Senior Fellow Roger Thurow reports on nutrition in northern Uganda for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.
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.
With Rasoa Wasike’s first big harvest came big plans for the future.
During the hunger season, Leonida Wanyama not only struggled to feed her children. She also struggled to educate them.
It is Africa’s cruelest irony that her hungriest people are her smallholder farmers. For decades, development orthodoxy had prioritized feeding hungry farmers with emergency food aid rather than improving their farming with long-term agriculture development aid so they wouldn’t be hungry in the first place.
While struggling through the hunger season, Leonida noticed that some other farmers in western Kenya were doubling or tripling their maize harvest. Curious, she asked for their secret.
On her farm at the foot of the Lugulu Hills in western Kenya, Leonida Wanyama is up long before the sun. Her day begins by lighting a candle and a kerosene lamp, and then milking her one cow. She pours the milk in containers and balances them on the back of a rickety bicycle. Then her husband Peter peddles off into the pre-dawn darkness, in search of customers for the milk. Leonida picks up her hoe to prepare for a morning of tending her crops in the field.
Zipporah Biketi was living in a shrinking world when I first met her back in 2011. Her imagination rarely stretched beyond the boundaries of her small family farm in western Kenya. She could barely think beyond the next hour and the next meal, if there was to be one. She and her family were in the midst of the hunger season – the food from the previous meager harvest had run out and the next harvest was still months away. How could anyone have grand thoughts of thriving when struggling so mightily to merely survive?
Agriculture and nutrition would seem to be a natural pairing. But for so long, there was a wide gap between the two. In development jargon, they were isolated in separate “silos.”
At a village gathering in rural northern Uganda, Molly Ekwang walked her 15-month-old son to a spot under a shade tree where Howarth Bouis, the head of HarvestPlus, was sitting. The little boy climbed up on his lap.
Fortifying diets with minerals and vitamins is an important front in the fight against malnutrition, particularly in the critical 1,000 day period during a woman’s pregnancy through the second birthday of her child.
As part of the Feeding Development
campaign, Roger Thurow sat down with Devex's Adva Saldinger to discuss some important global agriculture issues.
In a hip Guatemala City restaurant, baristas created “Super Nutritious” drinks like the Sangre de Vampiro, a mixture of pineapple, celery, beets, lemon, orange juice and organic honey. Elsewhere in the restaurant, the subject of malnutrition
was on the table.
At St. Mary’s secondary school for girls in Aboke, Uganda, lessons literally grow on the trees.
One of poverty’s cruelest ironies is that in many countries across the world, the hungriest people are smallholder farmers.