Inter Press ServiceAfrica – Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Wed, 17 Oct 2018 15:43:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.7 Women & Youth Key to Achieving Agenda 2030 in South-South Cooperationhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/women-youth-key-achieving-agenda-2030-south-south-cooperation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=women-youth-key-achieving-agenda-2030-south-south-cooperation http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/women-youth-key-achieving-agenda-2030-south-south-cooperation/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 10:52:12 +0000 Siddharth Chatterjee http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158159 Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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India and Kenya signed agreements in the field of agriculture during Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit to New Delhi. Credit: G.N. Jha

By Siddharth Chatterjee
NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 15 2018 (IPS)

By 2050 Africa will have 830 million young people. Many countries in the global south, India included are seeing a youth(men and women) bulge. To reap a demographic dividend countries in the global south need to share and exchange knowledge to leapfrog socio-economic transformation.

When the Buenos Aires Plan of Action for Technical Cooperation Amongst Developing Countries (BAPA) was adopted, few would have predicted that only 40 years later, developing countries would be accounting for the largest levels of global economic output.

It is an acknowledgement of the fact that new pillars of growth and influence have clearly emerged from the global south that the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) stress the importance of South-South cooperation in implementing the 2030 agenda.

Goal 17 on revitalizing global partnerships for sustainable development stresses the role of South-South and Triangular Cooperation in achieving the SDGs.

South-South Cooperation (SSC) is on the rise in scale and scope. It is recognized as crucial in collective efforts to address challenges such as poverty eradication, climate change, food security, social protection, public health and infrastructure development.

SSC is seen by various development actors as a vital complement to North-South Development Cooperation. It may also represent the fertilization of a debate on how Overseas Development Aid flows relate to broader financing for development flows.

This year, 49 of the 55 member states of the African Union signed the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, which will come into effect once 22 countries ratify it. It will be the largest free trade area that creates an African market of over 1.2 billion people with a GDP of US$2.5 trillion.

At the moment, infrastructure projects account for just over half of South-South cooperation, with China leading in this area. India is a considerable player, with projects such as the Pan African E-Network Project that will connect African countries by a satellite and a fibre-optic network for tele-education, tele–medicine, internet and videoconferencing.

Yet the feeling persists that the potential of this cooperation has not been fully leveraged, and a key topic of discourse being how south to south cooperation can contribute to sustainable development and what more needs to be done to scale-up and improve such cooperation for sustainable development.

How do we ensure that trade, investment, technology transfer and knowledge sharing address the needs of recipient countries as prioritized in their development strategies?

These are the kind of questions that will preoccupy organisations such as the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) and United Nations Development Programme(UNDP). These two are leading efforts to establish the South-South Global Thinkers initiative that will enable joint research and knowledge sharing to inform global policy dialogues on South-South cooperation for the SDGs.

Mr. Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator emphasized UNDP’s role in addressing the knowledge gap that many countries face when confronting their poverty challenges and emphasized that South-South Cooperation has become a “way we conduct business on a daily basis” because it has proven to deliver results on the ground.

If we are to keep our eyes on the overall goal of the SDGs – reduction of poverty – it is time to bring support to social sectors on the same level as infrastructure. It is time for investments to target the women and youth. Empowerment of these two groups provides the quickest pathway to poverty reduction especially in Africa, with agriculture-based investments the most promising sector.

Kenya’s economy is anchored on agriculture, where 70% of the population finds its upkeep. While in many regions crop yields have remained a step ahead of population growth, helping free them of hunger and famine, Africa has not managed to keep up with this trend; the impact of new technologies has been less apparent and agricultural productivity has stagnated, and even fallen in some areas.

In Africa’s agriculture sector, two-thirds of the labour force comprises women. Unfortunately, women farmers have less access to essential inputs—land, credit, fertilizers, new technologies and extension services. As a result, their yields tend to be less than optimum.

In addition, while African women are highly entrepreneurial and own about a third of all businesses across Africa, they are more likely to be running microenterprises in the informal sector, engaging in low-value-added activities that reap marginal returns.

If south-south investments are not deliberately designed for gender-responsiveness, the development course will continue to miss out on the multiplier effect that has been so well documented regarding women’s income. Women reinvest a much higher part of their earnings in their families and communities than men, spreading wealth and creating a positive impact on future development.

The World Bank says that agriculture will be a one trillion dollar business in Africa by 2030. Is there a better way to prepare to reap from part of this business than positioning the continent’s richest resource – the youth?

In his acceptance speech as the global champion of the youth agenda at the UN General Assembly 2018, President Uhuru Kenyatta said, “progress for the youth means progress for the entire humanity”.

In Kenya for example, one million young people join the work force every year. Of these young people, only about one in five is likely to find a formal job, with the rest either being unemployed or engaged in some non-wage earning occupation.

This means that Kenya needs a million new jobs every year for the next 10 years to keep up with the rapidly-expanding youth bulge. The median age of Kenyan farmers is 61, yet the median age of the population is 18. This is a potential force that must be involved in Agriculture.

To do this, creative and sustainable ways must be found to create opportunities that will present youth with the allure and career progression currently lacking in agriculture. With one of the fastest internet penetration rates, the youth in the country can be supported to exploit information technology for various value-addition ventures in agri-business.

This can be even more useful when focusing on areas with untapped potential, such as what is now known as the Blue Economy. Africa’s economies have continued to post remarkable growth rates, largely driven by the richness of its land-based natural resources, yet 38 of the continent’s 54 states are coastal.

India and Kenya have already made initial moves in this direction. Following the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Kenya two years ago, the two governments agreed to pursue initiatives in the sustainable management and extraction of ocean-based resources.

India will be sharing with Kenya expertise on space-based applications to address natural resources management and weather forecasting, expertise that can be exploited to improve food output in the country.

The rise of SSC introduces new dynamics to international development cooperation. SSC challenges traditional donor aid relationships inasmuch as it promotes economic independence and collective self-reliance of developing countries, and aspires for cooperation on the basis of equality, solidarity and mutual benefit.

There is a need to re-orient SSDC, along with international development cooperation more broadly, to adhere to norms and guidelines that consistently takes into account human rights, equity, gender equality, decent work, ecological sustainability, democratic ownership and other key elements of social justice.

As President Roosevelt said, “We cannot always build a future for our youth, but we can always build our youth for the future.”

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Siddharth Chatterjee is the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Kenya.

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Helping Ethiopia Achieve Green Growth and Avoid Industrialised Nations’ Environmental Mistakeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/helping-ethiopia-achieve-green-growth-avoid-industrialised-nations-environmental-mistakes/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=helping-ethiopia-achieve-green-growth-avoid-industrialised-nations-environmental-mistakes http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/helping-ethiopia-achieve-green-growth-avoid-industrialised-nations-environmental-mistakes/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 09:14:42 +0000 James Jeffrey http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158165 As Ethiopia undergoes a period of unprecedented change and reform, the Global Green Growth Institute(GGGI) is partnering with the Ethiopian government to try and ensure this vital period of transition includes the country embracing sustainable growth and avoiding the environmental mistakes made by Western nations. The basis of this effort comes from GGGI supporting the […]

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Ethiopia is not an industrialised country but is looking at alternative economic activity that allows a low-carbon economy and means of living. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

By James Jeffrey
ADDIS ABABA, Oct 15 2018 (IPS)

As Ethiopia undergoes a period of unprecedented change and reform, the Global Green Growth Institute(GGGI) is partnering with the Ethiopian government to try and ensure this vital period of transition includes the country embracing sustainable growth and avoiding the environmental mistakes made by Western nations.

The basis of this effort comes from GGGI supporting the Ethiopian government in the development and implementation of its Climate-Resilient Green Economy (CRGE), a strategy launched in 2011 to achieve middle-income status while developing a green economy.

As elsewhere in Africa where GGGI is partnering with other member countries—Ethiopia was the first country to sign up among the current group of 10—the goal is to act now to enable countries to have a future comprising economic growth and poverty reduction while building resilience, promoting sustainable infrastructure and ensuring efficient management of natural resources.

“Countries like Ethiopia aren’t industrialised, so they have a chance to leapfrog in their development that means they wouldn’t follow us and make the mistakes we did when we industrialised,” Dexippos Agourides, GGGI’s head of programmes for Africa and Europe who is based in Addis Ababa, tells IPS. “We are talking about an alternative economic activity that allows a low-carbon economy and means of living.”

The global effort toward green growth gained momentum after the Paris Agreement in which signatories agreed to collectively tackle climate change through the mechanism of implementing nationally determined contributions (NDC), a country’s tailored efforts to reduce its emissions and enable it to adapt to climate change-induced challenges.

“The government has made big commitment and set very ambitious targets, so even if they only go halfway to their targets that would still be a significant achievement,” Agourides says. “There are big gaps in the plan, which is where we come in to accompany the government in this ambition.”

Hence GGGI’s 12-person team in Addis Ababa providing embedded expert and advisory technical support and capacity building to the Ethiopian government.

Their main effort is to ensure CRGE strategies and financing go toward six sectors identified as key for green growth: energy, reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, agriculture (land use and livestock), green urbanisation and cities, transport, industry and health.

Ethiopia’s goal is to act now to enable it to have a future comprising economic growth and poverty reduction while building resilience, promoting sustainable infrastructure and ensuring efficient management of natural resources. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

One example of how this looks on the ground is Ethiopia’s programme of building industrial parks becoming greener, through schemes such as waste sludge from factories being used by other industries.

Another example is Ethiopia’s ambitious programme of reforestation and management of existing forest cover, which had reduced from covering about 35 percent of the country a century ago to around 3 percent in 2000—it’s now back up to around 15 percent.

GGGI is also working with the government on adaptation plans for areas prone to drought and flash flooding that appear increasingly volatile due to climate change.

“We look at past patterns and predict who suffers and how, so we can make plans so people are not hit,” says Innocent Kabenga, GGGI’s country representative for Ethiopia.

At the same time, Kabenga notes, methods such as reusing water, hydro-power, wind and solar are all being considered as means of mitigating Ethiopia’s carbon footprint. Such a plethora of renewable energy options comes from Ethiopia having one of the most complex and variable climates in the world due to its location between various climatic systems and its diverse geographical structure.

When it comes to the often-contentious issue of more foreign funds going to Ethiopia—already one of the world’s biggest recipients of overseas aid—those at GGGI point out that it is not necessarily a case of more funds but making sure existing funding go to the right place.

At the same time, there is no getting around the financial costs involved, both for Ethiopia’s green growth goals—in 2017, GGGI helped Ethiopia access USD 135 for its programme reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation, as well as access the Green Climate Fund—and for GGGI. Its budget comes from a mixture of developed and developing countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia, Mexico and Indonesia, a geographic spread reflecting the nature of the challenge that GGGI is engaged with.

“These are issues that have no boundaries, that no one country can solve, which is why we need to implement these national agreements that will help the world to survive,” Kabenga says. “Western countries have more money, and it their actions [contributing to climate change] that have affected the developing world.”

Despite governmental willingness, those at GGGI acknowledge much more is needed to turn words into concrete actions, especially within the complex context of Ethiopia’s federal democracy that devolves significant power to each region.

Furthermore, each ministry involved in the CRGE must do its job, and the government policy at the federal level must be successfully transmitted to Ethiopia’s regional governments—who must then do their bit.

Tying all that together—and as the country is going through one of its most significant political upheavals in 27 years as a new prime minister attempts to initiate significant reforms throughout government and society—is no easy thing, Agourides acknowledges. But if it can be done, then the economic and environmental benefits for Ethiopia could be huge, while allowing it to avoid the pitfalls elsewhere of growth at any cost that has done untold damage to this precious planet.

“Ethiopia stands at the top of least developed countries in terms of commitment, engagement and awareness,” Agourides says. “But implementation is the issue given the size and complexity of the country.”

