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Farm Radio Weekly is a news and information service for rural radio broadcasters in sub-Saharan Africa. It is published by Farm Radio International.

Farm Radio Weekly

Zimbabwe: Sweet potatoes replacing maize meal on urban Zimbabwe plates (Trust)

As the morning sun rises, a shirtless Daniel Sambani digs the earth, creating rows of neat mounds of soil.

The land Mr. Sambani is preparing is one of many small plots in Bulawayo that has been planted with sweet potatoes. The sweet potato is a traditional rural staple that is becoming more popular in Zimbabwe’s cities as the increasingly unpredictable weather drives up the price of maize meal.

Mr. Sambani is planting his sweet potatoes during the rainy season. At this time of the year, urban families often struggle with empty pantries. Many take up small-scale farming to feed their families and make a little money by selling any surplus.

Mr. Sambani says: “This [planting] season, I have looked for more space to plant sweet potatoes and I think this will help keep hunger at bay. I don’t think I will be buying any bread or mealie meal [coarse maize flour] in the coming months.”

Rural families eat sweet potatoes regularly, with foods like bread too expensive. But rising food prices and lower incomes have forced urban residents to change their eating habits, and make the starch-rich sweet potato a regular feature of urban breakfasts.

Food prices remain high in Zimbabwe despite the introduction of the US dollar as the national currency in 2009. The government is promoting both rural and urban farming to cushion consumers and reduce the amount of food they need to buy. As a result, many are transforming any available land into farming plots.

Tapuwa Gomo is a development expert and researcher. He says it makes financial sense for farmers to shift to sweet potatoes as a dietary staple.

Mr. Gomo says, “Sweet potatoes generally serve as a source of starch and [are] known for having better nutritional content [when] compared to bread.”He argues that growing sweet potatoes must be encouraged, not only for their economic value but also for their nutritional value.

According to the International Potato Center, the sweet potato is a hugely productive and relatively easy-to-grow plant. It is the fifth most important crop in developing countries − after rice, wheat, maize and cassava. The organization indicates that production is increasing rapidly across Africa.

Nigel Makumbe is an agriculture extension officer with Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Agriculture. He says growing tubers such as sweet potatoes is being encouraged as a response to food insecurity in the face of unpredictable rains.

Mr. Makumbe adds, “Sweet potatoes and cassava are being shifted from being mere rural culinary preferences to wider availability, especially now that urban farming is being encouraged.”

Small-scale farmers like Mr. Sambani hope that the introduction of disease-resistant varieties will mean better yields. In the meantime, he says, “I will certainly be selling some of my sweet potatoes because not everyone planted this crop.”

To read the full article on which this story was based, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140305110539-ux8zp

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Ghana: Women’s savings groups have big impact (IPS)

Dunwaa Soayare is a small-scale farmer and mother of five in Denugu, northern Ghana. The 45-year-old widow could not access credit from banking institutions in Ghana; she had no collateral or bank account. She found it impossible to provide three meals a day or schooling for her children.

But since she joined the Asong-taaba Women’s Group, her life has changed dramatically. Mrs. Soayare built a new, brick house for her family. She was also able to pay for her children to complete their education. Two of them have qualified as teachers.

She says: “I have expanded my farming from half a hectare to two hectares. I now cultivate one hectare of maize, half a hectare of millet [and] half a hectare of groundnut.” She can earn $380 US from one hectare, a huge sum of money locally.

The Asong-taaba co-operative started in 2008. In 2013, the group raised $5,000 US in weekly contributions from its 25 members, almost all of whom are small-scale farmers. The women meet under a shea nut tree every Monday. There, they contribute small amounts toward the group fund. The members can apply for loans, which many use to fund alternative businesses if their crops fail.

Asong-taaba is one of 500 groups in the Garu Tempane District. Almost 12,000 people, mainly women, are living better lives thanks to the savings co-operatives established through a Care International project.

A recent survey from Ghana Statistical Services shows that 31 per cent of households in Ghana are headed by women.

Musah Abubakari is the deputy coordinating director of Garu Tempane District. He says the co-operatives have helped reduce poverty for many families in the area.

He continues: “Most of them are engaged in different forms of economic activities. Many of them are concerned about the education of their children, so school enrolment has also increased in the last three years.”

