Changing Lives: Making Research Real

Q&A: Studying Kenyan Farmers’ Efforts to Adapt

Climate change has become an important part of the development agenda. In Africa, farmers and consumers alike are feeling its effects on productivity and food security.

Laina Saba residents can now cook on a communal stove fuelled by garbage. Credit:  Miriam Gathigah/IPS

KENYA: Community Turns Garbage Into Energy Source

A community-based organisation in the Kenyan slum area of Kibera set out to clean up garbage and deal with waste water; Ushiriki Wa Safi ended up creating a community cooker that turns waste into an energy source.

Red Maasai sheep in Kenya. Credit:  John Atherton/Wikicommons

Kenyan Pastoralists Look Back to Secure Their Future

David Lenamira, watching as usual from a seat outside his compound, has no trouble picking out his sheep as the herd boys drive them home every evening. The red-brown animals are smaller than those in his neighbours' herds, but he's proud of them just the same.

Tomatoes for sale in Abidjan. Credit:  Zenman/Wikicommons

COTE D’IVOIRE: New Techniques, New Profits for Tomato Farmers

Even while the country has faced civil war and political crisis, innovative research organisations have worked to meet the challenges of food security and rural poverty.

Drying cassava  Credit: Ken Wiegand/USAID

Cassava Combating Rural Hunger in Zambia

In Zambia, a silver lining has emerged for widespread rural hunger and poverty, thanks to homegrown agricultural research. Local scientists have successfully developed four new, early-maturing and high- yielding cassava cultivars in an ambitious research project conducted in the cassava-rich Luapula Province, under the on-going Root and Tuber Improvement Programme (RTIP).

CHINA: Scientists Push Desalination To Meet Water Shortages

While China faces grave water shortages, researchers at institutions across the country are working on new water- saving and desalination technologies that they hope can alleviate the crisis in the crucial years to come.

The Mandava weeder, a farmers' innovation, is lightweight and easy for women to use. Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS

DEVELOPMENT-INDIA:: Less Water, But More Rice

When French Jesuit priest and passionate agriculturist Henri de Laulanie developed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method of cultivation for Madagascar’s poor farmers in the 1980s, he probably had no idea that millions of farmers elsewhere in the world would one day benefit from it as well.

Vegetable market in Kenya Credit: Miriam Gathigah

FOOD CRISIS: Two New Varieties of Vegetables on Kenyan Food Market

Agriculture remains one of the most significant economic activities in Kenya. It accounts for over 24 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with an estimated 70 percent of total production coming from small scale farmers who typically have about 2-5 acres of land, depending on the region.

A wind farm outside Tianjin. China is the world's leading manufacturer of wind turbines and solar panels. Credit: Mitch Moxley/IPS

CHINA: Researchers Race Toward Renewable Energy

Researchers in China, the world’s leading provider of wind turbines and solar panels, are working toward making renewable energy cheaper, more efficient and a bigger part of the country’s power grid.

Eight-month-old Aiman, who has bacterial meningitis, in her mother Maria's lap. Credit: Zofeen Ebrahim/IPS

PAKISTAN: Scientists Turn Sights on Childhood Meningitis

She is already eight months old, but Aiman Azam can neither sit up nor clutch anything with her tiny hands. She cannot even hold her neck up or roll on her back. All she does is moan.

A woman farmer using the treadle pump in Orissa. Credit: Manipadma Jena/IPS

INDIA: Wonder Irrigation Pump Goes A Long Way

Just two years ago, Ratha Majhi was at his wits’ end trying to eke out a decent living from his modest vegetable farm.

Malaria, the Silent Killer in Africa Credit: John Robinson/IPS

HEALTH: Scientists Focus on Male Mosquitoes in Bid to Control Malaria

After successfully suppressing scourges of fruit, tsetse and screwworm flies in the Americas, researchers are exploring whether the same sterilised insect technique can be used to control malaria, which kills some one million people every year, many of them in Africa.

Examining a patient with drug-resistant TB. Credit:  Dominic Chavez/IPS

AFRICA: New Drugs To Speed TB Treatment

Researchers are testing a new combination of tuberculosis drugs on patients in South Africa which they are hoping will shorten the treatment term of the disease to six months.

Improved maize varieties could boost crop yields in drought-prone areas in the south of Zimbabwe.  Credit: Busani Bafana

Could Water-Efficient Maize Boost Africa’s Food Security?

As controlled field trials of a genetically modified (GM) crop are about to begin in five African countries amidst promises of improved crops grown under poor conditions, critics are charging organisations with selling out the interests of African farmers.

SumbandilaSat awaits vacuum testing shortly before its launch in 2009. Credit: Dr. Corné Eloff

SOUTH AFRICA: Satellite Preparing Scientists for New Space Industry

Though practically invisible to the naked eye, a uniquely South African satellite has been orbiting the earth for the past year, creating an archive of images and jumpstarting what its creators hope will be a space revolution in the country.

KENYA: Room to Improve on Governance

Kimani Wanyama*, a homosexual man living in Nairobi, knows what human rights violations are all about. His attempts over three years to receive treatment for reoccurring rectal gonorrhoea had resulted in verbal abuse and intense stigmatisation from the very people who were meant to help him.

ZIMBABWE: Free Maternal and Child Care Needed From Government

Mother-to-be Agnes Ncube budgets up to 100 dollars each month from her informal roadside business just so she can pay for the maternal services at her local government clinic.

Entrepreneur, Aissatou Diagne Deme

WEST AFRICA: Black-Eyed Peas Key to Economic Development

The black-eyed pea, commonly known as the cowpea, is the new kid on the block when it comes to improving the welfare of women and their families in West Africa, researchers say.

PHILIPPINES: Call Centre Boom Breeds New Culture – and Risky Behaviour

Anthony, a 22-year-old call centre agent, goes to work at 6 p.m. and finishes at around 2 a.m. But instead of going home, he heads to a bar to meet another male agent over beer, and if the late night looks promising, they spend more time together until daytime.

Senegal targets to plant one billion Jatropha Curcus plants grown using in-vitro, nursery and cuttings in the next two years. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

AFRICA: Can Research Strike a Balance Between Food and Fuel Crops?

While researchers and farmers are still divided on the benefits of growing crops for biofuel production as Africa grapples with food security, Senegal is steadily working to balance the growing demands for food and biofuels.

Judith Mwikali Musau is one farmer who has successfully introduced the use of grafted plants for crop and fruit harvesting. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

AFRICA: In Search of Lasting Farming Solutions to Climate Change

In the semi-arid Laikipia district of Kenya’s Rift Valley province, research scientist Sarah Ogalleh Ayeri travels from one village to another, documenting methods used by peasant farmers as they attempt to adapt to changing climatic conditions.

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