I recently read several magazine articles featuring International Development Enterprises (IDE), a Colorado-based non-profit with which I started volunteering several months ago:
- The Big Potential of Small Farms (Scientific American)
- Trickle-Up Economics (Forbes)
- Water Pressure (National Geographic)
I found the Scientific American article particularly informative. Below are several key points from the articles:
- In 1990, 1.22 billion people lived on less than $1 per day, and 2.65 billion lived on less than $2 per day. By 2001, those living in $1/day poverty -- or extreme poverty -- declined to 1.09 billion. However, those living in $2/day poverty -- or moderate poverty -- increased to 2.74 billion. Most of the increase in moderate poverty occurred in sub-Saharan Africa.
- 50% of the world's hungry are smallholder farmers (i.e., they work small plots of land), another 20% are landless farm laborers, and an additional 10% are herders, fishers, or foresters. In other words, about 80% of the world's hungry are farmers of some sort. The remaining 20% are the urban poor.
- Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug, who received the award in 1970 for his contributions to the "Green Revolution," recently said the best way to reduce hunger is to revolutionize agricultural production, especially among subsistence farmers in developing countries.
- Today, approximately 70% of water used by humans is dedicated to farming. 19% is used by industry, 9% by homes, and 2% evaporates from reservoirs.
- By 2050, the world's population is expected to increase from 6 billion to 9 billion, meaning the world's farmers will need to support 50 percent more people with minimal expansion in the land and water dedicated to farming.
- IDE develops ultra-affordable water technologies sold through local markets to aid farmers in increasing their incomes through higher agricultural output. In one study, the cost per irrigated acre for farmers using IDE's treadle (foot-powered) pump was $66, versus $375 or $133 per acre for deep or shallow diesel pumps, which were used in a World Bank program. Another key point is that of the $66 for the IDE pump, $50 was paid by subsistence farmers. The World Bank diesel pumps were paid for by a government.
- In addition to treadle pumps, drip irrigation and underground water storage are efficient and effective water strategies for farmers.
- In Africa, water is much more scarce and costly than just about anywhere else in the world. Hand pumps are the technology of choice at a cost of around $1500, which is typically out of reach for one family. However, if 30 families each paid $7/year for clean drinking water and 15 of those families also invested $20/year for drip irrigation, a village could pay off a loan in 4 years. Based on IDE's past experience, those who invest in drip irrigation would likely increase their incomes by $100/year or more from selling fruits and vegetables.
- According to Stanford professor David Kelley, a founder of IDEO and head of Stanford's design institute, in the developing world "Something cheap that will last a year is better than something twice as expensive that will last four years."
Below are links to my previous posts featuring IDE. The more I read, the more excited I become about my involvement with the organization due to my belief that they are developing and effectively spreading sustainable solutions to end global poverty.