Wednesday, 30 March 2011

MALARIA: Rwanda: Malaria Decreases By 70 Percent

Fred Ndoli : 21 Mar 2011 : New Times (Kigali)
Rwanda is on track to enter the malaria pre-elimination phase.
According to a Rwanda malaria performance program review, by 10 external experts, the country has managed to bring down the disease by 70 percent.
The period studied was between 2001and 2010.
The review findings indicate that there was a 61 percent decline in deaths caused by malaria within the same period.
The report also indicates an improvement in malaria case management as it rose from 77.4 percent in 2006 to 85.7 percent by December 2010.
According to the report, there was also an increase in the percentage of children - under five years - with malaria who received treatment within 24 hours, from 62 percent in 2008 to 89 percent in 2010, whereas among pregnant women, it rose from 60 percent to 89.2 percent in 2010.
The acting Director General of TRAC Plus, Dr. Corine Karema, said the country intends to reduce Malaria infection by 90 percent by 2012.
"In a quick survey we conducted, the household ownership of mosquito nets is now 98,99 %, but the usage of them is still low, people still have wrong perception about them," said Karema, adding that more campaigns will be conducted to influence behavior change in communities.
Over six million mosquito nets have been distributed since 2009 in which each household has at least three mosquito nets.
However, Dr Karema called on stakeholders for more financial support to meet their malaria pre-elimination goals.
"There has been declining gap in funding malaria control, from 2009-2011; funding gap of 55% whereas from 2012 to 2013 there is gap of 70%," Karema said.
After presenting the review findings, representatives of the stakeholders, jointly signed a statement committing to work together to follow up on the recommendations and support activities aimed at achieving a malaria free Rwanda.
The stake holders included, the Mission Director of USAID, the WHO Represenative, the RDO Executive Secretary, the Director of SPH, Dr Karema and the Permament Secreatry, Dr Agnes Binagwaho, on behalf of the Ministry of Health.
Dr. Binagwaho, attributed the improvement in the fight against malaria to the government's leadership and evidence-based policies on health sector.
"These tremendous trends couldn't have been achieved without the particular emphasis of the government, especially our President," she said.
Binagwaho added that there is still a challenge of cross-boarder threats, and there is need to harmonise malaria control interventions in the region.
"We are going to go for a regional approach so that there is integration of the same interventions," she noted.
The country Director of USAID, Dennis Weller, urged the health sector to continue being more vigilant on malaria control surveillance.

MALARIA: The argument for DDT

Donald Roberts : 17 Mar 2011

Cloaked in presumptions of an enlightened understanding of malaria, its history and evolution, Sonia Shah's "The Fever" presents a subtle array of denunciations and smear tactics against the tools, the methods, and even the motivations of key individuals who endeavored to control malaria, both past and present. Shah comes across as a journalist who is looking for fame. She describes herself as hating mosquitoes, but perhaps she hates people more.
"The Fever" is a book written to charm and soothe other people like herself, the armchair environmentalists who think people are the problem—and who want to eradicate DDT and other essential public health insecticides, not eradicate malaria.
In contrast to Shah, I am an entomologist who has worked for 45 years to combat malaria, and I state unequivocally, from my experience in the developing sector, that DDT is an essential part of the armamentarium against malaria, and that indoor residual spraying with DDT is most effective in stopping the spread of malaria. The key here is the unique spatial repellency of DDT: Mosquitoes, even those that are DDT-resistant, are repelled by DDT and, more often than not, do not enter a house that has been sprayed.
I say this at the outset of this review, because it is crucial to keep in mind that Shah's denunciations of past and present programs to control or eradicate malaria are consistent with those who are responsible for allowing malaria to continue to kill millions of people—instead of eradicating the disease. My intention here is, for the record, to counter some of the misstatements Shah makes to build her case that malaria isn't all that bad.
Full review available at

POVERTY: SOMALIA: Drought-displaced "in tens of thousands"

HARGEISA/NAIROBI, 30 March 2011 (IRIN) -  Photo: Mohamed Amin Jibril/IRIN: "There is not a single region from the south to the north that is not suffering [from drought],” Abdi Haji Gobdon, spokesman for Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), told IRIN

With drought spreading to almost all regions of Somalia, officials and aid workers have expressed concern for those affected, saying drought was now a major cause of displacement.
"Drought, not insecurity, is now the main reason for new displacement in Somalia," the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA Somalia) said in a March update. "More than 52,000 people have been displaced due to drought since 1 December 2010, many of them moving to urban areas in search of assistance."
In particular, the capital, Mogadishu, had experienced an increased influx of drought-affected pastoralists, said OCHA.
"Although migration of people and livestock is not unusual during the dry season, this appears to be the first time ever pastoralists and their livestock have migrated into the capital, a situation that portrays the severity of the drought situation in the country," OCHA said.
Abdi Haji Gobdon, spokesman for Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), told IRIN on 30 March: "The drought is spreading and getting worse. We are getting reports not only of livestock dying but people too.
"There is not a single region from the south to the north that is not suffering,” he said.

Aid appeal
Gedo in the southwest, parts of southern regions and the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, as well as central Somali regions, are the worst affected, according to Gobdon.
"Livestock are dying in their thousands, with families losing everything," he said, adding that the drought had forced many pastoralists into camps for the displaced. "They have lost everything and they think they may get help if they reach the camps."
Gobdon said the TFG could not address the situation alone and appealed to the international community for assistance.
"The problem with this drought is how long it has been going on," he said.
Gu rains should have started in most parts of the country. Gobdon said: "In a good year, it should be raining by now, but we have not seen a drop yet."
Targeting livelihoods
In response to the drought, the Common Humanitarian Fund for Somalia allocated US$4.5 million in March in emergency funding, targeting agriculture and livelihoods; water, sanitation and hygiene.
In the self-declared republic of Somaliland, more than four months of drought have led to disease outbreaks and severe water shortages, with government officials appealing for help for the most drought-affected populations.
"The government of Somaliland has appealed for support; so far we have collected about $500,000 from the public, which we spent on water-trucking to the drought-affected in remote areas," Hussein Abdi Du'alle, Somaliland's Minister for Water and Minerals, told a press conference in the capital, Hargeisa.
"Initially, only three regions were affected but now the drought has reached everywhere," Mohamed Muse Awale, the chairman of Somaliland's National Environmental Research and Disaster Preparedness Commission, said.
Mohamed Abdillahi, an elder in Hudun, 83km northeast of Las-anod district in Sool region, told IRIN: "The biggest problem is water shortages; water is trucked from Burou in Togdheer region, 260-270km away, and its price keeps rising. For example, a barrel [200l] of water was only $8 three months ago, now it is $15."

Deaths reported
In Sool region, eastern Somaliland, officials have reported four deaths following an outbreak of diarrhoea. Ali Bile, head of Awr-Bogeys health post in Sool, 50km northeast of Las-anod, said all four deaths - a man and three children - occurred in the past week.
Ali Bulale, mayor of Hudun district, said at least 40 people in the district had contracted diarrhoea, mostly children.
"The district was one of the few places which enjoyed the Deyr [long] rains; this caused many people from Sanag, Sool, Togdheer and even from Puntland to gather here in search of pasture," Bulale said. "Now nothing of the pasture is left."
Ahmed Abdi Bile, coordinator of the Red Crescent in Somaliland, said: "There are six mobile health-sector teams giving food to malnourished children in the regions of Sool, Sanag and Sahel. With the collaboration of UNICEF [UN Children's Fund], there are also seven more teams doing the same job in the regions of Sool, Sahel, Togdher, Awdal and Sanag."
Mark Bowden, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, has called for humanitarian access to support Somalis affected by drought.
"I am extremely concerned about the impact of the current drought on the well-being of children, women and the general population in Somalia," he said in a statement. "Severe water shortages require collective efforts and further cooperation at all levels to deliver a well-coordinated response to mitigate the consequences of the drought on the lives of the Somali population."

POVERTY: PAKISTAN: Struggling to cope amid rising food prices

 Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN:
Food has become too expensive for many families in the poorer suburbs of Lahore, Punjab Province (file photo)

LAHORE, 30 March 2011 (IRIN) - The price of wheat in Pakistan has almost tripled since 2008, making people in places like the poorer suburbs of Lahore, capital of Punjab Province, wonder how they will feed their families, local residents say.
“A few years ago we paid just a little over Rs 200 [US$2.35] for a 20kg bag of wheat flour,” Saleem Yousaf, a father of four who works as a cook said. “Today, we pay over Rs 550 [$6.47] for the same amount, which lasts us less than a month, while the prices of vegetables, lentils, spices and everything else have also soared.”
Yousaf’s wife also works as a domestic help in Lahore, and together they earn Rs 12,000 [$142] per month. “Other families earn less, but we struggle hard to manage because all our four children are in school, and I really believe an education is vital to their future,” he told IRIN.
The minimum wage for workers was increased by the government from Rs 4,000 ($47) to Rs 6,000 ($70) in March 2008, but groups working for labour rights say implementation is poor.
Yousaf’s family spends Rs 4,000 each month to pay fees and buy books and stationery. Another 1,000 goes on utility bills. “Sometimes we barely manage to feed the children,” Yousaf added.
Javed Saleem, his 11-year-old son, told IRIN “We only eat at dinner time and have a mug of tea at breakfast. My parents cannot afford more.”
Other families in the impoverished Shadra area of Lahore, where Yousaf lives, face a similar situation - as do tens of thousands of others across the country.
Ironically, fields of wheat stand all around the Shadra, on the outskirts of Lahore, but the grain, which is the staple food in Punjab, is largely inaccessible to many because most of the crop is sold for export.
According to the Famine Early Warning System (FEWS NET), a combination of inflation and chronic food insecurity means many in Pakistan are vulnerable to price increases. Poverty and high food prices threaten food security, and in turn fuel inflation.