Collins Kyei Boafoh is an outreach specialist with the US NGO, ACDI/VOCA. He says the village savings and loans groups play a critical role in women’s livelihoods and also help members adapt to climate change.

In northern Ghana, the rainy season usually starts in May and ends in October. But recent changes in the weather mean that the rains fall much later. Mr. Boafoh explains: “For the past five years the savannah belt of Ghana … continue[s] to experience low rains and long drought periods. This is not supportive of farming, which employs about 80 per cent of people in the region.”

The women’s co-operatives are using their funds to venture into activities such as food processing and trading to supplement member’s incomes. Mr. Boafoh says, “This gives them a sustained income and job security.”

Mr. Boafoh suggested that the savings group initiative should be adopted, modernized and expanded by the government to reduce poverty in the poorest regions of the country.

Mrs. Soayare and her family are no longer vulnerable during the lean season. Instead of simply suffering if her crops fail, Mrs. Soayare can get a loan from her group to make and sell soap, and to buy vegetables for resale at the market. She says, “I don’t know what I would have done without this savings initiative.”

To read the full article on which this story was based, go to: http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/02/ghanas-small-womens-savings-groups-big-impact/

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Liberia: Farmers worry over Ebola outbreak (by Prince Collins, for Farm Radio Weekly)

On March 24, 2014, the Liberia Ministry of Health and Social Welfare reported the discovery of Ebola disease in the northern Liberian town of Foya, in Lofa County. The Ministry stated that five people have died as a result of infection by the Ebola virus. One child is currently undergoing treatment.

The outbreak is scaring farmers in Lofa County, considered Liberia’s breadbasket. Some say the outbreak will force them to relocate their families. Samuel Brown is a 46-year-old farmer and father of six children in Lofa County. He says, “I am very scared right now. My farm is close to the town bordering Liberia and Guinea.”

Relocating the family would put the harvest in doubt. Mr. Brown says that abandoning his farm means, “The birds will eat the maize on the farm and I will lose everything.”

Medical researchers have not found a cure for Ebola disease. Dr. Bernice Dahn is Liberia’s Chief Medical Officer. While announcing the outbreak, she reported that the Ebola virus had been transmitted from neighbouring Guinea, where it had killed more than fifty people.

She continues: “The disease is reported to be spreading along the border with Liberia, specifically in the communities and towns close to [the] Guinea[n] towns of Guekedou, Nzerekore, Kissidougou and Macenta.”

Dr. Dahn said the authorities are investigating the situation, tracing contacts, collecting blood samples and educating local health authorities on the disease.

A national task force on health emergencies has been reactivated to coordinate the investigation, and to mobilize resources and expertise to prevent further spread of the disease.

Lorpu Phocole is a single mother who grows pineapples in Lofa County. The 48-year-old says, “I have no option but to go. My life comes first. When I live, I will still grow another pineapple farm, but for now I will relocate my family.”

Ms. Phocole faces serious losses if she moves. She has spent a lot of money to keep the farm up and running.

Jeremiah Cole runs the Farmers’ Network in Lofa County. He says it is disturbing to hear that some farmers are relocating because of the outbreak. He continues: “Most of our farmers have just started planting their crops for this farming season. They will have a huge loss. I hope the government can work speedily to curb the situation. This is a serious nightmare.”

Dr. Walter Gwenigale is Liberia’s Health Minister. He reports that Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is aware of the outbreak, adding that the government is allocating funds to tackle the virus. The Health Minister urged Liberians, especially market traders and farmers, to restrict their movements to avoid areas affected by Ebola.

For more information on the West African Ebola outbreak, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99840/curbing-west-africa-s-ebola-outbreak

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FRW news in brief

Farm Radio Weekly has a new trial resource for you: Farmer news briefs. These are stories from across the continent which have been adapted from print or online sources and are suitable for use in your regular farm radio program. Read them, edit them, broadcast them, localize them, or simply use them as background info. Want more details? Click the link under the story to see the original article.

Please let us know what you think. Do you want to see Farmer news briefs in Farm Radio Weekly on a regular basis? Email us at farmradioweekly@farmradio.org

1-Sudan: Cooking for carbon credits

A new project in Sudan’s western Darfur region is offering efficient cookstoves for sale and helping give the country its first carbon credits.

The carbon credit program was established in 2003 by the Worldwide Fund for Nature and 80 other NGO partners worldwide. It enables individuals, corporations and governments to buy carbon credits in exchange for verified reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and financing of sustainable development projects.

