Category: Twitter -
27 June 2013
As Obama sets off to enjoy his Africa tour, let’s hope he enjoys locally grown food. There are some 500 million smallholder farms worldwide. More than 2 billion people depend on them for their livelihoods. These small farms produce about 80 per cent of the food consumed in sub-Saharan Africa.
These African farmers are essential to feed a growing continent.
When I think of African farmers, I think of those families we work with in Ghana, many gaining access to a water pump for the first time in their lives. I think of our farmers in Mozambique, growing hot peppers for international markets, and earning as much as $4,000, an amount they could only dream of previously. Or the farmers in Ethiopia, using one of our pumps and no longer walking a mile or more to collect water in buckets. As these hard working people invest in their farms, you can see the change. They grow more crops, and the grow a greater variety. It’s an investment. And with the right technology, they can grow their future.
In my many years of working in agriculture and rural development, two things have become increasingly evident. The first is that farming is a business – no matter how small the farm. Secondly, farmers need tools and incentives to expand their farms. They need access to water, seeds, and fertilizer. And they need access to markets. When we understand these farm families as businesses and not charity – as we at iDE have for millions of families – wonderful things start to happen. And more food is on the table.
6 December 2012
|iDE’s Second Annual Leaders in Their Fields Luncheon, held on December 4 in downtown Denver, was a great success. More than 700 attendees gathered to celebrate iDE’s 30 years of sustainable solutions to poverty, honor our customers, and launch a new initiative that will bring 26 organizations together in a unique collaborative center for international development.
The assembled guests got a big surprise when President Bill Clinton, who was in Denver for a speaking engagement, made a special appearance to express his support for iDE’s work. Clinton spoke about his own experiences working in Africa to improve agricultural practices, and emphasized that seemingly insurmountable global problems can be solved with the right efforts. “All of these things are before you. “This is stuff I’ve seen with my own eyes,” he said, “These are the kinds of things you can do, and that’s why I wanted to be here,” he said.
Clinton stressed that collaborative market-based approaches hold the key to solving the world’s most pressing challenges. “I think the idea that you should work together, pool your resources, reinforce each other and not fall all over each other is very important,” he said. He concluded his address by noting that the problems faced by the poor in developing countries ultimately affect the entire world. “I just want to encourage you. We are not going to like the world we live in if we continue to allow climate change, instability, and income inequality to dominate the 21st century.”iDE’s new CEO, Timothy Prewitt said, “President Clinton’s commitment to African agriculture is directly in line with iDE’s. His central message—that African nations can most effectively grow food themselves, lifting smallholders out of poverty and increasing production across the continent—gives iDE’s model a ringing endorsement, and inspires us to do even more.”
The centerpiece of the event was the presentation of the Leaders in Their Fields Award to Doña Linda Manueles, a farmer and entrepreneur from Marcala, Honduras. On her farm, Manueles uses an iDE treadle pump and drip irrigation kit to grow 14 different types of vegetables, which she sells for a profit. She has invested her extra income in other micro enterprises including raising geese and rabbits, and starting her own seed bank from her home. After receiving the award, Manueles explained how iDE practices help local Honduran families invest in their own communities, and thanked the organization for its continued efforts in her area.
Other featured speakers included Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper who spoke about the importance of entrepreneurship, and Denver City Councilman Albus Brooks, who welcomed iDE and its partners in the D90 Network to their future home in a restored 19th century horse barn in the Curtis Park neighborhood of Denver.
After the event, Prewitt noted, “Today was a terrific day for us, a chance for some of our supporters to learn more about our contribution to poverty. Denver is increasingly concerned with global poverty and the challenge of meeting food resource needs in the coming decades.”
Read about the event in the Denver Post here. Or, in The San Francisco Chronicle (AP) here.
Or watch a clip of the event on Denver’s CBS 4 News site here.
Photos by Galen Clarke
11 October 2012
We are pleased to invite you to join us for a very special experience. This year, we are offering our first official “Impact Tour” for donors and supporters. Each year, we’ll design a customized adventure in a different iDE country.
This year, join iDE and OneSeed Expeditions on a tour of iDE’s field operations in Nepal March 17-24, 2013. Here you will witness firsthand the transformational effects of iDE programs and technologies on rural villages among the foothills of the Annapurna Mountains.
