Monday, November 29, 2010

Agricultural Innovation in Ghana

The Worldwatch Institute, an environmental research organization based in Washington D.C., recently toured Ghana in search of innovations as part of a two year evaluation of sustainable agriculture across sub-Saharan Africa. While conducting research for the project, Worldwatch’s Nourishing the Planet team found that a new generation of agricultural innovators has emerged from farmers’ groups, private voluntary organizations, NGOs and universities.

While these organizations span a large variety of industries and disciplines, they all share the common goal of equipping Ghanaian farmers with the tools to alleviate hunger and poverty. Nourishing the Planet researchers met with a variety of organizations that are working to revive sustainable development in Ghana, such as the Ecumenical Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (ECASARD), based in Accra. Since its establishment in 1991, ECASARD has connected with over 32,000 farmers in 7 regions of southern and central Ghana in order to help them organize into business associations and cooperatives. By working with individual villages and especially encouraging women and youth to get involved, ECASARD “works with the root” and builds upwards. ECASARD’s dedication to small farmers, for example, is seen in the Abooman Women’s Group, who received funding to form a cooperative of women interested in learning how to raise and care for dairy cows.

Danielle Nierenberg, a senior researcher with the Worldwatch Institute and co-director of Nourishing the Planet, traveled across Ghana to learn firsthand from the leaders of these organizations and the communities that have benefitted from the innovations. Nierenberg reported that, “Throughout Ghana and everywhere I’ve traveled in Africa, I’ve seen examples of Africa-led innovations working in sustainable ways to alleviate hunger and poverty.” In Anamaase, Nierenberg met with the New Frontier Farmers and Processor Group led by Osbararima Mana Tibi II, the village chief. Chief Mana Tibi told Nierenberg that he had wanted “to help revive farmland and improve the lives of the farmers” in his village, so he began thinking of ways to help farmers become more business-oriented. According to Chief Mana Tibi, one of the Group’s biggest accomplishments has been organizing palm oil processing groups within the village. Rather than collecting palm oil fruits and selling them to a processor, farmers can now boil, ferment, and press the fruits themselves, allowing them to make a better profit. In Cape Coast, Nierenberg also learned from fishermen and women who have long struggled with the fluctuations of the fish supply. While there is frequently too much seafood available on the market to make a profit during the summer months, later in the year there isn’t enough to sell in the community or even to feed their families.

Ghana’s Central and Western Fishmongers Improvement Association (CEWEFIA), however, brought together a group of 58 women who are now smoking and processing fish, which gives them extra income in the off-season. Not only are the members completely self-taught, they have also stabilized their income by sharing the cost of the materials as well as the profit. Only through the initiative to organize and collaborate with one another were these women able to provide food security for their community. Because many individual programs like these have the potential to be scaled up or replicated, it is important that donors and foundations can connect with the communities that could benefit from their funding.

“One of the goals of the project is to create a roadmap for the funding and donor community to ensure that the increasing amount of agricultural funding in Africa goes to projects that really work,” says Brian Halweil, co-director for Nourishing the Planet. “In addition, a local innovation working in rural Ghana might be something that could be scaled up or replicated in Kenya. We hope to connect projects together and help improve knowledge sharing.” Worldwatch and Nourishing the Planet project have constructed this roadmap for moving forward in their upcoming publication, State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet. The comprehensive report, to be released in January, focuses on the current state of food production and environmentally sustainable projects in Ghana and over 25 other sub-Saharan African countries. The project’s findings will be disseminated globally in 26 languages to a wide range of influential agricultural stakeholders, including government ministries, agricultural policymakers, farmer and community networks, and the increasingly significant non-governmental environmental and development communities.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ghana Ready With National Climate Change Policy

Ghana is taking proactive steps in response to the challenges of climate change with the formulation of a National Climate Change Policy Framework (NCCPF).

The policy framework acknowledges that climate change is a risk to natural resources that are critical to the country’s economic well-being, and, therefore, views adaptation to climate change as crucial intervention to help the nation cope with the impact of climate change.

Among other things, the blueprint aims at making Ghana a climate-resilient and compatible economy, while ensuring that the country achieves sustainable development and equitable low carbon economic growth.

At a forum in Accra to discuss the policy framework with the view to fine-tuning it for implementation, environmental and policy experts stressed the need for the nation to back the policy framework with action to ensure that Ghana did not suffer unduly from the harshness of climate change.

Addressing the participants, Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Ms Sherry Ayittey, expressed the hope that the blueprint on climate change would help the country confront the phenomenon “that threatens our lives, our very existence, our social cohesion and our economic progress”.

She said the dangers and uncertainties imposed by climate change had been sufficiently bemoaned, and it was time for the nation to respond proactively to dealing with the phenomenon.

Giving an overview of the policy framework, the acting Director of the Institute of Environment and Sanitation Studies, University of Ghana, Professor Chris Gordon, observed that the climate had changed immensely in recent past mainly due to human activity.

He said the change in climate had resulted in consistent temperature increases, while the sea level also kept rising.

Professor Gordon said given the changing climate pattern, Ghana would not be able to grow cocoa by 2080.

 The Omanhen of Esikado in the Western Region, Nana Kobina Nketiah, who chaired the forum, said climate change was largely the making of man.

