Welcome to the October 2019 issue of the Global Washington newsletter.
IN THIS ISSUE
- Letter from our executive director
- Issue Brief: What will it take to end hunger globally?
- Organization Profile: Could a movement for community-led development help end global hunger? The Hunger Project plans to find out
- Goalmaker: Values and value chains: Pierre Ferrari reflects on how his childhood shaped his approach to global development
- Innovation Spotlight: Technology solutions that Global Good is developing for smallholder farmers aim to reduce poverty and improve health across the board
- Partnership Highlight: A new multi-stakeholder campaign, Stand for Her Land, advocates for women’s land rights – and the implementation of those rights
- Welcome New Members
- GlobalWA Member Events
- Careers in Global Development Center
- GlobalWA Events
- Forum Global Leadership Forum
Letter from our Executive Director
The new Goalkeepers Report from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation charts uplifting “stories of progress,” and I am inspired by the incredible advancements that have improved millions of peoples’ lives in developing countries. However, amidst all this progress, I was shocked to learn that global hunger is actually on the rise.
So why is food security such a difficult goal to achieve? For one thing, intertwined factors such as climate change, conflict, and economic instabilities have exacerbated the problem. This means that programs to address global hunger must be comprehensive and work at the nexus of all the Sustainable Development Goals.
Innovative agriculture solutions, such as those in development by Global Good, are part of the answer, and we profile some of them in this month’s newsletter. There are also a number of multi-sector partnerships that are making important headway. One is a new campaign called Stand for Her Land, jointly led by Landesa, which advocates for women’s land ownership as a way to help end poverty and hunger, as well as to advance gender equality.
Another collaboration worth learning more about is the Movement for Community-Led Development, an open collaboration facilitated by The Hunger Project. Several GlobalWA members are already part of this effort, including Mercy Corps, WaterAid, World Vision, and Heifer International.
In this issue, you will also find a profile of Heifer International President and CEO, Pierre Ferrari, whose childhood in the Belgian Congo greatly influenced his perspective on global development and food security. For more on this organization, I also encourage you to watch my video interview with Heifer International’s Chief of Mission Effectiveness, Hilary Haddigan.
I hope many of you can join us in person at our upcoming food security event on October 22 to learn more and be part of the conversation.
And if you haven’t already bought your tickets to the GlobalWA Goalmakers Conference coming up on November 15, I encourage you to do so. Last year’s conference sold out early, and trust me, you don’t want to miss this year’s event!
What will it take to end hunger globally?
By Joanne Lu
When the world narrowly missed its target in 2015 to halve the proportion of people suffering from hunger, we thought we were still on a steady trajectory toward eradication. Achieving zero hunger by 2030 would be ambitious, but with enough investment, it seemed feasible. Little did we imagine that last year would mark the third year in a row that global hunger has actually been on the rise.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 aims to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” by 2030. But as hunger refuses to fall amid conflict, climate challenges, and inequality, the global development community is increasingly recognizing that hunger is not just a technical problem – it is a human one. Ending hunger will require integrated action across a range of initiatives through strong global partnerships. After all, according to John Coonrod at The Hunger Project, hunger is tied to every SDG.
It should be alarming, then, that in 2018, nearly 11 percent of the world population – or about 822 million people – did not have enough to eat, according to this year’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). That’s up from about 811 million the previous year, marking the third year of increase in a row.
In addition, more than 2 billion people, or 26 percent of the world, are food insecure, meaning they do not have regular access to enough safe and nutritious food. Although most of these people are in low- and middle-income countries, food insecurity is also affecting about 8 percent of people in North America and Europe.
Progress has also slowed when it comes to reducing the number of babies born underweight and halving the number of children who are stunted, according to the FAO report.
If the global rate of extreme poverty continues to decline – albeit slower now than before – why is hunger on the rise? According to the UN, the main drivers of global hunger right now are a combination of deadly protracted conflicts, climate variabilities and shocks, as well as economic slowdowns and downturns, coupled with inequality. These crises compound the effects of one another, destroying agricultural lands, productivity and infrastructure, killing livestock, forcing people from their homes, depleting communities’ abilities to cope and in some cases, restricting the access of humanitarians to deliver food and aid.
“All of this has led to major shifts in the way in which food is produced, distributed and consumed worldwide – and to new food security, nutrition and health challenges,” the heads of the FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO) wrote in their joint foreword to the report.
To address these new challenges, the UN agency heads say it requires bolder action, “not only in scale but also in terms of multisectoral collaboration,” bringing food solutions together with agriculture, education, economic empowerment, gender issues, water and sanitation – all the SDGs. In essence, hunger and food security cannot be solved without the holistic development of communities, and vice versa.
That’s why it’s so exciting that Global Washington has members from across the development spectrum who are contributing to food security in innovative, sustainable, and integrated ways.
