Friday, 27 April 2012

KNOTS blogger

KNOTS blogger

Measuring women’s empowerment: A retrograde step?

Posted: 27 Apr 2012 03:28 AM PDT

The Women's Empowerment in Agriculture Index has just been launched with great fanfare. It intends to serve as a tool for measuring and monitoring women's roles and their engagement in agriculture with the aim of closing identified "gender empowerment gaps".  But does the WEA Index fall into the same trap of previous attempts, essentializing women's roles and failing to get to grips with the social relations at the heart of gender dynamics in agriculture?

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

KNOTS blogger

KNOTS blogger

Actions and gaps: The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change final report

Posted: 18 Apr 2012 03:54 AM PDT

The Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change launched their final report, Achieving food security in the face of climate change, at a key event at the Planet Under Pressure conference in London on 28th March.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

KNOTS blogger

KNOTS blogger


Posted: 12 Apr 2012 01:34 AM PDT

We asked some of our recent students at the Institute of Development Studies to talk us through their experience of studying on the MA Science Society and Development.

For the third of our interviews we've tracked down Benedict Dempsey who, since graduating from the postgraduate course, has published a report on the East Africa food crisis for Save the Children. In May he will commence employment as Senior Humanitarian Affairs Adviser for Save the Children. We asked him to share his experiences on studying for the MA Science, Society and Development. (The other two interviews are here: interview #1 / interview #2.)

Q: What was your professional background before coming on the course?
A: I worked in humanitarian policy for Save the Children, which is where I've returned after my MA. Before that, I worked in Save the Children's media team, and prior to that I worked in television for seven years, making science documentaries for the BBC.

Q: What prompted you to apply for the course?
A: I had always wanted to do an MA and having moved out of media into policy it was the right time to do it. The MA in Science, Society and Development provided the perfect mix of my interests - combining my undergraduate degree in anthropology, my experience of science media and my NGO policy work.

Q: What do you feel you got out of the MA?
A: The course has built on my existing knowledge with a lot of material that is directly relevant to humanitarian policy. It has provided an academic underpinning for some of the practical knowledge I had already. It's also opened up a range of other areas where I hope I will work in future, for example the relationship between development and conservation, and natural resource management. Overall, it was also simply an extremely enjoyable and fulfilling year.

There was high quality and varied teaching from people at the top of their field, and I was able to choose to specialise in the areas that interested me most.

I'm most proud of my dissertation, which was about the relationship between tobacco farming and chimpanzee conservation in Budongo Forest, Uganda, and for which I conducted three weeks' field research.

The course has helped me to gain my new employment as Senior Humanitarian Affairs Adviser.

Q: What were the other students like?
A: A very diverse and fascinating group of people, most of whom had considerable experience of working in development. The fact that the vast majority of students are not from the UK is a big advantage.

Q: What are you up to now that you wouldn't be without the course?
A: I'm back as Humanitarian Advocacy Adviser at Save the Children. I hope that in future I'll work in areas related to conservation, which wouldn't have been an option without the course.

Q: Do you think you'll go on to further study now that you have an MA?
A: I would very much like to go on to do a PhD/DPhil at IDS.

More information

Visit the MA Science Society and Development course page, or email the course convenor, Jeremy Allouche, at

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

KNOTS blogger

KNOTS blogger

The Future of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP): A Political Economy Inquiry

Posted: 11 Apr 2012 03:12 AM PDT

View more presentations from futureagricultures

Letter to Inter-Parliamentary Union delegates on maternal and child health

Posted: 10 Apr 2012 08:28 AM PDT

On 4 April 2012 in an OpEd in the nationally circulated Daily Monitor in Uganda, Kakaire Ayub Kirunda, FHS Uganda Communications Officer, publishes an open letter to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, who were meeting in Kampala earlier that week. In the article, he argues:

"In this part of the world, only a handful of countries are likely to meet the MDGs 4 (reducing child mortality) and 5 (improving maternal mortality). Unfortunately, my country Uganda is one of those in this category when it comes to these two MDGs.

"MDGs 4 and 5 are closely interlinked because what affects the health of a mother will ultimately have ripple effects on the child. For instance, if a pregnant woman delays at home because she cannot access transport to the hospital and develops complications, chances of losing her or her child or both are high. Equally, when she eventually gets to a health facility, if there are no health workers or requisite supplies, there could be dire consequences for either or both. While your Governments promise better roads to ease movement -including transporting women in need of emergency care and health facilities equipped with requisite supplies and personnel, this is not happening.

"In Uganda, we have many impassable roads that even wheeling a pregnant mother on a bicycle to the hospital to deliver is next to impossible. We also have health facilities (some level 2 ones) manned by nursing assistants and where we have qualified ones, they are few, and overworked, leading to burn-outs and subsequently poor attitude and absenteeism. And worse still, many health facilities experience frequent stock-outs of supplies and drugs, leaving health workers with no alternative but to ask the patients to buy the missing items. Evidence shows that all these combined, force many women to deliver without skilled attendants, putting their lives at risk. Their newborns are equally at risk because they can’t be assessed by qualified personnel for any apparent danger signs.

"Therefore, if you are to help your constituents and governments, especially in countries struggling to meet MDG targets 4 and 5, ensure that your governments prioritise the use of their limited resources on increasing the number of trained health workers, improving their pay and availing the supplies required to deliver quality services."

See the OpEd in full in the original on the Daily Monitor website.

Engaging young people in agriculture

Posted: 06 Apr 2012 05:50 AM PDT

by Courtney Paisley, YPARD

When we are talking about engaging youth in agriculture, where do we want them to be engaged?  What type of role are we thinking about for them?

Friday, 6 April 2012

KNOTS blogger

KNOTS blogger

What kinds of agricultural research will deliver the (public) goods?

Posted: 05 Apr 2012 01:07 PM PDT

Agriculture has been brought in from the cold. Hurrah! But clearly that is only half the battle. If anything, debate and disagreement have only intensified: small-scale or large-scale? Commercialisation or self-sufficiency? Global engagement or food sovereignty? GMOs or agroecology? Subsidies or market forces?

In contrast, there are few signs of contestation around the core proposition that investment in agricultural research must increase.

Aspirations and race relations: young people and livelihoods

Posted: 05 Apr 2012 12:53 PM PDT

By Sithembile N Mwamakamba, FANRPAN

The challenge for the panel on Livelihoods at the Young People, Farming and Food conference was to highlight the benefits and opportunities available for the youth in the agri-food sector. Can young people make a living from agriculture?  Three speakers offered varying perspectives on the question.

What turns rural young people into migrant workers?

Posted: 05 Apr 2012 12:39 PM PDT

By Francesca della Valle, Youth Employment and Institutional Partnerships Specialist, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

Who is a migrant worker? The UN definition is broad, including any people working outside of their home country. The term can also be used to describe someone who migrates within a country in order to pursue work such as for example, seasonal work. Panellists during the labour and migration session at the Young People, Farming and Food conference presented their papers and experiences on labour and migration in countries like Senegal and Ethiopia.

Whatever the exact definition, there are some particular questions that relate to young people and the agrifood sector.

Education for young people, farming and food: a mismatch?

Posted: 05 Apr 2012 12:10 PM PDT

by Grace Mwaura, MPhil Candidate, Oxford University

The age of a farmer in most African countries is between 50-60 years. In two decades, that generation's ability to produce food will be limited. Young people are seen as the generation to fill this gap, but the agrifood sector has failed to attract young professionals with new mindsets and innovations. Is there a mismatch in how they are being educated?