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Financial Times, October 14 2011
Small farmers have a critical role
They produce the lion’s share of supply in many places. Helping them improve their productivity is ever more important, writes Sarah Murray

As another World Food Day nears, the task of feeding everyone on the planet looks daunting – and many have yet to grasp the scale of the challenge. While the famine in the Horn of Africa has reminded us of the horrors of extreme hunger, financial woes in the US and Europe continue to dominate political and economic discussions. Yet feeding the world could become one of the biggest concerns for the 21st century.

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Financial Times, January 27 2012
Jobless generation hungry for change
Social media networks may let tomorrow’s adults talk and mobilise, but they do not confer life skills, writes Sarah Murray

Judging by the demographic make-up of everything from the Arab uprising to protests against rising tuition fees and the Occupy movement, 2011 was a year in which young people’s voices achieved unprecedented prominence. Yet, while many celebrate the fact that these voices, at least partly thanks to social media, are increasingly powerful, the protests have also highlighted the severe challenges many young people face.

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Financial Times, November 11 2008
Charity begins in the office
Non-profits need to convince donors that efficient administration is crucial to their aid programmes, writes Sarah Murray

TechnoServe received a $2.9m grant from Microsoft last August. The grant was not a donation towards one of the non-profit’s programmes, which equip entrepreneurs in the developing world to establish businesses that create jobs and reduce poverty. It was for an information technology upgrade, allowing the organisation to standardise IT tools across its offices worldwide. However, for many non-profits, this kind of grant remains an elusive dream.

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Financial Times, October 18 2011
New world order
Fertility rates are dropping and the population is ageing – in some unexpected places, finds Sarah Murray

Since the 1950s, Brazilian soap operas have gripped the nation with storylines covering everything from illicit affairs and family intrigue to alcoholism and revenge murders. As well as providing drama, however, they have had an¬other impact – on fertility rates. Researchers from the Inter-American Development Bank tracked Globo, the leading Brazilian television network, and found that the number of live births per woman was far lower in parts of the country that received the company’s signal than in areas that did not. That such a drop in the birth rate should occur in a developing country is something new. And the trend is being replicated in many other areas.

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Financial Times, February 25 2008
Lessons in helping the world develop
Students are learning how business can address poverty through profitmaking activities, writes Sarah Murray

To judge by their activities, one might think some MBA students at Cornell’s Johnson School in the state of New York were pursuing a degree in international development. Their projects range from water purification technologies for poor African communities to a sustainable tourism initiative in Croatia. Students are required to apply social, economic and environmental conditions to their business development plans.

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Weekend FT, April 24 2010
Highly productive
Food and environment campaigners are increasingly focusing on roof spaces, writes Sarah Murray

Until a few weeks ago Callum Saunders’ tiny east London balcony was packed with planters – but not only ones containing flowers or herbs. In an experiment to see just what edible produce he could grow at his small flat in Hackney he filled small containers with rocket plants, lettuces, carrots and runner bean and tomato vines, documenting his micro-agricultural activities on a blog.

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Weekend FT, January 7 2012
Waste Opportunity
Creative management of landfill and recycling can transform landscape – and generate income. By Sarah Murray

What happens to your rubbish after you take out the bins? This question was asked by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s SENSEable City Lab, who tracked 3,000 electronically tagged waste items from Seattle. Their study showed that the city does well in minimising landfill waste (more than 75 per cent of the items ended up in recycling facilities, well above the US average of about 34 per cent). Yet huge differences exist in the way our trash is handled around the world – and some places do it better than others.

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Financial Times, May 13 2009
The need for energy efficiency and clean power are bringing the two sectors together, reports Sarah Murray

An unlikely marriage is being consummated. On one side is a monolithic industry, cautious, highly regulated and focused on ubiquity, reliability and affordability. On the other is an aggressively competitive sector with rapid product cycles and an insatiable hunger for innovation. Yet the electricity industry and the IT sector are being forced together, as the need for energy efficiency and clean power sources becomes more pressing.

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Financial Times, April 6 2010
Keep it clean
As urban populations expand rapidly, especially in developing countries, providing water and sewage services is a serious challenge. By Sarah Murray

These days, some inhabitants of slums and low-income urban areas in east Africa are able to use something that few in unplanned settlements elsewhere have access to: a clean public toilet. That such a basic amenity is so rare is testament to the challenge of providing sanitation in poor communities around the world.

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