October 14, 2014 | By Roger Thurow

The Last Hunger Season, Part 8 – Zipporah’s Miracle Harvest

We’re excited to announce the launch of a new multi-part film series on Roger Thurow’s The Last Hunger Season. Now through October 16—coinciding with World Food Day 2014—we will be releasing new episodes from the series each week. Part 8, our final episode in the series, is now available below. See all episodes.


When I first met Zipporah Biketi in western Kenya while reporting The Last Hunger Season book, she and her husband and four children were living in a small mud hut with a thatched roof that leaked in the rain. The family was already two months into their hunger season. Zipporah was rationing food and reducing meals. She poignantly described the hurt of not being able to satisfy her hungry children.

At the end of the year, the Biketis were eating three meals a day. And Zipporah produced a blueprint of the new house they were planning to build, with sturdy bricks and a metal roof.

What happened?  A bumper harvest, beyond their wildest expections.  “A miracle,” Zipporah called it.

The Biketi’s maize harvest multiplied 10-fold from the previous year.  It was nearly two tons, which was double what Zipporah needed to feed her family throughout the year. That left them with a rare surplus; suddenly they could afford their dreams.

In this episode of our film series, Zipporah and her husband Sanet explain how they conquered their hunger season—and proved the potential of Africa’s smallholder family farmers to contribute to global food security.


| By Roger Thurow

A Wondrous Journey

Cruising down I-80 in the summer is one of the most wondrous, and paradoxical, drives in the country.

| By Roger Thurow

1,000 Days and Migrant Stress

The first 1,000 days of a child's life is a critical time for development, where nutrition--and stability--lay the foundation for a lifetime. 

| By Roger Thurow

Outrage and Inspire with Roger Thurow - Am I About to Lose My Second Child, Too?

The latest podcast in our ongoing series with Roger Thurow. Hear how even the best nutrition projects can be undermined by bad water, poor sanitation and hygiene, and lousy infrastructure.  From northern Uganda, we hear a mother’s agony when her healthy, robust child suddenly falls ill after a few sips of water…unclean water, it turned out.

Roger Thurow on SDG 2.2

Roger Thurow sat down with Farming First to talk about the individual and societal consequences of malnutrition. 




Digital Preview of The First 1,000 Days

In his new book, The First 1,000 Days, Council senior fellow Roger Thurow illuminates the 1,000 Days initiative to end early childhood malnutrition through the compelling stories of new mothers in Uganda, India, Guatemala, and Chicago. Get a first-look at photos and stories from the book in this new web interactive.

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» Order your copy of the book.


The First 1,000 Days

Roger Thurow’s book will tell the story of the vital importance of proper nutrition and health care in the 1,000 days window from the beginning of a woman’s pregnancy to her child’s second birthday.

The 1,000 days period is the crucial period of development, when malnutrition can have severe life-long impacts on the individual, the family and society as a whole. Nutritional deficiencies that occur during this time are often overlooked, resulting in a hidden hunger. It is a problem of great human and economic dimensions, impacting rich and poor countries alike.

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The Last Hunger Season

In The Last Hunger Season, the intimate dramas of the farmers' lives unfold amidst growing awareness that to feed the world's growing population, food production must double by 2050. How will the farmers, Africa, and a hungrier world deal with issues of water usage, land ownership, foreign investment, corruption, GMO's, the changing role of women, and the politics of foreign aid?

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Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, award-winning writers on Africa, development, and agriculture, see famine as the result of bad policies spanning the political spectrum. In this compelling investigative narrative, they explain through vivid human stories how the agricultural revolutions that transformed Asia and Latin America stopped short in Africa, and how our sometimes well-intentioned strategies—alternating with ignorance and neglect—have conspired to keep the world’s poorest people hungry and unable to feed themselves.

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