While visiting iDE program sites, you will travel through some of the world’s most beautiful countryside, during a time of year that Lonely Planet calls “the absolute best time to visit.” Learn about organic farming practices promoted by iDE, visit a local women’s group, and participate in meaningful cultural exchange during a one-night homestay with a local family.
The connections you will make with the families who have partnered with iDE will be an inspiration for a lifetime. Personally, I have never felt so alive and fulfilled as I did when I first met an iDE customer. I was awed and inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit that had been unleashed in these families. I saw the pride and dignity in their eyes as they were sending their children to school and harvesting their crops. I saw laughter and connectedness, and most of all, I felt an incredible humility and learned to fully listen and be present in the moment like I never had before.
You can find more details on the 2012 Impact Tour here.
To register, please click here, or call Michaela Hennig at 720-235-3457.
We hope you can join us on this extraordinary journey.
22 March 2012
I’m sitting here at Green Spaces Denver, campaign headquarters for our Water4Food 2012 day of service in honor of United Nations World Water Day, which this year is focused on food security. As our readers know, that’s iDE’s main focus.
There’s a lot of excitement and momentum from volunteers showing up to help spread the word in our local community. We’re going out and hitting the streets with postcards, stickers, tee shirts to share facts like these:
Did you know that it takes 635 gallons of water to produce one hamburger? Or that 397 gallons of water are needed to produce 35 oz of cane sugar? The truth is, without water there is no food. Water scarcity already affects every continent and more than 40 percent of the people on our planet. This year’s International World Water Day focuses on the critical relationship between water access and food security.
iDE, along with Card Gnome, Green Spaces, and our event sponsors, brings Water4Food 2012 to the Denver area to raise awareness for this issue and money to prevent famine for families in West Africa.
What can individuals do?
- follow a healthier, sustainable diet;
- consume less water-intensive products;
- reduce the scandalous food wastage: 30% of the food produced worldwide is never eaten and the water used to produce it is definitively lost!
- produce more food, of better quality, with less water.
There’s still time to volunteer! If you can spend a couple of hours taking stickers and information sheets to Denver area businesses, sign up at volunteer.water4food.com. All volunteers are invited to join us at the Water4Food 2012 party tonight at 5:30pm at Green Spaces.
Purchase a Water4Food 2012 greeting card plan at Card Gnome, and 50% of the proceeds will provide families in the Sahel region of West Africa with the tools and knowledge needed to create and sustain a sustainable income from small plot farming, enabling them to increase food security and lift themselves out of poverty.
Your plan allows you to send 25 cards throughout one year. You choose the perfect card from Card Gnome’s selection of thousands of cards for all occasions; write your personal message and Card Gnome mails it for you. You can even schedule cards for delivery a year in advance.
With the purchase of a card plan, you gain a ticket with a guest to the party at Green Spaces tonight. Just show up and we’ll have your name on a list along with others.
If you would like to donate directly to iDE, please click here.
There are many ways to get involved in this issue, no matter where you are!
Visit the U.N.’s World Water Day site (www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/) to find World Water Day events all over the world, downloadable informational materials and more.
Twitter: Join the conversation using #Water4Food and #WorldWaterDay and give a shout to @CardGnome and @ideorg or any of the other great sponsors listed below.
Facebook: We love sharing water4food information and you can visit our pages to access videos, pictures, blog posts and other items we’ve been sharing recently:
Green Spaces greenspaceshome.com
Silver Bullet Water Treatment, LLC silverbulletcorp.com
Colorado Water 2012 water2012.org
Colorado Public Television 12 cpt12.org
Elephant Energy elephantenergy.org
Inspire Commerce inspirecommerce.com
Edge of Seven edgeofseven.org
Ellen Bruss Design ebd.com
Conscious Coffees consciouscoffees.com
Sticker Giant stickergiant.com
Rage Unlimited rageunlimited.com
Runa Tea Company runa.org
I’m incredibly inspired by all of these volunteers who are taking time out of their busy days to help us tackle this issue. Thank you to our sponsors, partners staff, volunteers, and news media who are working hard to spread the word on this very important day.
