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Responding in the Case of an Epidemic or Pandemic

Dawn Berkelaar

This article overviews some suggestions for ways to respond in communities to the presence of a highly contagious disease. Concepts discussed include both practices and principles for disease mitigation as well as culturally-considerate communication, strengthening the human immuity, and long-term planning. At the end of this article you will find additional resources for these topics.

A Tip of the Hat to the Tippy Tap

Elliott Toevs

This article explains the relevance of a simple sanitation technology (the Tippy Tap) for carrying out health authority recommendations during outbreaks. It also lists aditional resources including pictoral guides, for how to make this adaptable and low-input technology. 

Promoting Biodiversity on Maize Smallholdings

Sean Lyon, Erwin Kinsey, and Dr. Kristen Page; Lead author contact information: slyon@fieldmuseum.org

In East Africa, agricultural practices to maximize production have greatly diminished biodiversity, reducing the functioning of ecosystem services valuable to human and landscape health. Primary research about the impact of avian biodiversity on crop production in maize fields in Arusha, Tanzania is limited. To clarify this impact, I selected fields along a north-south transect in the Afromontane Dry Transitional Forest vegetation zone west of the town of Ngaramtoni. At each farm, I identified the abundance and diversity of birds using point-count surveys for a total of 40 minutes of count-time per survey site. Each farmer whose field was surveyed participated in an interview about crop production and described their attitudes towards biodiversity of trees and birds. The most abundant bird species was the pied crow (Corvus albus, 30.4%), followed by the baglafecht weaver (Ploceus baglafecht reichenowi, 17.6%). Each farmer cultivated an average field size of 0.65 hectares. Ten of twelve farmers planted the trees surrounding their field, regardless of ownership status, and most trees were nonnative. These results indicate that local agrobiodiversity is dominated by introduced and generalist species, but that farmers have significant potential as agents of ecological change. These findings are of utmost importance to both farmers and development workers, clarifying that bird biodiversity is a foundation for the future of crop productivity in a changing landscape where smallholder farmers are making decisions of ecological importance.

Fast-Growing Plants for Household Food Supply

Tim Motis

Quarantines, preventative measures associated with disease outbreaks like COVID-19, limit people’s ability to go to markets and stores to get food. People may also find that they have extra time around the house to invest in gardening. During such times, household gardening gains importance for sustaining families. Perennials can be grown around the home and offer long-term sources of food; where space is available, plant them as soon as possible. Here, however, we cover plants that are propagated from seed and that provide edible leaves, fruits, or roots in as little time as possible. 

100-Fold Gardens in Honduras

This article is an update about 100-fold gardens being built in Honduras. Dan Sikkink gives perspective and photos of contextualizing the technique to fit the local context. 

Learning from a Post-Program Review

Dawn Berkelaar

Have you ever wondered about the long-term impact of a project with which you were involved? Wouldn’t it be nice to know whether changes in a community lasted after an official program ended? Do you wish you knew what worked and what did not, so you could adjust for a more effective program next time?

In 1998, World Renew and partner institutions introduced grain amaranth to two villages in a semi-arid region of Kenya. Over time, the program expanded into more parts of Kenya and into Uganda. The program included both agricultural and nutritional training.