Out of Poverty?

The boys from Chrysalis School sharing a few melons!

We’d like to thank people that come and visit our blog regularly.  Sorry we’ve not posted much this month – it’s not because we have little happening – perhaps the opposite – but we have had service problems with our internet and therefore some of the planned blogs have not been possible to deliver.

Firstly, we’ve really launched “Chicken for Change”.  This is the project that works with children working at the quarry in Kireka and Nyeko has been responsible for looking after the chicks and also the rostering of the project members, who have so far been diligently looking after the chicks.  I hope that Nyeko can update you before he leaves in a couple of weeks and I know he has some photos too of the chicks and the ex-quarry-workers.

I have also talked to Martin, who is looking after the Western Uganda part of our melon-planting project.  We’ve had some technical difficulties here again, but we think that we may have neglected to pollinate the flowers and with an absence of bees, this could have caused our problem.  He will able soon to update on the melon project.

This week I have been reading “Out of Poverty” by Paul Polak and I have been comparing our project to Paul Polak’s vision for ending poverty in the world.  For those of you who have not read the book, Paul is interested mainly in smallholder farmers and his priority has been Asia – India and Bangladesh, though he has worked too in Zambia and Somalia (and probably other places I am unaware of).  What he says is powerful.  Imagine you are a banker and you are taking a risk with somebody’s money.  If you make a mistake with your investment, then probably no one will notice, as bankers do this all of the time.  If you make a larger mistake you would be cautioned or possibly even lose your job and then you would sit back on what bonuses you have been making when you got the job right.

In contrast, a subsistence farmer often makes too little food to feed (usually) his family.  They suffer a bit that year and  they hope things will be better next year.  So far, he has made no mistake.  It could be a flood, it could be bad weather and these things are out of his control.  On a good year, he manages to make just enough to feed his family and perhaps there’s even a surplus, which can be used to contact a relative or buy more food – the latter is the most common.  Still no mistake.  Let’s say a farmer is approached by someone, who offers a new type of seed, which the farmer has never grown before and he is promised that he can make good profits to bring him and his family out of poverty.  Clearly, he will buy the new seeds?  In most cases, he will not, because he cannot put at risk his entire family, who rely on his farmland for their existence.  So, what Paul is saying is that we must look at ways to do more on the land than he is currently doing and in many cases this involves irrigation and planting in times when there is no rain, so as not to jeopardise the crucial crop.

I mention this because the melon project we are doing fits into this category.  We don’t plan it as a replacement, but more as an additional crop that can be planted on land in the village and will need intensive care, when the farmers are least busy, during the dry season.

So, having said all that, we have produced a new video about our project and school, which mentions our melon project and that is where I will leave you for today.  We’ll cover some of the issues raised in the video on another posting!

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One thought on “Out of Poverty?

  1. Thank you for the information about the book “Out of Poverty”, I will have to read it some time. This is a really good project and you are doing so well to keep it up! All the best for the rest of the competition. Please send us all of the details of your final report by Friday 2nd December.
    the SEC Team.

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