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Students Go Green to End Global Energy Povertyhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/students-go-green-end-global-energy-poverty/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=students-go-green-end-global-energy-poverty http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/students-go-green-end-global-energy-poverty/#respond Mon, 15 Oct 2018 08:47:25 +0000 Busani Bafana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158155 In Africa, over 640 million people – almost double the population of United States – have no access to electricity, with many relying on dirty sources of energy sources for heating, cooking and lighting. While not offering a solution to the electricity gap in Africa, Brian Kakembo Galabuzi, a Ugandan economics student, can offer a […]

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A Congolese man transports charcoal on his bicycle outside Lubumbashi in the DRC. Credit: Miriam Mannak/IPS

By Busani Bafana
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe , Oct 15 2018 (IPS)

In Africa, over 640 million people – almost double the population of United States – have no access to electricity, with many relying on dirty sources of energy sources for heating, cooking and lighting.

While not offering a solution to the electricity gap in Africa, Brian Kakembo Galabuzi, a Ugandan economics student, can offer a cleaner and cheaper solution.

Galabuzi is the founder of Waste to Energy Youth Enterprise (WEYE), which is registered as a limited company that makes carbonised fuel briquettes from agricultural waste materials and organic waste.

Galabuzi got the idea after networking with other students concerned about global energy poverty at the 2015 International Student Energy Summit in Bali, Indonesia. Energy poverty is defined as the lack of adequate modern energy for cooking, warmth, lighting, and essential energy services for manufacturing, services, schools, health centres and income generation.

WEYE was created with the basic idea of commercialising grass root bio-waste to energy solutions in order to create a youth-led clean cooking transition in Uganda.

The promise of a financial income or benefit have been effective hooks to get young people to embrace sustainable energy as a source of income. The  youth promote sustainable energy because they want to earn from it, says Galabuzi.

“We believe that the benefits of sustainable energy, such as time saving, clean air, environmental conservation and good health are not what the highly-unemployed youth what to hear,” Galabuzi tells IPS.

“The majority of the world’s population is youth – of which the biggest population is unemployed. This why we designed a solution based on financial benefit (income generating opportunity) for unemployed youth and women,” he says.

Resource rich but energy poor

Africa is energy rich but nearly two thirds of its population of more than 1,2 billion have no access to electricity.

The African continent has an estimated 10 terawatts of potential solar energy, 350 gigawatts (GW) of hydroelectric power and 110 GW of wind power. All these sources can be harnessed with the right investment, a 2015 study by influential consulting company, McKinsey & Company found.

However, poor investment in off-grid connections in Africa means that polluting fossil fuels and biomass are major energy sources. However, off grid connections can provide clean and affordable energy to millions of people while helping reduce carbon emissions and preventing indoor pollution.

Growing energy demand in Africa and other developing economies presents an urgent need for the promotion and provision of more affordable and cleaner energy. Wood, charcoal, grass and solid waste, such as animal and human waste, are forms of biomass that can be converted into fuel and used as energy sources.

In Africa, over 640 million people have no access to electricity, with many relying on dirty sources of energy sources for heating, cooking and lighting. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

A clean energy business

And students like Galabuzi are seeing opportunities here.

While acknowledging that his company is not the first to make briquettes, Galabuzi says what is unique is that the briquettes are made from organic waste materials and sold to institutions that use firewood – 80 percent of which harvested in Uganda. Recent studies indicate that Uganda is at risk of losing all its forest in 40 years unless it halts deforestation. This is largely due to population growth and increased demand for land and firewood energy.

“Our solution guarantees our clients a 35 percent reduction in cost of cooking fuel, 50 percent reduction in cooking time and, most importantly, a smoke free cooking environment for the cooking staff,” Galabuzi tells IPS.

Galabuzi says despite the presence of solar, hydro power and gas as alternative sources of cooking energy, fuel briquettes are affordable and efficient energy alternatives.

A pilot of the fuel briquettes at St. Kizito High School, a school based in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, and the first school to adopt WEYE’s technology, showed encouraging results. Galabuzi explains the school registered an annual financial saving of over USD 2,500, a 50 percent reduction in cooking time and increased job satisfaction among the cooking staff due to the healthy, clean and smokeless cooking conditions.

“Our project uses organic waste from farmers and food markets such as maize cobs, banana peels and many others, which were considered useless,” he says.

“We offer the farmers and waste collectors monetary value for this organic waste and give them a new avenue to generate income, boosting the agricultural and waste management sectors.”

Galabuzi says his business has the potential of employing over 40 individuals in waste collection, sorting, production, marketing, distribution and finance.  It also has a potential market of over 30,000 institutions in Uganda. Already WEYE is training youth and women how to make briquettes and to start up their own briquette companies, with support from the Uganda government youth fund.

The WEYE Clean Energy Company Limited is authorised to sell charcoal briquettes and clean cook stoves in Uganda. The business model was tested during an 8-week ‘Greenprenuers’ programme run by the Global Green Growth Initiative, Youth Climate Labs and Student Energy (SE).

Felistas Ngoma, 72, from Nkhamenya in the Kasungu District of Malawi, prepares food in her kitchen. Credit: Charity Chimungu Phiri/IPS

Students driving sustainable energy transition

SE is a global organisation, based in Alberta, Canada. It builds the potential of young people to accelerate subsistence energy transitionthrough training, coaching and mentorship.

The interest in energy by SE, which has a membership of 50,000 young people from 30 different countries around the world, led to a partnership with Seoul-based Global Green Growth Initiative (GGGI) to promote the young ‘greenpreneurs’ programme. This programme gives the youth opportunities to turn innovative ideas into green businesses in sustainable energy, water and sanitation, sustainable landscapes and green cities.

“We got interested in greenpreneurship because a lot of people in our network are interested in energy but are more at a systems level and how energy connects to gender, empowerment, access to clean sources of fuel, access to energy in remote areas and smart technology,” Helen Watts, director of Innovation and Partnerships at SE, tells IPS.

Global discussions on energy, while politicised, have previously been at commercial and academic levels. But SE has opened a platform to promote wider discussions on finding and implementing innovative solutions to solving the energy challenge and help meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

Watts says the partnership with GGGI is an opportunity to open up GGGI’s youth entrepreneurship model, which is country specific, into a global accelerator model with young people from emerging and developing economies. Another organisation, the Youth Climate Lab, an innovation lab space organisation that seeks to build the capacity of young people to participate in the climate policy, innovate and collaborate on climate adaptation and mitigation, has been brought in as a partner.

“Young people have this incredible capacity to break the kind of zero sum game of sustainability of profitability,” says Watts.

“They have an amazing ability to think outside boxes of what has been done and collaborate with different peers and community members to map out these incredible solutions to both grow their communities and local economies while providing cleaner, affordable solutions to different challenges community members are facing.”

SE was started in 2009 by a group of students who worked in the energy industry in Canada and every two years it organises an international summit on the future of sustainable energy as a platform to talk about energy transition.

The first International Student Energy Summit in 2009 brought together 350 students from 40 countries. The 6th International Students Energy Summit was hosted in Mexico in 2017 with 600 students from 100 countries. Next year the summit will be in London and is expected to attract 700 students.

SE has also developed energy chapters in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, North America, Oceania, South America and South Asia, which are like student clubs in post-secondary institutions. The chapters are supported to help members develop their green energy ideas into reality in their communities. The first chapters were established in United Kingdom, Nigeria and Canada.

“Energy has really captured me and inspired me to dedicate my entire career to energy transition projects because of how fundamental energy is to our everyday lives,” Sean Collins, a co-founder of SE, tells IPS, adding that the value of energy is embedded in the work of SE that there is consideration of both energy’s striking benefits and its impacts.

“I think the thing I am most proud of has been our work to set the expectation that youth deserve a seat at the table in all energy conversations as a peer with older generations, policy makers, legacy industry and other groups. It is our generation that will be primarily responsible for the practical transition to a lower carbon economy, so we need to be an active participant in these discussions from day one.”

Fostering discussions and implementation of energy innovations creates impact. Businesses like Galabuzi’s WEYE clean energy company can be potential models to provide energy to more 600 million people in Africa who go without electricity.

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Rwanda Leverages Green Climate Fund’s Opportunities to Fast-Track Sustainable Developmenthttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/rwanda-leverages-green-climate-funds-opportunities-fast-track-sustainable-development/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rwanda-leverages-green-climate-funds-opportunities-fast-track-sustainable-development http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/rwanda-leverages-green-climate-funds-opportunities-fast-track-sustainable-development/#respond Fri, 12 Oct 2018 16:16:26 +0000 Aimable Twahirwa http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158135 In a move to achieve its green growth aspirations by 2050, Rwanda has placed a major focus on promoting project proposals that shift away from “business as usual” and have a significant impact on curbing climate change while attracting private investment. The latest report published by the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) in 2015 states […]

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Greening practices are being adopted in Rwanda which include the terracing on hillsides to control erosion like here in Rulindo district, Northern Rwanda. Credit: Aimable Twahirwa/IPS

By Aimable Twahirwa
KIGALI, Oct 12 2018 (IPS)

In a move to achieve its green growth aspirations by 2050, Rwanda has placed a major focus on promoting project proposals that shift away from “business as usual” and have a significant impact on curbing climate change while attracting private investment.

The latest report published by the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) in 2015 states that the country needs to adapt – and keep adapting – so that Rwandans can become climate resilient and be assured that they can thrive under changing climate conditions.

Rwanda is one of a few nations in the world to develop its own climate-related domestic budget to finance mitigation and adaptation projects and leverage international climate finance. Since it was established in 2012, the National Fund for Climate and Environment, commonly known as “FONERWA”, has played a major role in this country’s climate resilient development by financing various green economy projects.

It is also the focal point for channeling international climate finance into projects in Rwanda, while offering technical assistance to project proponents to ensure the success of investments.

“Thanks to this expertise, much of the core funding has been allocated to projects on a grant basis, returns are being measured in impact,” Daniel Ogbonnaya, the acting country representative and lead, Rwanda programme coordinator of Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), in Kigali, tells IPS.

GGGI is an international organisation that has partnered with the Rwandan government to help the country access the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The GCF, established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), assists developing countries in adaptation and mitigation to counter climate change.

For example, one of FONERWA’s major impacts during the implementation phase has seen over 130,000 green jobs created, nearly 25,000 families connected to clean energy, and approximately 20,000 hectares of land secured against erosion, according to official estimates.

Now the East African country which has faced challenges related to the pressures on natural resources from a growing population is relying on FONERWA to implement its national Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy, adopted in 2011, to achieve some of its national climate targets.

FONERWA, which is the sole vehicle through which environment and climate change finance is channeled, programmed, disbursed and monitored in the country, is also being used by the government as an instrument to facilitate direct access to international environment and climate finance.

Government departments and districts can access FONERWA funding. But the fund is also open to charitable and private entities, including businesses, civil society and research institutions. However, to be eligible for funding, proposals are required to meet standard criteria set out for achieving the country’s green growth.

GGGI is providing technical assistance to strengthen the capacity of FONERWA in designing world class climate resilience projects and to enhance the fund’s ability to mobilise more resources.

The institute has been focusing on providing demand-driven technical advisory services; the development of inclusive green growth plans that are gender sensitive; and the creation of an enabling environment to engage and foster public and private sector investment in green growth.

While a significant amount of money has been allocated by FONERWA toward efforts to help mitigate climate change, one of the key criteria for approval of funding proposals was taken into account in selecting public and private adaptation and mitigation projects and programmes to finance.

The director general of REMA and also the national focal person of the GCF, Coletha Ruhamya, explained that growth in Rwanda is only possible if the private sector is on board and plays a leading role.

“This is because business practice in the country has always been associated with environmental pollution and degradation,” she told IPS.

In April, FONERWA proposed a new approach dedicated to encouraging the private sector to take advantage of the existing opportunities in addressing environmental challenges, including climate change.

Since its inception in 2012, FONERWA has successfully funded 35 competitively-awarded, high-impact projects to the tune of 54 million dollars and has also received in 2018 another 33 million dollars of earmarked funding from the GCF as the accredited entity’s implementing partner for a new climate-resilience project in Rwanda.