PeaceTrees Vietnam, for example, helps communities in Vietnam clear their land of dangerous explosives leftover from the war. In addition, they help the communities restore that land to safe use, including as productive farmland to feed their families and earn income. For one of the organization’s projects, about 60 farming families from two villages collaborated with wholesale spice companies to grow and supply black pepper. Along with startup materials to plant the vines, these families are learning pepper-farming skills, and the additional income will help reduce poverty over the long term.
In addition to creating opportunity and teaching better food production techniques, some organizations, like Pilgrim Africa, are also helping increase food security by investing in better tools and technology for smallholder farmers. Using machines to reduce their workload – such as diesel engines fitted with special attachments to pound cassava, for example – families, and especially women, can put more of their time toward other things, including education and building businesses. These agricultural technology investments are just one aspect of Pilgrim Africa’s multi-prong approach toward public health, education, and food security.
Global Good, an invention investment fund at Intellectual Ventures, is also leading the charge on developing innovations that increase food security for communities. For example, their solar-powered portable water pump system will help smallholder farmers access groundwater for their crops and livestock so they are not entirely dependent on rainfall. Other innovations help improve production yields, store crops for longer, increase access to markets, and ensure that food, including milk and livestock, are safe to consume.
Other holistic interventions require more than just training and technical innovations. In Central America and Mexico, for example, Agros is helping poor, rural families obtain land for their agricultural businesses, so they can eventually become economically self-sufficient. Experts then help families learn the technical skills they need and how to access market information to run a successful commercial farm. Agros also helps farmers improve their health and well-being, and provides financial literacy and education.
These types of holistic strategies are what the UN agency heads meant when they wrote in their joint foreword to the FAO report that we must foster “inclusive structural transformation” if we want to get on track to end hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition by 2030. They also wrote that we must place communities at the center of our work.
Empowering communities to lead their own development is at the heart of The Hunger Project’s (THP) holistic approach to ending hunger. That approach includes agriculture, food security, and nutrition, as well as education, clean water and sanitation, health, financial access, women’s empowerment, maternal health, community mobilization, and environment. Most important, all of the interventions are directed by the recipients themselves. THP begins by empowering women as change-agents in their community. After that, communities mobilize to build self-reliance. And finally THP helps communities forge effective partnerships with their local governments.
This bottom-up approach is also reflected in Heifer International’s work with farmers. Training and supporting smallholder farmers to achieve year-round availability and access to diverse and nutritious foods is only one of three prongs of its strategy to end hunger and poverty. The other two prongs are helping farmers increase their incomes and assets and promoting environmentally sustainable practices. Heifer believes that these three facets of its work only result in change at scale when combined with the empowerment of women and building social capital within a community.
Holistic, innovative, integrated and community-directed initiatives are the most effective way to improve food security and eliminate global hunger globally.
The following Global Washington members are working to improve food security around the world.
Inspired by the teachings of Jesus, Agros International is a nonprofit organization that breaks the cycle of poverty and creates paths to prosperity for farming families in rural Latin America. Founded in 1984, Agros advances a holistic model of economic and social development through four key opportunity areas: land ownership, market-led agriculture, financial empowerment, and health & well-being. We tackle issues of food security by helping families start sustainable agribusinesses. These businesses allow them to grow their own food and increase their family income, making food security easier to attain. To date, Agros has partnered with 43 rural communities in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, and Nicaragua, impacting the lives of over 12,000 people.
CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty, working in 93 countries to improve the lives of millions of people through programs which improve access to education, health care and economic opportunities. Since sending the first CARE Package® in 1946, we’ve worked with governments and communities to ensure sustainable food security for the world’s poorest people. CARE’s food and nutrition security work includes working with small farmers to increase productivity, access markets and build resilience to climate change and ensure the good nutrition of their families. In emergency contexts, CARE provides cash vouchers so families can purchase food from local markets and CARE provides nutritional supplements for children who are suffering from malnutrition.
Earthworm Foundation is a global non-profit organization that works to make value chains an engine of prosperity for communities and ecosystems. Active in key commodity producing regions around the world, Earthworm collaborates with diverse stakeholders, including companies, communities, and workers to ensure that commodity sourcing and production does not negatively impact community rights and livelihoods, environmental values, or workers. Earthworm’s efforts to protect and enhance food security include initiatives focused on farmer livelihoods, healthy soils, capacity building in companies, and responsible plantation development. Its Rurality program promotes better smallholder farming practices and crop diversification with the goals of ensuring that farmer households have resilient livelihoods and access to a variety of food crops for their own consumption. At the corporate boardroom-level, Earthworm engages with company leaders to establish values-driven, responsible sourcing policies, map their supply chains, and support farmers on issues such as food security for their regions.
