <p>These included unfavourable soil conditions, erratic rainfall patterns, low literacy levels, unstable market prices of inputs and final produce, and limited access to insurance and credit markets. While, some do own the land on which they farm, they lack productive assets acceptable as collateral. Research generally agrees that these farmers will be disproportionately affected by climatic changes and that trade reforms are not sufficient to reduce poverty among them.  </p> <p>These farmers are experimenters and innovators who generate their own agricultural practices which are very well adapted to the prevailing agro-ecological and socio-economic conditions. While not applying advanced systems of agricultural production, they managed to increase their incomes by making small improvements with few resources, expanding their resource base by building upon local knowledge. </p> <p>Some of the farmer “innovations” included growing of dry land cereals and legumes and also keeping short-cycle livestock to address food deficiency in local diets and income generation from marketing the surplus in the nearby shopping centres. </p> <p>Farmers proposed the upgrading of their indigenous goats and chickens to improve their breeds for milk and egg production. Their explanation was that goats and chickens were more resilient to drought and climatic changes; their meat and eggs are a source of protein to improve human diet; goat droppings boost the fertility of gardens; and their sale provides much needed income for school fees, medical costs and farm inputs. </p> <h3><em>“It’s impossible to achieve success alone.”</em></h3> <p>Farmers received an improved variety of chicks which resulted in increased egg production. One of the indigenous innovations was the farmers decision to assign one of the mother hens to tend to the chicks of several mother hens; this released others hens used in brooding to resume egg production at the earliest opportunity. </p> <p>During the baseline survey, women farmers identified water for domestic use as the highest priority and suggested sand dams could retain water throughout the year. Three  sand dams across Muini River in Mulala, Kamunyii in Wote both in Makueni County and Yethi River in Kitui were constructed and completed. </p> <p>The community shares and manages this resource to ensure equity and sustainability.  Innovative funding mechanisms would probably attract the private sector to play a greater role in the search for greater engineering innovation in building dams and providing domestic water.  </p> <p>A key lesson was that farmers must be involved in the search for solutions to their problems. Our farmers’ idea of planting sorghum, which is a naturally drought-resistant grain crop allowed them to use a traditional innovation taking advantage of the minimal precipitation that occurs during the short rain season, thereby affording them a second harvest. </p> <p>It’s impossible to achieve success alone. With help from the Ministry of Agriculture’s Home Economics Department, farmers became more innovative in making new recipes of tasty meals from sorghum grains. Younger farmers fed their surplus sorghum grain to the improved chickens and then sold eggs instead. The sorghum residue was also used as manure to fertilise the soil and as a fodder bank for consumption by livestock during the dry season.</p> <h3><em>“Tapping into the creativity and perseverance of poor farmers should be an integral aspect of project design, not an after-thought.”</em></h3> <p>You cannot underestimate the importance of building local capacity—nor the time it takes. A major contribution of Africa Harvest in the project was training, capacity building, skills transfer, especially in good agronomic practices, and information dissemination to farmers along the whole value chain. </p> <p>The disadvantaged in society could be key drivers of development. Africa Harvest tapped into persons living with HIV/AIDS, youth, widows, orphans and men and women undergoing alcohol abuse rehabilitation. Appreciating and working with the disadvantaged helped to demonstrate in the fastest way that our interventions worked. This attracted other community members. The project also provides conclusive evidence that local knowledge can be built upon to successively stimulate and upscale processes of innovation, with one new idea spawning the next. </p> <p>The integrated-approach to development can positively impact many aspects of community life. Tapping into the creativity and perseverance of African’s resource-poor farmers should be an integral aspect of project design, not an after-thought.</p> <p>Development partners could also emulate the example of IFAD by allowing some flexibility in project implementation while achieving project targets, encouraging farmers’ innovations and allowing project promoters to focus on solving the problems facing the farmers, while still focusing on food security, income generation and sustainability.</p> <h3><em>“Most innovators lack confidence and the means to make their ideas more widely known.”   </em></h3> <p>For R&amp;D organizations, the key lessons are that farmers and scientists are partners in development. For the FOSEM project, the two groups worked together to come up with a legume for nutrition and soil fertility: high-yielding dual-purpose cowpea from certified seeds whose tender leaves serve as a vegetable for human consumption, while the mature leaves form an important ingredient in chicken feed and the seeds provide a rich source of protein. Cowpea fixes atmospheric nitrogen and enhances soil fertility. Its residue is also used to feed goats and provide manure for the soil. </p> <p>Overall, such micro-innovations bring improvements that tend to be low-cost, and because they primarily make use of local resources. These innovations are often overlooked by mainstream developers of agricultural technology.  These innovations have good potential for dissemination and sustainability. Sadly, most of the innovators lack confidence and the means to make their ideas more widely known.     </p> <p>Download: <strong><a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/blogs.oxfam.org/files/new-ideas-indigenous-knowledge-wambugu-dec2012.pdf" target="_blank">Frame new ideas within indigenous knowledge</a></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Day 8: Frame new ideas within indigenous knowledge</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_fr first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/12-12-19-jour-8-integrer-de-nouvelles-idees-la-connaissance-traditionnelles" title="Jour 8: Formuler des nouvelles idées avec les connaissances autochtones" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> <li class="translation_es last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/12-12-19-dia-8-encuadrar-nuevas-ideas-en-el-marco-del-conocimiento-indigena" title="Día 8: Encuadrar nuevas ideas en el marco del conocimiento indígena" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Tue, 18 Dec 2012 23:01:00 +0000 Dr. Florence Wambugu 10162 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-12-19-day-8-frame-new-ideas-within-indigenous-knowledge#comments Day 6: Growing a More Food-Secure World http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-12-17-day-6-growing-more-food-secure-world <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong><em>An agriculture that is resilient and sustainable, and provides sufficient safe, affordable food for all, will be built on four cornerstones: comparative advantage, open trade, markets that work for both producers and consumers, and an African continent that contributes positively to food production.</em></strong></p> <p><em>By Harold Poelma, Managing Director of<strong> <a href="http://www.cargill.com/worldwide/index.jsp" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Cargill Refined Oils Europe</a></strong></em></p> <p>There are about 870 million undernourished people in the world today. There will be two billion more people on the planet by mid-century. Most believe feeding this more urban and more affluent population will require increasing food production by an estimated 70 percent. </p> <p>Such a production increase is not out of reach. Farmers are smart and determined people – they have roughly doubled the amount of grains, rice and oilseeds they produce since 1975. Most of that increase has come from yield gains enabled by a combination of improved genetics, new technologies, better agronomics and increased intensification – producing more on essentially the same amount of land. </p> <p>This is reason for optimism. Cargill believes there is no doubt we can feed the world. Our analysis is not just a theoretical desk-top view but one based on our practical experience working with farmers in our operations around the world. It is demonstrably true that with current technology the world’s farmers today harness the power of photosynthesis to produce all the calories a world of 9 billion people will require. </p> <h3><em>“With current technology the world’s farmers today harness the power of photosynthesis to produce all the calories a world of 9 billion people will require.”</em></h3> <p>Despite these facts, food insecurity persists. The calories the world’s farmers produce are unevenly distributed. Rising food prices, primarily the results of issues of supply and demand – and this year in part due to shortages caused by droughts in key grain-producing areas – threaten to undermine recent reductions in hunger. </p> <p>What must agriculture look like at midcentury to overcome obstacles to global food security? At Cargill, we believe the model that will meet the objectives of being resilient, sustainable and providing sufficient safe, affordable food for all will be built on four cornerstones: comparative advantage, open trade, markets that work for both producers and consumers, and an African continent that contributes positively to food production. </p> <p>Producing enough food to feed the world starts with honouring the principle of comparative advantage. Midcentury agriculture will produce the most food in the most economical and environmentally sustainable way if all farmers plant the crops best suited for their growing conditions. This recognizes a simple fact: fertile soil, abundant rain and plentiful sunshine are not equally available across the planet. Rather, nature has endowed certain geographies with the natural resources necessary to produce a surplus of calories in the form of, for example, wheat from the plains of North America, rice from paddies in Southeast Asia or soybeans from Brazil. </p> <h3><em>“Producing enough food to feed the world starts with honouring the principle of comparative advantage.”