Friday, June 16, 2017

Somaliland : the end of pastoralism?

With the drought and the state of emergency in Somalia, there are many NGOs trying to fundraise money from wider public. Most stories you will hear through them are stories of famine and dying children. These stories are usually very inconsistent with what i have seen with my own eyes and what i have learned from interviewing key stakeholders.
image taken from the Economist
The last week Economist has a very informative article about what is truly happening in Somaliland and the consequence of the drought. It reflect well the stories that i have heart.

Pastoral lifestyle is under threat : those pastoral families who have lost too many animals have no reason to continue their nomadic life. So they decide to settle, usually next to water point. There they start building houses, enclose land for their needs and therefore start closing the classical nomadic routes. Also they need to create a new livelihood, and start cutting tree and produce charcoal. Less trees lead to more erosion and less water infiltration which will end up reduce the productivity of the grazing land that the pastoral need to feed there animals.

Claims on land in Somaliland are becoming more and important leading to conflict, therefore a policy on land has recently been developed to enhance the existing customary law. But who will enforce it in a state of emergency?

Get a informative read from the Economist here.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Are smallholder farmers going to feed the world?

Monitoring and evaluation has become core business in the development sector, even for research. So for every project we have to come up with a theory of change. We need to explain to donors how our projects will influence our partners and how our partners will then influence other stakeholder to reach an impact on the ground.

One of the story we often use tries to convince the donor that we will come up with new way to support smallholder farmer to commercialize. This means, we hope to contribute to the emergence of a smallholder farmer that will produce more food that for her/his own subsistence, and therefore will start selling food on the local market. Often we also hope that this smallholder farmer will invest the new revenue into better production means and therefore will become a more capitalized farmer, i.e. how has more equipment (for example a tractor or a milking machine). And after some years, our smallholder farmer will be a proud agri-entrepreneur contributing to African food security.

CIAT Kisumu 7

Nice story, and somehow is can sound convincing, isn't it. However when i look at the Kenyan context, i find it hard to believe, as most agri-businesses are actually started by young highly educated people with good incomes from other jobs... So where does my smallholder story fit this reality?

CCAFS Nepal-70 

 Some weeks ago, i joint a fascinating webinar, where Prof. Thomas Jayne investigates this question across different African countries. Only 5% of the medium scale farms are in fact smallholder that have commercialized, all other are or privileged rural population who by inheritance have relatively own big land or urban investors. Will this 5% be enough to justify our work in the up-coming years? or do we need to rethink what we truly want to focus on?

In the meantime a look at this fascinating presentation below  or check the website!