Global Good combines Intellectual Venture’s unique invention prowess with the expertise of leading humanitarian organizations, forward-looking governments, and commercial partners. The organization invents, develops, and deploys commercially-viable technologies that improve life in developing countries. In its global development portfolio, Global Good has created an affordable and robust grain moisture measurement meter that is expected to launch in 2020. Awareness of moisture levels in grains and grain legumes can help farmers predict and prevent fungal growth, thereby reducing the likelihood of toxin deposition, nutrition detriment, and other effects of spoilage. It can also enable farmers to make more informed decisions on the best methods for crop drying and storage, as well as timing the sale of their crops.
Heifer International is a global development organization on a mission to end hunger and poverty in a sustainable way. The organization works with communities in 21 countries around the world to strengthen local economies and build secure livelihoods that guarantee a living income to small-scale farmers. Since Heifer was founded in 1944, it has supported 35 million families to lift themselves out of hunger and poverty. Heifer’s model focuses on increasing income and assets within farming families, improving their food security and nutrition, and protecting the environment – with women’s empowerment and connected communities at the very center. Heifer strengthens local farmer organizations – helping to set them up where they don’t already exist – and provides livestock and seeds, which serve as important sources of food and income. As their farms expand, Heifer connects farmers to markets and helps them develop the production experience and expertise to make their businesses thrive and grow.
The Hunger Project is an organization committed to the sustainable end of world hunger. It implements pioneering, gender-focused, community-led programs to address the root causes of hunger in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and advocates for the widespread adoption of these approaches in countries throughout the world.
Landesa champions and works to secure land rights for millions of the world’s poorest communities, primarily rural women and men, to promote social justice and provide opportunity. Equipped with secure land rights, rural communities have both the incentive and the opportunity to make long-term investments that conserve soil and water, boost agricultural productivity, and lay the foundation for a food secure future. Because Landesa works with national governments to develop more effective land laws, its work has the potential to impact millions. For more than 50 years, working in more than 50 countries, Landesa has helped strengthen land rights for more than 180 million families.
Mercy Corps is a leading global organization powered by the belief that a better world is possible. The organization helps people in the midst of humanitarian crisis meet their most urgent food needs and also works to build long-term food security, partnering with the most vulnerable communities to develop comprehensive, integrated programs, driven by local needs and market conditions. Last year, Mercy Corps provided urgently needed food to more than 1.4 million people in some of the most hard-to-reach areas of the world. Beyond meeting urgent hunger needs, Mercy Corps improves access to sustainable sources of affordable and nutritious food, encourages farmers to produce nutritious crops and healthy livestock, and provides nutrition education to promote healthy and diverse diets. Last year, Mercy Corps connected more than 1.1 million farmers to the resources they need to increase their production, feed their families and boost their incomes.
One Equal Heart is a non-profit organization that tackles the root causes of food insecurity by connecting indigenous communities in Chiapas, Mexico, with tools to thrive. Projects work holistically to honor and nurture sustainable agriculture, build equitable communities and promote traditional knowledge. With a special focus on engaging indigenous women and youth as catalysts for change, project participants learn skills to grow food ecologically, sell surplus products in local markets, manage earnings through community savings and credit cooperatives, and start kitchen businesses. Founded in 2006, One Equal Heart leverages project resources by working with organizations based in Mexico to build capacities of indigenous communities so they can drive their own development from the ground up!
Oxfam believes that empowering small-scale farmers—particularly women—is essential to fighting poverty, hunger, and food insecurity. Helping small-scale farmers to be more productive can lift their families out of poverty and end the cycle of food insecurity that threatens communities and whole nations. It can generate income that families can invest in their children, and it can sow the seeds of economic development. Secure land tenure, appropriate technology, strong and democratic institutions, and policies that are fair to smallholders can make all the difference. Through focused and targeted advocacy, Oxfam also tackles the underlying policies and power imbalances that keep people in poverty. For example, through the GROW campaign, Oxfam supporters and allies have made significant progress in reforming a broken food system through a variety of actions and campaigning tactics, including evidence-based reports, direct lobbying of governments, mobilizing for marches, sponsoring petitions, using social media, and building coalitions.
PeaceTrees Vietnam creates a safe and successful future for children and families endangered by the legacy of the Vietnam War. In partnership with communities in central Vietnam PeaceTrees removes explosives and returns land to productive use, builds schools and libraries to educate future generations, and advances economic development to ensure a prosperous tomorrow. Through childhood nutrition, mine risk education, and sustainable agricultural programs, PeaceTrees helps cultivate secure, resilient and flourishing communities in a country still ravaged by the remnants of war.
Pilgrim Africa’s mission is to challenge despair, love boldly, and help African people create a future of prosperity and health. It aims to restore the hope and dignity found in Christ to those devastated by war, poverty, or disease. When it comes to food security, Pilgrim Africa invests in technology that reduces the day-to-day workload of people in agricultural communities, especially women. For those families in desperate need of short-term solutions, especially in times of war or famine, Pilgrim Africa has a long history of providing aid. In early 2017 when drought caused crops to fail in Teso, Pilgrim Africa provided rice to ward off starvation. When the rains returned, the organization provided vegetable starts so that farmers could have a second chance at a harvest.