</em></h3> <p>The alternative – the pursuit of food self-sufficiency at a national or regional level – undermines the increases in output a growing global population will require, inefficiently uses scarce natural resources and can cause significant environmental harm. We must continue to improve productivity and importantly bring best practices and technologies to those areas of the world, such as Africa, that currently are not fulfilling their agricultural potential.  </p> <p> A resilient, sustainable mid-century agricultural system will also require an open, trust-based trading system to move surpluses to places of food deficit. Today, only about 15 percent of all the food produced in the world crosses international borders. That percentage will increase. Global population growth is skewing toward areas that are not blessed with the natural resources required to produce food. Growing crops where the soils and climate are best suited for them and allowing open trade will provide the food that is needed, while minimizing overall environmental impacts by reducing the resources and inputs required.</p> <p>Consider what has occurred to food flows in roughly the last fifty years. Increased food production in North and South America and lately Eastern Europe is providing the food required to feed the growing populations in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. To feed 9 billion people by 2050, we will need another strong food producer like Brazil, as well as open trade so the surpluses flow readily to areas of food deficit. Open and trust-based trade is also a primary means to help offset inevitable but unpredictable crop failures. The global supply of food varies less year-over-year than the local supply.  </p> <p>A third cornerstone will be efficient, transparent and well-regulated markets. The combination of open trade and efficient markets results in prices that signal farmers about what and how much to produce. A price that adequately rewards farmers for their efforts and provides enough money to motivate them to produce again next year is the fundamental ingredient of sustainable agriculture – arguably more important than any other crop input. </p> <h3><em>“A third cornerstone will be efficient, transparent and well-regulated markets”</em></h3> <p>By contrast, interfering with the behavior-changing power of price can have unintended consequences. When governments impose price controls on commodities, ostensibly to protect the urban poor, they inadvertently send a signal to their farmers to produce less. Other means to protect consumers from food price increases, such as direct payments from governments, would be less damaging to agricultural interests. While acknowledging the burden of rising food prices on the world’s poor, we must also recognize the energizing power of price to motivate the world’s producers to plant more crops. </p> <p>The fourth cornerstone that will enable a more food-secure world is an African continent able to exploit its agricultural potential. Africa represents about 60 percent of the potentially available cropland in the world. It has land well suited for agriculture, with fertile soil, adequate rains, plentiful sun. Yet Africa is a net importer of food and has experienced very low agricultural productivity gains over the last forty years. </p> <p>It doesn’t have to be this way. Changes in policies, improvements in infrastructure and the institution of property rights will be required to overcome the challenges. Clarity about property rights is particularly crucial. Farmers in Africa – and everywhere, for that matter – must have clear rights over the land they cultivate before they can be expected to reinvest in their operations and improve their productivity. Similarly, resolving property rights issues is critical to attracting private sector investment in African agriculture. </p> <p>Enabling smallholder farmers to fulfill their potential is crucial to the continuing development of agriculture and to global food production. These small-scale farmers need access to better crop inputs, from seed and fertilizer to tractors and other technology, and training in how to use them. Such practical support will increase their productivity in support of our growing worldwide food needs and it will also provide them with means to raise their own living standards. This is no more evident than today in Africa. </p> <h3><em>“A resilient, sustainable agricultural system that produces enough food for all at a price that can be borne by all is within reach.”