17 January 2012
So I’m travelling in India, and thinking that this would be a good time to buy a gold necklace. After all, there is probably no country in which there is as much investment in gold jewelry as in India. But then I remembered that the price of gold is rather high right now, so I decided not to invest.
I was not expecting, however, to encounter cows wearing necklaces (and blankets) in Bihar. Not just one or two, but rather a lot of cows with brightly colored strands of beads. Not gold but necklaces nevertheless!
The obvious hypothesis to this is that cows, being considered somewhat akin to holy, should thus be adorned as gestures of divine reverence. I don’t think that is the explanation, however.
The real answer begins in the field of the smallholder farmer and owner of this cow. My picture here shows a treadle pump in a field of vegetables being grown in the post-monsoon season. Cauliflower, carrots, beets, potatoes, etc., all fetch a good price in this season. The simple treadle pump combined with some sensible agronomic practice has resulted in a significant increase in productivity, that is, a lot more food grown and a lot more income produced. Not just one or two farmers. Lots.
These Bihari farmers often invest next in a cow or water buffalo. A bunch of reasons to do this: milk production, animal traction, farm saving and dung production. So the small plot farmer with his/her treadle pump can capitalize his/her farm operation through the investment in a cow. Adult cows in Bihar are worth as much as $400 or more if healthy.
It is winter in Bihar at present (January) and the nights get a bit chilly. I don’t know if this is truly necessary but I saw a lot of cows wearing “coats” for warmth, in addition to their necklaces. From the farmers’ perspectives, these animals are so important that one should make the effort in treating them with respect and consideration.
Now, I don’t actually own a cow, and if I did, I doubt that it would actually wear a necklace. Nevertheless, if I walk a little in the footsteps of the smallholder farmers using treadle pumps to increase their incomes and household asset base, I can begin to appreciate just how valuable the opportunity get ahead a little is. And if putting a necklace on a valuable farm animal which it was thus possible to acquire with the earnings, then I am fully on their side!
12 January 2012
iDE has just been named one of the top ten international organizations working in the field of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WaSH) based on a survey of experts in the field. The list was compiled by Philanthropedia/GuideStar, an information service specializing in reporting on U.S. non-profit companies.
Philanthropedia asked 116 WASH experts (funders, researchers, nonprofit senior staff, consultants, and others) from 90 organizations to identify nonprofit orgs that were making the biggest positive impact in the field. A total of 106 organizations were reviewed.
In their anonymous reviews, the experts cited iDE’s focus on “systemic change through market development of pro-poor technology as foundational to its widespread impact”. One expert wrote that “iDE doesn’t want to be a long-term service provider. In its best work, it refines a pro-poor technology, develops a market for that technology, supports business development to provide the technology, and then backs out to let the market drive the availability of the technology.”
For more than 15 years, iDE has pioneered innovative, market-based approaches to safe water and sanitation access. These approaches exploit the comparative advantage of private-sector, NGO, and government stakeholders to reach large numbers of poor households cost effectively and in short timeframes. iDE has successfully applied these approaches in promoting water filters, latrines, hand pumps, and behavior change in rural Cambodia, Vietnam, and Bangladesh. In Cambodia, for instance, iDE’s sanitation marketing program recently enabled local enterprises to sell 17,400 latrines without subsidy in a one-year period, won the International Design Excellence Award, and was inducted into the World Toilet Organization Hall of Fame.
To read more about what experts in the field have to say about us, click on the Expert Reviews section on our organization profile here.
Learn more about iDE Cambodia’s WaSH program here.
More here on the history of WaSH at iDE.
28 December 2011
If you are here, you probably care about the world. I need your help to spread the word about this unique and sustainable approach to poverty.
I’ve been working at iDE for nearly 2 years, but the moment that changed my life—the moment when I truly experienced the impact of our work first-hand—was the day I met Anita Mwembe in Zambia.
Back in 2007, Anita and her family were living in a thatched roof hut on a small plot of land. She was making only $1-2 per day by selling packets of sugar and chickens outside the front of her hut. After becoming an iDE entrepreneur, she learned farming practices and invested in a drip irrigation system, which now allowed her to grow year round and sell crops for a better return.
Today, Anita is a full-scale entrepreneur. Not only has she quadrupled her income in only 5 years, but she’s also started a seed collective, purchased a car to get products to market more quickly, and even setup a women’s micro-lending network to support others in her community grow their businesses. But most important of all, is what this has provided.
