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Archive for September, 2010

Mali, West Africa

Mali, West Africa

In September Groundswell launched a program in Mali, West Africa, in partnership and with financial support from Oxfam America.  The program will be led by our long-time colleague Roland Bunch, a respected global expert on sustainable agriculture.

In recent years Oxfam has developed an excellent approach of savings-led formation of women’s groups in Mali, leading to a “Saving for Change” movement involving over 260,000 women in some 2,000 villages.  While this has generated multiple benefits for women and their families, including access to credit that the groups manage, women have identified the need for additional strategies to improve their wellbeing and break the cycle of poverty.  Specifically, they need to sustainably improve their agricultural production – starting by addressing a crisis in collapsing soil fertility. Over the next three years Groundswell will partner with Oxfam to work with 26,000 of these women in 200 villages to sustainably improve their agricultural production by introducing simple technologies to improve soil fertility, seed quality (short cycle seeds), and water management.

As Roland Bunch has written, “Africa is, right now, facing a perfect storm in terms of its ability to maintain the fertility of its soils, and therefore, its capacity to produce food.  Four major and several minor factors are coming together, especially in the semi-arid and sub-humid lowlands of Africa, to create what could well become one of the worst famines in world history.”  The contributing factors are the price of nitrogen-based chemical fertilizer, population pressure on the land leading to reduced fallowing, declining ability to support animal herds which in turn results reduced availability of manure for soil fertility, and climate change that is altering rainfall patterns.

Bunch writes: “The only sustainable solution to Africa’s soil fertility crisis is that of using what are called ‘green manure/cover crops’, including ‘dispersed trees’….  For 25 years, scientific researchers, agricultural extensionists and innovative small-scale farmers have developed some 500 different [green manure/cover crop] systems.… We know green manures and cover crops can sustainably maintain or improve soil fertility and productivity because they did so for millennia, all across the world.”

Read more about Groundswell’s Mali program and Roland Bunch’s analysis of the problems and proposed solutions.

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Listen to this 30 minute segment with Cantave Jean Baptiste, National Coordinator of Partnership for Local Development (PLD), and Eramithe Delva, Founder of the Commission of Women Victims for Victims (KOFAVIV). They discuss the situation in Haiti eight months after the earthquake. The show aired last Wednesday, September 15, on the Africa Now! radio program on WPFW 89.3 FM in Washington, DC.

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Haiti: From Survival to Sovereignty - A Special Series of Events, September 13 - 15

Haiti: From Survival to Sovereignty - A Series of Events from September 13 - 15

The TransAfrica Forum has invited Cantave Jean-Baptiste to Washington, DC next week to share his perspectives on Haiti. Cantave will be the keynote presenter at Haiti: From Survival to Sovereignty, a special series of events in conjunction with the Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference. The opening event will be held on Monday, September 13, 2010, 1:00 – 4:00PM at the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), 900 Seventh Street, NW, Suite 600.

We also encourage anyone in the area to join Cantave on Monday evening from 6-8PM at Busboys and Poets (located at 2021 14th Street, NW) for the Cabral/Truth Circle: Solidarity with Haiti: From Survival to Dignity and Sovereignty. A Cabral/Truth Circle is a combination of a great film festival and an exciting book club that focuses on the history and political movements of Africa and the African Diaspora. This one will focus exclusively on Haiti and the featured film will be Haiti: Six Months On by Al Jazeera English.

Check out the three-day agenda.

Cantave is the Director of Partnership for Local Development (PLD), a Haitian NGO founded by a team of Haitian colleagues who, since 1995, have collaborated to develop a highly effective capacity building approach to rural development in Haiti. Following the January 12 earthquake, PLD is more deeply committed than ever to rebuilding rural Haiti as a foundation for the revitalization of the entire country. PLD is a founding member of the Groundswell International partnership, and Cantave is a member of Groundswell’s global council, which helps to define strategic plans and implement programs and advocacy strategies.

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