“The high food prices have impacted people's ability to obtain required calories to live a healthy life,” Amjad Jamal of the UN World Food Programme Public Information Unit told IRIN from Islamabad. “The majority of Pakistanis spend half of their income on buying essential food items and are left with very little for health care and children’s education.
“This also leads to malnutrition in the longer run, which has been seen especially in the wake of recent floods, where Sindh is facing malnutrition problems,” he added.
Ghulam Nabi, a doctor in Shadra, said: “I see children brought in all the time who suffer malnutrition. They are simply not getting the calories they need and the families cannot manage to give them better food.”
The 2008 global financial and economic crisis, the displacement of about three million people in 2009 by fighting between militant groups and the Pakistani army, and the catastrophic floods in 2010 worsened the situation, he added.
According to Pakistan’s federal bureau of statistics, the consumer price index rose in February by 17.72 percent compared to the same period last year.
“My father-in-law is sick with hepatitis, but if we try to get medical care we will not be able to feed our family,” said Razia Bibi, a mother of five. She earns around Rs 6,000 ($70) a month stitching clothes. Her husband is unemployed. Since he lost his job seven months ago, the three daughters have not attended school.

POVERTY: ZAMBIA: Lake Tanganyika fishing industry adrift

 Photo: Guy Oliver/IRIN
Fishermen leave the northern Zambian town of Mpulungu for a night's fishing on Lake Tanganyika

MPULUNGU, 30 March 2011 (IRIN) - Fishing for a living on Lake Tanganyika has become a gamble, with the rising costs of fuel and the ever greater distances navigated to catch fewer fish stacking the odds against those working in the industry.
At dusk small fishing groups, comprising four one-man lamp boats carried to the fishing grounds aboard a mother boat, leave the port of Mpulungu in northern Zambia and return at dawn.
As darkness sets in, the lamp boats are deployed about 50 metres from the mother boat, where they float paraffin-powered lights on the surface, attracting zooplankton that in turn lure schools of pelagic fish, such as buka-buka and kapenta, into ring nets, and the catch is then hauled into the mother boat.
The storm that night was anticipated by the fishing crew as it rolled in from the west, but its ferocity was not.
The initial squall almost capsized the mother boat, while a hard rain churned the dark water into a white froth. In a few seconds, rain reduced visibility to a couple of metres and the swamped lamp boats disappeared from sight, while the crew on the mother boat clung to whatever was fixed on the open deck and lightning struck the water.
The helmsmen struggled for 30 minutes or more to start the outboard motor and turn the bow into the rising swell, but the spluttering engine signalled an end to a fishing trip that had managed to catch only enough fish for a single meal for the crew. The next day about 40 fishermen were missing, but it was thought the storm wind had blown the boats and their crews to the shores in a neighbouring country.
Four countries border Lake Tanganyika - Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Zambia, Burundi and Tanzania - and share territorial jurisdiction of the world's second largest fresh water lake by volume.

Diminishing returns
Davidson Syapila told IRIN that he started fishing a couple of years ago, when he bought a mother boat, four auxiliary boats with lamps, a reconditioned outboard engine and ring nets, and had repaid the US$2,000 price from catches of kapenta (Stolothrissa tanganicae) and buka-buka, a species of Nile perch, in a few months.
If we catch nothing, then we are paid nothing
Syapila takes 50 percent of the catch to pay for the boats, diesel, paraffin fuel, ring nets, fishing licences and other costs, and the proceeds from the remaining half are split among the crew. "If we catch nothing, then we are paid nothing," he said.
The general consensus among local fishermen, the Zambian fisheries department and commercial fish packaging firms is that there are "good and bad years", and fish stocks are declining, but there is no agreement on why.
Unlike other Zambian lakes, where fishing is restricted from December to February, there are no limitations on fishing in Lake Tanganyika, and the season is determined by other factors.
Using lamp boats prevents fishing when the moon is active, so crews only go out on about 17 days each month, weather permitting.
Large-scale commercial fishing began in the 1960s in Zambia, a decade after similar operations started in the northern reaches of the lake off Bujumbura, capital of Burundi. Zambian commercial fisheries caught a couple of thousand tons of pelagic fish annually, three-quarters of which were kapenta and the balance Nile perch (Lates niloticus).
Commercial fishing operations exported 46.6 metric tons of dried fish from Mpulungu in 2010 and about 74 metric tons of fresh buka-buka, Mpulungu fisheries department told IRIN. Information for industrial exports of fresh kapenta for the year was not available.
Stocks of the three large species of Nile perch - the apex predators - soon dwindled, allowing the smallest of the Nile perches, buka-buka, to flourish and become commercially viable, along with two species of kapenta (Limnothrissa miodon and Stolothrissa tanganicae).

 Photo: Guy Oliver/IRIN
Kapenta from Lake Tanganyika are washed at the Ngwenye market in Mpulungu

Millions of people in the four countries with access to Lake Tanganyika rely on it, and it is estimated about 30,000 to 40,000 catch its fish. A baseline survey in the four countries will determine how many earn a living from the lake and the types of fishing equipment they use, so as to establish uniform regulations and practices.
Daniel Sinyinza, a biologist at the department of fisheries, told IRIN that buka-buka used to be caught throughout the year, "but this started changing in the mid-1990s and now between April and October you don't get buka-buka any more."

Environmental changes
Lake Tanganyika is regarded as one of the world's most biologically diverse lakes and reaches depths of about 1,470 metres, making it the second deepest after Lake Baikal in Siberia. Its waters are stratified with cold bands, a feature of tropical lakes, but below about 250 metres the water is anoxic - devoid of oxygen.
In May, June and July, the southeasterly "kapata" wind blows across the lake, causing "upwelling". This mixes some of the water layers and forces algae into the oxygenated water, which zooplankton then feed off and are in turn are consumed by pelagic fish.
During those months the waters turn green, and some have argued that because "buka-buka are a visual predator" they were not active, and that was why the catches tailed off, but this explanation did not address why they used to be caught during this period in the past, Sinyinza said.
He said the surface water had warmed by as much as two degrees centigrade since the 1960s, and there were some suggestions that the strength of the kapata wind had also decreased, making it more difficult for the lake's colder and warmer layers to mix.
The change in fishing patterns led to a different approach - fishing company trawlers were mothballed and local fishing operators became virtually the sole suppliers of commercial freezing and packaging plants in Mpulungu, which export to markets in Zambia’s Copperbelt Province, the capital, Lusaka, and other urban areas.
Buka-buka have sold for between $1.60 and $1.80 a kilogramme in 2011, while "in other years it used to sell for about 2,000 [Zambian] kwacha [about $0.42] a kilogramme," Sinyinza said, "Less fish, a higher price."
Better prices do not mean greater rewards. Many expeditions end without any profit to pay the fuel costs to fund the next trip, so commercial packaging operations are providing loans to pay for fuel, with a first option on any catches.
While large-scale fishing operations using trawler-type vessels all but disappeared as catches diminished and profits declined, companies had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in infrastructure, cold rooms, and generator systems to compensate for erratic electricity supplies. Some fishing jobs have been swapped for factory jobs.
There are plans to build a canning factory in Mpulungu and ship the fish to markets in DRC and Tanzania.
Zambia and Burundi hold the smallest territorial claim to the lake, which measures 673km along its north-south axis and has an average width of 50km. DRC controls 45 percent and Tanzania 41 percent, but the focus of commercial activity on the lake is Mpulungu, land-locked Zambia's only port.
"The Congo [DRC] is in complete chaos and doesn't have any chance of organizing anything on water," said a commercial fishing operator. "There is no electricity on the Tanzanian side of the lake and Burundi's fishing industry closed down because of over-fishing."
One fisheries expert said three-quarters of the fish passing through Mpulungu came from waters outside of Zambia's territorial control. Commercial fish buyers told IRIN they did not ask where the fish came from, and were not compelled to do so.
Martin Pearce, a fisheries officer at the Zambia’s department from 1979 to 1991 who still lives in Mpulungu, told IRIN it was important to determine origin to assess fish population levels.
"It is very difficult to control fishing when you have human suffering around the lake. You cannot tell a fisherman not to fish... It's important to control fishing, but even the developed world has had poor results [controlling fishing] one way or another."
The district fisheries officer Lloyd Hambiya told IRIN research, rather than speculation, would determine fishing stocks, including possible hydro-acoustic surveys, following completion of the baseline survey.
"The stocks are dwindling but we need to establish the actual factors leading to that. We need more research," he said.