According to Gold Standard, a certification body for carbon offsets, the program’s 10,000 cookstoves will save more than 300,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions over 10 years. The stoves are also expected to bring social, economic and health benefits, such as less smoke in homes.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140219161848-e8g5r/?source=hptop

2-South Sudan: Food crisis in swamplands

Over three million South Sudanese people are currently in an “emergency” or “crisis” phase of food insecurity, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change classification system. To add to the difficulties, the coming rainy season will make much of South Sudan inaccessible.

The World Food Program warned last year that four million South Sudanese would be food insecure. By February 2014, that figure had been revised to seven million, almost two-thirds of the country’s population.

Even in a normal year, at least 10 per cent of the population experience severe seasonal food insecurity, regardless of agricultural performance. In the swamplands of the Sudd region, tens of thousands have been displaced by the fighting and are living with little food on inaccessible islands.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99735/worsening-food-crisis-in-south-sudan-s-swamplands

3-Liberia: Student farmers back on the soil and in classrooms

Ten years after the end of Liberia’s 14-year conflict, agriculture accounts for over 60 per cent of the country’s GDP, and the majority of Liberians aged 16 to 35 are subsistence farmers.

Before two civil wars ravaged Liberia, agriculture was a main topic of education for youth. Now, it is returning to the curriculum. Twenty-two young farmers have been given the opportunity to learn agriculture and processing techniques in the field during the day, with reading, writing, and arithmetic classes in the evening.

The new back-to-school garden initiative, piloted in the central Grand Bassa County, will be expanded to five more counties this year.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.goodfoodworld.com/2014/02/student-farmers-in-liberia-get-back-to-the-soil-and-into-the-classroom/

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Call for nominations: Women’s creativity in rural life

Women’s World Summit Foundation, or WWSF, is an international, non-profit, humanitarian NGO, working to implement women’s and children’s rights and the UN development agenda.

WWSF is seeking nominations for their Prize for Women’s Creativity in Rural Life. Awarded since 1994 by WWSF, the Prizes honour women and women’s groups around the world that exhibit exceptional creativity, courage and commitment to improving the quality of life in rural communities.

Nominees should be women and women’s groups currently active in rural life whose efforts have not yet been acknowledged by other awards.

The Prizes are $1,000 US per laureate and $3,000 US for specific African women’s organizations. WWSF will honour five to 10 creative rural women and women’s groups around the world with the awards.

The deadline for nominations is April 30. All nominations must be sent through the postal system (see link to information below). Email nominations are not accepted.

To download the nomination form, go to: http://www.woman.ch/uploads/15oct/Nomination_Guidelines_EN_2014.pdf

For more information, go to: http://www.woman.ch/index.php?page=nomination-guidelines&hl=en_US

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Web-based resources for reporting on women and women’s rights

In September 2013, the Congolese women’s rights NGO, Union Congolaise des Femmes des Médias, conducted a study to find out how women were represented in the print and broadcast media in the DRC.

The results are presented in a new guide: L’image de la femme dans les médias en RDC.

The guide aims to educate journalists and other media professionals on the positive role they can play in promoting equality between women and men.

The first part of the guide presents case studies, to illustrate both correct practices (dos) and incorrect practices (don’ts) when presenting the perspective of women and gender equality. The second part of the guide provides practical recommendations for journalists to help eradicate sexist stereotypes and promote healthy inter-gender relations based on equality and mutual respect in their daily work.

The guide is available for download online, in French only, in PDF format. You can find it here: http://rdc-humanitaire.net/attachments/article/4143/UCOFEM%20-%20Guide%20du%20journaliste%20au%2026%20novembre%202013.pdf

Also available, through the UK’s Guardian newspaper website is an interactive, country-by-country guide to women’s rights.

Which countries have laws preventing violence? Which legislate for gender equality? Which countries allow abortion? World Bank and UN data provide a snapshot of women’s rights across the globe. You can select a region and investigate how each country has legislated for women’s rights in terms of violence, harassment, abortion, property and employment rights, discrimination and equality.

The webpage, available only in English, can be reached at this link: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/ng-interactive/2014/feb/04/womens-rights-country-by-country-interactive

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Now available in French and English: Use the VOICE tool to make effective farmer programming

Farm broadcasters must listen to farmers – if only because, without them, there would be no audience! As a farm broadcaster, have you ever wondered how to improve your program? Do you broadcast at a time that is suitable for farmers? Do farmers’ voices really shine through in your programming?