Anita can now afford to send all of her children to school, she has built her family a new brick home, and she is even giving back to her community.
In short, through working with iDE, Anita’s entrepreneurial spirit has been unleashed. Her dreams are flourishing.
Since my trip to Zambia, I have traveled to Bangladesh and Cambodia also and I continue to be incredibly inspired and touched by the sparkle in the eyes of the people we work with – those who have invested in their future and with iDE’s partnership, brought themselves and their families out of poverty.
Please join me in spreading the word this holiday season. Our board is matching up to $50K dollar for dollar, so your investment is doubled.
It would be the greatest gift I’ve ever received if I reach my goal – which means we can help 500 individuals out of poverty.
So please give what you can, or help me spread the word. You will make more people happy than just me.
Thanks, and with great hope and love,
19 November 2011
Lack of access to sanitation is a major problem affecting the developing world. Poor sanitation is a major cause of diarrheal disease, lost labor productivity for adults, missed school days for children, and additional financial burdens for families requiring medical treatment. In Cambodia alone, diarrheal diseases account for 17 percent of deaths in children under five. The World Bank recently estimated the annual economic loss due to poor sanitation there to be $448 million a year, which is equivalent to 7.2 percent of GDP.
Existing markets for rural sanitation in the developing world are woefully underdeveloped. Low demand and weak supply chains hinder the availability of sanitation products and services. Publicly funded sanitation projects often make extensive use of hardware subsidies with disappointing results; typically, only a fraction of the subsidy reaches the intended target group, and recipients often do not use or maintain their latrines over time.
For a number of years now in Asia, iDE has been at the forefront of Sanitation Marketing developments to address these challenges. iDE recently completed a pilot project in Cambodia that exceeded expectations by enabling 9.6 percent of the rural population to purchase sanitary latrines in eleven target districts over a 16-month period.
Now, a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has made it possible to expand these achievements on a national scale, improving the sanitation conditions of tens of thousands of rural households while stimulating vibrant and sustainable sanitation markets. Over a three-year period, the Cambodia Sanitation Marketing Scale-Up Project will build on the original pilot project by working directly with some 90 local enterprises, encouraging them to invest their own resources into addressing the demand for sanitary latrines.
The project will enable 115,000 households in 60 districts of Cambodia to purchase affordable sanitary latrines. Other outcomes include:
• Improved latrine designs for two “challenging environments”
• Sanitation financing mechanisms for consumer households and supply chain enterprises
• A research and training center to become a global dissemination platform for Sanitation Marketing experience
The total cost of the project is estimated at $6,942,199. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded iDE a grant of $3,987,717. Other key partners in the project include the Stone Family Foundation, the World Bank Water and Sanitation Program, PATH, and the Royal Government of Cambodia.
Sanitation Marketing has emerged as a highly effective approach for rapidly and sustainably improving rural sanitation at scale by connecting consumers with products that they want and can afford. Evidence from a number of recent projects demonstrates that stimulating private enterprises to address the untapped rural sanitation market can have a revolutionary impact on the uptake of sanitary latrines—with associated health and financial gains for rural households.
The Sanitation Marketing model leverages the advantages of private sector entities, civil society, and government to reach large numbers of rural households in short time frames. Donor funds are not used to provide direct subsidies for hardware or installation. Instead they are invested in laying the foundations for demand-driven, self-financing market systems.
Broadly, Sanitation Marketing applies iDE’s market-based poverty alleviation approach to the related problem of inadequate sanitation. First, we develop a deep understanding of the target group’s needs and aspirations, and adapt or design affordable technology options to meet those needs. We strengthen the capacity of local enterprises to manufacture and deliver the technologies, conduct social marketing campaigns to encourage the purchase and proper use of the technologies, and coordinate with NGOs, microfinance institutions, and government agencies to extend scale and to reach poorer households.
7 November 2011
From iDE CEO Al Doerksen:
Hunger in Africa has been on my mind recently. FAO has been reporting that food prices have spiked to record levels. Worse, reports of famine in Somalia have been circulating – real true famine with people not just hungry, but starving. Starving means that the body starts to feed on itself just to survive.