World Concern is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to transformational development in the most impoverished and overlooked places of the world. The organization goes beyond the end of the road, partnering with communities to meet the needs they prioritize, and empowering them to make lasting changes. World Concern works in 15 countries in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Haiti, providing clean water, sustainable food sources, child protection, economic empowerment, disaster response, and spiritual transformation. Its focus on food security includes emergency nutrition for malnourished children, training in long-term sustainable food production through agricultural training and tools, livestock and livelihood diversification, and peer-to-peer training in pre-natal and child nutrition.
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. One of World Vision’s largest partners is the UN World Food Program (WFP). World Vision partners with WFP in 63 projects in 18 countries to support immediate food security needs of vulnerable populations through food, cash, and voucher assistance as well as mid-term needs through nutrition monitoring and agricultural support.
Could a movement for community-led development help end global hunger? The Hunger Project plans to find out
By Joanne Lu
Since 1977, The Hunger Project (THP) has been on a mission to end hunger, not just alleviate it. But over the decades, the organization has developed a profound conviction that it cannot accomplish this mission alone. In fact, THP believes that the end of hunger can only be achieved with the active participation – make that at the direction – of those who are hungry.
When THP was launched in the wake of the devastating 1974 Bangladesh famine, its founders wanted to raise awareness and political will in order to end global hunger. Now, over four decades later, the goal has not changed, but the work has evolved far beyond advocacy to on-the-ground programs in 22 countries that empower people – especially women – to end their own hunger.
By hunger, THP means “chronic, persistent hunger,” not just acute famines like the one that inspired the organization’s creation. And this chronic, persistent hunger requires more than just food to tackle, because, as THP’s executive vice president, John Coonrod, says, “Hunger is a human issue – not just a financial or a technical issue.”
Hunger, according to THP, is at the center of a nexus of interlinked issues, including poverty, nutrition, agriculture and food security, clean water and sanitation, education, health, women’s empowerment, financial literacy and access, peace, climate, and the environment. You might recognize these as many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In the same way that most experts now recognize that to achieve any one SDG requires progress towards all of them, THP believes that these interlinked issues need to be addressed at the same time within a community in order to end hunger. Throwing more money into relief efforts or trying to develop a silver bullet technical solution will always fall short, says Coonrod.
But for all the talk of no singular solution, THP does believe there is a key element to ending hunger that cannot be compromised. While the prevailing mindset treats hungry people as passive recipients of aid, THP believes that hungry people must be key actors in their own development. This is a fundamental right of every woman and man, says Coonrod. Without strengthening individuals, communities and governments at the local level, basic needs will be overlooked.
This is in line with the principle of “subsidiarity,” which states that matters should be addressed at the lowest level of authority possible for them to be addressed adequately. For example, local governments can and should be responsible for water and sanitation, while states and provinces would be better suited to maintain roads. But who’s in the best position to protect equal rights for all? That would be national governments. In theory, this principle upholds the right and dignity of individuals to accomplish as much as they can with their own initiative and effort.
But in the contexts where THP works, people are used to being resigned and dependent on top-down aid and decision-making. They’re convinced that poverty is their destiny. To empower people to take charge of their own development, THP spends five to eight years, working with communities to build their confidence, equip women as key change agents, strengthen their institutions and foster partnerships with local governments for long-lasting change.
For many years, THP thought they were alone in this bottom-up model of development. But in 2015, as the UN wrapped up its Millennium Development Goals and prepared to launch its new set of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, THP began to engage in conversations with other organizations that, it turns out, also believed strongly in community-led development strategies. However, without a platform, network, or common language, these organizations – including some of the biggest players in development – also felt isolated and alone in their efforts to reverse the top-down model.
On September 25, 2015, the same day that the UN introduced the SDGs, 18 international development organizations launched the Movement for Community-led Development. Since then, the movement has brought together 64 organizations that are working in all different sectors of global development, but are all publicly committed to expanding inclusive, gender-focused, community-led development into every country where it’s needed. This not only means committing to the approach in their own work, but also taking it to scale by working with grassroots-level governments to build the capacity of communities.
Although far more organizations have jumped onboard the movement than THP could have initially imagined, Coonrod says that turning the tide across the development industry is still slow and difficult work. Individual countries, such as Kenya, Zambia, and Malawi, are gradually adopting policies to devolve power to the county level, and some agencies (like USAID and the World Bank) are taking incremental steps toward locally-driven development programs.
However, there is still significant work to do to educate large foundations about how community-led development can support their signature programs and how it can enhance the sustainability of their investments.