These are the kinds of questions radio broadcasters must ask themselves when it is time to evaluate their programs. Sometimes, it is good to take a step back and analyze broadcasts carefully to identify what needs tweaking.

Farm Radio International has developed a tool to help you evaluate whether your farmer radio program is effective. That tool is called VOICE, and includes:

V: values small-scale farmers, both women and men

O: opportunity to speak and be heard

I: information

C: consistent and convenient

E: entertaining and memorable

The VOICE tool has been used in FRI’s online training courses. But now, FRI is offering a stand-alone training module on VOICE. The self-taught course is now available on Barza, in both French and English.

Broadcasters will be able to make their own way through these modules, without the guidance of facilitators and mentors, in their own time. They are able to refer back to it whenever they want.

In the VOICE module, you will find:

●            lessons learned by broadcasters;

●            why farmers turn off a farmer program;

●            why your station should have a regular farmer program; and

●            how to use VOICE standards to improve a farmer radio program.

Using VOICE to make good farmer programming is available on Barza at this address: http://barza.fm/fr/barza-event/servez-vous-de-voice-pour-elaborer-de-bons-programmes-a-lintention-des-agricultrices-et-des-agriculteurs/ (French); and

http://barza.fm/barza-event/use-voice-to-make-good-farmer-programming/ (English).

You may have questions as you work your way through the course. Since Barza is an online community for broadcasters, we have created a peer learning group. Broadcasters can join the VOICE module group at http://barza.fm/groups/voice-module-1825047206/, and ask questions, exchange information and tips, and help each other out.

If you have any questions, comments or feedback about the module, please email: nbassily@farmradio.org

This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada, as well as the support of the Commonwealth of Learning.

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Orange sweet potatoes

Africa is currently facing hunger and poverty on a large scale. Most economies in Africa are based on agriculture, yet many farmers are leaving agriculture to venture into other work, driven by challenges such as climate change, pests and diseases, decreasing soil fertility, and price fluctuations.

Two of this week’s stories feature sweet potatoes, a common staple in many parts of Africa. But, as this script from December 2008 shows, the orange-fleshed sweet potato offers farmers and consumers benefits to their health and their wallets!

Orange sweet potatoes contain lots of vitamin A, which is vital for human health. Cakes and breads can be made with fresh orange sweet potato. Foods made with the fresh root retain vitamin A content, unlike making the root into flour. The orange-fleshed sweet potato grows more quickly than white sweet potato and has a comparable yield.

This script is based on an interview with a Ugandan farmer.

Find the script here: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-86/orange-sweet-potatoes/

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World Water Day 2014: Water and energy

Farm Radio Weekly welcomes you to issue #282!

This edition of the Weekly celebrates World Water Day by bringing you stories about water scarcity in Kenya and Ethiopia. We also profile a woman in Benin who overcame her failure at school to create a successful farm.

Marked annually on March 22, World Water Day is an international event which celebrates the fundamental requirement of life: water.

Rusinga Island is a rocky outcrop in the Kenyan waters of Lake Victoria. Lacking safe and accessible supplies on the island, its residents have been forced to use polluted lake water for their domestic needs.

From Ethiopia comes news that large underground aquifers in the country refill after the rains. This groundwater offers citizens the prospect of clean water for years to come.

Laure Nakounon is a Beninese woman who is passionate about farming. Since she was a child, she has believed that the answers lie in the soil. After failing to graduate from school, she found a way to start up her own farm. She continues to inspire other women to follow her lead and realize their own potential.

Check out the Resource section. On top of information about this year’s World Water Day, the Weekly brings you a link to the proceedings of the UN’s 58th Commission on the Status of Women. Journalists who are interested in women’s rights will find useful links as well as a live webcast.

Agriculture, like life, is entirely dependent on water, so use this opportunity to raise the subject with your listeners!

-the Farm Radio Weekly Team

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Kenya: Lack of safe water costs effects finances and health (by Sawa Pius, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Rusinga Island lies in the Kenyan waters of Lake Victoria. It is not an easy place to live. Although the island is surrounded by water, residents have no access to safe drinking water. They have no option but to use water from the lake, which presents health risks.

