Portrait of SP9 Subproject Coordinator: Dr. Sindu W. Kebede

Ms Kebede in a supermarket in Kenya, looking at African leafy vegetables. © Sindu W. Kebede

September 2014 


Dr. Sindu W. Kebede is at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin since October 2013, but she just recently moved into a new office in the main building of her faculty. Boxes with folders are still standing around on the floor of her still empty, but quite fascinating office. Dr. Kebede speaks quietly and very determined when she explains the objectives of SP9. The main point of the project is to observe the role of horticultural value chains in poverty, vulnerability, and coping strategies of households in East Africa. She says that previous studies show that African leafy vegetables (AIV) are used to fill food security gaps and thus lead to poverty reduction. But how exactly does that work? How is poverty measured? What kind of shocks are AIV farmers exposed to and what strategies did they develop to cope with these shocks? SP9´s research is all along these questions.


“There are two wings within SP9” says Ms Kebede. “One part is the empirical analysis and the other one is the data collection”. For the latter, Ms Kebede and her team designed a survey for data collection all along the entire value chain of AIVs in Kenya. The survey includes questions from many SPs, covering mostly socioeconomic aspects, but also partly for the natural science SPs. In March 2014, SP9 did a pretest of the designed survey questionnaire in Kenya which was successful. The revised questionnaire has been finished just a few weeks ago. The data collection is going to start in September 2014 and will be conducted in collaboration with Egerton University and University of Hannover. Ms Kebede and her team are going to train 25 enumerators who will then conduct a total of 1.500 interviews in rural, peri-urban and urban areas in Kenya. The questionnaire is roughly 30 pages long and filling in one of them will take about four to five hours.


How was Ms Kebede`s experience of working for HORTINLEA so far? “There were some exciting and some challenging moments, too”, she tells us. For example, when suddenly her partner university in Kenya went on strike, shortly before her visit to Kenya. In that moment it was not clear whether she would be able to access the funds that had been transferred for her activities there. Luckily the strike ended a couple of days before her travel. Ms Kebede`s overall impression of working for HORTINLEA is merily positive. “It is exciting to be part of HORTINLEA, because it is a multi-disciplinary project.” Coming herself from Ethiopia, it is an interesting and unique learning experience to collaborate with colleagues both in Germany and in Kenya. She had been working for an international organization in Ethiopia, IFPRI, before. “I thought this was international, but in HORTINLEA I discovered what “international” really means.”


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