The movement so far includes a wide variety of organizations, including Heifer International, Mercy Corps, BRAC, Catholic Relief Services, WaterAid, and World Vision, just to name a few.
And while funding streams for community-led development have been slow to appear, there is one belief that binds the coalition and makes it work.
“We know this approach is on the right side of history,” says Coonrod. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and with rights, including the right to food, health, work and education. People are inherently creative, resourceful, self-reliant, responsible and productive. We must not treat people living in conditions of hunger as beneficiaries, which can crush their dignity, but rather as the key resource for ending hunger.”
Values and value chains: Pierre Ferrari reflects on how his childhood shaped his approach to global development
By Amber Cortes
Growing up, Pierre Ferrari felt like he was living two lives.
“One is the colonial elite prestige life, and being protected, and having servants. And the other, of course, is the reality of where you live,” he says.
As a child, the now President and CEO of Heifer International grew up in the Belgian Congo and Kenya. Ferrari was educated in Catholic schools, where teachers stressed awareness of social justice issues. His grandmother, a pious Catholic, got involved with helping villages where the diocese had schools for the Congolese. She helped them put together a business where the villagers sold their surplus vegetables to retailers.
“I went with her many times to the village to collect vegetables. I remember going with her in a Ford truck, down those dirt roads, to go get the vegetables and pack them up,” he says.
Ferrari’s grandmother acted as a sort of wholesaler, helping the villagers get their goods to market.
“I was definitely old enough to get it. This wasn’t charity, this was commerce,” Ferrari says.
This early experience set the stage for his later work with Heifer International, a 75-year-old organization that works with communities to promote food security, economic stability and sustainability by helping develop agricultural resources, and providing training to small-scale farmers, communities, and villages across the world.
“I’ve always wondered,” Ferrari says, “whether or not that experience with my grandmother was actually part of the inspiration of what we’re doing now at Heifer.”
The American Dream—Reimagined
Educated in boarding schools in England, Ferrari eventually attended Cambridge University, where he studied economics. After earning his master’s, Ferrari had to make some decisions about what he wanted to do (and where he wanted to be) in his life.
“I didn’t think England was my country. I mean, it’s the place where I got educated. But I said to myself, where am I going to make my future? And I decided to follow the American dream. To chase the American dream. So, I immigrated here and ended up at Harvard Business School, and then took a job with Coca-Cola.”
What could be more American than working for Coca-Cola, the iconic American brand? But even though Ferrari spent almost twenty years there, eventually becoming senior vice president of marketing, he wasn’t satisfied with corporate life.
“There’s a stability, and there’s a coherence about the way corporations do what they do. But if you are ambitious at all, it’s all about money. It’s about making more money and a lot of money!”
Ferrari wasn’t interested in making a ton of money; he wanted to help people. So he made a career pivot into the non-profit world. He soon learned that after the fast-paced environment of Coca-Cola, the large-scale NGO world felt slow and overly bureaucratic. After three years at CARE, he took a different course.
“I did a whole bunch of different things. My wife called it the dim sum life— these small plates that keep coming, and you just sample out of them.”
He started a small venture fund to invest in companies benefitting disadvantaged communities — “before impact investment was all the rage,” he adds. “I invested in five companies—three went bankrupt, two are successful today—which is good!”
Then, an opportunity with Heifer came up. His wife urged him to take the job, suggesting it might be time to do something with a larger impact.
“And especially in a leadership position, which it was. And so I did—I jumped from the dim sum life to the steak life!”
Different Stakeholder, New Value Chains
One big difference between the corporate and the non-profit world, Ferrari says, is that you’re dealing with communities, not products. This awareness needs to inform everything you do, from engaging partners, to communicating with donors, to even rolling with changes and setbacks as they happen.
“Change is a much more dynamic, organic mechanism than I think businesses, or even donors, know.”
One mistake, Ferrari says, is when NGOs go into communities and design projects that are four or five years in duration with the goal of some kind of social or economic impact.
“And that’s just a straight up mistake. It takes more time, especially if you are looking for substantive change, systemic change. And you’ve got to be prepared that it might take 10 years or more, and you’ve just got to keep integrating the new learnings and changing your goals.”
The investment of time is one component of Heifer’s work with communities in deep poverty. The other is psychological. Before the first agricultural or economic steps are taken, there’s a process that begins with transforming people’s worldview, Ferrari says, into one “that is more hopeful than despair.”
The process is part of Heifer’s set of guiding principles known as Values-Based Holistic Community Development, which focuses on developing collective strengths to achieve community transformation.
“And that happens, it actually happens. Especially among women, who are much more open to that kind of change. And you know, just realizing that they have assets together, that it’s not just an individual change, but it’s all a collective, a village change, a community change.”