However, some stakeholders in the private sector stress the need for serious sensitisation programmes meant for local investors to understand the opportunities that are in the industrial sector through leveraging on the green fund.

The chief executive officer of the Rwanda Private Sector Federation (PSF), Stephen Ruzibiza, told IPS that local private investors have a lot to access withinvthe green fund.

Currently the PSF is engaging with FONERWA and a limited number of local financial intermediaries to offer long-term loans to private businesses focusing on environmental sustainability with a low interest rate which is fixed at 11.5 percent.

The current average lending interest rate for commercial banks in Rwanda is 17.58 percent, according to the National Bank of Rwanda.

According to Jean Ntazinda, a consultant with the FONERWA Readiness Support Project, the private sector in Rwanda has so far been left behind when compared to government entities in accessing the GCF financing mechanism.

“Although at the national level some private sector projects relating to adaptation got financed, there is a long way to bring the private sector on board due to the lack of another entity accredited by GCF,” Ntazinda told IPS in an exclusive interview.

In 2015, Rwanda’s ministry of environment became accredited with the GCF and received a promise of 10 to 50 million dollars in climate finance. It was the country’s first national institution to receive GCF accreditation.

In March 2018, the government of Rwanda received an additional 32.8 million dollars from GCF to strengthen climate resilience in Gicumbi District, Northern Province.

The ‘Strengthening Climate Resilience of Rural Communities in Northern Rwanda’ project, that will run for six years, is expected to invest in climate-resilient settlements for families currently living in areas prone to landslides and floods, and support community-based adaptation planning and livelihoods diversification.

Currently FONERWA is in the process of developing several innovative funding mechanisms to finance pro-poor climate projects in Rwanda.

For instance, Result-Based Finance (RBF) is one of the approaches currently being used to fund renewable energy mini-grid projects in poor rural areas of Rwanda at a time when Rwandan officials are aiming to achieve 51 percent of electricity access by the end of 2019, from the current 45 percent.

RBF are payments that are disbursed at the end of the construction of the mini-grids, provided that pre-agreed conditions and milestones are met.

“This incentivises developers to look for private equity and debt to fund the construction costs. And it gives further certainty to the lenders that parts of the debt will be repaid,” Ogbonnaya told IPS.

However, Ogbonnaya is convinced that local commercial banks in Rwanda are willing to promote access to private finance for green initiatives, but don’t yet understand the process.

“This is because using government or local budget is key to showing country ownership and to showing that a specific project is part of a broader national strategy, but for adaptation funds, co-benefits such as social, environment, gender impacts and pro-poor impacts are so crucial,” he said.

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Kenyan Women Turning the Tables on Traditional Banking and Land Ownershiphttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/kenyan-women-turning-tables-traditional-banking-land-ownership/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=kenyan-women-turning-tables-traditional-banking-land-ownership http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/kenyan-women-turning-tables-traditional-banking-land-ownership/#comments Fri, 12 Oct 2018 15:58:12 +0000 Miriam Gathigah http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158133 This article is part of a series of stories to mark World Food Day October 16.

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Mary Auma feeding one of the cows she bought with credit from her table banking group. Credit: Miriam Gathigah/IPS

By Miriam Gathigah
NAIROBI, Oct 12 2018 (IPS)

It was less than eight months ago that Mary Auma and her three children, from Ahero in Kenya’s Nyanza region, were living in a one-room house in an informal settlement. Ahero is largely agricultural and each day Auma would go and purchase large quantities of milk and resell it – earning only a 10 percent profit.

But in February life for the single mother and her children changed for the better when she raised the USD 1,500 required to purchase an acre of land and two cows. The money did not just buy her assets, but financial security and a sustainable income. And she has moved her kids to a nicer neighbourhood. “Eight years ago, none of us had land to call their own. Today, all 24 of us have been able to acquire land through loans received from the group’s savings." --Irene Tuwei, a member of the Chamgaa table banking group.

This is all because two years ago Ahero joined a table banking group. Table banking is a group saving strategy in which members place their savings, loan repayments and other contributions. They can also borrow funds immediately. Table banking groups are growing in popularity across Africa, and can be found in Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. In some places they are called  table banks and in others they are known as village banks.

Auma always wanted to own land so she could become self-sufficient.
“With a piece of land, I could live on it, keep cows, chicken and grow vegetables behind my kitchen. This is what I have always wanted but I had no money to start these projects,” she tells IPS.

When you can’t bank on land, bank on the table

While women can freely own and buy land in Kenya, less than seven percent of them have title deeds, according to the non-governmental organisation Kenya Land Alliance.

“You need collateral to secure a loan from a commercial bank and women generally do not have property. They are therefore unable to access credit to buy land. The concept of table banking is highly attractive to women because they loan each other the capital needed to acquire property,” Francis Kiragu, a lecturer at the University of Nairobi, tells IPS.

Auma says that the loans from her table banking group are attractive since the only collateral women need to provide are household assets. “It is rare for members to default on loans as members are mainly neighbours and fellow church [goers] who come together in good faith,” she explains.

As more women take over control of their farmlands, this will not only become their source of food but also income. Having an income is important as it increases their purchasing power. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

Increased access to loans means increased access to land

Farming on lands they do not own has made it difficult for women to make transformative decisions and to contribute to sustainable food security. But as informal banking takes on a new form among rural women in Africa, there is a chance that women will start having increased access to land.

“Women are no longer hoarding pennies to share amongst themselves. We meet once a week and in just one sitting, 24 of us can now contribute up to 5,000 dollars,” Irene Tuwei, a member of the Chamgaa table banking group in Turbo, Rift Valley region, tells IPS.

Tuwei says that unlike in the past, women do not have to wait months to receive their savings. Table banking is an improved version of traditional merry-go-rounds where women would save a little from their household budgets and the lump sum would be handed over to one person at a time. This would sometimes mean that if there were 15 members in a merry-go-round it could take 15 months for each member to have their turn in accessing the funds.

Things have, however, evolved from this to a revolving fund.

“In table banks, not a single coin is banked, which gives us instant loans without providing the kind of security banks ask for,” Tuwei says.

Table banking still guided by rules

One of the most visible table banking movements in Kenya is the Joyful Women Table Banking movement that has 200,000 members in all 47 counties, and which claims to have a revolving fund estimated at 27 million dollars. This is said to be currently in the hands and pockets of women across the country in form of loans.

Tuwei’s Chamgaa group is one of 12,000 under this movement.

“These groups are so successful that we now have banks reaching out to us offering special accounts where we can borrow money at very friendly terms. Before, these banks would never accept our loan applications because we did not have assets to attach while applying for them,” Tuwei tells IPS.

Table banking is guided by rules and regulations designed and agreed upon by members. They include how often to meet, with some groups meeting weekly and others monthly.

The rules also include loan repayment periods and also touch on how members should conduct themselves during meetings. Tuwei says that across table banking groups, small misdemeanours such as being late for a meeting can attract a fine of between USD 2 to USD 5. Loans given to members are also charged interest.

Land and independence to call their own 

“Eight years ago, none of us had land to call their own. Today, all 24 of us have been able to acquire land through loans received from the group’s savings,” Tuwei says of her group.

Tuwei was struck by polio at an early age which affected her legs. So she could not move around freely and required assistance to plough her fields.
Since joining the group, she owns three motorbike taxis, some cows, chickens, pigs and an ox plough. She also has plans to open a petrol station near a busy highway soon.

She now also harvests approximately 80 bags of maize cobs, which translate to about 40 bags of grains once shelled. From this, she makes approximately USD 2,300 every harvest season and puts some of this money into her table banking group to boost her savings.

“At the end of the year we share all the money that has been revolving among us for 12 months based on what each member has contributed, additional money gathered from penalties and interest from loans is shared equally,” says Tuwei.

Women need land to combat world hunger

This year’s World Food Day comes on the heels of alarming reports that after a period of decline, world hunger is now on the rise, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

According to FAO, while rural women are the mainstay of small-scale agriculture and contribute significantly to the farm labour force and to day-to-day family subsistence, they have great difficulty in accessing land and credit.

Kiragu is emphatic that while the face of farming is still very much female, it will take more women accessing loans, land and information on better farming practices to end hunger, achieve food security as well as improved nutrition.

“To begin with, the agricultural sector is not receiving sufficient financial support. In Kenya, only four percent of private sector credit is going to the agricultural sector,” Allan Moshi, a land policy expert on sub-Saharan Africa, tells IPS.

Women in Kasungu, a farming district in Central Malawi, select dried tobacco leaves to sell at the market. According to FAO, rural women are the mainstay of small-scale agriculture and contribute significantly to the farm labour force. Credit: Mabvuto Banda/IPS

Women understand land better

According to FAO, women in forestry, fishing and agriculture receive a paltry seven percent of the total agricultural investment.
Even more worrisome is that while women in Africa contribute 60 to 80 percent of food, only an estimated five percent of women have access to agricultural extension services.

“Women understand land even better than men because they interact with the soil much more closely. We are now seeing more women taking charge of the land and not just as laborers, but also as land owners,” says Charles Kiprop, an agricultural extension officer in Turbo. He says that the number of women who own land as well as those who hire acres of land during the planting season is slowly on the rise.

Kiprop tells IPS that women have also become more proactive in accessing key information on better farming practices. “I have been invited by women’s groups to speak to them on farming practices on many occasions. Women no longer wait and hope that we will pass by their farms, they are now coming to us either as land owners or those who have hired land,” he explains.

The worst is yet to come

Participation of women in harnessing food production cannot be overemphasised, particularly in light of the Global Report on Food Crises 2018, which says that the worst is yet to come. The report was co-sponsored by FAO, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

It predicted that dry weather conditions would aggravate food insecurity in a number of countries, including those in the horn of Africa’s pastoral areas in Somalia, parts of Ethiopia and Kenya.

“The March-May rainy season in Kenya was below average, this has affected food production and spiked food prices,” Kiprop adds.

According to the food security report, in the absence of conflict and displacement, climate change shocks were the main drivers of acute food insecurity in 23 out of the 65 countries and territories analysed in the previous 2017 on food crises. African countries were particularly affected.

The report indicates that at least 10 percent of the population in Ethiopia, 25 percent in Kenya, 27 percent in Malawi and 42 percent in Zimbabwe are food insecure. Other affected African countries include Madagascar, Senegal, Lesotho, Swaziland and Djibouti.

According to the report, “the global prevalence of childhood wasting (low weight for height) is around eight percent, higher than the internationally agreed nutrition target to reduce and maintain childhood wasting to below five percent by 2025.”

Women with an income and purchasing power

Moshi tells IPS that as more women take ownership of farmlands, “this will not only become their source of food but also income. Having an income is important as it increases their purchasing power.”

“Rural women will then be able to buy foods that they do not have therefore ensuring that their households are food secure,” he adds.

He notes that the women will also be able to purchase farm inputs.

Tuwei confirms that having an income has had a direct impact on her capacity to adhere to better farming practices.

“Five years ago, I could not afford to hire an Ox plough and would rely on the goodwill of neighbours who would first plough their lands and then come to my rescue. Many times they would come when it was too late to plough and plant in time,” she explains.

Tuwei further says that she and others in her group can now afford to use quality seeds, unlike before when they relied on seeds saved from previous harvests and those borrowed from neighbours.

“With the right tools, women can overhaul the agricultural sector because they have always been the ones involved in the day to day farm activities,” says Kiragu.

And thanks to the success of her milk business, Auma is ultimately glad that not only can she feed her children, but she can provide for their education and thereby their future also.

“Our table banking group is slightly different because we also contribute 20 dollars each week towards the welfare of our children. If a child needs school fees the mother is given a loan specifically from this part of our saving and at the same time she can take the usual loans from the general contribution so that she can keep her other projects going.”

The post Kenyan Women Turning the Tables on Traditional Banking and Land Ownership appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of stories to mark World Food Day October 16.