There is some agriculture on Rusinga, but the harsh conditions are not favourable for crops. Island women earn a living by selling fish from the lake, and by reselling vegetables and cereals they buy on the mainland. Men spend long periods fishing, but the fish stock has dropped because of climate change and overharvesting.

People wash themselves and their clothes and cars in the lake, and wastes from the fishing industry are often dumped into the water. As a consequence, lake water is not safe to drink and must be treated to avoid diarrhoea and dysentery. Many residents fall ill, and typhoid is particularly common.

Eight years ago, Vincent Ondiek Ochieng migrated to Rusinga from his home on the mainland. The first problem the 35-year-old noticed was the scarcity of water for drinking, household use and irrigation.

Mr. Ondiek says the quality of the water supplied by the government-run Lake Victoria Water Services, or LVWS, is inconsistent. He adds: “Tap water would often be available for only a week before drying up … for up to three weeks at a time.”

Mr. Ondiek decided to set up a water delivery business. He started with a bicycle, which carried four twenty-litre jerry cans. But demand was so high that he found a donkey and cart to carry more water.  He sells one 20-litre jerry can for ten Kenyan shillings [11 US cents].

According to LVWS, the water in this part of the lake is highly contaminated and difficult to treat. Other parts of the lake benefit from river inflow. But the rocky lake bed makes it difficult to lay the underground pipes which could supply water from the mainland to the island.

Off the record, an official from LVWS says the situation will be addressed in the coming months. Efforts are being made to establish a treatment site and lay pipes in areas without hard rock. But the extent of the pollution means that the cost of treating water will be high, and the hard rock makes it difficult to drill boreholes. The official said that, at the moment, water harvesting is the best solution.

One orphanage on the island has started purifying its water by using plastic bottles. The orphanage paints the bottles black on one side and places them in the sun on an iron sheet which is also painted black. The heat of the sun purifies the water by killing micro-organisms. The water is safe to drink within eight hours.

Maureen Achieng is a mother of three who lives on Rusinga Island. Mrs. Achieng used to carry water two kilometres from the lake to her house. Now she buys at least four jerry cans a day from Mr. Ondiek to satisfy her family’s needs.

She is appealing to the government to provide safe tap water so that residents can avoid disease and walking long distances to fetch lake water. She says, “If we have safe water, we can spend our little money on other things instead of buying water and drugs to treat it.”

Dr. Alice Kaudia is the Environment Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. She says, “The government is rolling out a huge project called Lake Victoria Environment Management Program to reduce pollution of the lake, and protect wetlands and promote community-driven land use.”

FRI produced an Issue pack on water harvesting in Radio Resource Pack #89 (Climate change, December 2009). You can access it at this link: http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-89/issue-pack-water-harvesting/

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Ethiopia: Government plans to supply groundwater to citizens (Trust)

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water and Energy is hoping to supply almost all households with drinkable water by the end of 2015. But it will need new water supplies to meet that goal.

In response, the country is planning to tap into underground water reserves to alleviate the shortages faced by many of its 90 million residents. The government is exploring this as yet untapped resource in response to the changing climate.

While African’s largest aquifers in North Africa are not being recharged, studies show that rainfall is recharging Ethiopia’s groundwater.

The Ministry has yet to fully assess Ethiopia’s groundwater potential. It is currently undertaking a survey, hoping to map a quarter of its underground reserves by 2015.

Seifu Kebede is the head of the School of Earth Sciences at Addis Ababa University. He believes the benefits of groundwater are clear. Mr. Kebede says: “If there were no rainwater in Ethiopia for eight consecutive years … our groundwater [could] …sustain us through that period, and this can act as a climate buffer.”

Groundwater can be depleted through overuse, but can outlast surface water sources. Aquifers are less exposed and therefore more resilient to extreme weather such as drought.

Groundwater can also be more quickly exploited. Mr. Kebede says a conventional dam takes five to six years to construct, including finding the right location and the financing. Finding groundwater by drilling is much quicker, although the initial cost is often high.

Mr. Kebede continues: “We live in an age of ever expanding cities and population centres. The use of centralized water systems is becoming obsolete, leading to the need for [decentralization]. Groundwater provides [this].”

Using groundwater could also ease the perennial tensions between Ethiopia and the two other countries which rely on the flow of the River Nile: Egypt and Sudan.