Ferrari applies his knowledge of economics and systems thinking towards creating alternative economic paths, or “pro-poor wealth creating value chains.” This approach invites people who are often at the root of a particular economic chain, like farmers, and brings them into alternate markets—in a way that is empowering and equitable, not exploitative or extractive.
“It’s a value chain that recognizes that the poor can actually make a living income. We’ve got this goal in mind with every community we work with.”
For example, Guatemala is the largest exporter of cardamom spice in the world, but the processing and the exporting are concentrated within a handful of families in Guatemala who exploit the farmers growing the spice. Heifer wanted to find a different set of stakeholders, not the ones that have a commitment to the existing—exploitative— system that they benefit from.
To that end, Heifer became involved in every part of the Guatemalan cardamom economic chain—from growth to market. That has meant collaborating with research teams at universities in the U.S. and Guatemala to help ward off destructive pests that can damage crops, to building drying plants for the spice, to working with the government to finding a spice vendor in Tennessee who wants to buy directly from the farmers.
“We have found a way to get high quality cardamom to market in a very different way, with a different group of players—stakeholders who are going to participate in this new value chain that we’ve created,” he explains.
Ferrari says the key to making these alliances with various stakeholders’ work is to be upfront about everyone’s benefits and incentives.
“It really is the hardest work I do”
There is another crucial component to forming lasting partnerships and building social change. It’s to examine how these exploitative economic chains work—and one’s own role in them, as well. Ferrari did just that when he questioned whether Heifer’s work with large coffee companies that were profiting off farmers made them potentially (though unintentionally) complicit in exploiting them and pushing them further into poverty.
“We’ve got to talk about our potential complicity in various systems. We want to change the system, we’ve been wanting to do that for a long time and continue to do that. But this is about a different component to it – where we are participating in some way implicitly, in the exploitation that’s going on.”
This kind of thinking must come from the leadership, Ferrari says, who should take the time “to reflect on what impact they’re having on the world. What are your values and motivation, and what are you in this for?”
This reflection, Ferrari says, examining privilege, complicity, and power, is immensely challenging—but necessary.
“It’s hard work,” he says. “It really is the hardest work I do.”
Technology solutions that Global Good is developing for smallholder farmers aim to reduce poverty and improve health across the board
By Andie Long
When they think of an innovator, many people imagine an individual, toiling away alone in a laboratory, coming up with ideas the world has never seen. In reality, most innovation arises from people collaborating and combining their insights to solve problems in new ways, where new ideas build on existing ones.
Marie Connett, who directs the Global Development Technologies portfolio at Global Good, an invention investment fund at Intellectual Ventures, firmly believes collaboration can help transform the food system for a sustainable future.
A healthy portion of technologies that Global Good develops pertain to agriculture because, according to Dr. Connett, agriculture has been shown by multiple studies to be one of the most effective sectors for intervention, for both poverty alleviation and the health of the planet.
“Done well, agriculture can feed everyone,” she said. “Done poorly, it can cause long-lasting damage.”
For example, if people aren’t getting enough food, or the right kinds of food, that has an impact on their health and wellness. Further, if food products aren’t reaching the markets intact, or if producers aren’t receiving a fair price for their product, they may be less able to work their way out of poverty.
True innovators, Connett and her team often look for ways to build on some of the really great ideas that are already available to the big agriculture market – then they work to make products that are more affordable and better adapted to the needs of smallholder farmers.
Global Good believes at its core that inventions designed for some of the most challenging situations faced by the poor will eventually prove disruptive to the broader global community, providing many more benefits beyond the initial use case for which they were designed. Global Good calls this phenomenon reverse innovation.
For instance, in many parts of Africa there is plenty of groundwater near the surface of the soil, but it’s often not accessible to smallholder farmers who can’t afford to purchase expensive pumps to reach it. So although the rain falls equally on rich and poor farmers, only the poor farmers are totally dependent on rainfall to water their crops. This puts them in a precarious position if the rains come at the wrong time, or fail to come at all.
Adding to the challenges, smallholder farmers often do not own the land that they farm. This means that even if they were to find the money to install a fixed pumping system to reach the groundwater beneath their feet, the landowner could demand more in rent the next year – because the pump would have increased the land’s value!
To solve this dilemma, Global Good is developing a solar powered portable pump system at a price point that allows farmers to recoup their investment in under 18 months. They are also exploring Irrigation-As-A-Service, using an innovative motorcycle-powered water pump. Operating a mobile water pump service could provide additional income to individuals who own motorcycles, and it would benefit farmers willing to pay for crop irrigation services without having to make their own capital investment in a traditional pump.
It is often the case that smallholder farmers have relocated to a new region as a result of natural disasters, conflict, or other reasons. So in addition to managing rain-fed irrigation challenges, many smallholder farmers are not familiar with the particular piece of land they farm. Knowing when to plant, or even what varieties of crops to cultivate can be difficult. And even for farmers who know their land and local weather patterns well, a bigger challenge that smallholder farmers face is climate change.
