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Since 2007, FSE has been evaluating the livelihood and environmental impacts of an effort led by a US-based NGO, the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), to use solar arrays to power irrigation pumps for growing high-valued crops (solar market gardens) in the dry season in Northern Benin. We found that photovoltaic technology yields substantial (and significant) benefits in the form of household income and nutritional intake, and is cost-competitive in the medium term, especially where fuel supplies are unreliable. See "An Alternative Development Model: Assessing solar electrification for income generation in Benin" for further information about this project.Photovoltaic technology yields substantial (and significant) benefits in the form of household income and nutritional intake, and is cost-competitive in the medium term, especially where fuel supplies are unreliable.While there will be hurdles to overcome in taking such a project to scale, we believe that this technology can play a significant role in augmenting regional food security and economic development in the Sudano-Sahel. Our strategy is to provide very careful evaluation of the solar market garden system using a randomized, control-study approach at each phase of scale up.In our view, it is critical that investments in this system pay off in the long run for external donors, farmer groups, and private farmers adopting the technology. We would like to see the "pay off" include more than the concept of private profitability; nutritional improvements, equity between and among households, marketing expansion, and educational impacts are all included in our scope of study.In an effort to scale up this technology, FSE is planning to evaluate and monitor solar market gardens in a dozen or so new villages in Northern Benin. The overall goal in this phase of scale-up is to create a regional market and learning center for the technology and farm products that can be replicated in other areas of West Africa.
More than two-thirds of the population in Africa must leave their home to fetch water for drinking and domestic use. It is estimated that some 40 billion hours of labor each year are spent hauling water, a responsibility often borne by women and children. Cutting the walking time to a water source by just 15 minutes can reduce under-five mortality of children by 11 percent, and slash the prevalence of nutrition-depleting diarrhea by 41 percent.Water resources management, smallholder food production, poverty, and infectious disease are inextricably connected in the world's poorest regions. In sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) limited access to water for both productive and domestic uses increases vulnerability to infectious diseases, the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in SSA. Within these complex linkages, identifying intervention points and constructive policy responses requires an understanding of how and the extent to which freshwater supplies and nutrition jointly influences health outcomes. The proposed project, which involves both place-based empirical research and analysis of secondary data, will explore these water-nutrition-health interconnections. It will identify the extent which, and potential causal mechanisms by which, access to domestic and productive water supplies and associated nutritional benefits affect the progression of both HIV and TB among adults living in rural African households.
Seafood plays a critical role in global food security and protein intake. The global supply of seafood increasingly comes from aquaculture - the farming of fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants. China is the dominant leader in this field, supplying about two-thirds of global aquaculture production. China also consumes an estimated one-third of global aquaculture output, a figure that is expected to increase as the country proceeds along its developmental trajectory.This project builds on our recent field surveys in China (supported previously by the Packard Foundation), with two aims:1) to finalize our analysis and publish peer-reviewed papers on China’s role in global aquaculture, seafood trade, and feed use; and2) to convene researchers from around the world to advance the science around Chinese aquaculture from a food security perspective.The anticipated output will be a set of unique and high profile papers on China’s rising role in this important area of global food production, trade, and food security.
Soybean production has become a significant force for economic development in Brazil, but has come at the cost of expansion into non-protected forests in the Amazon and native savanna in the Cerrado. Over the past fifty years, production has increased from 26 million to 260 million tons. Area planted to soybeans has increased from roughly 1 million hectares in 1970 to more than 23 million hectares in 2010, second only to the United States.For more than three decades, deforestation in the Amazon has been driven by the expansion of pasturelands for cattle production. Pasture area also expanded rapidly because soils found throughout much of the region are poor in nutrients following forest slash and burn, and crop production cannot be maintained in the face of degradation of soils and lost vegetation productivity. In the late 1990s, multi-national corporations such as Cargill began investing in infrastructure throughout the south-central Amazon. New river ports, fertilizer and mechanization have fueled explosive growth in the crop agricultural sector, especially for soybeans. For example, in the State of Mato Grosso, soybean agriculture has increased at a rate of 1,000 to 2,000 km2 per year since 2000, making it the fastest growing form of land use regionally. Much of this deforestation is now being driven directly by conversion to soybean fields, the soy oil and meal from which are being used largely by the growing industrial livestock sector in Brazil, China, India, and other countries around the world.In the same period that soy agriculture has boomed in the Brazilian Amazon, the power of satellite monitoring technology has also gone through a revolution. Since 2000, it has been possible to monitor not only rates of deforestation on a weekly basis (it was done annually prior to 2000), but also to differentiate between forest areas cleared for cattle pasture or crop agriculture. In addition, selective timber harvests of intact forests - a geographic precursor to deforestation - can now be monitored annually. Using the NASA Terra, Landsat 7 and Earth Observing-1 satellite sensors, it is now possible to measure the location and extent of pasture, cropland and timber harvesting across the entire Amazon. These measurements are vital to understanding not only the dynamics of land-use change in a large and poorly regulated region of Brazil, but also the impacts of these changes on ecosystem function. We will use seed funds from this project grant to advance the satellite-based measurements of soybean expansion in the Amazon.While these satellite-based measurements can now tell us the extent and rate of change, we also require on-the-ground measurements to evaluate the consequences of these changes. There has been substantial research on the biogeochemical and climatic consequences of forest conversion to pasture in Amazonia, but less ecosystem-level research on the now-dominant soybean system and its consequences. These consequences are likely to include changes in soils and soil fertility, fluxes of trace gases that function as greenhouse gases or as precursors to photochemical smog, and runoff of nutrients and sediments to aquatic systems. In addition, the energy requirements of the intensive agricultural system can themselves drive deforestation for fuel - and the nutrients mobilized in agricultural products move in international trade and can cause water and air pollution where they are used. We will work with Professor Luiz Martinelli (University of Sao Paulo) and his students to begin the development of integrated nutrient budgets for the forest to soybean conversion, and its ancillary effects.
Human exposure to lead in the environment causes irreversible impairment of intellectual function. In Bangladesh, where some rural residents have unexpectedly high levels of lead in their blood, the source is proving difficult to pinpoint. This project will evaluate the severity of lead poisoning in rural Bangladesh and identify the pathway of exposure to help develop focused prevention strategies. This study is designed to provide important evidence to support policy responses that reduce lead from the environment, not only in Bangladesh but also in other regions where lead contamination is a known risk to health and development.
FSE and the Institut Pierre Simon Laplace (IPSL) in Paris have joined together to foster undergraduate and PhD training and research on the effects of climate variability on wheat markets. This includes ongoing interaction with the Stanford-France student body in Paris via classes and field visits.
Given China’s demographic changes, evolving nutritional requirements, and dominant role in global fisheries, the key question is whether marine ecosystems can be managed adequately to support the country’s future vision for domestic food security. The symposium will be directed toward research on the provision of wild fish for direct human consumption and for animal feeds. Research on China’s aquaculture sector will also be featured; this component of the symposium will focus on the ability of aquaculture to satisfy the country’s rising seafood demand (potentially taking pressure off wild fisheries) and on the use of wild fish in aquaculture feeds (potentially increasing pressure on wild fisheries).
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