Destroying the future
A commercial fishing operator told IRIN that "2008 through to 2010 were good years, but 2007 wasn't, and neither is 2011. If fish stocks dried up tomorrow, the whole of Mpulungu would have to be moved."
There are fishing regulations, like a minimum net mesh of 8mm, and a ban on using mosquito nets for fishing, using beach seines, or ring nets from the shore, and “kuntumpuloa”, the practice of chasing fish into nets by banging the surface of the water.
The widespread use of mosquito nets destroys future fish stocks, as the small mesh allows nothing to escape.
"A man came the other day with crates of undersized fish and tried to sell them to me," a manager at a commercial packaging plant told IRIN, "but what I am going to do with it? All I see in the crate is less fish for next year."
Commercial operators supply markets that demand adult buka-buka and full grown kapenta - about the size of sardines - but size is not a consideration at Mpulungu's Ngwenye market and undersize fish are routinely sold.

Measures against illegal fishing
Lousebo Anamunda, a fisheries officer in Mpulungu, told IRIN that in 2010 more than 20 people were prosecuted for fishing without licences or using illegal fishing techniques.
The cost of fishing licences varies from 20,000 kwacha ($4.20) to one million kwacha ($212) per year and commercial packaging operations are charged a levy of 330 kwacha ($0.07) per kilogramme.
I don't have any statistics for this year yet. But by the look of things it is bad
Anamunda told IRIN that only six of the 10 positions in the department at Mpulungu were filled, and their only boat to carry out enforcement of fishing regulations did not have a "very reliable" engine.
The boat checks on regulation compliance about one day a month, and officers visit communities about two weeks of the month to inform villagers of legal fishing techniques and conservation methods.
A backlog in license payments meant the boat "may go out for four days of a month" to ensure that licenses had been paid, she said.
The department had established a conservation committee staffed by volunteers to do spot checks to ensure that undersize fish were not being sold at Ngwenye market, but it was suspended in late 2010.
Anamunda said the unpaid volunteers "were issuing spot fines to offenders rather than confiscating the illegal [undersize] fish so offenders could be prosecuted... and the fines were not given to fisheries either."
"I don't have any statistics for this year yet," she said. "But by the look of things it is bad."

MALNUTRITION: NIGER: Chasing food security

 Photo: Catherine-Lune Grayson/IRIN
illage chief and his sons tend to crops in Niger's Tahoua region (file photo)

NIAMEY, 29 March 2011 (IRIN) - Six months before the start of the 2009 rainy season the government of Niger was warned the rains would fail. In the drought that followed, more than half the population - 7.8 million people - faced food shortages. It was the third food crisis in seven years.
“It is part of my duties, and I gave a list of measures to the government to prepare for the drought, such as planting faster-yielding varieties of millet and sorghum (two of the main staples), but governments do not always listen to us,” said Prof Alhousseini Bretaudeau, executive secretary of the Permanent Interstates Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), a scientific arm of the African Union.
“We have spent 30 years perfecting the science of predicting droughts, and developed tools to help countries prepare but few political leaders pay attention,” Bretaudeau told IRIN at a technical and scientific conference to brainstorm ways of getting the country out of chronic food and nutrition insecurity.
The Conférence Internationale sur la Sécurité Alimentaire et Nutritionnelle au Niger (CISAN) began on 28 March, hosted by a military-backed interim government that will give way to a newly elected civilian administration, headed by Mahamadou Issoufou, on 6 April. To many observers, CISAN represents a long-awaited attempt by Niger to get to grips with the food security issues that have plagued the country for decades.
“Better late than never - the conference was long overdue,” said Jean-Pierre Guengant, director of research at the France-based Institute of Research for Development (IRD), which gave the world Plumpy’nut, a peanut-based therapeutic food, and insecticide-treated mosquito nets.
Niger slipped into chronic food insecurity a long time ago, without any of the former governments noticing, said Guengant, who has spent a decade in the country.
Amongst those who singularly failed to address food issues was Mamadou Tandja, ousted by the military in February 2010. “He did not accept there was a food crisis [in 2010] because he did not trust what the NGOs were telling him - he thought they wanted to make money,” said the man behind the conference, Col Aboulkarim Goukoye, head of the Higher Authority of Food Security (HASA).
“The second reason was that he was a very proud man - he did not want to accept that there was a problem,” said Goukoye, who is also the interim military junta’s spokesperson.
“Under the previous regime words such as ‘food crisis’ and even ‘nutrition’ were taboo - we would have had to pack our bags and leave,” Simone Winneg, coordinator of Humedica, a German medical NGO, commented.
“When we came in power,” Goukoye said, “all the technical people in the agriculture department came to us and said: ’You are probably thinking of security issues, but we have a food crisis.” They turned to the international community for help. Mahamadou Danda, prime minister of the interim government, asked Goukoye to find out how the country could address the recurring food crises. In June 2010 HASA was set up and the idea of developing a food strategy was born. “It naturally led to the idea of a conference where we could consult with technicians and scientists to help develop this strategy,” Goukoye said.

Will the incoming regime follow through? Goukoye said he was trying to get at least 10 of the recently elected parliamentarians involved. “Our strategy is not going to be any particular government’s strategy but a Nigerien strategy.” Over the next few days, participants including technical experts from across the world will look at ways to ease access to food, reduce vulnerability and improve governance in food security.
Ibrahim Mayaki, head of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the African Union’s development agency, who served as prime minister of Niger from 1997 to 2000 and was asked to head the conference, said the process was as inclusive as possible, with all previous Nigerien regimes invited to participate.
Governance was a key issue in tackling food insecurity. Local authorities were in the frontline of government service delivery as “the first connection between the government and the people in the rural areas, where most of our people live” and could recognize and the first signs of food insecurity. Mayaki suggested empowering them to address the issue.
Previous regimes had not paid much heed to warnings by technical experts in the country. “This is the first time someone is paying attention,” said Prof Maxime Banoin, an agronomist and head of the scientific and technical committee organizing the conference, who noted that other experts had also presented explanations for why the country was grappling with food insecurity.

So what is wrong with Niger?
The northern two-thirds of Niger, the biggest country in West Africa, is desert, so the entire food requirement depends on the rainy season from May to September to grow crops in the south. “It is a scary thought, and often things go wrong with it [the rainy season],” said Humedica’s Winneg.
 Photo: Catherine-Lune Grayson/IRIN
Two-thirds of Niger is desert

In an analysis prepared for the conference, Banoin and IRD’s Guengant identified the structural causes of the recurring food crises: food production has not kept up with population growth, and rainfall has declined considerably since the 1960s.
“Niger has the world’s highest fertility rate, with an average of seven children per family, so the population has grown at 3.5 percent per year, while food production, at best, has grown at about 2.5 percent per year,” said Guengant. Niger has struggled with a structural deficit for the past 20 years.
Declining rainfall has exacerbated the problem. The areas that grow staples like sorghum and millet, which need a minimum of 400mm of rain per year, has shrunk from 25 percent of the country to 12 percent since the 1960s.
Sorghum yields have dropped from between 600kg and 800kg per hectare in the 1960s to between 200kg and 300kg per hectare, while millet production has remained stagnant at 400kg per hectare.
Besides the shrinking amount of rain, the low production has highlighted the inadequate support given to agriculture, researchers said. “We have to have a multisectoral approach to finding solutions,” Guengant noted.
Investment in biotechnology to improve yields, adequate inputs, agricultural infrastructure such as irrigation systems, and education to empower women in a society that encourages them to have more children, are some of the policy measures the government should take, said Banoin and Guengant.
Harnessing the Niger River system could potentially give Niger 330,000 hectares of irrigated agricultural land.
The country has one of the world’s lowest scores in educating girls,the world’s highest maternal mortality rate, and one of the highest infant mortality rates, which all highlight the low status of women in Niger, and the cause of the high fertility rate.
Only four out of 10 girls are enrolled in primary school, two out of 10 attend secondary school, and only three out of 100 make it into high school, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The social reasons for having large families are deep-seated. “If we have only two children, what if they both die? You need to have at least seven or eight so you still have some children - it is always good to have more children,” said Hadiza Halidou, a woman participating in the conference.
“Women’s education is very important - they are also the main producers of food, which men do not acknowledge,” said NEPAD’s Mayaki.

More money needed
Traditional donors like Europe and the US have been concentrating on their internal financial woes, so African governments had to become more proactive about mobilizing resources to invest in agriculture locally and regionally, Mayaki said.
The technical and scientific conference would be followed by a leaders’ conference, where the new food security strategy would be presented, said HASA’s Goukoye. Regional heads of state, traditional donors, and local and international NGOs would be invited to attend for feedback and investment opportunities.
Mayaki said Africa should consider tapping emerging economies like South Africa, Brazil, China, India and Russia for money. Goukoye commented: “The biggest problem in Africa is implementation and follow-up.”
So what would happen if the new regime did not consider food security a priority and reneged on measures to address it - would the military junta come back?
“Just for that?” Goukoye said. “But I don’t think governments will not act - food security is everyone’s problem now.”

Mothers walking home with supplementary rations for their under-two children in Niger's central region of Tahoua

POVERTY: Reducing rural poverty

Robert L. Thompson – Gardner Endowed Chair in Agricultural Policy Emeritus, University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, USA;
There are five ways for a poor farm household to increase its income other than from social welfare support, which rarely exists in rural areas of low-income countries:
increasing productivity by growing varieties with greater genetic potential, irrigating crops if water is available, providing sufficient nutrients and controlling weeds, insects, birds and disease;
changing to higher-value crops per hectare, replacing staples such as cereals, roots and tubers, with fruits, vegetables and livestock;
gaining access to more land through purchase, rental or land reform, or other income-generating assets, eg, literacy, numeracy and specialised skills;
members of the household obtaining non-farm income, by producing something at home for sale or getting alternative employment away from the farm;
members of the household moving to non-farm employment, reducing the number of people trying to make a living on uneconomically small pieces of land and increasing the incomes of those who stay behind.
Other interventions external to any one farming household, such as investments in infrastructure, value chain linkages or national policies, contribute to improving the quality of rural life in general and may increase the prices received by farmers for outputs or reduce the price paid by farmers for inputs. These are addressed in both the previous and subsequent sections.