</em></h3> <p>There is more momentum than ever to tackle policy, infrastructure, crop input and property rights issues in Africa. With the support and involvement of the G8’s New Alliance for Food and Nutrition Security and the Grow Africa partnership, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations and African governments are working to develop sustainable markets for food grown on the continent. </p> <p>In May 2012, Cargill was among 30 multinational companies announcing support for these initiatives, which we believe will foster policy discussions and commitments to accelerate investment and transformative change in African agriculture. The collective intent is to work with governments and nongovernmental organizations to develop public/private partnerships to make change happen. </p> <p>A resilient, sustainable agricultural system that produces enough food for all at a price that can be borne by all is within reach. This does not mean there is room for complacency. We believe it remains essential that organizations, both public and private, continue to work together to provide the structure, support and investment that will contribute to agricultural development that can meet the challenge of feeding a world on its way to 9 billion people.</p> <p>Download: <strong><a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/sites/blogs.oxfam.org/files/growing-more-food-secure-world-poelma-dec2012.pdf" target="_blank">Growing a More Food-Secure World</a> </strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Day 6: Growing a More Food-Secure World </h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_fr first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/12-12-17-jour-6-cultivons-un-monde-dote-une-meilleure-securite-alimentaire" title="Jour 6: Cultivons un monde doté d’une meilleure sécurité alimentaire" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> <li class="translation_es last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/12-12-17-dia-6-cultivemos-un-mundo-con-mayor-seguridad-alimentaria" title="Día 6: Cultivemos un mundo con mayor seguridad alimentaria " class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Sun, 16 Dec 2012 23:00:01 +0000 Harold Poelma 10147 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-12-17-day-6-growing-more-food-secure-world#comments Mobile phones help tackle cholera in inaccessible parts of Somalia http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-11-13-mobile-phones-help-tackle-cholera-somalia <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>In Somalia, one of the most difficult and dangerous places for aid agencies to work, the conflict has left many communities hard to reach. Mobile phones offer an innovative way of educating such communities with life-saving information.</strong></p> <p>Oxfam and our partner Hijra started a pilot project to provide public health information to people’s mobile phones, timed to coincide with the peak cholera season, when many displaced families living in crowded camps in Mogadishu are particularly at risk. Despite the many challenges in Somalia, there is good network coverage and phones are cheap and available. Many Somalis use phones to receive <strong><a href="http://www.oxfamblogs.org/eastafrica/?p=5382" rel="nofollow">remittances</a></strong> from relatives overseas.</p> <p><strong>A messaging center was set</strong> up in <strong><a href="http://www.hijra.or.ke/" rel="nofollow">Hijra’s</a></strong> office, capable of sending 10,000 messages an hour – as long as there is power. The messages can be received on any ordinary phone. 10,000 people took part and received five “sessions” of messages explaining cholera prevention and control.</p> <p>A recent evaluation of the pilot phase found notable impact among the youth, who are most keen to use new technology to connect to the outside world. Young people were talking about the project at school, and said it was seen as “cool” to get involved and learn about cholera in this new way. Peer pressure got many new youth involved.</p> <p>The main expense was setting up the platform and software. But the software can be changed to fit the context, local language and subject matter without an IT expert, so program staff are able to manage it. The sessions cost about 60 cents. Although many people have phones, not everyone has credit – so users are refunded $1. Just like traditional public health campaigns, (where staff and volunteers go out into communities to engage face-to-face) the software is interactive, allowing people to text questions for staff to reply.</p> <p><strong>Feedback has been mostly positive.</strong> Unlike<a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blogs/12-05-23-drc-hygiene-behind-prison-walls"><strong> traditional health promotion campaigns</strong></a>, people said they liked being able to store the messages to look at in their own time – particularly women who were at home looking after children. One said it was like “attending a workshop in your own home.” People remembered the text messages more than radio bulletins (which cannot be saved) or posters.