To read the article on which this story is based, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140225161943-p7812/

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Benin: Woman creates farm to empower other women (by Mikaila Issa, for Farm Radio Weekly)

Ten women work on Nakounon Farm, performing various tasks. Some labour in the fields of maize and rice, or in the vegetable patches. Others tend the fish ponds and the rabbit hutches, or take care of the goats, sheep and ducks.

Laure Nakounon is the owner of the farm, located near the town of Zè in southern Benin. She is passionate about agriculture.

Ever since she was a child, Mrs. Nakounon has had a feel for the land. She remembers: “It really was a pleasure for me to work in the fields and tend to the animals.” As a schoolgirl, she dreamed of a career in agriculture.

Unfortunately, Mrs. Nakounon failed her Baccalaureat [school leaving exams] on three occasions. But these failures were not enough to stop her from achieving her dream. She explains, “I ​​enrolled in [the Songhaï] Agricultural Training Centre and trained for four years in agriculture.”

Mrs. Nakounon founded her farm in 2008. Now it spreads over ten hectares. She grows local rice on four hectares of lowland. A group of fish ponds occupies the middle of the farm. About 200 rabbits live in another section. In the distance, a fence of palm trees defines the farm’s boundaries.

The women who work on the farm share the profits after selling the farm’s produce. Their incomes have increased, and the women are much more financially independent.

Jacqueline Dagin works on the farm. She says, “The various activities we practice here help us to meet our families’ expenses and our children’s education.”

Mrs. Nakounon says: “To date, my [farm’s] production cannot meet demand. Whether it is fish, rabbits, vegetables or any of our other enterprises, we sell what we produce and we make good profits.”

Mrs. Nakounon has become a leader among rural women and currently chairs a group of local women rice growers. She advises other rural women how to become leaders, encouraging them at the fortnightly meetings and gatherings which she organizes.

She never stops telling them this: “A woman leader is a model female, creative and motivated; she mobilizes other women or men, sharing her vision and experiences, and making them aware of good practices which can improve their lives, economic situations and, ultimately, the development of their communities.”

Mrs. Nakounon is a role model for women and the pride of her community. She offers this message to rural women: “I do not doubt your potential. All that’s missing is the will [to fight for your rights]. Set your mind to it now, and no one will ever again associate rural women with poverty … Fight for your independence!”

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FRW news in brief

Farm Radio Weekly has a new trial resource for you: Farmer news briefs. These are stories from across the continent which have been adapted from print or online sources and are suitable for use in your regular farm radio program. Read them, edit them, broadcast them, localize them, or simply use them as background info. Want more details? Click the link under the story to see the original article.

Please let us know what you think. Do you want to see Farmer news briefs in Farm Radio Weekly on a regular basis? Email us at farmradioweekly@farmradio.org

1-Kenya: Big investment in irrigated agriculture

Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta recently launched a one million acre irrigation project, expected to cost 250 billion Kenyan shillings ($3 billion USD) over five years.

The project is designed to address the recurring problem of food insecurity in the country. Government-owned land in the semi-arid counties of Tana River and Kilifi in the Coastal Region will be irrigated to provide maize for central grain stores. These stocks of maize s will be mobilized during national shortages.

The government acquired the land in 1989 from through the Agriculture Development Corporation. Half a million acres will be planted with maize, boosting the country’s production to 45 million bags per year.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.trust.org/item/20140227230935-tblny/?source=hpbreaking-

2-Somalia: Stopping sexual violence

There were 800 cases of sexual and gender-based violence in Mogadishu in the first half of 2013, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. One NGO, Save Somali Women and Children, has recorded 2,000 survivors of sexual violence since July 2012.

In January 2013, a woman who alleged she had been raped and the journalist who interviewed her were both arrested and sentenced to jail.

Ed Pomfret is the Somalia campaigns and policy manager for Oxfam. He says, “Women need to have access to sympathetic courts and police to ensure that perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence are tried fairly and brought to justice.”

The Somali government is working on a national gender policy, but critics argue the initial draft of the proposed law doesn’t address violence in a meaningful way. In February 2014, Human Rights Watch released a report calling on the government to take action to protect women and children in government-controlled areas of the country.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99702/greater-efforts-needed-to-curb-sexual-violence-in-mogadishu

3-Niger: Farmers losing ground

West Africa has recently been experiencing the most abrupt changes in climate since weather records began. The UN Development Program blames climate change for the environmental stresses hammering Niger.