Increasing productivity
To increase the productivity per hectare of the crop(s) farmers grow, they can adopt improved varieties with greater genetic potential if they are available, supplement the water available from precipitation with irrigation if a supply of water is available, ensure that sufficient nutrients are available to the crop when it needs them (but not contributing to pollution by supplying more nutrients than the crop can use), and reduce losses by improving control of weeds, insects, birds and disease.

Higher-value crops
If farmers are getting as high a yield as possible from their crops using the best available technology, but their household income is still below the poverty line, the next alternative is to switch to a crop with a higher value per hectare. Staples such as cereal grains, roots and tubers, while important to the farm household‘s basic food supply, generally have low value per hectare, while crops like coffee and tea (and intensive animal production) generally have much higher expected value per hectare.

Gain access to more land
If farmers have only a small area of land, they may be producing the highest possible value per hectare crops using the best available technology, but their household income from agriculture is still below the poverty line. The third way low-income farm families can escape poverty is to gain access to more land through purchase, renting or land reform. However, there may simply be no more farm land available without destroying forests. In East and South Asia, for example, the average farm size is less than one hectare, and there is no crop that has a high enough value per hectare to lift a family out of poverty on so little land.

Obtain non-farm income
In regions where there is no more land available, the next alternative to lift the farm household out of poverty is for one or more members of the household to obtain non-farm source(s) of income. This may involve producing something at home for sale, for example weaving cloth, or one or more people working part time or full time away from the farm, either within commuting distance or far away and sending remittances back to the household. In every presently high-income country, the principal way most smallholders have escaped poverty is by becoming part-time farmers with one or more members of the household working outside of agriculture.

Move to non-farm employment
The fifth way for a low-income farm household to escape poverty is to cease farming and go into another line of work – either within the local community if jobs are available or in cities. Migration out of agriculture to non-farm employment is a normal and essential element of economic growth and poverty reduction. By reducing the number of people trying to make a living on uneconomically small pieces of land, outmigration creates the opportunity for both those who leave agriculture as well as those who stay behind to have higher incomes. In the normal course of economic development, first the fraction of the workforce and eventually the absolute number of people engaged in agriculture decline.
Rural to urban migration is driven principally by the desire of those who migrate to escape poverty and secure a better quality of life, at least for their children, than is possible within either agriculture or the non-farm economy of the community they left. To avoid urban problems of overcrowding, unemployment, crime and pollution associated with excessive rural to urban migration, it is essential to create more non-farm employment opportunities within the rural communities and smaller cities dispersed through a low-income country

POVERTY: Nigeria: Micro-finance banks key to tackling poverty

Mar 22, 2011 :  OLASUNKAMI AKONI

Chairman, Lagos State Micro-Finance Institution (LASMI), Bashorun Sikiru Alabi-Macfoy says Micro-Finance Banks (MFBs) in the country are key to eradicating poverty in the society.
Alabi-Macfoy spoke at a Special Workshop, Awareness/Launching Programme at the weekend with the theme, The Role of a Micro-Finance Bank in a Developing Economy, organized by Ojokoro Micro-Finance Bank PLC.
According to him, alleviation of poverty was the reason why MFBs were established, saying that there was no way the conventional banks could help to eradicate poverty as they could not give out loans without asking for collateral or seal of ownership of a landed property.
“There are so many petty traders that need N10,000, N20, 000 to do their businesses and most of them are bread winners and so if we can encourage them, the better. Some use N5,000 to buy pure water and they have the capacity to sell N20, 000, so if the Micro-Finance Bank can loan them N20,000, they will be able to make more money,” he stated.
He disclosed that the Lagos State Government had so far disbursed N1.3 billion to some Micro-Finance Banks in the state so that they would have the means to lend out some money to grassroots people at a reduced interest rate without collateral in a bid to tackle poverty.
Special Assistant to the Lagos State Governor on Micro-Finance, Mrs Funmi Adesina, who was the guest speaker, said micro-credit financing had grownfrom a concept to a movement.
“Nowadays, even though its impact to single-handedly defeat poverty is still a subject of intense academic debate and research, micro-finance banking has metamorphosed into an institution with the supporting framework to advance the cause of wealth creation/poverty alleviation in developing economies.
Micro-financing as a concept is still and will remain an everyday reality with us, especially since its deployment as an instrument for wealth creation among the poor in developing economies,’ she said.
Adesina said the reason for this was that majority of people in developing economies were poor and were considered not credit worthy by the formal banking sector because they lacked the required collateral to either obtain loans from commercial banks or generate the required income from the capital market for their businesses, stressing that the emergence of MFBs had helped to bridge the gap.
Speaking on the ‘The Role of a Micro-Finance Bank in a Developing Economy’, Adesina urged MFBs to possess some financial qualities and means of real banks, saying that in the past many MFBs which collapsed left many of their customers in penury and debts. “I will therefore urge that sound financial regulations and risk management rules must be practiced and adhered to at all time by the management of micro-finance banks.
The intervention of the Central Bank of Nigeria recently along these lines that I have suggested, to stabilize this sector following the crisis, lends credence to the important role micro-finance banks are expected to play in a developing country such as ours.
“Micro-finance banks must subscribe to a code of ethics in the conduct of their operations. They are the banks for a large segment of the population whose energy will be disruptive of the entire system if it is untapped for the common good,” she stated.

POVERTY: India: How to Keep Poverty Low

Devinder Sharma.: March 21, 2011 .
In a significant move, the Supreme Court in India has questioned the very basis of counting the poor in the country. Realising that the poverty line is a gross underestimation, the Supreme Court has done what economists had failed to see all these years.
By deliberately keeping the poverty line low, economists and planners had actually betrayed the poor. These faulty poverty estimates became the foundation of the entire development strategies and programmes. No wonder, 64 years after independence, poverty continues to be robustly sustainable, and is in reality increasing in a geometric proportion.
On top of it, there are so many estimates floating around that I have lost count. Most of these estimates are actually drawn on the same faulty assessment criteria, and therefore have failed to make any appreciable impact on mitigating poverty and inequality. Whether we like it or not, poverty has proved to be robustly sustainable.
Now take a look. The Planning Commission had worked out poverty at 27.5 per cent in 2004-05. An expert group set up by the Planning Commission again in 2009 to review the methodology for poverty estimates for the same year (2004-05) upped it to 37.2 per cent, which means a mere statistical readjustment added another 100 million people to the count. And if we go by the international poverty norms of people living on less than $ 1.25 per day than over 456 million Indians live in poverty. But if we go by the Arjun Sengupta commiteee report, which I am discussing later, even this estimate may turn out to be too short.
The National Advisory Council simply pegs poverty at 50 per cent. As if this is not enough, we now have the new Multi-dimensional Poverty Index (MPI) developed by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which pegs poverty in India at 55 per cent. It has added another ten indicators, including child mortality, school enrolment, drinking water, and sanitation.
Before you get lost, let me decipher the criteria that are used to first gauge the prevailing level of food insecurity and hunger. Previously poverty estimates were done using the calorie norms provided by the Indian Council for Medical Research. Accordingly, 2400 kcal in rural areas and 2100 kcal in urban areas formed the basis of the poverty estimates. This was the basis of earlier Planning Commission poverty estimates. I don't know why the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) uses lower per capita calories consumption cut-off of 1770 kcal.
By keeping the food consumption norms low, the FAO probably succeeds in hiding its own inefficiencies in reducing global hunger. That is why I have always found the Millennium Development Goals action plan to achieve the eight-point poverty goals to be built on a shaky foundation. Current estimate of global poverty by the FAO for instance at 925 million is in itself an underestimation. A realistic poverty estimate for India alone would be around what the FAO projects. According to Arjun Sengupta committee report, 836 million people in India are unable to spend more than 50 US cents a day, and I am sure no one would disagree that these people are not living in poverty.
In India, what the Supreme Court finds astonishing is that as per the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) 2004-05 report those spending less than Rs 12 (1 US $ = Rs 45.18) a day in rural areas and those spending less than Rs 17 a day in the urban areas were categorised as poor. This is what has baffled the Supreme Court. After all, how can the planners be so blind to the ground realities? How can they presume that someone can survive in such a paltry amount? Where in the world can they meet their minimum calories requirement by spending a mere Rs 17 a day?
Later, a panel headed by Suresh Tendulkar, formerly chairman of Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council, reworked the formula by adding certain items like food, sanitation and education to the poverty criteria. It, however, used lower calorie consumption norms of 1999 kcal for rural areas and 1776 for urban areas. By lowering food expenditure and adding some new items to the daily expenditure list for the poor, it based its calculations on estimates of Rs 15 for the rural areas and Rs 19 for the urban centres.
This too is a grossly unrealistic estimate. You cannot bring up even a pet dog in the same amount.
It makes me wonder as to why economists fail to realise that the indicators adopted for measuring poverty are inadequate, and do not reflect the prevailing realities. Nor do economists stand up and challenge the flawed head count of the poor. I don't know why they feel that by hiding the number of poor they are doing a service to the nation. That is why the Supreme Court had to step in.
What makes all these poverty estimates look unrealistic is the 2007 Arjun Sengupta committee report that I talked about ealrier (officially the report of the National Commission on Enterprise in Unorganised Sector), which had estimated that 77 per cent of the population or 836 million people were unable to spend more than Rs 20 (less than 50 US cents) a day. This is more or less a correct reflection of the extent of prevailing poverty, and therefore needs to be accepted as the new poverty line. If India were to accept this as poverty line, the UN estimates of global poverty too would come under the scanner.
The recommendation of the Tendulkar committee, which estimates 37.2 per cent of the population living below the poverty line, is actually a reflection of acute hunger that prevails. Knowing that Rs 19 a day cannot feed a human being in urban centres, the Tendulkar committee estimate should constitute the food insecurity or the hunger line. It means 37.2 per cent of the population is seriously food insecure and needs emergency food aid programmes to meet the challenges of hunger.
In other words, India's existing poverty line is actually a euphemism for severe food insecurity. I only hope the Supreme Court directs the government to draw two estimates -- a poverty line at 77 per cent of the population as suggested by the Arjun Sengupta Committee, and a food insecurity line at 37.2 per cent, which comprise people faced with absolute hunger and living in abject poverty.
Well, will all these estimates make a difference to the poor? Mercifully, they don't even know which estimate they fit into. What they know for sure is that poverty is their destiny. Rest all is statistical jugglery.