“There are ample reasons to be deeply concerned” about helping smallholder farmers adapt to climate changes, Connett says. Despite the highly vaunted Green Revolution, which increased crop yields globally by promoting uniform production and other efficiencies, Connett notes that climate unpredictability quickly “out-games” these approaches.
In turn, most of the tools that Connett’s team is developing will help enable farmers in “normal” conditions and also increase their options in response to increasingly unpredictable weather.
When it comes to options, breeding drought resistant seeds may sound great, Connett explained, but there are usually tradeoffs in terms of productivity and cost. For example, if one year is particularly wet and the next year is dry, a farmer would not want to pay more for drought-resistant seeds during the wet year, when she could have increased her crop yield (and saved money) by buying the regular variety of seeds.
“If we can think of interventions that enable the farmers to make choices, depending on their situations, we’re going to be more empowering than if we try to layer on complete solutions to meet a particular need,” Connett said.
In addition to finding ways to make groundwater more accessible and affordable to smallholder farmers, Global Good also looks at better options for farmers to dry their grain cheaply. Grains can be spoiled by excessive moisture, and in places where farmers depend on the sun for drying the harvest, one heavy rainy season or unseasonably early rainfall can destroy all their hard work.
One of the products Connett is most excited about right now is a moisture meter for crops. Often farmers are paid by the weight of their crop, but if the grains or legumes are considered to be even a little too wet, the purchaser will deduct part of the price, ostensibly because they will have to expend energy to dry it out before they can sell it. On the other hand, if the crop that a farmer is selling has been excessively dried, the weight of that crop will be lower (because there is less moisture content), and thus, the farmers will again receive less money.
Global Good reasons that if farmers know how wet their crop is, they will have a better handle on when it would be desirable to sell it. The moisture meter would also help farmers determine whether the crop could be at risk of spoilage.
Global Good already has a commercialization partner and a manufacturing partner in place for the moisture meter, and Connett hopes they will be able to launch the product next year.
One of the advantages that Global Good has in being managed by Intellectual Ventures is that the organization as a whole is good at documenting new intellectual property created when products are developed. This can provide leverage once a commercial partner has been identified in the market. In return for a license to make and sell a product, partners must agree to make the product available to lower income customers at an affordable price. There are profits to be made at all levels of the market, but if the partner fails to reach the target market, Global Good can rescind the right to use its intellectual property. This “carrot and stick” approach serves it well, Connett said.
In looking at what challenges Global Good might try to solve next, Connett sees a great deal of opportunity in helping smallholder farmers access information about the local weather in order to make educated decisions about the harvest cycle.
In addition, Connett notes that financial mechanisms conducive to agricultural cycles are sorely needed in many places. Farmers need loans to come due only after the harvest comes in, not before.
And finally, storage solutions that can prevent crop spoilage while farmers are waiting for market conditions to improve would go a long way toward improving their financial health. And having safely stored grains and legumes would help improve human and animal health, as well.
A new multi-stakeholder campaign, Stand for Her Land, advocates for women’s land rights – and the implementation of those rights
By Amber Cortes
There’s nothing like that “new partnership” feeling—ideas are flowing, plans are being made, and big goals are being put into place. Collective action, especially in global development work, can be an exciting—but also daunting—adventure. Especially when developing dynamic, responsive relationships, where collective action can help build a larger, more powerful platform for change, like in the new campaign, Stand for Her Land.
Stand for Her Land is a global joint collaborative effort of several NGOs working together with local coalitions to advocate for women’s land rights. The campaign draws upon the strength of previous efforts of activists, advocacy and civil society groups, who were successful in getting countries to pass new laws that protect land rights for women, particularly in the form of inheritance.
But it’s been hard to get the word out, and there are gaps in knowledge and communication—brought on by both lack of awareness, and discrimination—that are preventing women, half the world’s population, from accessing land. (Right now women only own 20% of the world’s land). The Stand for Her Land campaign wants to close the gap between the letter of the law, and its practice in reality—to help guarantee women’s equal rights to property and economic security.
“These new laws and the policies are a tremendous first step,” explains Jennifer Abrahamson, Chief of Advocacy & Communications at Landesa, one of the global partners in the campaign. “And it’s thanks to the people who live and breathe these issues in their own country, day to day, that they exist,” she adds.
“But we felt collectively as a group of global organizations—along down the line from the grassroots up to the multilateral—that there was a need for a collective push to begin closing that stubborn gap for good. The laws are really only as good as their implementation at the end of the day.”
Landesa is one of five core partners in the campaign, including the Global Land Tool Network , Habitat for Humanity, the Huairou Commission, and the World Bank. Together, these partners form a steering committee that aims to provide resources and advocacy tools for local groups working on land rights issues in their country. The campaign is just getting started—right now the steering committee is doing everything from planning events, finding funders, setting up systems, building relationships with potential country coalitions, and playing a facilitator role to the launch of Stand for Her Land’s first pilot country: Tanzania.