I am a big believer in Amartya Sen’s analysis (in his essay “Poverty and Famines”) that by far the largest cause of hunger and starvation in a famine event is not because of inadequate food supply – people become hungry and starve when they cannot access the food which is available. Sen analyzed food supplies in some of most famous famines including the Irish potato famine in 1845/51, or the Bengal famine in India in 1942, or Bangladesh in 1973. Each of these famines had different underlying causes, but most importantly, in all cases, there was enough food to supply everyone. No one had to starve.
What then are the factors which deny access to food to hungry people? Well, in the first case, there are nasty civil conflicts as is the case in Somalia – starvation of people is being used as a weapon. Hoarding by merchants or by wealthier households is a factor too.
By far and away, however, the biggest reason people cannot access the food they need is because they are too poor. In plain English, they do not have enough money to buy the food they need.
This last week I was in Burkina Faso. I had the chance to “get lost” in a village community with my camera, and when this happens, I look for examples of market activity, i.e., local buying and selling. Simple stands where someone is selling few vegetables, or salt, or litre bottles of cooking oil are common. Oil is daily necessity – I was quoted 1000 Cfa (just over $2 USD) for a one litre bottle.
This is probably a fair price for palm oil, but if you are a $1-2/day household, you simply may not have the free cash (working capital) to buy an entire litre at a time. Local traders’ response to this situation to repackage oil (and many other commodities) into smaller, affordable quantities. You can buy a small packet for just today. This is useful.
But here’s the rub. If you buy oil in smaller packets (out of necessity), you end up paying 20% more for your cooking oil as compared to the 1 litre bottle. So not only are you poor, but now your food bill for oil is 20% more expensive. Ouch. This is the pain of food insecurity.
[On the other hand, middle class North American consumers without real cash constraints, can secure 10% case discounts at Costco or Whole Foods.]
What I also saw in Burkina Faso last week, was a woman with an infant strapped to her back drawing water with a rope and bucket from an open well to fill sprinkler cans with water, then walk two cans at a time to irrigate her vegetables. This is hard work.
I saw another woman tilling her garden with a pick axe – try cultivating even a quarter acre in this way. I also saw a lot of women bent over weeding their gardens. These are women working incredibly hard to grow a little food and earn a little income. What they really need are opportunities to be more productive – to farm larger areas with less effort and with better yields.
Drip systems, suction pumps, diesel pumps, two wheeled tractors, animal traction, better seeds, affordable fertilizers, better agronomic practice – all of these can help subsistence farmers become more productive. iDE is committed to making all of these available. iDE believes that the way the subsistence households can escape this penalty of higher food prices is to put more income into the pockets of these consumers through opportunities for improved productivity – so they don’t need to pay 20% more for their cooking oil than you and I.
27 September 2011
On September 22, the inaugural iDE Paul Polak Award for Social Innovation was given to its namesake at a gala event marking the close of the Design for the Other 90% exhibit at RedLine Gallery in Denver, Colorado. The well-attended event celebrated Polak’s contributions to the bottom of the pyramid design movement. Speakers included artist and RedLine founder Laura Merage, Ball Aerospace President and CEO David Taylor, iDE CEO Al Doerksen, and Metropolitan Homes President and CEO Peter Kudla.
The iDE Paul Polak Award for Social Innovation honors the important legacy of Paul Polak, whose work has inspired millions of the world’s poorest people to become entrepreneurs; increasing their income and livelihoods, and enabling them to live a life beyond subsistence poverty. This award will be presented annually to a deserving individual social innovator or organization that has significantly advanced design focusing on the “other 90%,” or otherwise demonstrated significant impact using principles articulated by Paul Polak throughout his career. In subsequent years, iDE will select a jury of industry leaders and development practitioners to review nominations, and select the award recipient from that pool of nominees.
Attendees gather at RedLine under a canopy of Nokero solar-powered light bulbs
Paul Polak answers questions with a donkey, which represents his first income enhancing design project, an affordable donkey cart sold in Somalian refugee camps.
iDE CEO Al Doerksen with Paul Polak's wife, Aggie
Ball Aerospace President and CEO Dave Taylor presents the award
Al Doerksen comments on Paul's legacy
Paul Polak and Metropolitan Homes President and CEO Peter Kudla