</p> <p>One man said he made up an Oral Rehydration Supplement (ORS) for his sick child after referring back to the text messages. One woman had wanted to use chlorine but did not remember the dosage and had to refer back to her text message.</p> <p><strong>There were many recommendations</strong> for us to take forward:</p> <ul><li>Youth said they would like to receive “private” information about HIV/AIDS and sex education, as well as health songs as downloadable ringtones</li> <li>Other suggestions included using e-vouchers for aid distributions, and community feedback via text to help us increase our accountability.</li> <li>While the youth liked to receive text messages, older generations – particularly women – preferred a real voice, so a Voicemail component was recommended.</li> </ul><p>Mobile phones are not a perfect solution on their own, but done in coordination with traditional methods they have so far proved successful. Traditional public health promotion may be more participatory, but youth are increasingly engaged with new technologies and, in areas where access is not guaranteed (whether due to security or weather), the mobile phone based platform offers a new way for Oxfam to engage with communities.</p> <p>A second phase of this project is now underway, comprising a fully fledged mobile phone Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (mWASH) platform, with the capability to undertake rapid assessments, distribute non food items (NFIs), conduct community education, and conduct monitoring.</p> <h3>Related links</h3> <p><strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/emergencies/somalia-conflict" rel="nofollow">Food crisis and conflict in Somalia</a></strong></p> <p><strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/somalia" rel="nofollow">Oxfam's work in Somalia</a></strong></p> <p>Read more about mWASH in this report by Pacific Institute and Nexleaf Analytics<strong>: <a href="http://www.pacinst.org/reports/mwash/full_report.pdf" rel="nofollow">mWASH: Mobile Phone Applications for the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Sector</a></strong> (pdf)<strong></strong></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Mobile phones help tackle cholera in inaccessible parts of Somalia</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_fr first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blogs/12-11-23-des-telephones-mobiles-face-au-cholera-dans-les-regions-reculees-de-somalie" title="Des téléphones mobiles face au choléra dans les régions reculées de Somalie" class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> <li class="translation_es last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blogs/12-11-30-los-telefonos-moviles-ayudan-combatir-el-colera-en-partes-inaccesibles-de-somalia" title="Los teléfonos móviles ayudan a combatir el cólera en zonas inaccesibles de Somalia" class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Tue, 13 Nov 2012 15:13:45 +0000 Jesse Kinyanjui 10041 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blogs/12-11-13-mobile-phones-help-tackle-cholera-somalia#comments OpenIDEO maternal health challenge: And the winner is... http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blog/11-04-26-openideo-maternal-health-challenge-winner <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>After 3 months of online collaboration the OpenIDEO maternal health challenge winners are announced. Ian Sullivan reports.</strong></p> <p>A few months ago I was pulled into a meeting room and asked if I fancied taking on a piece of work with a company called IDEO. Oxfam had signed up to partner with them and Nokia in a challenge, "How might we improve maternal health with mobile technologies for low income countries?" </p> <p>They needed someone to take it on from the Oxfam end. I’d vaguely heard of IDEO and I’m generally up for what sound like interesting challenges so I said, "go on then, why not". It was my first small tiptoe into the world of online collaboration.</p> <p>Now I’m a veteran of five stages of it and the whole enlightening process has flown by. Last week they announced the ten winning concepts. Somewhat inevitably I’m now hooked on the idea of using collaboration to tackle issues. I’m also telling anyone who would listen about the cool kids at IDEO and the community that makes it all happen. The process has been a real eye-opener for me and shown how <strong>online collaboration can be a fantastic way to tackle problems</strong>. I loved how people were really open, challenged each other’s ideas and then took on those challenges to improve their own concepts.