The post Kenyan Women Turning the Tables on Traditional Banking and Land Ownership appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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Transforming Food Systems for Resilience in Africa & Asiahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/transforming-food-systems-resilience-africa-asia/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=transforming-food-systems-resilience-africa-asia http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/transforming-food-systems-resilience-africa-asia/#respond Fri, 12 Oct 2018 06:08:53 +0000 Nathanial Matthews and Deon Nel http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158118 This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16.

 
Nathanial Matthews is Program Director and Deon Nel, CEO of the Global Resilience Partnership

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A Filipino farmer reviews FarmerLink SMS messages. Credit: Grameen Foundation

By Nathanial Matthews and Deon Nel
STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Oct 12 2018 (IPS)

Our food system requires fundamental transformation. Disasters and shocks, from extreme flooding to persistent drought, are occurring more frequently and lasting longer, threatening the food security and livelihoods of millions of small farmers across the globe.

Diets are shifting towards less diverse and less nutritious food, as populations become increasingly urban. The resource base that agriculture relies on is dwindling, and carbon emissions and land use associated with the sector need to be kept in check. In 2017, 124 million people faced crisis food in security across 51 countries, an increase of 16 million from 2016 (FSIN 2018).

Neither business as usual, nor change as usual will deliver the transformation necessary to scale and secure people’s wellbeing and ensure our planet stays within a safe operating space.

These issues are interconnected. Therefore, only systemic solutions that address the food system as a whole will be sustainable.

What are some of the bold changes we can make to transform the food system in Asia and Africa?

The Global Resilience Partnership (GRP) has been working with innovators for the last three years to boost the resilience of the millions of smallholder farmers in these regions that not only rely on agriculture for their own food security and livelihoods, but form the foundation of our food supply worldwide.

Reducing the risk for financing farmers

GRP is working with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Machakos County in Kenya to provide improved access to financial services for smallholder farmers without access to banking.

According to the Mastercard Foundation, only 1 per cent of bank lending in sub-Saharan Africa is allocated towards the agricultural sector, despite providing around 20% of GDP and more that 60% employment. This is because farmers are seen as risky investments, and rarely have the collateral needed to take out a loan.

IFPRI has devised a novel financial product which helps manage this risk. Their “Risk Contingent Credit” (RCC) product is linked to rainfall. Loans are given to farmers in the form inputs.

Farmers receive seeds, fertilizer and pesticides – enough to grow an acre of maize. They are trained in insurance policies by project partners Equity Bank, and in best agricultural practices.

In the event of weather-related crop failure, the Risk-Contingent Credit covers repayments on a farmer’s loan. The payments are triggered when a pre-determined threshold for rainfall is met.

This financing system acts as a social safety net, allowing farmers to persist through poor harvests. It also gives farmers confidence to invest in their farms. Though climate shocks will continue to affect farmers living in areas like Machakos, this new breed of insurance product can help them to transform their livelihoods into resilient businesses.

Devising digital tools to help farmers weather storms

Every year, farmers in the Philippines brace themselves for inevitable tropical cyclones and their devastating impact. Since 2013, it is estimated that 40 million coconut trees have been buffeted by storms and ravaged by pests. On top of this, replanted coconuts can take 20 years to reach full production.

That is why GRP grantee Grameen Foundation launched FarmerLink, a mobile-based advisory service that compiles early warning weather data, agricultural training, financial services and stronger links with market buyers. It works in remote areas to ensure that farmers are connected, even when they’re offline.

Field agents and local experts using the tool can collect farm specific, localised data to create bespoke development plans for farmers, helping to send detailed and targeted agronomic advice via SMS to farmers.

The pilot provided agronomic advice to nearly 30,000 farmers. Agents, providing individualized plans and training to 1,525 farmers helped reduce losses associated with extreme weather events and volatile markets.

Floods and cyclones are expected to become more frequent and extreme in the Philippines. With improved, accurate data made accessible via digital technology, farmers can offset the effects of climate risk on their crops and build sustainable, resilient livelihoods.

Extreme weather, scarce natural resources and persistent poverty in regions where many of our agricultural commodities originate, all threaten our food supply. But holistic interventions like these, acknowledge and embrace the interconnectedness of these challenges and solutions will be our best bet to create a more resilient and food secure future for all.

The post Transforming Food Systems for Resilience in Africa & Asia appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16.

 
Nathanial Matthews is Program Director and Deon Nel, CEO of the Global Resilience Partnership

The post Transforming Food Systems for Resilience in Africa & Asia appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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Senegal’s Migrant Returnees Become Storytellershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/senegals-migrant-returnees-become-storytellers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=senegals-migrant-returnees-become-storytellers http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/senegals-migrant-returnees-become-storytellers/#respond Thu, 11 Oct 2018 10:59:32 +0000 Issa Sikiti da Silva http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158105 Khoudia Ndiaye and Ndeye Fatou Sall set up a smartphone on a tripod to begin recording a video interview with Daro Thiam in Hann Bel-Air, a neighbourhood in Senegal’s capital Dakar. Hann Bel-Air is the departure point for many of the migrants who leave the city and country on irregular routes – boats to Spain, […]

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Daro Thiam (left), a returnee migrant from Mauritania is being interviewed by Khoudia Ndiaye (centre) and and Ndeye Fatou Sall (right) in Hann Bel-Air, a neighbourhood in Senegal’s capital Dakar. Courtesy: International Organization for Migration (IOM)

By Issa Sikiti da Silva
DAKAR, Oct 11 2018 (IPS)

Khoudia Ndiaye and Ndeye Fatou Sall set up a smartphone on a tripod to begin recording a video interview with Daro Thiam in Hann Bel-Air, a neighbourhood in Senegal’s capital Dakar. Hann Bel-Air is the departure point for many of the migrants who leave the city and country on irregular routes – boats to Spain, crossing the Sahara desert to the Mediterranean Sea, or to countries nearby.

Thiam, a mother of four, has recently returned from Mauritania, where she was unable to find a job to support her children."If you want to go overseas, get your papers in order and have a contract well signed and legalised, and buy medical insurance. If you cannot get these, please stay at home and look for any job, even in cleaning.” -- Ndeye Fatou Sall returnee migrant.

The three Senegalese women on a sunny rooftop near the beach have something in common: they are all migrants. Each of them left their home country to better their lives and support their families. But this afternoon is about Thiam’s story.

Ndiaye and Fatou Sall clip a microphone on Thiam’s dress then stand behind the tripod, counting down to the first question. They ask Thiam, “Why did you decide to leave home and where were you travelling to?”

Thiam answers in their native language, Wolof. The women nod; a sense of shared understanding is tangible among them.

They continue, reading other questions off the mobile application created for interviewing migrants: “What family members or people were you trying to support?”

“How did your family react to your return?” they continue.

The women are getting to know one another. After the interview, they will share their own stories with Thiam, and that is the point. The Migrants as Messengers (MaM) awareness-raising campaign, developed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), uses innovative mobile technology to empower migrants to share their experiences and to provide a platform for others to do the same.

By capturing the migration experiences on-camera and sharing the videos on Facebook, the campaign aims to educate potential migrants and their families about the risks involved in irregular migration. It also presents alternatives to migrating on routes that run dangerously through the desert, on to the Mediterranean Sea, and often lead to indefinite detention in North African countries like Libya.

MaM, funded by the government of the Netherlands, is a regional project run in Senegal, Guinea-Conakry, and Nigeria. It trains migrants who return home, like Ndiaye and Fatou Sall, in videography, interviewing, migration reporting, and online advocacy, so they can volunteer as ‘citizen journalists,’ or more appropriately, ‘migrant messengers.’ So far, IOM has trained nearly 80 migrants, referred to as Volunteer Field Officers, across the three participating countries; about one-third of the volunteers in Senegal are women.

Migrant returnees as storytellers

Law student Ndiaye is a returnee from Morocco, and Fatou Sall is a mother of five who lived and worked as a domestic worker in Saudi Arabia for nine years. Ndiaye and Fatou Sall returned to Senegal in 2013 and 2017, respectively. They were recently trained alongside four other women – Maty Sarr, Aissatou Senghor and Fatou Guet Ndiaye – and four young men to become migrant messengers.

Fatou Sall experienced a difficult nine years in Saudi Arabia and is prepared to be open with others about what life truly was like. There comes from her an honest and heartfelt sharing of her former life.

“Everything I’ll say comes from the heart because it is the experience that I lived and that I am willing to share with others. I tell them right away ‘don’t go without regular papers because it is not easy that side’.”

She is happy to be part of the MaM campaign “and satisfied to be participating in this training, which I put to good use to create awareness about travelling [irregularly] when my association’s activities kick off.”

Since her return in 2017 she founded an association for former female migrant workers to Saudi Arabia called ‘Association of Senegalese Women Former Residents of Saudi Arabia’.

My family welcomed me back

" My parents were so happy when I came back. They did not care that I had failed to go to Europe, they were happy I was alive and they welcomed me with loving arms…" listern to Mercy's story about how she was not ashamed to come back home. #MigrantsasMessengers

Posted by Migrants as Messengers on Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Women as influencers

She says that while she was paid USD 700, as opposed to the USD 200 she could get as a domestic worker at home, migrating irregularly was not worth it. She says she was fortunate that when she was ill her employer would pay for her doctor’s bills, but this would come out of her own salary.

“If you want to go overseas, get your papers in order and have a contract well signed and legalised, and buy medical insurance. If you cannot get these, please stay at home and look for any job, even in cleaning.”

She says that as a woman who experienced a difficult life overseas she doesn’t want other women to go through the same thing.

“It’s a lonely life out there, and as a woman and mother, most of the time you think about your family, especially if things begin to fall apart. The employment agencies operating in Dakar sold us to those Arab bosses as slaves and we worked endlessly, 24 hours sometimes with no pay.”

“I’m not forcing people or women to stay in Senegal, but if they don’t have the necessary documents, and think that they will get everything there, they are deluded.”

Anti-black sentiments are rife in Saudi Arabia, where police raids on foreigners’ homes are frequent, Fatou Sall says.

Ndiaye, who travelled to Morocco with papers in the hope of finding a job at a call centre, recounts a terrible tale of racism.

“I witnessed many stabbing and beating incidents by Moroccans on blacks and I became very scared to go out. The Arabs provoke black people and beat them up, steal their phones in broad daylight, and sometimes stab them. Life is very hard in North Africa, especially if you don’t have papers,” the law student explains.

“It’s also heartbreaking to see pregnant women embarking on such a dangerous adventure and suffering there. In the end, I thought returning home was the best option. Women, especially mothers, should stay home with their children.”

Fatou Guet, another returnee from Mauritania, who attempted to reach Spain on a makeshift boat, pleaded against travelling irregularly to Europe.

“Our trip lasted 10 days and we failed somewhere in the Mauritanian waters, where some people drowned and I got very sick and also nearly died. It is not good at all,” she tells IPS emotionally.

He never thought the journey would be so tough …

Iwu thought that the journey across the desert would be easy. Many like him are deceived into believing that the irregular migration journey is easy. Listen and share his story. What are your thoughts?

Posted by Migrants as Messengers on Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The campaign’s performance

But the experiences of these women and others who have attempted irregular migration have not gone unnoticed.

To date the IOM has close to 23,000 followers on their MaM Facebook page, 90 percent of whom are from Nigeria, Guinea-Conakry and Senegal.

College student Aminata Fall (23), who has been following the MaM campaign on Facebook, describes it as “genius”.

“It’s an emotionally charged campaign where some shocking stories are being told by brave and courageous people. You must be a mad person to travel [irregularly] to North Africa after watching these videos. Ha, surely it’s hell on earth out there,” Fall tells IPS.

IOM digital officer Marshall Patzana explains to IPS that they post new videos daily to “flood the online space with first-hand testimonies of the journey so as to counter the narrative that the smugglers are peddling online.”

“Our videos are usually between 30 seconds to a minute in length and as of last week the videos on the page have been viewed for a total of 30,590 minutes. Our content has reached over 550,000 people online since we started the Facebook page in June,” he says.