POVERTY: Greatest Reduction in World Poverty Ever in History: Isn't Free Trade Partly Responsible?

March 21, 2011

Ian Fletcher claims here that "Free Trade Isn't Helping World Poverty," and Don Boudreaux responds here. Here's some related research:

From a 2009 NBER working paper "Parametric Estimations of the World Distribution of Income," by Maxim Pinkovskiy and Xavier Sala-i-Martin (Columbia University):

Abstract: We use a parametric method to estimate the income distribution for 191 countries between 1970 and 2006. We estimate the World Distribution of Income and estimate poverty rates, poverty counts and various measures of income inequality and welfare. Using the official $1/day line, we estimate that world poverty rates have fallen by 80% from 0.268 in 1970 to 0.054 in 2006 (see chart above). The corresponding total number of poor has fallen from 403 million in 1970 to 152 million in 2006. Our estimates of the global poverty count in 2006 are much smaller than found by other researchers. We also find similar reductions in poverty if we use other poverty lines. We find that various measures of global inequality have declined substantially and measures of global welfare increased by somewhere between 128% and 145%. We analyze poverty in various regions.

MP: The bottom chart above shows poverty rates for the five regions analyzed in the paper, with some pretty amazing results for East Asia (includes mainland China, Taiwan and S. Korea), which in 1960 had the highest regional poverty rate in the world by far, at 58.8%, compared to 39.9% for Africa, 11.6% for Latin America, 8.4% for MENA (Middle East, N. Africa) and South Asia (20.1%). In the 36-year period between 1970 and 2006, the poverty rate in East Asia fell to only 1.7% by 2006, which was below any of the other four regions: Africa (31.8%), Latin America (3.1%), MENA (5.2%) and South Asia (2.6%).

Both graphs are based on a poverty measure of $1/day, but the authors obtain similar results using four other measures of poverty from $2 to $10 per day, both for the overall reduction in world poverty (top graph) and the regional differences (bottom graph).

Bottom Line: Assuming these estimates are accurate, the 80% reduction in poverty between 1970 and 2006 has to be the greatest reduction in world poverty in such a short time span in the history of the world, and the 97% reduction in East Asia has to be the most significant improvement in regional standard of living in history as well. The authors don't explore the reasons for the record reduction in world poverty, but some likely candidates might be: globalization, market-based reforms, liberalization, Information Age technology, productivity gains in agriculture, the collapse of central planning in China and India, etc.

POVERTY: Israel: Haredi, Arab poverty up 50%

Tani Goldstein  03.23.11
Bank of Israel governor presents grim figures on economic situation in Arab, and ultra-Orthodox Jewish sectors. 'We must encourage the employment of Arab workers,' he says
Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer on Tuesday presented figures showing that the poverty rate in the ultra-Orthodox and Arab sectors has gone up by more than 50% in the past decade, while remaining unchanged at around 13% among the general population.
Speaking at the Prime Minister's Conference, held under the banner of "Partnership and Growth", Fischer said that "the poverty rate has increased only among the Arabs and haredim."
According to the central bank government, among the haredim this situation stems from a variety of reasons, including high natural growth and low employment rates among men.
In the Arab sector, however, poverty stems from very low employment rate among women and because men work in jobs which do not profit from the economic growth, unlike the high-tech and service industries.
He presented data showing that 45% of Arab men are industry and construction workers compared to only 22% of Jewish men.
"There is no doubt that part of the difference between the salary of Arab workers in the labor market and the salary of others stems from discrimination," said Fischer. "The Bank of Israel has engaged in empirical studies aimed measuring or estimating the influence of factors which do not exist here – age, the father's native country, level of education and marital status."
The conference was attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias, Eyal Gabai, director-general of the Prime Minister's Office; OECD officials; mayors and council heads; company executives; academics; and civil society representatives.
Problems and obstructions delaying the integration of minority sectors in the Israeli economic growth were presented during the conference. Solutions were suggested for removing the three main obstacles: Bank funding for business development, integration into the high-tech industry, and economic empowerment of the local authorities.,7340,L-4046296,00.html

POVERTY: India-Africa partnership to fight dryland poverty

Hyderabad, March 24: The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) today announced the formation of ICRISAT South-South Initiative (IS-SI) to boost India-Africa partnership on agriculture research aimed at tackling poverty in drylands.

Poverty-stricken: A farmer sits on his barren land in Punjab. (File photo)
Poverty-stricken: A farmer sits on his barren land in Punjab. (File photo)

Dr Nigel Poole, Chairman of ICRISAT Governing Board, in a statement said IS-SI will build upon ICRISAT's strong India-Africa partnership to scale up its role as the driver of prosperity and economic opportunities in the dryland tropics.
Addressing participants of the Indo-Africa roundtable on agriculture for development in New Delhi, Dr Poole explained that IS-SI will provide the platform for focussed and systematic international partnerships critical for a more effective and inclusive development cooperation between the two continents.
Every one dollar spent on international agricultural research leads to a return on investment of nine dollars worth of economic value in developing countries.
Dr William Dar, ICRISAT Director General, said “IS-SI will open more opportunities for increased and technical support and enhanced public-private people partnerships on research for development.”
“This initiative will also see better policies, more effective institutions, improved infrastructure and better access to markets and to higher quality inputs particularly for dryland farmers in India and Africa,” Mr Dar added.
Dr S.Ayyappan, Director General of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR), expressed that this initiative will enhance South-South partnership between India and Africa.

POVERTY: India: MBA sarpanch Chhavi Rajawat dazzles at UN meet

Mar 27, 2011
UNITED NATIONS: There was a sense of disbelief among ministers and ambassadors from diverse nations when the chairperson of the 11th Info-Poverty World Conference held at the United Nations introduced the jeans-clad Chhavi Rajawat as head of a village in India.
For, from a distance one could easily mistake Rajawat, an articulate, computer-savvy woman, for a frontline model or at least a Bollywood actress. But she is sarpanch of Soda village, 60 kilometres from Jaipur, in backward Rajasthan and the changing face of growing dynamic rural India.
30-year-old Rajawat, India's youngest and the only MBA to become a village head -- the position mostly occupied by elders, quit her senior management position with Bharti-Tele Ventures of Airtel Group to serve her beloved villagers as sarpanch.
Rajawat participated in a panel discussion at the two-day meet at the UN on March 24 and 25 on how civil society can implement its actions and spoke on the role of civil society in fighting poverty and promoting development.
It is necessary to re-think through various strategies of action that includes new technologies like e-services in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in an era where resources have become limited, she told the delegates of the international conference.
"If India continues to make progress at the same pace as it has for the past 65 years since independence, it just won't be good enough. We'll be failing people who dream about having water, electricity, toilets, schools and jobs. I am convinced we can do it differently and do it faster.
"In the past year alone, I and the villagers in Soda have brought about a radical change in the village purely through our own efforts. We have had no outside support - no NGO help, no public, nor private sector help," she said.
On achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Rajawat said she sought full support from outside agencies and the corporate world. "I thank United Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOP) which had deputed its senior adviser in India Mr Babu Lal Jain to visit Soda and extend all support in the opening of the first bank in the village. That made all the difference."
"In three years I will transform my village. I don't want money. I want people and organisations to adopt projects in my village as often projects fail owing to lack of a local connect and that is what I am here to provide by bridging that gap.
"I want the conference to help bring about faster change so that this generation can enjoy that kind of life that I - and you in this audience - take for granted," she said to thunderous cheers from the delegates.