</p> <p>It started with the inspiration phase where people found all sorts of great projects from around the web. This got the creative juices flowing and turned into 182 concepts. We then picked 20 finalists and that has been whittled down to ten winning ideas. There is a great range in there, from <strong><a href="http://openideo.com/open/maternal-health/winners-announced/mother-mati-2019-s-phone-and-flipbook/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">great ways to tell stories about maternal health issues</a></strong>, to challenging <strong><a href="http://openideo.com/open/maternal-health/winners-announced/medicine-stock-outs/" rel="nofollow">medicine stock outs</a></strong>. <strong><a href="http://openideo.com/open/maternal-health/winners-announced/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Check out all the IDEO maternal health winners</a></strong>.</p> <p>I’m a little disappointed that it’s over but I’ve signed up to a new challenge and I’m preparing to post my first idea. In terms of what comes next for the maternal health ideas, it’s a case of watch this space as we work out how to go about piloting projects! If you’ve got any ideas, let me know below.</p> <h3>Read more</h3> <p>&gt; Find out more about our work with IDEO: <strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org.uk/applications/blogs/pressoffice/2011/03/04/open-ideo-brainstorming-maternal-health/?v=campaigns" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">brainstorming maternal health</a></strong></p> <p>&gt; Have a look at all <strong><a href="http://openideo.com/open/maternal-health/winners-announced/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">the maternal health challenge winners</a></strong></p> <p>&gt; Oxfam's campaign "<strong><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/campaigns/health-education" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Health and Education for All</a></strong>"</p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>OpenIDEO maternal health challenge: And the winner is...</h2></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="translation_fr first"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/fr/blog/11-04-26-defi-openideo-sante-maternelle-gagnant" title="Défi Open-Ideo sur la santé maternelle : et l&#039;idée gagnante est..." class="translation-link" xml:lang="fr">Français</a></li> <li class="translation_es last"><a href="http://l.blogs.oxfam/es/blog/11-04-29-desafio-salud-materna-de-openideo-y-el-premio-va-para" title="Desafío salud materna de OpenIDEO: Y el premio va para..." class="translation-link" xml:lang="es">Español</a></li> </ul> Tue, 26 Apr 2011 12:30:01 +0000 Ian Sullivan 9451 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blog/11-04-26-openideo-maternal-health-challenge-winner#comments Open IDEO maternal health challenge – Inspired to innovate http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blog/11-02-24-open-ideo-maternal-health-challenge-inspired-innovate <div class="field field-name-body"><p>Last week I met with the cool people at <strong><a href="http://openideo.com/" rel="nofollow">OpenIDEO</a></strong> and <strong><a href="http://www.nokia.co.uk/" rel="nofollow">Nokia</a></strong>. We were preparing for stage 2 of our online collaborative challenge, <strong>"How might we improve maternal health with mobile technologies for low-income countries?" <a href="http://openideo.com/open/maternal-health/brief.html" rel="nofollow">Click here to get involved with this vibrant global community</a>.</strong> </p> <p> I’m new to IDEO but I’m excited about the possibilities that this type of collaboration offers. Already I’ve been really impressed with the community, which is 9,000 strong and has people from over 100 countries around the world. As well as being open, creative and supportive of each other’s ideas, in just 2 weeks they posted <strong>285 'inspirations'</strong>. </p> <p>The inspirations are really varied but a couple of my favourites are <strong><a href="http://openideo.com/open/maternal-health/inspiration/text4baby-a-us-based-mobile-service-for-pregnancy-information/" rel="nofollow">'Text4Baby'</a></strong> - a really simple way of passing on info to pregnant women and mothers - and <strong><a href="http://openideo.com/open/maternal-health/inspiration/communication-boards/" rel="nofollow">'Communication boards'</a></strong>. Both of these are very simple and have the potential to have a big impact.</p> <p>The task at hand on Friday was to group the ideas around major themes. This was to help focus minds as we being the second phase, 'the concept phase'. It was great fun looking at the range of ideas that the community had highlighted and we had some good discussion. Our aim was to encourage creativity but make sure that we get some final ideas that will help to change lives around the world.</p> <h3>The six themes are: </h3><p><strong> </strong> </p><ul><li><strong>Mum-2-Mum </strong></li> <li><strong>Local Healthcare </strong></li> <li><strong>Dad Outreach </strong></li> <li><strong>Lifelines Knowledge </strong></li> <li><strong>Hubs &amp; Education </strong></li> <li><strong>Personal Tracking &amp; Diagnostics</strong> </li> </ul><p>I’ll let <strong><a href="http://twitter.com/haiyan" rel="nofollow">Haiyan</a></strong> from IDEO explain more about the themes: </p> <p>"Themes are thought-starters to brainstorming. We use themes in our design work to identify areas where innovation can happen and conduct brainstorms around these." <strong><a href="http://bit.ly/maternal-synthesis" rel="nofollow">Read her full blog</a></strong>.