Patzana says the Facebook page creates a hub for returnees to interact amongst each other and to share best practices on how to reach out to their communities and advocate for regular migration.

Content produced by returnee migrants is also uploaded here and creates an online library of testimonies for anyone who wants to learn more about the journey.

“There is [also] a closed group where returnees from the different countries share their own personal stories and provide each other with peer support,” Patzana explains.

The IOM plans to extend the project into 2019 and to expand to three or four additional West African countries.

While they plan to reach more people, the women who are currently sharing their stories with others have hopes and plans for the future too.

Fatou Sall hopes that her association, which is based in Rufisque, will get more funding and kick off with activities soon.

Ndiaye thinks that her life would not have progressed as it has if she had not returned home. The master’s degree student will qualify soon. “Five years down the line, here I am, I’m about to finish my master’s in law. Next year I’ll be done, something that would have been impossible if I was in Morocco waiting for a job.”

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Women as Influencershttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/women-as-influencers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=women-as-influencers http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/women-as-influencers/#respond Thu, 11 Oct 2018 10:54:07 +0000 IPS World Desk http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158112 The Migrants as Messengers awareness-raising campaign (MaM), developed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), uses innovative mobile technology to empower migrants to share their experiences and to provide a platform for others to do the same. By capturing the migration experiences on-camera and sharing the videos on Facebook, the campaign aims to educate potential […]

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The Migrants as Messengers awareness-raising campaign (MaM), developed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), uses innovative mobile technology to empower migrants to share their experiences and to provide a platform for others to do the same.

By IPS World Desk
DAKAR, Oct 11 2018 (IPS)

The Migrants as Messengers awareness-raising campaign (MaM), developed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), uses innovative mobile technology to empower migrants to share their experiences and to provide a platform for others to do the same.

By capturing the migration experiences on-camera and sharing the videos on Facebook, the campaign aims to educate potential migrants and their families about the risks involved in irregular migration. It also presents alternatives to migrating on routes that run dangerously through the desert, on to the Mediterranean Sea, and often lead to indefinite detention in North African countries like Libya.

MaM, funded by the government of the Netherlands, is a regional project run in Senegal, Guinea-Conakry, and Nigeria. It trains migrants who return home, like Ndiaye and Fatou Sall, in videography, interviewing, migration reporting, and online advocacy, so they can volunteer as ‘citizen journalists,’ or more appropriately, ‘migrant messengers.’ So far, IOM has trained nearly 80 migrants, referred to as Volunteer Field Officers, across the three participating countries; about one-third of the volunteers in Senegal are women.

The post Women as Influencers appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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Conserving Africa’s Precious Resource Base While Fighting Hungerhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/conserving-africas-precious-resource-base-fighting-hunger/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=conserving-africas-precious-resource-base-fighting-hunger http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/conserving-africas-precious-resource-base-fighting-hunger/#respond Wed, 10 Oct 2018 16:27:37 +0000 Kalongo Chitengi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=158102 This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16.

 
Kalongo Chitengi, is Zambia Country Director of Self Help Africa, a Farming First supporter.

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Felister Namfukwe on her farm. Credit: Self Help Africa

By Kalongo Chitengi
LUSAKA, Zambia, Oct 10 2018 (IPS)

Rosemary Chate’s seven children gather around the table inside their home in Malela, a village in Zambia’s remote Northern Province. They dig their spoons into bowls of food prepared by their mother – for the second time that day.

Not long ago, Rosemary’s family would assemble to eat just once a day – their resources, for many months each year, were so thin that they needed to ration their food supplies to just a single family meal.

This is the reality for millions of African farmers like Rosemary. Many challenges are keeping yields on the continent low. Farmers lack access to inputs that farmers in developed countries have utilized for decades, from quality seeds and herbicides, to the right type of fertilizer for their undernourished soils.

The hand hoe – even in this century – is still the main tool for smallholder families. Migration to urban areas and the impact of AIDS have left many rural homesteads with a labour shortage.

Climate change has also emerged as another challenge, and rural families grapple with adaption. Changes in the climate have brought with them not only drought and flooding, but new plant diseases and insect attacks.

The fall armyworm in sub-Saharan Africa has caused tremendous damage. This unpredictable reality has made crop management very difficult, and indigenous knowledge alone can no longer suffice.

African farmers need scientific innovation – from low to high tech – to face these challenges. Yet preserving Africa’s environment, its most precious resources after its people, is also a high priority.

This is one of the fundamental concerns of agroecology – ensuring farmers can produce food and earn a good living, while keeping the natural resource base intact.

With the right approaches that blend traditional knowledge with scientific innovation, this can be achieved.

At Self Help Africa, we are working with farmers to achieve this through the implementation of conservation agriculture. In Zambia alone, we have reached over 80,000 farmers in the last five years.

Conservation farming involves a combination of approaches. First, farmers are encouraged to intercrop a variety of species, such as groundnuts, which can naturally fix nitrogen to the soil, and cassava, for example.

This ensures maximum use of a piece of land that has been cleared – producing more food with less resources. Crop rotation and mulching, along with an integrated use of mineral and organic fertilizers are also part conservation agriculture.

59-year old Felister Namfukwe has seen the benefits of this farming approach. Not only are her soils healthier, but her income is as well. With the help of her sons and her profits from groundnuts, she is building a new home made of brick, replacing her previous mud home.

“Being part of this (Self Help Africa) project has lightened my burden,” she told us.

We also work with local farmers to build their capacity to grow good quality seed, and to strengthen community based seed systems. Recycling seed is a common practice in Africa, when access to better seed is scarce. However, recycled seed loses its efficacy.

We are currently working with 300 seed growers across the country, who are multiplying seeds that are more able to cope with climate extremes, are higher yielding and more resistant to pests and disease.

In Zambia’s remote Western Province, the Kamasika Seed Growers Association illustrates how effective community-based seed multiplication is assisting local food production in the face of climate change.

The group received training and support in seed multiplication techniques from Self Help Africa and government advisors on the technical requirements for producing certifiable seed.

The farmers were then linked to a new state-run seed testing laboratory, established with support from Self Help Africa in nearby Mongu town, to ensure that the seed being produced met the requisite germination, moisture content and other standards required to attain certification.

The group has since opened several retail shops where they sell farm inputs, including certified groundnut, bean, sorghum, maize and vegetable seed that they are producing, and supply to several thousand smallholder farmers across the Province.

African farmers are most at risk from rising temperatures and persistent hunger. We must ensure they have access to all the tools and technologies necessary to thrive in the face of these threats.

The post Conserving Africa’s Precious Resource Base While Fighting Hunger appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

This article is part of a series of opinion pieces to mark World Food Day October 16.

 
Kalongo Chitengi, is Zambia Country Director of Self Help Africa, a Farming First supporter.

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How to Green Uganda’s Citieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/green-ugandas-cities/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=green-ugandas-cities http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/green-ugandas-cities/#respond Wed, 03 Oct 2018 11:52:43 +0000 Wambi Michael http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157934 Locals in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, always have two or three things to say in a conversation about how the city is developing. Some say it is filthy because of the growing waste; others say it is a slum because of its unplanned settlements; and then there are those who say it is just plain inconvenient […]

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Old taxi Park in Uganda's Capital Kampala. The Green Growth Strategy in Uganda seeks to introduce rapid bus transport and light railways to avoid this type of congestion. Credit Wambi Michael/IPS

By Wambi Michael
KAMPALA, Oct 3 2018 (IPS)

Locals in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, always have two or three things to say in a conversation about how the city is developing. Some say it is filthy because of the growing waste; others say it is a slum because of its unplanned settlements; and then there are those who say it is just plain inconvenient because of the traffic congestion created by the boda boda (motorcycle taxis) and commuter taxis that honk incessantly as they make their way along the streets.

But Juliana (not real name), a student from Seven Hills International School, has a solution to the capital’s urbanisation crisis.

“I’m praying that a hurricane hits Kampala so that we would have no choice but to re-organise it,” she says. She is part of a class team working on a project to turn Kampala into modern city.

“What would be the name of that hurricane? This was a big statement. Have our children given up?” asks Amanda Ngabirano, an Urban Planning lecturer from Makerere University.

Ngabirano, has been working in partnership with the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) on plans for a downtown car-free zone. She disagrees with Juliana on the suggestion that the entire city should be razed and says it can transition to a low carbon future based on the Global Green Growth Institute’s green cities model.

A green city is an urban area that moves toward long-term environmental protection, social inclusion, and economic sustainability. A green city, according to GGGI, is understood as an urban area that moves toward long-term environmental protection, social inclusion, and economic sustainability. GGGI is a treaty-based international organisation that promotes green growth.

Ngabirano tells IPS that there is still an opportunity to green Uganda’s urban settlements.

A city impacted by growth

Uganda is slowly urbanising with about 19 percent of its population living in urban centres. It is projected that 30 percent of Uganda’s almost 42 million people  will be urban dwellers by 2035.

Kampala, the country’s biggest city, is faced with a number of problemswhich include the growth of informal settlements, encroachment on wetlands, and inadequate sewage and water treatment plants to service the city’s population of 1.5 million–all of which are exerting pressure on the natural environment.

Urban planners and environmentalists have concluded that Uganda’s current “grow dirty now, clean up later” style of urbanisation is not sustainable.

However, the government has embarked on reversing the damage to its natural resources. With support from development partners, the government is looking towards a green growth strategy that emphasises the need for a more harmonious relationship between development and the environment.

In partnership with GGGI, the government recently developed the Uganda Green Growth Development Strategy 2017/18 – 2030/31.

Launched last November, it will be implemented over the next 14 years and is estimated to cost USD11 billion.

Urban green growth model

The strategy suggests a new urban growth model that encourages a more compact, connected national transition by 2040. It projects to increase access to basic services by over 33 percent, reduce the aggregate infrastructure investment requirement by 11 percent, and reduce greenhouse gases by 27 percent.

Peter Okubal, the GGGI country representative to Uganda, tells IPS that his organisation has already embarked on policy changes and formulations to enable this East African nation to follow a green path to its development.

“Our analysis suggests that improved urban policy is not enough – correcting ongoing issues in the economy will be just as important for a successful urban transition,” Okubal says.

Uganda’s Vision 2040 suggests eight priority interventions to catalyse better urban growth. If implemented, they could boost GDP by USD4.3 billion by 2040, as well as provide new jobs and positive environmental benefits.

Okubal says that there is indeed an opportunity for Kampala and other cities in Africa to change the trajectory that they are on by adopting the green cities model of urbanisation.

“The population living in green cities is rapidly growing. So if the governments took advantage and developed cities that are competitive, then they are likely to reap the urban dividend rather than getting the confusion associated with urbanisation,” explains Okubal.

GGGI has supported Uganda’s ministry of lands and urban development complete the national urban policy through its green cites programme. It has also supported the process of development of a strategy to implement the green cities road map.

The road map provides a step-by-step process through which a city can be transitioned from an ordinary one to one that is competitive, compact and coordinated.

“That is the model that we promote. [For] cities in Uganda should be able to connect to each other, they must be competitive. That means that they should be able to generate businesses, they must be livable at the same time but also productive in nature,” Okubal says.

The Uganda Vision 2040 proposes four regional cities and five strategic cities in the course of Uganda’s urbanisation. These are the capital city Kampala, the regional cities of Gulu in Northern Uganda, Mbale in Eastern Uganda, Mbarara in Western Uganda, and Arua in West Nile region.

“Uganda is endowed with rich natural diversity that necessitates incorporation of sustainable and consumption practices into the economy to ensure the sustainability of natural resource capital,” Paul Mafabi, director for environment at Uganda’s ministry of water and environment, tells IPS.

He says well-planned urban settlements based on a green cities model could save the country’s natural resources.

“Most of these resources are non-renewable or in case of degradation, [result in] loss or extinction, their restoration demands a lot of financial, moral and physical input,” says Mafabi.