POVERTY: Dependency On Imports Would Entrench Poverty in Africa

Hatab Fadera : 24 March 2011
The President of The Gambia has once again underscored the importance of agriculture in Africa's quest for economic salvation, warning that poverty would become entrenched in the continent if the citizens continue to bank or depend on imports.
His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh made this statement Tuesday afternoon at the Jama Hall of the Kairaba Beach Hotel while launching the US$24 million World Bank funded projects that are designed towards promoting government's job creation agenda and boosting the agriculture sector, the mainstay of the country's economy. The Gambian leader, who doubles as the minister of Agriculture stressed that the continent's salvation from the bondage of poverty is agriculture irrespective of what natural resources it is endowed with. He then reiterated his clarion call for all and sundry to go back to the land.

The president used the opportunity to commend the nation's womenfolk for their high sense of commitment towards national development, as well as their efforts in the poverty alleviation strides. He also condemned the attitude of the men folk in serving as back-sitters in the crusade against poverty eradication.
He said that the "attitude of the men in this country is counter-productive", while also observing that the nation's men folk have "overloaded" the women of The Gambia. He added: "We have one chronic disease in this country, and this disease is inimical to [our] socio-economic development.
There is nowhere in the religious book or in the constitution of The Gambia where it is stated that it is only Gambian women that should take part in agriculture. After all, agriculture used to be a male-dominated area and that is why there was no poverty." He also pointed out that the country cannot expect to eradicate poverty when men are only interested in going to offices, either to work or beg.
President Jammeh further observed that the Community Driven Development Project (CDDP) also a World Bank funded project, is being utilised mostly by the women, and queried the whereabouts of the nation's male folk. "Each time I talk, they say oh, he is castigating the men. I am not accusing you of anything, but I am telling you what you are doing and it is wrong," he stated. He stressed that the government can only create a conducive environment for the citizens to be able to eradicate poverty, but that they [government] will not be able to achieve this when people sit idly by and expect others to feed them, especially the male folk.
The Gambian said that it is unfortunate to note that if the women did not participate in all these projects that are in place, they [projects] are going to fail. He further noted that even the vegetable that is consumed in the country is being imported from Senegal, where it is grown by the men and women of that country. He added: "How do you expect poverty to be eradicated? There are two types of poverty in this country - poverty created by circumstances beyond one's control, and self-inflicted poverty, which is rampant in this country. How do you expect household poverty to be eradicated when the woman cooks, does the laundry, takes care of the children and at the same time goes to the vegetable garden to grow for food and clothing for the family when the men sit around and look for more wives."

Youths must change attitude
The Gambian leader equally challenged the youths of the country to take government's projects seriously, stressing that there is no government on earth that can provide job for every youth. While emphasising that he is not a "politician" but a servant of the people, the president deplored the attitude of the country's young people as very frustrating. "If you go around our markets, we have created the conducive environment by building the modern markets; but guess who you find there; the only Gambians you will find there are women and the rest are foreigners. And everyday, you want to go to Babylon," he lamented.
The Gambian leader opined that the amount of money that is spent to pay "those criminals [middlemen] to put you in [unsafe] boats so that you can be a breakfast for a shark or maybe a lunch for crocodile" could be used to invest in a lucrative venture to earn a living.
He again noted with dismay that they [foreigners] have dominated the country's facilities, such as fisheries facilities, amongst others, when young people of this country are sitting down all day long asking for a conducive environment. President Jammeh echoed the saying that "you can only take the horse to the pond, but you cannot force it to drink," implying that the government can only create the conducive environment by providing facilities, but cannot force the citizenry to make best use of them for their own good.
While calling for attitudinal change on the part of the young people, the Gambian leader observed that 98 per cent of the shops - retail and skill workshops such as carpentry and so on, belong to foreigners. "If you go to the fishing sector, where we spent more than US$28 million , the people you find there are foreigners. And the only Gambians you find there are our sisters and mothers struggling to carry fish to the shore. All what we are interested in is going to Babylon and becoming a semester," he further lamented.
President Jammeh concluded by asserting that attitudes must be changed to achieve the common goals of ending poverty in this country, expressing optimism that such is possible in view of the fact that the country is very small.

POVERTY: Indonesia makes headway in long march to beat poverty

 Tom Allard, arch 26, 2011

Sarwata and his daughter Nur Afdah, aged 10, get dressed in the early moring in one of the many makeshift villages surrounding the Bantar Gebang rubbish dump in the Bekasi district of Jakarta. Photo: Kate Geraghty

Sarwata and his daughter Nur Afdah, aged 10, get dressed in the early moring in one of the many makeshift villages surrounding the Bantar Gebang rubbish dump in the Bekasi district of Jakarta.
INDONESIA is slowly but surely winning the war against its endemic poverty, with almost 10 million people lifted from the ranks of the most disadvantaged over the past five years.
Some 31 million Indonesians, or 13.3 per cent of the population, are still officially poverty-stricken, earning below about $1.50 a day. Another 70 million Indonesians survive on less than $2.50 a day and life is hardly less perilous for them.
It says much about the challenge faced by policymakers that even as 14.7 million people climbed out of poverty last year, another 13.5 million fell below the threshold.

Poor villagers in Bantar Gebang, West Java. Photo: Kate Geraghty
Poor villagers in Bantar Gebang, West Java.
A death in the family, a lost job, rising food prices, a poor harvest or a natural disaster will easily slide the ''near-poor'' down the ladder.
But the head of the Indonesian Project at the Australian National University, Chris Manning, says the commitment of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to eradicating poverty is under-appreciated. ''It is one of the areas [where] SBY [Dr Yudhoyono] has really made a concerted effort,'' said Professor Manning, who is editing a book on the subject. ''He's sought out quite a lot of national and international expertise, including from the World Bank, and put together a number of programs.
''If you put them all together, Indonesia has moved from a position of relying mainly on economic growth to reduce poverty, and doing very little directly to help the poor, to a point where it is doing a reasonably good job.''
All up, there are 57 different initiatives targeting poverty. They include cash payments for the poorest households, linked to school and clinic attendance; micro-credit for small businesses; and an innovative scheme known as the Program Nasional Pemberdayaan Masyarakat (PNPM).
PNPM is worth close to $1.5 billion a year and involves subdistricts in rural and urban areas bidding for grants for small infrastructure projects. By circumventing Indonesia's graft-prone bureaucracies, the scheme means ''the community can dictate to the politicians'', said Sujana Royat, deputy minister for poverty alleviation and community empowerment.
Some 77 million people have been touched by PNPM since its inception, while 63 per cent of those participating in the projects are women, Mr Sujana said.
The fall in Indonesia's poverty rate - by between 0.6 and 0.9 percentage points each year - is the fastest in south-east Asia, but few in the Indonesian government are under the illusion that it is a simple task to reach its target of a poverty rate of between 8 and 10 per cent by 2014.
The country's poor are highly vulnerable to rising food prices, and Indonesians have seen the price of staples increase sharply in recent months. As a nation of 17,000 islands, the physical delivery of programs is a challenge and ''leakage'' through waste and corruption remains a problem, particularly with the devolution of power to regional governments.
Indeed, poverty declined faster when there was centralised control during the Suharto dictatorship. That success was predicated entirely on rapid economic expansion, rather than anti-poverty programs. But much of the growth was built on shaky foundations. When the Asian economic crisis came in the late 1990s, the number of Indonesians in poverty surged to almost 50 million.
One area in glaring need of reform, says Bambang Widianto, executive secretary of the national team to accelerate poverty reduction, is Indonesia's fuel subsidy scheme that fixes the price of petrol at about 55 cents a litre and costs more than the entire education budget.
It is supposed to help the poor, but in reality, about 45 per cent of the benefit goes to the top 10 per cent of households - those who can afford cars and drive them often.

POVERTY: South Africa: 12million children 'live in poverty'

Mar 25, 2011 Khanyisile Nkosi
MORE than 11million children in South Africa live in poverty. This shocking statistic was revealed yesterday at the Human Rights Commission's workshop on Equity in the Realisation of Children's Rights in South Africa.
Vincent Moago, spokesperson for the commission, said the workshop was aimed at highlighting challenges limiting efforts to realise the rights of children.
He said while progress had been made to accelerate the realisation of children's rights, the report revealed that black children in particular continued to live in poverty.
"The report revealed that 11,9million children live in poverty. It also revealed that a child growing up in deprived communities was two times less likely to have access to adequate sanitation and water, two times less likely to be exposed to early childhood development programmes, three times less likely to complete secondary education and 17 times more likely to experience hunger."
Moago said of the 49million people living in South Africa, 18million of them were children under the age of 18 and more than 60percent of them were African children living in hunger. "The report indicated that the majority of these children living in poverty were raised by single and unemployed mothers," he said.
"In addressing these challenges, we have called on the government to speedily develop policies that will target vulnerable groups which include children and women."
Lulu Xingwana, Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, said the government had prioritised programmes that were aimed at alleviating poverty.
"The report on the Millennium Development Goals (2010) indicates that government's poverty alleviation programme increased dramatically between 1997 and 2010. The number of beneficiaries of income support programmes increased from 2,6million to 14million during this period," Xingwana said.
Lack of appropriate documentation prevented some children from accessing social grants, she said.
"Home Affairs has intensified efforts to increase ID registration. Now children are being registered at birth in hospitals, making it possible for them to access any grant immediately," she said, adding that a total of 10,5million children were receiving child support grants.

MALNUTRITION: Mozambique Aims To Halve Malnutrition By 2020

21 March 2011
The World Food Programme has joined a new action plan by the Mozambican government to bring down one of Africa's highest rates of chronic malnutrition.

 WFP/David Orr
Dr. Michela Chambule examines infant Tina Sergio, held by her mother Alcinda Armaral.