The stresses include soil erosion, desertification, degradation of grazing land, decreasing availability of water, and loss of vegetation cover and biodiversity. Farmers say the rains came late and ended early last year, ruining their harvests.

This year, drought, land degradation, pests and poor seeds are again threatening their livelihoods and causing hunger and poverty on a massive scale. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that up to three million Nigeriens will face food insecurity this year.

To read the full article, go to: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99733/under-chronic-stress-niger-farmers-are-losing-ground

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Call for entries: eLearning Africa Through your Lens photo competition

The fifth eLearning Africa Through your Lens photo competition focuses on the theme: Social Africa: Building bridges through ICT.

The competition is organized by eLearning Africa 2014, the largest and most comprehensive event for ICT-enhanced education and training in Africa. The event helps participants develop multinational and cross-industry contacts and partnerships, and enhance their knowledge, expertise and abilities.

Budding photographers are invited to submit snapshots depicting how Information and Communication Technologies, or ICTs, are enhancing the way individuals and communities in Africa live, learn, cooperate and connect. Photographs should show how ICTs can build bridges and foster relationships between people. Photos should be accompanied by a brief description outlining the inspiration behind the image.

Contributors from all sectors and walks of life, from across Africa and the rest of the world, are welcome to share their view of ICTs in Africa. Photos can be submitted via the eLearning Africa Through your Lens Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/eLearning-Africa/410699252298030?id=410699252298030&sk=app_244041225639079.

Participation is free. A selection of submitted photos will be featured in an exhibition at this year’s eLearning Africa conference in Kampala, Uganda, May 28-30.

All photos submitted to the competition can be viewed and voted on via the dedicated Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/eLearning-Africa/410699252298030?id=410699252298030&sk=app_244041225639079), or by visiting http://elearning-africa.com/photo_competition_gallery.php. Prizes will be awarded to winners chosen by an expert panel of judges and a public vote.

Full details are available here: http://elearning-africa.com/photo_competition_home.php

Last year’s winning photographs can be viewed here: http://www.elearning-africa.com/photo_competition_home_2013.php The deadline for entries is Monday, April 14, 2014.

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58th Commission on the Status of Women: Resources for journalists

The Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) has created a handy section on their website that focuses on the 58th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW 58). It will follow the proceedings of the Commission and keep you up-to-date on official statements, events, news, analysis and resources.

CSW 58 is a two-week meeting (March 10-21, 2014) in New York City. Delegates from United Nations member states and women’s rights advocates and organizations will gather at the UN Headquarters to discuss and evaluate the challenges and achievements in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals for women and girls.

Broadcasters and journalists can use this site as a resource to better understand current progress on gender equality and women’s rights by the Commission on the Status of Women: http://awid.org/News-Analysis/Special-Focus-CSW-58

To watch the live UN webcast of the proceedings, go to: http://webtv.un.org/

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World Water Day 2014: Water and energy

World Water Day is held annually on March 22 as a way of focusing attention on the importance of fresh water and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources.

Water and energy are closely interlinked and interdependent. Energy generation and transmission requires water. About eight per cent of global energy generation is used to pump, treat and transport water to consumers.

For more information on World Water Day, go to the UNESCO website: http://www.unesco.org/new/en/media-services/single-view/news/world_water_day_2014_theme_water_and_energy/back/9597/#.UxgfJvmSxyM

For events and resources on World Water Day, and for ideas on how best to organize an awareness campaign in your community, visit the UN Water website: http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday

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Farm Radio International scripts now available in Swahili and Hausa on Barza!

Farm Radio International is pleased to announce that Farm Radio International scripts translated into Swahili and Hausa are now available on Barza.

To access the scripts, simply go to the Barza site (www.barza.fm). Anyone can browse the scripts on Barza (no need to sign-up).

But, if you are not currently registered for FRI’s social networking site, we encourage you to complete the free and easy sign-up form: http://barza.fm/welcome/ .