</p> <p>Visit the <strong><a href="http://openideo.com/open/maternal-health/concepting/" rel="nofollow">Concepting phase </a></strong>to read about the six themes in detail. Each one also comes with a few provocative questions to get your creative juices flowing. As the next stage begins, head over and share your concepts. As the digital brainstorm develops, who knows where your idea will end up. </p> <p><strong><a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blog/11-01-28-new-maternal-health-challenge-your-creativity-needed"></a></strong></p> <p>Read more about the OpenIDEO challenge. You never know, in a few months time you might see it turned into a reality.</p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>Open IDEO maternal health challenge – Inspired to innovate</h2></div> Thu, 24 Feb 2011 10:51:21 +0000 Ian Sullivan 9404 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blog/11-02-24-open-ideo-maternal-health-challenge-inspired-innovate#comments New maternal health challenge: your creativity needed http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blog/11-01-28-new-maternal-health-challenge-your-creativity-needed <div class="field field-name-body"><p><strong>Last week Oxfam teamed up with <a href="http://www.nokia.co.uk/" rel="nofollow">Nokia</a> and <a href="http://openideo.com/open" rel="nofollow">OpenIDEO</a> to launch a fantastic new campaign around maternal health.</strong> We’re looking to harness people’s skills in the world of mobile technology into ideas that can have impact on maternal health. If you’ve got some great thoughts about how mobile technology can be used to improve people’s lives then your creativity is needed.</p> <p>There are lots of campaigns out there around <a href="http://www.google.com/search?ie=UTF-8&amp;oe=UTF-8&amp;sourceid=navclient&amp;gfns=1&amp;q=mobile+technology+maternal+health" rel="nofollow"><strong>mobile technology and improving maternal health</strong></a>, but the campaign that we started this week is slightly different and really exciting. </p> <p>As our friends at OpenIDEO note: “<strong>Open</strong><strong>I</strong><strong>DEO</strong> is a place where people work together to design tools for social good. It's an online platform for creative thinkers: the veteran designer and the new guy who just signed on. This community includes a broader range of people in the design process through inspiration, conceptualizing, and evaluation.” This mean thinking about, building and, err, evaluating such tools.</p> <p>At the moment we're in the first phase, where people are finding nuggets of inspiration from around the world – to get the creative juices flowing. I’ve joined the community to keep an eye on what’s happening. If you want to take part in the competition, <a href="http://openideo.com/open/what-is-the-global-challenge-that-most-concerns-you-right-now-and-that-global-innovation-leaders-could-begin-to-solve/brief.html" rel="nofollow"><strong>head over to the site and register</strong></a>. </p> <p>In a few weeks time it could be your idea that gets taken forward and starts changing lives around the world!</p> <p>Despite all of the focus on maternal health, it’s a scandal that <strong>over 1,000 women still die every day from pregnancy related complications</strong>, conditions that could be prevented if they received the right care. In my time with Since I’ve worked at Oxfam I’ve worked on campaigns related to these issues. Supporters have <a href="http://www.oxfam.org.uk/applications/blogs/campaigners/2008/09/downing_street_gets_giant_knit.html" rel="nofollow"><strong>knitted blankets</strong></a> and written messages to Gordon Brown. These were great campaigns that led to changes in the developing world. As can be seen by the <a href="http://blogs.oxfam.org/en/blog/10-09-09-sierra-leone-launches-free-health-care-women-children"><strong>Sierra Leone government announcing free health care for mothers and babies</strong></a> as a direct result of campaigners efforts. </p> <p>It will be great to see how a community of people interested in technology work together to find ideas and solutions that can change lives in some of the poorest parts of the world. So, if you’ve got some ideas burning your brain and you’re desperate to get them into the world, then sign up at OpenIDEO and get involved!</p> <p><a href="http://openideo.com/open/what-is-the-global-challenge-that-most-concerns-you-right-now-and-that-global-innovation-leaders-could-begin-to-solve/brief.html" rel="nofollow"><strong>Join OpenIDEO</strong></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfam.org/en/campaigns/health-education/" rel="nofollow"><strong>More about Oxfam's Health &amp; Education For All Campaign</strong></a></p></div><div class="field field-name-title"><h2>New maternal health challenge: your creativity needed</h2></div> Fri, 28 Jan 2011 17:23:10 +0000 Ian Sullivan 9395 at http://l.blogs.oxfam http://l.blogs.oxfam/en/blog/11-01-28-new-maternal-health-challenge-your-creativity-needed#comments