We see the global campaign as an umbrella, working in service to the real change makers, who are going to be the beating hearts of the campaign—the country-based coalitions largely comprised of local, civil society groups.”
Abrahamson hopes these groups — who come from diverse backgrounds in social justice work, food security, and poverty alleviation—continue to build intersectional relationships that move the conversation forward. That’s because land rights, and women’s land rights in particular, are interconnected with, and key to improving, so many other issues that start with the agency that women have over their property, their lives, and their families.
When women own property, Abrahamson explains, their decision-making power increases.
“They have more control over how the household income is spent, what crop the family is going to grow and where, how much everyone is going to work and contribute. That decision-making power leads to improvements in health, food security, nutrition, and agricultural production.”
The result is a ripple effect that benefits not just families, but entire communities.
“They invest back into the family’s health, their children’s nutrition and wellbeing, and invest in their education and future,” Abrahamson says. It is a long-term vision that takes time to develop, which is why the most ambitious goals for this new campaign are aligned around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals of ending poverty and hunger, as well as advancing gender equality by the year 2030.
In order to complete their long-term vision, the Stand for Her Land campaign’s strategic partnerships are meant to uncover shared strategies, as well as to craft toolkits that can be adapted and deployed to different contexts, and shared across multiple geographies, traditions, and cultures. And everyone needed to bring something unique to the table.
For example, Landesa’s experience is deeply rooted in rural areas and farming communities around the world, whereas Habitat for Humanity’s focus is broader, with a particularly strong expertise in urban areas.
With so many different partners involved in this campaign, from international NGOs to local advocacy groups, it ends up being a pretty big table. How can consensus be reached with so many potential stakeholders?
“I think that’s really, really important that we keep the voices consolidated. So, there’s one person, for the most part, maybe two, who participate from each organization in the steering committee and make decisions on how we’re going to move forward, which countries we might explore, opportunities for pilot campaigns, that sort of thing,” Abrahamson explains.
But the most important key practice, she says, is to stay true to the original collective spirit that started the conversation in the first place.
“I’m an absolute, firm believer in strength in numbers,” Abrahamson says. “And how creativity and innovation happen when you bring in different partners together to generate new ideas and efforts like this. It’s really that collective work that creates something new and powerful.”
Welcome new members
Please welcome our newest Global Washington members. Take a moment to familiarize yourself with their work and consider opportunities for support and collaboration!
Girl Rising’s mission is to change the way societies value and invest in girls and their potential. girlrising.org
Gucci is an Italian luxury brand of fashion and leather goods. gucci.com
Around the world, Holt International works toward its vision by providing individualized, child-focused services in three main program areas: Family Strengthening, Orphan and Vulnerable Children Care and Adoption/Foster Services. holtinternational.org
Rotary District 5030
Rotary District 5030 is a local and international service organization. Rotarydistrict5030.org
Seattle Foundation ignites powerful, rewarding philanthropy to make Greater Seattle a stronger, more vibrant community for all. seattlefoundation.org
Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency. With over 50 years of experience, Tearfund is recognized as an expert in development, disaster response, disaster risk reduction and advocacy. As well as mobilizing to deliver humanitarian assistance during times of crisis, Tearfund works through its 350 partners worldwide to enable communities to thrive in some of the least developed countries and harshest environments in the world. tearfundusa.org
Vista Hermosa Foundation
Vista Hermosa Foundation invests in the growth of holistic, flourishing communities. As an operating foundation, Vista Hermosa includes both practitioners and partners, learning from communities of practice to inform how to engage with and invest in others. vistahermosafoundation.org
October 11: Agros // Tierras de Vida
October 22: The Max Foundation // Maximize Life Gala
October 24: Sahar // Annual Fundraiser
November 6: Landesa // Speaker Series: Changing Landscapes in China: Land, Policy, and Rule of Law
November 21: BuildOn // Gala
Content Writer, Capria
Finance and Operations Assistant, VillageReach
Corporate and Foundations Relations Officer, Medical Teams International
Check out the GlobalWA Job Board for the latest openings.
October 22: Food Security Panel – Community Led Development
November 15: GlobalWA Goalmakers Conference
Global Leadership Forum
GlobalWA partners with Global Leadership Forum (GLF) in providing leadership and organizational development for globally-oriented social purpose leaders. A new GLF cohort for emerging, mid-career leaders is forming and there are still spaces available. The new forum will kick off Nov/Dec 2019. Cohorts meet over seven months and apply management, leadership, and organizational development topics in real-time in service of personal and organizational growth. To apply, contact Kim Rakow Bernier at firstname.lastname@example.org.