Chebet Maikut, Uganda’s commissioner for climate change, tells IPS that GGGI’s efforts towards a green growth model, especially in urban areas, cannot be underestimated.  “GGGI is currently helping government to work on the monitoring, verification framework for Uganda, which is quite essential under the transparency framework of the Paris Agreement which emphasises the need to track progress and report on the country’s progress on tackling climate change.”

Waste Management

In a related development, GGGI is taking steps towards addressing the increasing solid waste management crisis in the country. It recently completed the national urban solid waste policy. The document provides a framework in which the government of Uganda can manage solid waste nationally.

“The current waste management approach that the government has been using in Kampala is what we call pick and dump. Pick the waste from the household and dump it into land fill. Now GGGi proposes an alternative to that,” says Okubal.

“If we treated waste as a resource, and indeed waste is a resource, then we can leverage on the amount of waste generated to create 4 million jobs over the next 15 years,” he further explains.

According to Okubal, there are plans to develop a bankable project estimated at USD15 million to address the waste challenge in Uganda’s cities and urban authorities.

Financing Options For Green Growth in Uganda

Uganda’s government needs to mobilise USD11 billion over the next 15 years. It also needs USD2 billion dollars to be spent over the next five years. Some development actors have doubted whether the government can raise that funding from its budget or through development partners. But Okubal is of a different opinion.

“There is quite a lot of money out there. The money is out there but the governments are failing to tap the money,” he argues.

He explains that it is possible for governments to access those funds in different forms, either through routine budget cycle or through major players within the green economy.

“The EU [European Union] has, for example, allocated 60 million euro to be spent over the next two years to support the government of Uganda to implement the green growth strategy,” he explains.

Sweden, Norway and other individual EU countries are, according to Okubal, considering funding green growth efforts in Uganda.

“We have the Green Climate Fund, the Global Environment Facility and there are other international windows for funding for a green economy. All these are opportunities which the government of Uganda can tap into,” Okubal says.

The government plans to introduce the bus rapid transit and light rail which will either be run through a private/public partnership arrangement or by the a private sector led financing model.

The United Nations Development Programme country office in Uganda recently mobilised USD 24.1 million from the Green Climate Fund to implement the Presidential Initiative to restore the country’s degraded wetlands.

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The Growing Need for Democracy in Africahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/growing-need-democracy-africa/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=growing-need-democracy-africa http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/10/growing-need-democracy-africa/#respond Wed, 03 Oct 2018 11:19:01 +0000 Rev Gabriel Odima http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157938 Rev. Gabriel Odima is President & Director of Political Affairs- Africa Center for Peace & Democracy

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Rev. Gabriel Odima is President & Director of Political Affairs- Africa Center for Peace & Democracy

By Rev. Gabriel Odima
MINNESOTA, USA, Oct 3 2018 (IPS)

Many scholars argue that democracy is not the answer to Africa’s problems. To certain degree, I agree with such statements that democracy alone cannot guarantee African nations’ happiness, prosperity, health, peace and stability. In fact, modern democracies also suffer greatly from many defects.

Uganda Police Force manhandle a journalist covering a demonstration in Kampala, Uganda. Courtesy: Wambi Michael

But in spite of the flaws, we must never lose sight of the benefits that make democracy more desirable than undemocratic regimes. The direct benefit of democracy is that it helps to prevent government from violating the rights of their people like the case of Uganda.

After observing the political development in Uganda for the last 33 years, I have come to the conclusion that human rights abuses, the lack of political freedom, corruption, poor leadership, greed and thirsty for power are the leading pillars of President Museveni ‘s rule in Uganda.

On becoming President in 1986, Museveni confirmed the massacres and the decapitations dramatically in two ways. The first was the exhibition of the male child soldiers. Museveni claimed that these soldiers found the children abandoned in villages and adopted them. The lie could not hide how only male children who were made child soldiers were found in villages allegedly abandoned by their inhabitants.

The second mocking order by Museveni that the remains of the dead be collected and exhibited on roadsides. In the collection, Museveni’s soldiers took journalists to scattered graves where only skulls were unearthed.

No one who had not participated in the burial of these skulls could have known of the sites of the graves. Despite this glaring evidence, the propaganda was that all the remains and skulls were of civilians killed by government troops of the late former President Milton Obote.

The message of the propaganda war that there had been no war in Luwero lunched by Museveni, in which his and government combatants died and were buried in Luwero, and that his army never killed anybody during that war and none of his men were killed or even died of other causes and was buried in Luwero.

This insult to human intelligence, knowledge and experience of war, any war, is still being preached 35 years later. The devastating war which Uganda’s present regime launched in February 1981 was not inevitable nor was it necessary. What many people in Uganda and the International community did not realize is that this kind of war was launched with one objective: to remove from Africa’s body politic the power of the citizen’s freedom of assembly and association.

This removal creates conflicts and suffering to millions of Africans whose lives are under constant fear. From Uganda, the same war spread to Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.

By turning a blind eye not only to the deepening of dictatorship in Uganda, to the extent of even rejecting its very existence but also by ignoring the very extensive gruesome and widespread massacres and devastation committed in the process, governments, media, and human rights organizations in developed countries have cleansed, rewarded, and licensed Museveni to entrench the dictatorship in Uganda.

The International community should emphasize respect of territorial integrity of each nation. No country in Africa should have the power to invade another country for selfish interests. A civilized nation cannot engage in political assassinations and massive human rights violations.

The international community needs to come to terms with reality and help address the crucial crisis facing Uganda today.

1. The International community should encourage President Museveni to step down at the end of his current term in office.

2. Open up political space and call for Uganda national conference to deliberate on the political future of Uganda.

3. Formation of a transitional government to review the current constitution of Uganda and prepare for free and fair elections in Uganda.

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Excerpt:

Rev. Gabriel Odima is President & Director of Political Affairs- Africa Center for Peace & Democracy

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More Women Owning Agricultural Land in Africa Means Increased Food Security and Nutritionhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/women-owning-agricultural-land-africa-means-increased-food-security-nutrition/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=women-owning-agricultural-land-africa-means-increased-food-security-nutrition http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/women-owning-agricultural-land-africa-means-increased-food-security-nutrition/#respond Sun, 30 Sep 2018 12:01:24 +0000 Tharanga Yakupitiyage http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157894 Despite women being key figures in agriculture and food security, gender inequality is holding back progress towards ending hunger, poverty, and creating sustainable food systems.  During a high-level event on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the African Union (AU) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO) reviewed the persistent […]

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Evidence shows that when women are empowered, farms are more productive, natural resources are better managed, nutrition is improved, and livelihoods are more secure. Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

By Tharanga Yakupitiyage
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 30 2018 (IPS)

Despite women being key figures in agriculture and food security, gender inequality is holding back progress towards ending hunger, poverty, and creating sustainable food systems. 

During a high-level event on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, the African Union (AU) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N. (FAO) reviewed the persistent gender gaps in agri-food systems in Africa and highlighted the need for urgent action. “It is therefore economically rewarding to invest in women’s education and economic empowerment since women often use a large portion of their income on children and family welfare.” -- AU commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Josefa Leonel Correa Sacko.

“There is a strong momentum to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in agri-food systems because women constitute the majority of agricultural labour,” said AU commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Josefa Leonel Correa Sacko.

However, despite women’s crucial role in such systems, there are persistent gender gaps.

“We need to better recognise and harness the fundamental contribution of women to food security and nutrition. For that, we must close persisting gender gaps in agriculture in Africa,” said FAO’s Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva.

“Evidence shows that when women are empowered, farms are more productive, natural resources are better managed, nutrition is improved, and livelihoods are more secure,” he added.

While women account for up to 60 percent of agricultural labour, approximately 32 percent of women own agricultural lands across 27 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa through either joint, sole ownership, or both.

Only 13 percent of women, compared to 40 percent of men, have sole ownership on all or part of the land they own, according to the Regional Outlook on Gender and Agrifood Systems, a joint report by the FAO and AU that was presented during the event.

In 2016, thousands of rural women across Africa gathered at Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro to protest and demand the right to land and natural resources.

Some even climbed to the peak of Africa’s highest mountain, showcasing their determination for change.

Even when women are able to own their own land, many still lack access to productive resources and technologies such as fertiliser, agricultural input, mechanical equipment, and finance.

This poses numerous challenges along the food value chain, including food loss.

Globally, approximately one-third of all food produced is lost or wasted. Food loss and waste is a major contributor to climate change and in Sub-Saharan Africa, the economic cost of such losses amount up to USD4 billion every year, FAO found.

Closing productivity gaps could increase food production and consumption by up to 10 percent and reduce poverty by up to 13 percent.

While women account for up to 60 percent of agricultural labour, approximately 32 percent of women own agricultural lands across 27 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa through either joint, sole ownership, or both. Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

The FAO-AU assessment also estimated that agricultural output could more than triple if farmers had access to the finance needed to expand quality and quantity of their produce.

Panellists noted that addressing the agricultural gender gaps in Africa could additionally boost food security and nutrition in the region.

Globally, hunger is on the rise and it is worsening in most parts of Africa. Out of 821 million hungry people in the world in 2017, over 250 million are in Africa.

Many African nations are also seeing a rapid rise in obesity, which could soon become the continent’s biggest public health crisis.

“It is therefore economically rewarding to invest in women’s education and economic empowerment since women often use a large portion of their income on children and family welfare,” Sacko said.

Graziano da Silva noted that among the key issues is the lack of women in governance systems and decision-making processes. 

Between five and 30 percent of field officers from ministries and rural institutions are women while only 12 to 20 percent of staff in ministries of agriculture are female.

This coincides with the lack of gender targeting and analysis mechanisms, resulting in services that target male-dominated sectors.

If such trends continue, Africa will not be close to achieving many of the ambitious development goals including the Malabo Declaration, which aims to achieve inclusive growth, sustainable agriculture, and improved livelihoods.

There has been some positive trends as many African countries have started to recognise the importance of putting women at the heart of the transformation of rural food systems.

Botswana’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Programme provides grants to women, enabling them to start their own enterprises and advance their economic well-being.

First Lady of Botswana Neo Jane Massi attended the high-level event and stressed the “importance of inclusive growth in our national development agendas in order to ensure that no one is left behind.”

Similarly, the Joint Programme on Accelerating Progress towards the Economic Empowerment of Women, implemented by various U.N. agencies including FAO and U.N. Women, has provided more than 40,000 women with training on improved agricultural technologies and increased access to financial services and markets.

While women’s participation in decision making has increased from 17 to 30 percent, Graziano da Silva stressed the need for better and more balanced representation of women at all levels.

Presenting the recommendations from the AU-FAO outlook report, Sacko called for an “enabling environment,” reinforcement of accountability mechanisms for gender equality and women’s empowerment, and a “gender data revolution” to better inform gender-sensitive policies and programs.

“Let us be ambitious, and let us all put our wings together,” Massi concluded.

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The Shrinking Space for Media Freedom in Ugandahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/shrinking-space-media-freedom-uganda/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=shrinking-space-media-freedom-uganda http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/shrinking-space-media-freedom-uganda/#respond Thu, 27 Sep 2018 18:37:38 +0000 Wambi Michael http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157825 Last month, a horrifying video circulated on social media in Uganda. It shows Reuters photographer, James Akena, surrounded by Uganda Peoples Defence Force soldiers who beat him as he raised his hands in the air in surrender. He was unarmed and held only his camera.  Akena suffered deep cuts to his head and injuries on […]

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Uganda Police Force manhandle a journalist covering a demonstration in Kampala, Uganda. Courtesy: Wambi Michael

By Wambi Michael
KAMPALA, Sep 27 2018 (IPS)

Last month, a horrifying video circulated on social media in Uganda. It shows Reuters photographer, James Akena, surrounded by Uganda Peoples Defence Force soldiers who beat him as he raised his hands in the air in surrender. He was unarmed and held only his camera. 

Akena suffered deep cuts to his head and injuries on his hands, neck and fingers for which he had to be hospitalised. He is yet to resume work.

But a month after Akena’s torture, there is no evidence that the soldiers who assaulted him have been punished, despite the Ugandan army issuing a statement against the soldiers’ unprofessional conduct, saying orders had been issued for their arrest and punishment.

