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Building Resilience in a Time of Famine – Episode 33

20 million people in the Horn of Africa are at risk of starvation, largely due to a four-year drought making the region the driest it’s been in forty years. Dr Joseph Awange and IFAD’s Satu Santala discuss the root causes of famine and the solutions we can put in place. Also joining us is climate specialist Paxina Chileshe, who looks at resilience-building for rural communities in East and Southern Africa. Plus, we hear from two farmers in Kenya about how they’re dealing with drought.

We’re then joined by land tenure specialist Harold Liversage, who explains how better land tenure protections can reduce conflicts over land and water. Our Recipes for Change campaign takes on two new exciting chefs from India, Chef Zacharias and Chef Dhondy. We take a look at agribusiness hubs and how they’re helping young people in rural communities make a better life closer to home. We also have our third of four visits with the good people at the Global Donor Platform. Finally, we hear about a project in Zambia where resilience-building is at the fore.



Episode Contents


Satu Santala on the challenges of famine

Satu Santala, Associate Vice-President for IFAD

Satu Santala, IFAD’s newest Associate Vice-President, has been working in internal relations and development for decades. With all that experience, we wanted to hear from her about the major challenges that rural communities in developing countries are facing. Famine was at the top of her list.


Tracking the effects of climate change with Dr Joseph Awange

Dr Joseph Awange, Professor of Environmental Geoinformatics at Curtin University

Dr Joseph Awange is a pioneering academic in the field of geospatial analysis. His research focuses on the use of tools to assess climate change, specifically the effects of climate change on fresh water and food security in East Africa.

Dr Awange spoke with us about the drought currently affecting East Africa. While droughts have always been a part of life there, they’ve been steadily increasing in frequency and intensity since the 1980s.

His new book, Food Security & Hydroclimate in Greater Horn of Africa (Springer, 2022), is available now if you’d like to learn more.

Paxina Chileshe on the connection between drought and famine

Paxina Chileshe, Regional Climate and Environment Specialist

Paxina Chileshe, IFAD’s climate and environment specialist for East and Southern Africa, talks with us about the East African drought and the resulting famine. In our conversation, she brings up the way that the war in Ukraine is choking food supply to the region, effectively creating a catastrophe on top of a crisis.

Paxina also details the various ways that IFAD’s projects empower rural agriculturalists to build resilience to the climate crisis.

Alexandre Mtahelwa on growing food against the odds

Alexandre Mtahelwa

Alexandre Mtahelwa, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is living in Kakuma, a refugee camp in Kenya.

Against all odds, Alexandre has started a community centre here dedicated to growing food and teaching others how to do the same. We spoke with him about his experiences with the recent drought.


Bena Kyengo on adapting in times of drought

Bena Kyengo, organic farmer

Bena Kyengo is an organic farmer from northern Kenya. Through her organization, the Feedback to the Future Foundation, she teaches climate change adaptation techniques to hundreds of farmers in the region, demonstrating natural ways to maintain production even in times of drought.

Exploring land rights with Harold Liversage

Harold Liversage, IFAD’s Lead Global Technical Specialist on Land Tenure

According to Harold Liversage, IFAD’s senior technical specialist on land tenure, most conflict is fundamentally related to land. As land becomes progressively more degraded, there is less viable land to go around and conflict increases.

Harold talks with us about the basics of land tenure and discusses some of the challenges he sees for the future.


Reviving lost recipes with Chef Anahita Dhondy

Chef Anahita Dhondy

With this episode, we’re welcoming our first Recipes for Change chefs from India.

Chef Anahita Dhondy rose to fame quickly, co-founding a restaurant and becoming chef manager when she was just 23. A big element in all facets of Chef Dhondy’s life is her Parsi heritage. To document and share her unique culture, Anahita recently published her first book, Parsi Kitchen (HarperCollins India, 2021), which details recipes and stories that she’s been sharing in kitchens throughout her life.

Chef Dhondy is also known for her advocacy work to, as she puts, it, revive lost recipes and rediscover forgotten foods. This includes grains that had been cultivated in India for millennia but were forgotten in favour of crops more conducive to industrialization.

Telling stories with Chef Thomas Zacharias

Chef Thomas Zacharias

Chef Thomas Zacharias’s culinary journey has taken him from his grandmother’s kitchen in his native Kerala, India, to a three-Michelin-star restaurant in New York City, to remote communities in 22 states across India.

Inspired by what he saw and the stories he’s heard, Chef Zacharias found his passion in advocating for indigenous, local, and seasonal ingredients and using them to reframe perceptions of Indian food.

In 2021, he left his award-winning restaurant The Bombay Canteen to start The Locavore,  a community and platform for connecting with, advocating for, and sharing stories about people throughout India’s food systems.


Rahul Antao on Youth Agribusiness Hubs

Rahul Antao, IFAD’s Professional Officer for Rural Youth

Rahul Antao, a member of IFAD’s Youth team, talks to us all about Youth Agribusiness Hubs.

These hubs are a way to get thousands of young people from many different countries involved in agricultural entrepreneurship. They have the potential to transform tens of thousands of rural communities by tapping into the innovative spirit and unbridled ambition that young people can bring to the sector.


The Power of Donors, Part 3: Willem Olthof and Conrad Rein

Willem Olthof and Conrad Rein

This mini-series is all about connecting with leaders in the Global Donor Platform to hear about the issues that matter to them.

In this episode, we’re taking you to Brussels to speak with our two guests from the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Partnerships: Willem Olthof, Deputy Head, and Conrad Rein, Policy Officer. Conrad is also a Co-Chair of the Global Donor Platform.


Research and Impact Assessment Series, Part 3: Aslihan Arslan

Aslihan Arslan, Senior Economist for IFAD

In this mini-series, we dive into the world of Impact Assessments – where we get to make sure we’re learning as much as we can from the way we work and getting development right for the communities we work with.

This month, we’re focusing on IFAD’s work in the three northern provinces of Zambia – in particular, the S3P programme. We spoke with Aslihan Arslan, one of our senior economists, to learn about the issues communities in the programme are facing and what’s being done to support them.

These and other outcomes translate into in-depth research that will be used to improve the design of future projects.


Summing up

Thanks to our fabulous producer Francesco Manetti and everyone else who’s worked on this programme.

But most of all, thanks to you for listening to this episode of Farms.Food.Future, brought to you by the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Remember, we want to hear from you – what you think about our stories and the issues discussed, and who you want us to be talking to – so please get in touch at [email protected].

Send us your voice or text messages to that address, and we’ll be happy to play you out in the next show.

Also, don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast via your favourite podcast platform – and please rate us!

Next month, in Episode 34, we’ll be talking about improving nutrition in rural communities in Africa with our guest presenter Linda Odhiambo.

Once again, we’ll be trying to be Good for You, Good for the Planet, and Good for the Farmers.

Until then, from your hosts Brian Thomson and Ian Smith, and the team here at IFAD – thanks for listening.


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