In her new book ‘100 Under $100’, Betsy Teutsch rounds up a hundred innovative yet affordable tools and practices that can make a huge difference in the lives of poor women in low-income countries. Agroforestry is among these innovations.
Many of the tools featured, like childhood immunization, handwashing, and clean birth kits—are lifesaving. Others, like agroforestry, rainwater harvesting and beekeeping, ease labour and drudgery and provide income-generation options for women. Others still, like the internet and voting rights, give women a voice and open up their world.
Far from providing a dry listing of the 100 innovations, the new book is organized into eleven broad categories, and shows the links between the tools. The connections, for instance, between agroforestry and nutrition, or beekeping and fair trade, become clear. With this cross-referencing, Teutsch succeeds in showing that when it comes to sustainable development, there is no ‘silver bullet’—the challenges of women in the Global South are interconnected; so, too, are their solutions.
With an impartial but caring eye, a passion for women’s wellbeing and crystal clear prose, Teutsch describes the essence of the innovations, and converts statistics into accessible facts and stories. The author’s experience as a writer and calligraphy artist—where structure and harmony are supreme—shines through.
The book is copiously illustrated, with 175 photos of women and girls putting the featured innovations to good use. Balancing the books of a saving co-op; watering seedlings in a greenhouse constructed out of plastic bottles and bamboo; vaccinating children aboard a ferry; tending a container vegetable garden in an urban slum, and many more inspiring photos. The use of photos of empowered women and girls is a refreshing departure from the stereotype of the developing-country woman:
“Too often our impressions of impoverished women are formed by pictures of passive female victims…,” writes Teutsch in the book’s preface. “The bigger story shared in this book is how global girls and women’s hard work…is facilitating their own climbs out of extreme poverty and bringing their families and communities with them.”
Agroforestry is Innovation No. 69 in the book. Teutsch refers to a long-term study by ICRAF and partners in Malawi, which demonstrated that fertilizer trees raise and stabilise maize yields, besides providing many other goods and services, such as fuelwood, timber, fodder, shade and erosion control [Download PDF booklet with more information here]. When nutrient-rich trees like moringa (Moringa oleifera) are used, agroforestry provides a pathway to better nutrition for communities.
Eco-briquetting is also part of the 100 innovations featured. Ecobriquettes (Innovation No. 32) are made from waste charcoal dust or other combustible waste materials such as maize cobs and coffee husks bound with water and a binder such as waste paper. They slash women’s cooking-fuel bills by more than half, besides their benefits to health and the environment, as ICRAF research in Kenya has shown.
“I could get behind that!” is a common reader response to these smart, effective, and affordable tools. And you can… the book, and its associated website www.100under100.org, has an extensive listing of opportunities to get involved either by learning more, volunteering, donating, or even seeking employment in fields that support women’s empowerment. As more people become involved, individually or as social businesses, some of the barriers that stand in the way of upscaling these valuable innovations are bound to be overcome.
Visit http://100under100.org/ for more on the book, including ordering information.
A version of this article was published on Agroforestry World Blog, as is reproduced with permission.