MOAMBA, MOZAMBIQUE -- Tina Sergio is 11 months old but looks half that age. Fragile, malnourished and battling constant diarrhea, she was taken by her mother to a health center in the southern Mozambican village of Moamba, about an hour's drive from the capital, Maputo. Her condition was so severe that she was immediately admitted to hospital.
"I feed her maize mash at home because that's all I can afford," says her 21-year-old mother Alcinda Armaral. "All we have is what we grow on our plot - maize, sweet potato and cassava. My husband works in the mines in South Africa but he doesn't send much money home."
Tina was born malnourished because her mother was herself malnourished during pregnancy. Both are HIV positive. Nor is her debilitating condition unique. At an alarming 44 percent, chronic malnutrition levels in Mozambique are among the highest in Africa.
Now, the World Food Programme and other United Nations agencies have joined the Mozambican government in developing a new, multi-sectoral action plan to tackle chronic malnutrition, recognized as the leading problem in the nation. The aim: to halve chronic malnutrition here by the year 2020.
Tina is already getting treatment. During the week she spends in hospital, she will receive daily doses of a vitamin supplement to build up her strength.
Once she is ready to leave, her mother will take home a supply of nutritious corn-soya blend (CSB) to make healthy portions of porridge for her baby. Then each month, Armaral will collect a ration of CSB which WFP supplies to the health centre.

A hidden problem
But in many other cases, chronic child malnutrition -- whose main causes include poor diet and disease -- goes untreated and largely unseen. Stunted growth is the main indicator.
The condition has debilitating long-term effects: decreased cognitive function affecting performance at school; reduced productive capacity and poor health as adults; and an increased risk of degenerative diseases like diabetes.
Under the multi-sectoral action plan, a range of new interventions will be rolled out in the coming months and years. The priorities include greater access to fortified foods and micronutrients and improved health and sanitation facilities in rural areas.

As chronic malnutrition frequently begins while the child is still in the mother’s womb and often follows early pregnancy, the target groups will be teenage girls, pregnant and breast-feeding women, and children under the age of two.

MALNUTRITION: India: why are nearly half of its children malnourished?

Meg Towle : 3.24.2011
India has more hungry people – and the highest burden of child malnutrition – than any country in the world. The 2010 Global Hunger Index designates national levels of hunger as alarming, and India scores lower than many Sub-Saharan African countries despite having a considerably higher GDP. Madhya Pradesh, the country’s lowest performing state, classifies as extremely alarming and ranks between Ethiopia and Chad internationally.
In our last blog, we discussed how India is expected to miss the MDG hunger target by a considerable margin. By 2015, less than 27% of children under five should be underweight; the last national survey reports that 43% of Indian children are underweight, and some estimates go even higher.

SOURCE: UNICEF 2009, von Grember et al. 2010
How big is India’s nutrition problem?

One third of women are underweight, and over half of married women are anaemic. About 30% of India’s children are born underweight, and by the age of five, 44% are underweight and 48% are stunted due to chronic malnutrition. India accounts for nearly 30% of all global childhood deaths attributed to chronic malnutrition.
The percentage of children under age three who are underweight has virtually not changed between 1998-1999 and 2005-2006, hovering under 50%. The percentage of women who are underweight decreased only marginally, from 36.2% to 33.0%, during the same period. More than 75% of the population lives in households with per capita calorie consumption less than the daily minimum requirements.
During this same time, India has experienced exceptional rates of economic development, edging close to 10% GDP growth. Economic growth has the potential to be nutrition-sensitive if it increases food production, increases access to health services, educates women, reduces fertility rates, and lowers household poverty. While economic growth is required for reducing malnutrition–and no low-income countries have made significant gains in nutrition without relatively rapid growth–economic growth alone is insufficient. India is the glaring example of rapid growth without commensurate gains in nutrition, as reiterated in a recent IFPRI report and study from the Harvard School of Public Health.
When we talk about India’s economic boom, it is necessary to clarify that growth has concentrated in service and technology sectors–and not in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors where the majority of the population (and especially rural India) is economically engaged. Agricultural growth is a critical component of nutrition-sensitive growth, even more so than non-agricultural growth. This is where India poses even more questions. India has had its Green Revolution–the Green Revolution that other regions with significant malnutrition, namely sub-Saharan Africa, have not yet had. Yet malnutrition rates have not changed, and in India regions with higher agricultural productivity and calorie availability also have worse malnutrition. Clearly this points to much deeper issues than food security and availability.

What are some factors of India’s persistent nutrition challenges?
Inadequate purchasing power persists in India due to insufficient employment and livelihood opportunities, land tenure, and growth in non-farm jobs—particularly for scheduled tribe and caste households. Despite India’s early Green Revolution, the agricultural and food sector is stagnating in much of India. India’s rapid urbanization and overcrowding makes households particularly vulnerable to malnutrition by further complicating access to support services, healthcare, clean water, and sanitation.
Gender equity is considered a particularly strong factor in the high rates of maternal and child malnutrition seen in South Asia; women are undervalued in society and “eat least and last.” Restricted access to resources, healthcare services, and decision-making power impacts India’s high incidence of women who are underweight and undernourished, and in turn India’s incredibly high rates of low birth weight babies. Low birth weight has significant implications for survival and an infant’s growth, development, and ability to fight illness. National rates of child anemia, calorie deficiency, and child illness also point to non-optimal feeding practices, which in turn reflects poor maternal nutritional status, economic limitations, sociocultural settings, high fertility rates, limited access to education, and oftentimes mothers’ young ages. Childhood malnutrition, and particularly under the age of two, has significant impact on a child’s lifelong physical growth and cognitive development. It is an incredible generational cycle to break.

Prevalence of stunting, underweight, and wasting in India's children. SOURCE: Paul et al. 2010

India has long suffered without a public health system that reaches the rural masses with high quality, efficient health services. India’s notably low public health expenditures compound issues of access; up to 75% of national health spending is out-of-pocket payments for care in an enormous and unregulated private sector. Childhood illness is a critical factor in nutrition, yet fewer half of Indian children receive qualified health care, and 50% under 23 months are not fully immunized. India does not have an effective strategy for managing malnutrition at community-level, both for prevention and treatment. Services in health, nutrition, and education that do exist have long had limited reach and are of poor quality and not well targeted, which we will discuss more in Part 2 of this post.
These wide factors underscore the fact that undernutrition follows lines of high and rising levels of inequity in the country. Undernutrition is substantially higher in rural than urban areas. Children from scheduled tribes have the poorest nutritional status on nearly every measure, and the highest prevalence of wasting (28%) among under-fives. The proportion of severely underweight children is nearly five times higher among children whose mothers who have no education than mothers who have 12 or more years of school.

What’s the way forward?
Each of this factors are extremely complex – but emphasizes that there are significant social dimensions to nutrition-sensitive growth. We must think beyond pro-poor growth to pro-nutrition growth, where rising incomes and government revenues not only target poverty but improvements in health, infrastructure, and education.
At the same time, it is also important to emphasize that India is an enormous and diverse country, and much of health and nutrition programming is directed at the state level. Growth-nutrition strategies will look very different across the country, and there is much work to be done in thinking through these regional challenges.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

MALNUTRITION: Darfur: Nine displaced people died from malnutrition in Garsila in the last two weeks

KALMA/GARSILA (22 Mar .) -

Nine displaced people died from malnutrition in Garsila in the last two weeks at Jeddah, Al Jiblein and Ardiba camps, according to health sources in the region. One of the camp elders told Radio Dabanga that no food aid has reached them during the last three months. He explained that most of those who died in the camp are elderly or children. He appealed to aid organizations to expedite the provision of food for the displaced.
In Kalma Camp, aid organizations reduced food rations. One of the elders of Kalma Camp told Radio Dabanga that food is being distributed to them at a quarter of the amount per card that it had been in the past. They now receive a ration that can last for one week rather than one month. The sheikh said that women consequently had to take up service work in districts of Nyala town, while others are working in gardens throughout the day for 1 pound only.
In another report from Garsila, two gunmen wearing military uniforms stormed the house of one woman in the northern district of the city and stole the sum of 100 pounds. A relative said neighbors rushed to the rescue of the victim but the gunmen opened fire in the air and they ran away. The police have been informed but have not made any arrests.

