Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dear Optimist, Pessimist and Realist....

While you guys were busy arguing about the glass of water, I drank it!!!!


The Opportunist

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dalumuzi Mhlanga- Leading Zimbabwe Youths

Dalumuzi Mhlanga is an undergraduate student at Harvard University and founder of Lead Us Today, a non-profit organization in Zimbabwe whose mission is to inspire, mobilize and empower young people to work together beyond socioeconomic barriers so that they can lead community development efforts. He did his high school at Mzingwane High School in Zimbabwe and later attended Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa in Swaziland. He is passionate about African history and how it has shaped the way in which countries on the continent approach a globalizing world. He hopes to continue working with young people and building their capacity to lead and make a difference as they Lead Us Today. In his free time, he enjoys chatting with people, laughing with people and dancing alone.

Read More Here

Kenya: Livestock Insurance - A Chance to Outsmart Drought?

By Jeff Haskins and Neil Palmer

...The fact that the food crisis in the Horn was the result of a livestock crisis has been well documented. The area is a major pastoralist zone. When vegetation for grazing began to dry-up and livestock started to die, the knock-on effects on farmer livelihoods became strikingly clear.

Some observers balk at the idea of a financial institution selling insurance to already cash-strapped smallholder farmers to protect them against the risk of drought. The 650 livestock keepers in Marsabit, who are delighted to be receiving their first payouts, might give critics pause.

Sake Dabasso Halake stands proudly in front of Equity Bank's Marsabit branch. She smiles, clutching an envelope filled with 16,000 Kenyan shillings that she just received. It was her insurance payout for the 10 cows she lost during the drought.

The Index-Based Livestock Insurance scheme is run by a consortium, including the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), its sister-organization, the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia and a number of partners, including the UK Department for International Development. The initiative is an example of a market-based, climate-smart innovation that could gain much wider currency in Africa and beyond. It has completed its second year.

At a time when global attention for the worst drought in half a century has waned, nearly all of the farmers involved with the scheme were compensated. Researchers estimate that anywhere between 20-30 percent of livestock in Marsabit has been lost.

In a district where food aid makes up 15 percent of the economy, ILRI estimates that the trade in livestock is responsible for about 65 percent of the money coming into households. While the new insurance product won't be able to cover the total loss, it does offer participating farmers and herders an opportunity to recoup some of their losses.

The program uses information technology to operate. What triggers a payout is not how many livestock die, but whether satellite images confirm that forage availability in the region's range lands has dropped below a certain level. When this happens, farmers who took out insurance get paid. Using satellites to track forage cover gets around all kinds of problems, such as claims being made for animals that have died of disease or neglect, rather than drought.

The project highlights the increasingly important role of Kenyan scientists and private institutions in developing effective initiatives for Kenya and its people. Civil society organizations, including a people-to-people effort called Kenyans4Kenya that sprung up to collect food and money in response to the famine.

"Kenyans are stepping up for Kenya, not just in response to the region's humanitarian emergency like the Kenyans4Kenya campaign, but also in developing long-term solutions that manage risk and reduce vulnerability," said Jimmy Smith, director general of ILRI.

Global research and innovation partnerships with Cornell University, the University of California-Davis, Syracuse University and other partners also played an important role.

"None of this would have been possible without new innovations in index-based insurance products that make it more efficient to insure livestock, predict their mortality, and deliver timely payouts to participating herders," said Smith.

"The global community is questioning the role of agricultural research in delivering real impact on the ground," he said. "Research can't do it alone. But this project is proof that public research combined with local knowledge and private sector partnerships can provide solutions to problems that were cast off long ago as too complex or too costly to address."

At a recent meeting in nearby Dirib Gombo village, where some of the farmers received their payouts, others were unconvinced about the insurance scheme. Inevitably, some were frustrated that they had taken out insurance in the year the scheme was launched, and despite losing animals, had received no payout because the forage threshold was never breached. They decided not to renew their policies -- and then the drought hit.

The experience of the insurance scheme shows that no one intervention addresses all problems. As successful as it has been for many who lost animals and livelihoods, others would have needed additional help.

Back in Ginda Village, the cruel irony is that even if farmer Haro Sora had taken out livestock insurance, he probably wouldn't have received a payout for many of the dead animals that were seen scattered around.

Already weakened by months of near-starvation, the animals were unable to endure the colder weather that followed the long-awaited return of the rains. They died from hypothermia, with green shoots springing up around them.

Jeff Haskins is director of the Nairobi office of Burness Communications, and Neil Palmer is with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Orie Rogo Manduli --- Believing in One Self

Wherever I am, I am a LEADER. throw me in the DESERT, and I'll be leading the SAND. Yeah, throw me in the WATER and I'll be leading the FISH ...
Orie Rogo Manduli .

NEWSMAKERS: Focus on 'Iron Lady', Orie Rogo Manduli. Manduli: I've fought and won many battles. We crown Newsmakers for the year 2011 with the story of a woman who has continued to fascinate many, not only by her unique sense of style and fashion, but also by her outspoken character that has seen her politically wrestle it out with men for various leadership positions. A former model and rally driver, she has done what most women would consider taboo and what many men term as too aggressive, coming from a woman. But for a woman who at only 19 was a divorced mother of 3...she says she has no apologies to make, and hopes her story remains symbolic in the continued fight for gender equality. Here's Evelyn Wambui with tonight's Newsmaker, the one and only, Ambassador Orie Rogo Manduli.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mapping Liberia

Emerging Business Lab mapping project of Liberia capital city Monrovia is quite impressive.

The Monrovia Visitors Map is intended to assist residents and visitors to Monrovia, Congo Town and Paynesville in finding their way around the metropolitan area, and to better know and enjoy the services of the featured businesses and advertisers on the maps.

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