Annual report 2008

Annual report coverIIED’s annual report is a panoramic snapshot of a year in the institute’s life. You can discover the part we played in getting adaptation to the top of the global climate agenda — and how we balance the biofuels debate, support innovative sanitation in slums, advise Peruvian potato farmers on their rights, create models of ‘food chains’ that give a fairer deal to the rural poor, plant the roots of fair forest management, and much more.

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A sample case study

Reaping the riches: biodiversity through a farmer’s lens

Group: Natural Resources
Scope: India
Duration: 2001-2007

The Telangana region in the eastern reaches of India’s Deccan plateau sits on ancient rock — some of the oldest, and most stable, in the country. Perhaps it is fitting that the people here keep the old ways, safeguarding stores of diverse seeds gleaned from crop species long gone elsewhere. Yet these villagers are hardly stuck in the past. As an IIED project in the area has graphically shown, the women of Telangana are as deft with a video camera as they are with a hoe.local with camera

Most of the women in the area sanghams or village associations are dalits, at the bottom rung of India’s social hierarchy. Most cannot read. Their appreciation for a good story and for visual beauty, however, has made them naturals behind a camera.

Rebuilding sustainable food systems

The women of the sanghams are highly motivated to preserve their local crop biodiversity and food systems. Their health and livelihoods depend on a range of traditional varieties such as dew-fed millet and the legume black gram, which tend to be more nutritious and resilient to poor soil fertility and climate-driven conditions such as drought. In a semi-arid region like Telangana, where rainfed agriculture predominates, these characteristics are very important.

So when IIED and the Deccan Development Society, which works with many of the region’s sanghams, approached a group of them with the idea of studying ways to sustain diverse local food systems, they were keen to document the research and communicate its findings.seeds

The result — a series of 12 films under the title Affirming Life and Diversity — was launched at the Conference of Parties to the UN biodiversity convention in 2008.

Weathering the pressures

The pressures on local food culture and traditional farming practice are immense. Supply chain requirements are often inappropriate to community needs, and prices for produce can be unfair. The introduction of genetically engineered crops is another threat. But this project has shown that biodiversity-rich local food systems can be sustained, as long as farmers, indigenous peoples and other locals are central to the process. It also created stable local markets for producers from the region to sell surplus vegetables, grains and beans, and improve local control over the choice of technologies, markets and policies for food and agriculture.The project has succeeded to a significant degree because IIED’s emphasis from the start has been on doing research with, for and by the people involved. Too often, research is imposed on rural people without their sanction. So on their own terms and in their own time, they assessed the desirability and relevance of engaging in the collaboration. Ultimately, the women of Telengana felt respected and empowered by this research, as they were equal partners in its design, implementation and communication.

"I am a seed-keeper. I store a variety of valuable seeds in the baskets in my house and with them my own knowledge of farming, environment and life. Since I learned to use the camera, I am doing the same. I am storing knowledge of my communities with my camera and interpreting them for the outside world which does not know about this."
Humnapur Laxmamma, sangham member, Telangana

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If you'd like to dig deeper and find out more about the work behind the annual report case studies, see the links to websites, articles, press releases, reports and other resources below. Each is listed next to the page number in the report where the relevant case study appears.

page 19 Development by the People for the People

page 20 Energy and sustainable development

page 21 Peru's ancient Inca capital says no to GM-potato

page 22 Towards a Global Forest Partnership

page 23 Many Strong Voices

page 26 Silver Bullet or Fools' Gold?; Watershed Markets

page 27 CLACC; Tiempo issue 65

page 28 Fuelling Exclusion?

page 30 Poverty and Conservation

page 31 Flight Plan: Taking responsibility for aviation emissions; The Carbon Consultancy

page 32 UNFPA State of the World Population Report: Unleashing the Potential of Urban Growth

page 33 Logging Off (Ghana)

page 48 Improving water and sanitation globally through information sharing; Lessons from Karachi; Orangi Pilot Project; SPARC

page 50 IIED's Climate Change group; Community-Based Adaptation Exchange

page 52 Marine Protected Areas on the High Seas?

page 54 Affirming Life and Diversity

page 56 Gender, land and decentralisation

page 58 Legal tools for citizen empowerment

page 60 Regoverning Markets

page 62 Climate Change Media Partnership