For scripts in Swahili, go to: http://barza.fm/sw/radio-resource-packs/?rrp=&submit=Search&post_type=radio-resource-packs&searchbar=something&post_parent=0&tax%5Bscript-categories%5D=&date=0&tax%5Bscript-format%5D=&lang=en

For scripts in Hausa, go to: http://barza.fm/ha/radio-resource-packs/?rrp=&submit=Search&post_type=radio-resource-packs&searchbar=something&post_parent=0&tax%5Bscript-categories%5D=&date=0&tax%5Bscript-format%5D=&lang=sw

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A decade of success: Community-owned project brings tapped water to village in western Kenya

To celebrate World Water Day, this week’s stories from Kenya and Ethiopia highlight some of the problems farmers face when water is scarce.

Water is fundamental to life. Our bodies need water. Our daily tasks need water. Animals, whether domestic or wild, need water. Plants, too, need water. There are also machines that must have water to operate. Without water, there is no life.

But sourcing water can be a major problem, often because of the long distances people must travel to find it. Too often, there is not enough to meet community needs.

For this reason, some communities initiate projects to address their water problems and improve their quality of life. Our script of the week explains how a community in western Kenya solved its water problem by initiating and then sustaining a water project for more than 10 years. Read through it and see if perhaps there are some lessons for your community!

http://www.farmradio.org/radio-resource-packs/package-86/a-decade-of-success-community-owned-project-brings-tapped-water-to-village-in-western-kenya/

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Education! Education! Education!

A very warm welcome from the Farm Radio Weekly offices! In issue #281, we are delighted to bring you three stories from our field correspondents in Kenya, Niger and Zanzibar.

The second story in our series on the benefits of Fair trade certification focuses on how Fair trade is helping more young girls attend school. Premiums paid to farmers have enabled a tea co-operative to fund bursaries and help build a dormitory for the most vulnerable students.

Farmers in Niger have discovered that better targeting of expensive inputs such as fertilizers increases yields and improves profits.

Young people in Zanzibar are benefiting from an international effort to attract dynamic people to farming. Not only that: youths are being trained how to train other young people in the joys of agriculture.

Check out our Action section below for more news about Barza.fm, and find out how you can get involved if you are not registered.

Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world.

-the Farm Radio Weekly team

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Kenya: School children benefit from fairly traded tea (by Sawa Pius, for Farm Radio Weekly)

For students at Kapsoo Girls’ Secondary School in Nandi Hills, a dormitory is more than just a place to sleep. It is a place to avoid bad weather and pollution from kerosene lamps. And it can also be a sanctuary from harassment.

Nancy Sugut is a form three student who dreams of being an engineer after she completes secondary school. She can now realize her dream because of a dormitory constructed with funds from Fair trade tea.

Ms. Sugut sits on her bed inside the dormitory. She says: “When I used to walk from school to home, the distance was long. Boys and men kept disturbing me, wanting to rape me, and I could reach home very late.”

It rains a lot in the region around Nandi Hills, which is great for growing tea. But, with poor roads, the students get wet and muddy when they walk to school.

The Sireet Outgrowers Empowerment and Producers Company is a fair trade-certified organization that helps provide education to needy students. Members of the farming co-operative contribute some of their earnings from fair trade premiums to a social fund. The fund helps build and renovate schools and clinics in poorer communities.

Paul Tiony is the director of Sireet. He says, “There are families which cannot even afford two meals a day, and for students from such families, we give them full bursaries.”

Beatrice Chepkoril says she didn’t have enough time to spend on her studies at home, and it was hard to complete her homework.

She recalls, “There was always a lack of kerosene at home, and studying was a problem.”

The smoke produced by kerosene lamps is also a health risk.

Ms. Chepkoril says, “I thank [Sireet] for building this dormitory. Here I can study well. I sleep at ten and wake up at five to go to class for preps. The lights are always [on] in class and I have no worries.”

The dormitory sleeps 90 students. Mary Jelagat is the school principal. She says the number of students has increased since the dormitory was constructed. She expects the school will need to expand its facilities in the future.

Mrs. Jelagat explains, “Fair trade also provides bursaries to the needy students, and this has made the school’s academic performance improve so much.”

Viola Jepleting is a second year computer science student at the University of Eldoret. She had dropped out of school in form three before Sireet came to her rescue. She says: “They paid my school fees for form three and four, and since I passed the exams, they are now paying for my university degree.”

Wilson Tuwei is Sireet’s chairman. He says the launch of Fairtrade Eastern Africa is proving to be a blessing, and hopes that more Kenyans will buy products with the Fairtrade mark. He says, “We ask our consumers to buy more tea so that we can give more back to the community.”

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