MALNUTRITION: Pakistan: Support price mechanism takes toll on poor

Amir Zia: March 27, 2011
Finally the World Food Programme (WFP) has raised a red-flag over the abnormally high food prices in Pakistan, which is making life tough and bitter for majority of ordinary Pakistanis. Wolfgang Herbinger, WFP’s director in Pakistan, painted a grim picture about the food security situation in the country, where malnutrition levels are on the rise despite good agricultural crops.
One of the key reasons for the food-inflation remains the government’s decision to increase the wheat support price by more than 120 percent that indeed benefited big landowners, but proved a blow for the majority of people, especially belonging to the poor and fixed income groups.
But even before the WFP director made remarks on Pakistan’s food security in Geneva earlier this week on the sidelines of an international conference, there were rational voices in Pakistan that had been highlighting the issue.
In recent months, The News’ opinion pages carried several articles by leading economist and former advisor of the finance ministry Dr Ashfaque Hasan Khan, who questioned the people’s government “criminal” move of pushing the wheat support price to 950 rupees per 40 kilogram from 425 rupees in the early 2008.
“Empirical evidence suggests that a 10 percent increase in the support price of wheat increases the general price level by three percent. The more than 120 percent increase in the support price of wheat has pushed food prices up by 32 percent,” he told the scribe, explaining his point-of-view. “The support price mechanism has long lost its utility and remains beneficial only for big landowners. Today, the domestic wheat rates have surpassed international prices.”
But for a parliament dominated by mighty feudal lords and ladies and tribal chiefs, the temptation of increasing the wheat support price and giving huge subsidies on agricultural inputs remains too great. It is not just the lawmakers belonging to the ruling Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), who reap the benefit of such decisions, but members sitting on the opposition benches also enjoy the windfall.
However, the gain of the landed political class remains a net loss for the ordinary people, who are now paying double the price for wheat ñ the main staple diet in Pakistan — compared to three years ago. No wonder, more and more people now find it difficult even to get two decent meals a day. Poverty is on the rise and so are incidents of suicides.
But economic experts belonging to the PPP say increasing the farm gate price of wheat and the government’s dominance of its market remains necessary to encourage farmers to grow this crop and prevent the smuggling of this commodity to Afghanistan, which remains impossible to stop because of the porous frontier.
“Yes, it has an inflationary impact, but that we have already factored it in,” says Kaiser Bengali, an advisor on finance to the Sindh Chief Minister. “To ward off the inflationary impact of the wheat price increase, the government is giving targeted subsidy to protect the poor. More than 4.6 million families are being given 1,000 rupees a month under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP).”
But in a country of more than 160 million people, this kind of subsidy remains insufficient as it leaves the ‘undeserving’ poor out of its ambit. The undeserving poor comprise all those working men and women — from domestic helps to daily wage earners and school teachers to policemen — who work on extremely low wages and are deemed unfit to receive alms, charity and government subsidies. Unfortunately, they comprise a bulk of the population.
The WFP’s warning should not be brushed aside by the people at the helm of affairs. It calls for a serious review of the support price mechanism, which now mainly serves the vested interests of agricultural landowners rather than providing a fair deal to the majority of Pakistanis and protecting their interest.
The thesis of some top government functionaries that big landowners only go for cash crops and it is the small farmers who benefit from an increase in support price is flawed and misleading.
According to Dr. Ashfaque Hasan Khan, the small farmers do not produce surplus marketable wheat and they remain unable to benefit from the government procurement centres because of their limited reach and delay in payments.
It is an irony for the country that despite a much-touted agricultural base and good wheat production, the basic food staple remains unaffordable for a vast number of Pakistanis. One of the options, which the government may now consider to beat food inflation and help the poor, is to keep the wheat support prices capped over the next couple of years. This will help gradually reduce the inflationary pressure. However, the ideal stance, in line with the free-market mechanism, would be to allow the market forces to determine prices of every commodity.
But will the vested interest allow the government’s financial managers to follow a sensible course? The record is disappointing so far.

MALNUTRITION: World experts meet to find solutions to malnutrition

 22 Mar 2011
Pretoria - More than 60 world nutrition experts are currently meeting at the World Health Organisation (WHO) headquarters in Geneva this week to revise guidelines and identify solutions to tackle the growing problem of malnutrition.
According to WHO, malnutrition, including under-nutrition and obesity, accounts for 11 percent of all diseases and long-term poor health and disability, and leads to stunted growth and wasting in nearly 300 million children.
The organisation revealed that four million children die each year from nutritional risks including being underweight, vitamin and mineral deficiency, particularly vitamin A, iron, iodine and zinc.
WHO's Director of Nutrition for Health and Development, Francesco Branca, said while lack of food can lead to serious health problems, too much food can have the same affect, pointing out that 43 million children under the age of five are overweight.
"We are seeing that often we have in the same countries, at the same time, the presence of under-nutrition and overweight. We are seeing that this increase in overweight figures is becoming a problem in developing countries.
"We have the greatest increase in overweight figures in Africa, particularly North Africa and we now can say that perhaps the proportion of the number of children who are overweight is actually larger in developing countries than in developed countries," said Branca.
The WHO also reported that about one-third of the 1.5 billion overweight people in the world are obese. Approximately 35 million of the 43 million overweight children are in developing countries, with the largest numbers in Asia. The fastest overweight growth rates are in Africa.
"Today's children are becoming overweight because they are more sedentary than in the past. Simply put, they are eating more than they need. The highly refined, processed high-energy density food available in rich countries also is widely available in poor countries and these foods are high in sugar and fat content," said WHO.
Professor of nutrition at Cornell University, Rebecca Stoltzfus, said the overweight and obesity epidemics were now present in every country in the world, noting that the conditions of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, being overweight and obese are related in multiple ways.
"The kinds of diets that lead children to become overweight - the high sugar, high fat diets - tend to be relatively low in essential vitamins and minerals. There is evidence emerging that the condition of overweight or obesity also changes one's metabolism of key minerals, such as iron, so that obese individuals do not absorb and metabolise iron normally," said Stoltzfus.
She also noted that being underweight in women and children is responsible for more premature deaths and disability than any other preventable risk factor - more than unsafe sex, use of tobacco and being overweight.
Child obesity can also lead to serious health consequences, including the early onset of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and certain cancers.

MALNUTRITION: Bolivia: Quinoa: The food fad that's starving Bolivia

Adam Sherwin:  22 March 2011
Workers harvest quinoa in Challapata, Bolivia Workers harvest quinoa in Challapata, Bolivia

Quinoa is hailed as a 'superfood' in the West. But those who grow it can no longer afford it

It is the "lost crop" of the Incas, a health-giving seed found in the Andes which is increasingly providing the garnish on fashionable Western dinner plates. But while demand for quinoa has given a lifeline to Bolivia's farmers, the native population, no longer able to afford a staple of the national diet, is now facing the threat of malnutrition.
Cultivated for 5,000 years in the arid highlands of Bolivia, Peru and Chile, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) was once the preserve of specialist health food shops and patchouli-scented cafes.
The Aztecs assigned mystical qualities to the yellow seeds, produced from the chenopodium plant, a relative of spinach and chard, which create a crunchy, nutty tasting fine grain when cooked.
Legend has it that each season, the Incan emperor would sow the first seeds of the "mother of all grains", planted on the cold mountain plains using "golden implements".
Today it is the nutritional qualities of the seed which have generated a new export market for South American farmers.
Quinoa contains more protein than any other "grain" and includes all eight essential amino acids needed for tissue development. Nasa once declared quinoa the perfect food for astronauts undertaking extended space flights.
Supermarkets, on the lookout for the latest "superfood", are marketing the gluten-free seeds as a healthier alternative to rice and pasta. Tesco sells 300g packs, labelled "essential for the body's growth and repair", for £1.69.
Cooked like rice, quinoa is served with "pilaf" broths and casseroles, incorporated into salads tossed with herbed vinaigrette, or eaten as a porridge-style breakfast with nuts, fruit and honey.
The television chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall praises the seed for "delivering hefty whacks of flavour" and recommends a quinoa stir-fry with kale, chilli and nuts, a "tasty, quick meal when hot, but it's also good packed into a container and eaten cold at lunchtime."
Waitrose offers a recipe for Papaya Lime Quinoa, using Granovita organic quinoa, fresh mint and red chillies.
Where the Incas grew quinoa to feed their soldiers, Bolivian farmers are now producing the crop for mass export. Quinoa prices have tripled over the past five years, raising living standards for agricultural workers in the south of the country.
Entrepreneurial Bolivians are returning from the city to cultivate quinoa plots in the countryside. But the country's agriculture ministry is reporting that as prices have risen national quinoa consumption has slumped by 34 per cent over five years, with local families no longer able to afford a staple that has become a luxury. A 1kg bag of quinoa costs almost five times the amount of its rice equivalent in local stores.
Bolivia has long suffered from a malnutrition problem and there are fears that the population will be forced to turn to cheaper, processed foods. Children in the quinoa- growing south of the country are among those showing chronic malnutrition symptoms.
Evo Morales, Bolivia's President, is promising a $10 million loan facility for farmers to grow more quinoa designed for domestic consumption. But there is a growing North American export market to satisfy and global food commodity prices are continuing to rise.
There is a potential threat to South America's farmers – quinoa can thrive in the wet climes of Bolton as well as Bolivia. An increasing number of Britons are cultivating their own supply of quinoa in kitchen gardens and allotments.
Ben Gabel of the Real Seed Catalogue said: "We only have 180 packets of quinoa seeds left in stock this year. It's quite popular because it's a very adaptable plant and easier to thresh than wheat. It's resistant to the cold at night which helps it grow here."
Preparing quinoa for the dining table brings its own challenges. Mr Gabel explained: "The seeds need to be soaked for up to eight hours to get rid of the layer of saponin resin which is there to stop birds eating the seeds."

Know your quinoa
* Cultivated in the Andes since 3000BC, the "mother grain" was turned into marching food for Incan armies.
* A species of goosefoot, the seeds are high in magnesium and iron and a good source of dietary fibre.
* The World Health Organisation rates the quality of protein in quinoas as equivalent to that in milk.
* The grain has a nutty taste. It can be served in place of rice in cooked dishes, salads, side dishes, or as a stuffing. Serving suggestions include butternut squash chilli with quinoa, a quinoa tabbouleh salad, and as a main course with spicy chicken.