Changing Lives: Making Research Real

Sorghum Proving Popular with Kenyan Farmers

Gadam sorghum was introduced to semi-arid regions of eastern Kenya as a way for farmers to improve their food security and earn some income from marginal land. The hardy, high-yielding sorghum variety has not only thrived in harsh conditions, it has won a place in the hearts - and plates - of local farmers.

Fetching water from a Namibian canal: accurate data on water use is lacking across Southern Africa. Credit:  Servaas van den Bosch/IPS

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Assessing the True Value of Water

As water resources in Southern Africa come under pressure from growing population, climate change and increasing industrial and agricultural use, economic accounting for water is among the tools that could aid better management.

This young woman from Makeni dropped out of school when she had her first child at 16. Credit:  Anna Jeffreys/IRIN

Sierra Leone Facing Facts of Teenage Pregnancy

On Apr. 5, the United Nations Children's Fund will launch a report on teenage pregnancy in Sierra Leone. Teenage pregnancies account for 40 percent of maternal deaths in the country, and the report comes as public health authorities recalibrate strategy to address a problem that endangers both mothers and children.

Women get a first look at a Sun Oven in northern Uganda. Credit:  Wambi Michael/IPS

UGANDA: Sun Smiling on Renewable Energy Initiative

Clementine Auma was still living in a displaced person's camp in Gulu district when she acquired the treasure she's gone into the house to fetch. She re-emerges from her home with a white box in her arms: a solar oven.

French economist Esther Duflo Credit: A. D. McKenzie/IPS

Combating Poverty With ‘Poor Economics’

French economist Esther Duflo thinks poverty can be alleviated or even eradicated with the right policies. All it takes is for politicians to "translate research into action," implementing programmes that have been shown to work.

MALAWI: Putting Knowledge Into Practice in Childbirth

Post-partum haemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal mortality worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation. A decade of applying research to midwifery practice in one Malawi district demonstrates that PPH is quite easy to prevent.

KENYA: Sustainable Energy in the Heart of the Slums

Talk about foul foundations: the Katwekera Tosha Bio Centre is built on the stuff that goes into toilets. This community centre in the Nairobi slum of Kibera goes well beyond solving sanitation problems - it is a model for green energy, a meeting place for locals, and turning a profit for its operators.

SOUTH AFRICA: Who Says Research Can’t Be Dramatic?

In the early 1990s, a group of researchers set off for a small rural village in the eastern part of South Africa. Their intention was simple: teach the community how to rehydrate sick babies.

Mucuna pruriens var utilis Credit:  Japan National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences

DR CONGO: Beauty of a Bean Wins Farmers’ Hearts

Smallholder farmers in Bandundu Province are boosting their harvests with the help of the sweetly-named velvet bean.

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.

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