Uganda’s Chief of Defence Forces General David Muhoozi insisted in an interview with IPS that action was being taken against his soldiers.

“We don’t need anyone to remind us that we need to [hold] those who commit torture to account. Those ones who assaulted the journalist, we are going to take action. They have been apprehended. So it is within in our DNA to fight mischief,” Muhoozi told IPS.

Akena was photographing protests against the arrest and torture of popular musician turned politician Robert Kyangulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine. He had been in the process of taking photographs that would expose the brutal conduct of the army and the police while they dispersed demonstrating crowds.

A week later, president Yoweri Museveni told members of parliament from his ruling National Resistance Movement party that his security had told him Akena had been mistaken for a petty thief taking advantage of the demonstration.

Human Rights Network For Journalists – Uganda (HRNJ) executive director Robert Sempala told IPS that the abuse of journalists has continued despite assurances from the army and Uganda Police Force. He said about 30 journalists have been beaten by the army between Aug. 20 and Sept. 22, 2018.

“They insist that they arrested those soldiers but the army has not disclosed their identities. So we are still waiting to see that they are punished or else we shall seek other remedies, including legal action,” Sempala said.

Maria Burnett, an associate director at Human Rights Watch in charge of East Africa, expressed doubt whether the arrest of those who tortured Akena would mean that journalists would not be beaten in the future. 

“Security forces have beaten journalists with limited repercussions for years in Uganda. Other government bodies then censor coverage of army-orchestrated violence. 

“Beating journalists serves two purposes: It scares some journalists from covering politically-sensitive events, and, at times, it prevents evidence of soldiers beating or even killing civilians from reaching the public,” Burnett said in a statement.

She said threatening and intimidating journalists curtailed the public’s access to information – information they could use to question the government’s policies.

“With more and more cameras readily available, beating or censoring the messenger isn’t feasible in the long term. It will only lead to more fodder for citizen journalists and more questions about why the government resorts to violence in the face of criticism,” observed Burnett.

The Ugandan government uses its national laws to bring charges against journalists, revoke broadcasting licenses without due process of law, and practice other forms of repression. In this dated picture Laila Mutebi, 26, presented the Evening Voyage, on Uganda’s 101.7 Mama FM. Credit: Amy Fallon/IPS

Dr. Peter Mwesige, a media scholar and head of the African Centre For Media Excellence, said: “This is unacceptable. We call upon the government to rein in members of the armed forces who are now presiding over this frightening erosion of press freedom and free expression in Uganda. As we have said before, press freedom and freedom of expression are not just about the rights of journalists and the media to receive and disseminate information.”

He said stopping journalists from covering political protests and violence denied citizens access to information about what was going on in their country.

“No degree of imperfections in our media ranks can justify the wanton abuse that security forces have visited on journalists,” said Mwesige.

Sarah Bireete, the deputy executive director at the Centre for Constitutional Governance, told IPS that the violence against journalists was part of the shrinking civic space in Uganda. 

She said there were efforts to silence civil society groups who worked in the areas of governance and accountability.

“Such abuses also continue to extend to other groups such as journalists and activists that play a key role in holding governments and their bodies to account,” said Bireete.

The Ugandan government uses its national laws to bring charges against journalists, revoke broadcasting licenses without due process of law, and practice other forms of repression.

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has used ill-defined and unchecked powers to regulate the media. 

The UCC, for instance, issued on Sept. 19 a directive to radio and TV stations in Uganda restricting them from carrying live coverage of the return of Kyangulanyi to the country. The legislator was returning from the United States where he had gone for treatment after he had been tortured by the army. Most of the media outlets heeded the directive.

The government has moved further to restrict press freedom by restricting the number of foreign correspondents in Uganda.

The Foreign Correspondent’s Association in Uganda (FCAU) on Sept. 12 issued a statement calling on the Uganda government to stop blocking journalists from accessing accreditation. 

It said at least 10 journalists wishing to report in Uganda had not been given government accreditation even after they had fulfilled all the requirements.

“Preventing international journalist from working in Uganda adds to a troubling recent pattern of intimidation and violence against journalists. Stopping a number of international media houses from reporting legally inside Uganda is another attempt to gag journalists,” read the statement. 

Section 29(1) of the Press and Journalists Act requires all foreign journalists who wish to report from Uganda to get accreditation from the Media Council of Uganda through the Uganda Media Centre. The journalists are required to pay non-refundable accreditation fees depending on their duration of stay in the country. 

IPS has learnt that a number of journalists have since returned home after failing to secure accreditation.

Uganda Media Centre director Ofwono Opondo told IPS that the government has not stopped the accreditation of foreign journalists but was reviewing the guidelines.

Magelah Peter Gwayaka, a human rights lawyer with Chapter Four, a non-profit dedicated to the protection of civil liberties and promotion of human rights, told IPS: “Not long ago we had a BBC reporter, Will Ross, who was deported. The implication is to force journalists to cower down, to stop demanding accountability, to stop demanding all those things that democracy brings about.”

“So if the army is going to stop demonstrators and it beats up journalists like we saw the other day, no civil society [can stand] up to say please can we account? Can we have these army men arrested?” Gwayaka said.

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Development of ICT Innovation Expected to Help in Fight Against Banana Disease in Rwandahttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/development-ict-innovation-expected-help-fight-banana-disease-rwanda/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=development-ict-innovation-expected-help-fight-banana-disease-rwanda http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/development-ict-innovation-expected-help-fight-banana-disease-rwanda/#respond Tue, 25 Sep 2018 16:46:29 +0000 Aimable Twahirwa http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157764 When Telesphore Ruzigamanzi, a smallholder banana farmer from a remote village in Eastern Rwanda, discovered a peculiar yellowish hue on his crop before it started to dry up, he did not give it the due consideration it deserved. “I was thinking that it was the unusually dry weather causing damage to my crop,” Ruzigamanzi, who […]

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In Rwanda the banana disease BXW is detrimental to a crop and has far-reaching consequences not only for farmers but for the food and nutritional security of their families and those dependent on the crop as a source of food. Credit: Alejandro Arigón/IPS

By Aimable Twahirwa
KIGALI, Sep 25 2018 (IPS)

When Telesphore Ruzigamanzi, a smallholder banana farmer from a remote village in Eastern Rwanda, discovered a peculiar yellowish hue on his crop before it started to dry up, he did not give it the due consideration it deserved.

“I was thinking that it was the unusually dry weather causing damage to my crop,” Ruzigamanzi, who lives in Rwimishinya, a remote village in Kayonza district in Eastern Rwanda, tells IPS.

But in fact, it was a bacterial disease.

Ruzigamanzi’s crop was infected with Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW), a bacterial disease that affects all types of bananas and is known locally as Kirabiranya. "Our ongoing effort to develop, test, and deploy smart or normal mobile applications is a critical step towards cost-effective monitoring and control of the disease spread." -- Julius Adewopo, lead of the BXW project at IITA.

Here, in this East African nation, BXW is detrimental to a crop and has far-reaching consequences not only for farmers but for the food and nutritional security of their families and those dependent on the crop as a source of food.

Banana is an important crop in East and Central Africa, with a number of countries in the region being among the world’s top-10 producers, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization Corporate Statistical Database.

According to a household survey of districts in Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda, banana accounts for about 50 percent of the household diet in a third of Rwanda’s homes.

But the top factor affecting banana production in all three countries, according to the survey, was BXW.

Researchers have indicated that BXW can result in 100 percent loss of banana stands, if not properly controlled.

Complacency and lack of information contribute to spread of the disease

The BXW disease is not new to the country. It was first reported in 2002. Since then, there have been numerous, rigorous educational campaigns by agricultural authorities and other stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations.

Farmers in Ruzigamanzi’s region have been trained by a team of researchers from the Rwanda Agriculture Board and local agronomists about BXW. But Ruzigamanzi, a father of six, was one of the farmers missed by the awareness campaign and therefore lacked the knowledge to diagnose the disease.

Had he known what the disease was, and depending on its state of progress on the plant, Ruzigamanzi would have had to remove the symptomatic plants, cutting them at soil level immediately after first observation of the symptoms. If the infection is uncontrolled for a long time, he would have had to remove the entire plant from the root.

And it is what he ended up doing two weeks later when a visiting local agronomist came to look at the plant.

By then it was too late to save the banana stands and Ruzigamanzi had to uproot all the affected mats, including the rhizome and all its attached stems, the parent plant and its suckers.

Ruzigamanzi’s story is not unique. In fact, a great number of smallholder farmers in remote rural regions have been ignoring or are unaware of the symptoms of this bacterial banana infection. And it has increased the risk of spreading of the disease to new regions and of resurgence in areas where it had previously been under control. Several districts in eastern Rwanda have been affected by the disease in recent years.

An enumerator for the ICT4BXW project conducting a baseline assessment of Banana Xanthomonas Wilt (BXW), a bacterial disease, status in Muhanga district, Rwanda. Courtesy: Julius Adewopo/ International Institute of Tropical Agriculture

Using technology to strengthen rural farmers and control spread of BXW

Early 2018, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), in partnership with Bioversity International, the Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies and the Rwanda Agriculture Board, commenced a collaborative effort to tackle the disease through the use of digital technology. IITA scientists are exploring alternative ways of engaging farmers in monitoring and collecting data about the disease. The institute is renowned for transforming African agriculture through science and innovations, and was recently announced as the Africa Food Prize winner for 2018.

The new three-year project (named ICT4BXW), which launched with a total investment of 1.2 million Euros from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, seeks to explore the use of mobile phones as tools to generate and exchange up-to-date knowledge and information about BXW.

The project builds on the increasing accessibility of mobile phones in Rwanda. According to data from the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority, this country’s mobile telephone penetration is currently estimated at 79 percent in a country of about 12 million people, with a large majority of the rural population currently owning mobile phones.

“Our ongoing effort to develop, test, and deploy smart or normal mobile applications is a critical step towards cost-effective monitoring and control of the disease spread,” says Julius Adewopo, who is leading the BXW project at IITA. He further explained that, “Banana farmers in Rwanda could be supported with innovations that leverages on the existing IT infrastructure and the rapidly increasing mobile phone penetration in the country.”

Central to the project is the citizen science approach, which means that local stakeholders, such as banana farmers and farmer extensionists (also called farmer promoters), play leading roles in collecting and submitting data on BXW presence, severity, and transmission. Moreover, stakeholders will participate in the development of the mobile application and platform, through which data and information will be exchanged.

About 70 farmer promoters from eight different districts in Northern, Western, Southern, and Eastern province will be trained to use the mobile phone application. They will participate in collecting and submitting data for the project—about incidence and severity of BXW in their village—via the platform. The project expects to reach up to 5,000 farmers through engagement with farmer promoters and mobile phones.

Further, data from the project will be translated into information for researchers, NGOs and policy makers to develop effective and efficient support systems. Similarly, data generated will feed into an early warning system that should inform farmers about disease outbreaks and the best management options available to them.

A real-time reporting system on the disease

While the existing National Banana Research Programme in Rwanda has long focused on five key areas of interventions with strategies used in the control or management of plant diseases, the proposed mobile-based solution is described as an innovative tool that it is easily scalable and flexible for application or integration with other information and communications technology (ICT) platforms or application interfaces.

“We observe limitations in the availability of reliable and up-to-date data and information about disease transmission patterns, severity of outbreaks, and effect of control measures,” Mariette McCampbell, a research fellow who studies ICT-enabled innovation and scaling on the ICT4BXW project, tells IPS. “We also have lack good socio-economic and socio-cultural data that could feed into farmer decision-making tools and an early warning system.”

The new reporting system intends to develop into an early warning system that will allow the Rwandan government to target efforts to mitigate the spread of BXW, it also aims to serve as a catalyst for partnerships among stakeholders to strengthen Banana production systems in the country.

“This [ICT] innovation could enable [near-]real-time assessment of the severity of the disease and support interventions for targeted control,” explains Adewopo.

