No Strings Attached: Giving Cash to Poor People

GiveDirectly is a charity that just gives money to poor people in Kenya. There isn’t anything complicated about the idea: it’s just straight up handing out cash with no deliverables. The NPR recently investigated the operation.

Planet Money reporters David Kestenbaum and Jacob Goldstein went to Kenya to see the work of a charity called GiveDirectly in action. Instead of funding schools or wells or livestock, GiveDirectly has decided to just give money directly to the poor people who need it, and let them decide how to spend it. David and Jacob explain whether this method of charity works, and why some people think it’s a terrible idea. (28 minutes)

Listen to it here.

A New Stove Project Looks to Crowdsource Healthier Heating

Regular readers of this site may know that we are fans of efficient stoves. The Kenya Stove is a new project to get efficient stoves in the hands of Kenyans. Erin, from Kenya Stove writes:

First some bad news: More than 3 billion people rely on traditional cookstoves for cooking in the developing world. Exposure to smoke from inefficient cookstoves and open-fire cooking practices contributes to the burden of pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases and results in an estimated two million deaths worldwide per year.

Now the good news: We plan to pilot a novel gasifying wood stove and fuel project in Kenya in the coming months. The stove emits little smoke, is durable and can be made at low cost with materials locally available in Kenya by Kenyan artisans thus creating jobs. Additionally we have selected mesquite, an invasive species in Kenya, to be used as the fuel source and therefore not impact indigenous forests through deforestation for wood fuel or charcoal-making. We anticipate our project will improve the health of families by reducing exposure to smoke, provide a lower cost fuel for cooking, and reduce the environmental impact caused by charcoal-making and the emissions from inefficient stoves.

Help fund their initiative here.

Organic Fertilizers Cost Effective and Better for Crops

Here’s a good story about how poor farmers in Kenya have shunned expensive chemical fertilizers for cheaper organic ones.

The organic fertiliser is sprayed onto maize two weeks after planting, and a month later.

Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services through Kenya Agriculture Research Institute have tested the fertiliser’s components and given an analytical report.

Mr Mosbei said the use of organic fertiliser, apart from rejuvenating soil quality, saves farmers about 70 percent of the cost of production.

“Whereas it takes a farmer in the North Rift 100kg of DAP and 50kg of top dressing to plant an acre of maize, all they require is only eight litres at Sh300 per litre for the same acre,” said Mr Mosbei.

“The organic fertiliser enriches the soil with minerals and maintains an ample PH level for the minerals required by plants for optimum yield,” added Mr Rono.

Read the full article.

Thanks Greg!

One Amazing Fence

Fences can build good neighbours and fences can save the environment. One fence has done
wonders for protecting rhinos and water.

Colin Church, the chair of the Kenya-based Rhino Ark conservation group and a leading expert on African leading wildlife, said the fence, which took 21 years for local communities to complete, had failed to save the rhino in the uplands it surrounds.

However, it had succeeded in protecting a large forest area and the sources of four of seven of Kenya’s largest rivers, all of which rise in the Aberdares and provide electricity and water to major cities including Nairobi.

“In the early days, the motivation was to protect the black rhino, but then we all woke up to the fact that the farmers [who lived near the fence] were celebrating, and the reality is that this forested mountain area was the lifeblood for millions of people. We realised the whole ecosystem was at stake,” he said.

“Our thinking had to change.The Aberdares are now the most secure mountain ecosystem in the whole of Kenya and maybe Africa.”

Keep reading at The Guardian.

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