He said the challenge of climate change was not partisan or economic, but rather an “existential” challenge in which “we survive or perish together”.
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Rural mobile connectivity: VNL shows interest in Ghana

Indian-based VNL are looking for partners in Ghana to provide affordable solar-powered GSM mobile and Wi-fi connectivity systems to enable telecom operators provide sustainable and profitable service to rural communities in the country.

Telecom operators in Ghana have always complained of the relatively high cost of rural GSM mobile and Wi-fi connectivity for which they have relegated that role to the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC).

GIFEC is support by a service obligation fund into which all operators contribute one per of their earnings, but GIFEC has not been able to provide nationwide coverage due to the relatively high cost of citing and running cell sites in rural communities.

But the Founder and CEO of VNL, Rajiv Mehrotra tells Adom News’ Samuel Dowuona that VNL has partnered with some telecom operators to provide several villages in India and parts of Africa with solar-powered system that enable those operators to provide mobile and Wi-fi connectivity to rural areas where average revenue per user (ARPU) is less than $2.00

He says the entire system costs only $20,000 to connect a large group of subscribers in a village in one day, adding that with $300,000 an operator can connect up to 10 villages without the hustle of power fluctuation, since it is not connected to the national electricity grid.

Mr. Mehrotra said the solar-powered system cost 60 per cent less to run, compared with the regular base stations that telecom operators use.

He said VNL is already working with three operators in India and three more in Africa will come on board soon.

“We have had serious discussions with an operator in Ghana but nothing has been finalized yet so we are still looking for partners in Ghana,” he said.

Mr. Mehrotra said VNL is also willing to support the GIFEC project to provide co-location base stations across the country at very affordable supply and running cost to help Ghana achieve higher tele-density.

Source: myjoyonline.com

Monday, November 15, 2010

You’re a sustainability champion & you don’t even know it.

You may occasionally grumble about having to separate your trash into waste vs. recyclable items to ensure that they get to the curb on the right day, in the correct receptacle. Some of us don’t even have the luxury of curbside recycling and may grumble a little louder. So the approach of America Recycles Day (Monday, November 15) seems like a good time to think about why we do this. Here are six quick reasons recycling makes you a sustainability champion: 
Recycling saves energy
Recycling reduces greenhouse gas emissions
Recycling reduces air and water pollution
Recycling saves natural resources
Recycling creates jobs
Recycling saves space in landfills
Here’s a more specific example of the impact you can have just by recycling, say, your Sunday newspaper (if you’re still reading the print version): If every American recycled their newspaper just one day a week, we would save about 36 million trees a year. Production of recycled paper uses 80% less water and 65% less energy, and produces 95% less air pollution than virgin paper production. Yes, even the little things add up -- recycling even one aluminum can will save enough energy to power a television for three hours!

That’s a pretty powerful impact for very little effort on our part, and a great reason to celebrate recycling. And with plenty of positive impacts like these, it’s easy to get excited about it.

America Recycles Day is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to recycling awareness. EarthShare member charity Keep America Beautiful is now in its second year as the national steward of America Recycles Day, and they have a website to help you plug into nationwide events. Disney Stores across the country are taking your old t-shirts to be recycled and turned into paper, and they’ll give you a special discount in return. Some communities are holding video game and used book swaps. Schools nationwide are engaging kids with ‘Waste Free Lunch Day’ challenges and hands-on activities to create awareness about recycling in the community. You can also plan and list your own event!

Visit America Recycles Day online to search their database for an event near you, download their Toolkit, or to register your own organization or group event. While you’re at it, here are a couple more ways you can help sustain our natural resources by recycling:

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Friday, November 12, 2010

The Importance Of Environmental Sustainability

Environment sustainability is extremely important, to establish a safe environment for the future. The ozone layer is slowly decreasing, and as it continues to deplete the more scientists will worry about the increase on natural disasters, like heat waves, flash floods, severe hurricanes, etc. We rely too much on crude oil, and the oil spill on the Golf of Mexico has a negative impact to the sea life of the area. Consequently, it is very important that we try to look at other renewable sources of energy, to keep man made damage to the environment at a minimum.

There is more than just one way to ensure that we maintain our environment and that it continues for the future. Such as reducing carbon footprints and emission, and reusing as many items as we can. (Such as recycling) We should all use eco-friendly items, not only at home, but also in the workplace. However there is much more to sustainability that just recycling and using eco products. Are there any strategic, economic, or environmental decisions that are being made, to make sure that all of our resources are being used efficiently? Are there any health and safety issues when using these resources? There should be policies in the economy that amplify sustainability, and not the other way around. Green technology is the way to go and any advancement in technology should not block sustainability.

In today's world people have to pay a premium to get things such as organic food, solar panels, etc. compared to the much cheaper GM foods. Going green is definitely not cheap. Even though the green products are expensive, they are also hard to find for some consumers. Cooperation from the government is needed to ensure that the green products are made available to everyone and at an affordable price. It takes a great effort to get green products. They are found online to department stores.
Going green is more of a lifestyle choice to those who want to do so. More people will need to get involved and go green in the future to make sure that our environment is sustainable.
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