The project team is currently working hard to co-develop the ICT platform, with farmer promoters and consultants. By the second quarter of 2019, tests with a pilot version of the platform will start in the eight districts where the project is active.

The project team have already identified a variety of scaling opportunities for a successful platform.“Problems with Banana Xanthomonas Wilt are not limited to Rwanda, neither is it the only crop disease that challenges farmers. Therefore, our long-term goal is to adapt the platform such that it can be scaled and used in other countries or for other diseases or other crops,” McCampbell explains.

According to Adewopo, “the vision of success is to co-develop and deploy a fully functional tool and platform, in alignment with the needs of target users and with keen focus on strengthening relevant institutions, such as the Rwanda Agricultural Board, to efficiently allocate resources for BXW control and prevention through democratised ICT-based extension targeting and delivery.”

There is increasing need for smarter and faster management of risks that have limited production in agricultural systems.

In recognition of BXW’s terminal threat to banana crops, there is no doubt that the use of ICT tools brings a new hope for banana farmers, and can equitably  empower them through improved extension/advisory access, irrespective of gender, age, or social status – as long as they have access to a mobile phone.

*Additional reporting by Nalisha Adams in Johannesburg

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The Revolutionary Ambition of AGRF 2018 Must be Sustainedhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/revolutionary-ambition-agrf-2018-must-sustained/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=revolutionary-ambition-agrf-2018-must-sustained http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/revolutionary-ambition-agrf-2018-must-sustained/#respond Mon, 24 Sep 2018 20:37:32 +0000 Korir Sing Oei http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157740 Korir Sing’Oei is Legal Advisor & Head of Policy at Office of Deputy President, Kenya

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President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, together with Deputy President of Kenya, William Ruto, President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo, the Prime Minister of Gabon, Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair during the Presidential Summit at the AGRF 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. Credit: Mark Irungu/AGRF

President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, together with Deputy President of Kenya, William Ruto, President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo, the Prime Minister of Gabon, Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet and former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair during the Presidential Summit at the AGRF 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. Credit: Mark Irungu/AGRF

By Korir Sing’Oei
Sep 24 2018 (IPS)

In early September 2018, about 2,800 delegates from 79 countries and high-level dignitaries, including current and former heads of states, international agencies, CEOs of global corporations and youth entrepreneurs, and techies involved in agriculture gathered in Kigali for this year’s African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF).

The convening happened against the backdrop of the sudden death of Kofi Annan, whose clarion call for a unique African green revolution in the mold of India, gave rise to the establishment of the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) which hosts AGRF.

The monumental success of AGRF 2018 is clearly a tribute to the steering role played by Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) secretariat, led by former Rwanda agriculture minister, Dr. Agnes Kalibata and funding partners; notably the Gates Foundation, Rockefeller and other multilateral donors.

But why would a consummate diplomat in the person of Kofi Annan focus his attention on agriculture rather than global governance issues?

Korir Sing’Oei

AGRF’s theory of change appears to be premised on the idea that high level political dialogue and exchanges are a prerequisite to policy coherence for agricultural transformation. In attracting and bringing heads of states, ministers, senior policy makers together with business actors around a conversation on agriculture, several policies, institutional and programmatic ideas become clear, as was witnessed in Kigali.

First, as an institutional design issue, agriculture must be entrenched as a high level political and business priority across the continent as it ought to have been. Left to travail at ministries of agriculture, often underfunded and poorly linked to the rest of government departments, agricultural transformation stands stunted in the intense resource competition, pitting it against seemingly more productive options such as industrialization and infrastructure – including the much-vaunted railway development.

Second, critical delivery required to transform agriculture cannot be driven at ministerial level. The mechanization agenda for instance, cannot be siloed in the ministry of agriculture. It must become an inter-ministerial and whole of governments’ effort.

As it was argued by the Malabo Montpellier Panel at the AGRF 2018, sustainable agricultural growth above 4% annually requires machinery uptake growth of no less than 2.5%. In this trajectory, Kenya like several other African countries falls below the mark, with mechanization of its agricultural systems still way below 35%.

Agriculture in Africa must cease being a struggle to survive and converted into a business that thrives. This, in my view, is what inspired Dr. Kofi Annan, to make agriculture the centerpiece of his post UN Secretary General agenda

The resulting low production levels is partly attributable to the mechanization deficit and measures that allow production of agricultural equipment at reasonable price should be considered, if scale is to be achieved. Regional manufacturing hubs that pool a number of countries can make such manufacturing viable and remove policy constraints.

However, an agenda of this magnitude cannot entirely be based at the agricultural ministries but must become a national and sub-regional imperative. The AGRF 2018 #HowWillYouLead campaign, that seeks to rally public and private sector leaders in Africa and beyond to intensify agricultural transformation in the continent, represents this understanding.

Food is central to the sustenance of the human condition. The cyclical occurrences of drought and hunger, exacerbated by the climate change phenomenon, continues to place the continent’s population in a state of dependency and vulnerability.

Rain fed agriculture can no longer guarantee the food and nutrition requirements of a continent, whose population is projected to reach a billion people by 2050. The assertion by Strive Masiyiwa, Chairman of Econet Group that “crops do not need rain they need water” resonated so much with the AGRF 2018 delegates, becoming a near slogan and a central theme of the conference.

As attested to by the Africa Agriculture Status Report 2018, countries whose agricultural sectors have registered marked transformation over the last decade, such as Ethiopia, have aggressively expanded irrigated farmlands. With 3.3 million hectares under irrigation out of 70 million hectares of arable land, Ethiopia’s food security turnaround was touted as a marker of success that craves continental replication.

Thus, the Kigali Declaration on Farmer-led Irrigation for Smallholder Farming Enterprises was adopted urging “public investment, commercial financing, and capacity building that enable individual smallholders to afford, own, operate and benefit from irrigation systems.”

For a long time, the African Union’s agriculture-related commitments have been an invisible inconvenience, lost in the bureaucratic maze of the Addis diplomatic behemoth that is sold out on the peace and security agenda.

Even the well-known Comprehensive African Agricultural Programme (CAADP) and the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods remain technical scientific niceties of little impact to the development of agricultural sectors at country level. And as demonstrated in Kigali, AGRF, has now become the apposite space that animates these continental commitments, vivifying them with data, content, funding ideas and implementation matrices.

While this revolution is yet to be televised, the young techies that straddled the ornate floors of Kigali Conference Centre at AGRF 2018 demystified agriculture and made it attractive to the burgeoning youth of our continent, who must take center stage in reimagining the sector for the 21st century. This was so much evident that when Deputy President Ruto, reminded the forum that the average age of a farmer in Kenya is 60 years against a mean age of 19, concern regarding the sustainability of the sector was unmistakable.

And as farmers across the continent continue their perennial dance to grow sufficient food and convey it from farm to fork for consumption by the millions of us, more must be done to make farming not only sustainable but profitable. Agriculture in Africa must cease being a struggle to survive and converted into a business that thrives. This, in my view, is what inspired Dr. Kofi Annan, to make agriculture the centerpiece of his post UN Secretary General agenda.

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Excerpt:

Korir Sing’Oei is Legal Advisor & Head of Policy at Office of Deputy President, Kenya

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Seize the Opportunity Offered by Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area, says UNIDO Chiefhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/seize-opportunity-offered-africas-continental-free-trade-area-says-unido-chief/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=seize-opportunity-offered-africas-continental-free-trade-area-says-unido-chief http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/seize-opportunity-offered-africas-continental-free-trade-area-says-unido-chief/#respond Mon, 24 Sep 2018 13:03:28 +0000 Li Yong http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157733 LI Yong is Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

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LI Yong is Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

By Li Yong
VIENNA, Sep 24 2018 (IPS)

Since the turn of the millennium, Africa has experienced a steady and unprecedented economic growth.

However, poverty continues for people across the continent, especially in the sub-Saharan region. Unemployment and inequality have remained high. The rural population and the urban poor, women and youth, have not benefited from economic growth.

African policymakers realize that, for the benefits of growth to be shared by all, there needs to be a structural transformation of the economy. Specifically, there is an acknowledgement that its composition should change, with increased shares of manufacturing and agro-related industry in national investment, output, and trade.

Manufacturing, thanks to its multiplier effect on other sectors of the economy, has always been one of the most important drivers of economic development and structural change, especially in developing countries. Manufacturing is an “engine of growth” that enhances higher levels of productivity and greater technical change, thus creating more jobs with higher wages for both women and men.

Recognizing this, the United Nations has proclaimed the period 2016-2025 as the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III) in order to increase global awareness and encourage partnerships to achieve inclusive and sustainable industrialization.

Today, Africa has exceptional opportunities for industrialization.

In the next few decades, Africa will become the youngest and most populous continent in the world with a working age population expected to grow by 450 million people. Or close to 70 per cent of the total, by 2035.

With a rapidly growing population, and one of the world’s highest rates of urbanization, the middle class is on the rise too. This will drive consumption of consumer goods, creating a market worth USD 250 billion, set to grow at an annual rate of 5 per cent over the next eight years.

Industrialization, diversification and job creation in Africa, however, cannot happen without continental economic integration. The recent signing of the historic agreement for an African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by 49 out of 55 countries creates an opportunity for inclusive and sustainable economic development, moving away from structural stagnation and commodity-based economics.

The AfCFTA agreement will create the world’s largest single, integrated market for goods and services, and a customs union that will enable free movement of capital and business travelers in Africa.

This will provide great business opportunities for trading enterprises, businesses and consumers, unlocking trade and manufacturing potential and further enhancing industrialization in Africa.

With the AfCFTA agreement, exports of processed or intermediate goods will increase rapidly, further opening the way to Africa’s economic transformation to dynamically-diversified economies and globally competitive industrial production locations.

Higher trade among African countries will also strengthen African regional value chains, making it easier for local small and medium-sized enterprises, which account for around 80 per cent of Africa’s businesses, to build competitiveness, supply inputs to larger regional companies, and participate in and upgrade to global value chains.

This will give unprecedented opportunities to exploit the full agri-business potential of the continent. Strengthening the continent’s agro-industries can generate high social and economic returns, create jobs in rural areas and for young women and men, as well as responding to the urgent need to ensure food security and poverty reduction.

By taking bold actions in advancing the agenda of the AfCFTA, using it as one of the best means of promoting industrialization, African countries are well-positioned to build an Africa that can become a strong link in today’s interdependent global economy.

Structural transformation, however, is never automatic. Political goodwill and commitments are a first important step; but a multi-pronged, action-based approach with partnerships at the heart, along with concrete industrial policies, is needed for this to become a reality.

That is why UNIDO has developed an innovative country-owned, multi-stakeholder partnership model to provide governments with a platform to bring together various stakeholders, including development finance institutions and the private sector, to mobilize large-scale resources, accelerate industrialization and achieve a greater development impact.

Using this Programme for Country Partnership (PCP) approach, and helping governments to identify priority sectors based on prospects for job creation, strong links to the agricultural sector, high export potential and capacity to attract investment, UNIDO has already started assisting Ethiopia, Senegal, Morocco and other countries in Asia and Latin America in achieving their export goals and enabling the manufacturing sector to compete on the increasingly globalized market.

Now more than ever, such innovative schemes and mechanisms for enabling partnership building and resource mobilization for sustainable industrial development are needed to address the urgent need for structural transformation in Africa and seize the opportunities offered by the AfCFTA.

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Excerpt:

LI Yong is Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)

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Ethiopia’s Struggle Against Climate Change Gets a Boost from Green Climate Fundhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/ethiopias-struggle-climate-change-gets-boost-green-climate-fund/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ethiopias-struggle-climate-change-gets-boost-green-climate-fund http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/ethiopias-struggle-climate-change-gets-boost-green-climate-fund/#respond Mon, 24 Sep 2018 09:00:11 +0000 James Jeffrey http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157720 Faced with worsening droughts due to climate change, Ethiopia is joining an international initiative seeking to build global resilience against the problems caused by it, and enable developing countries to become part of a united solution to the ongoing problem.  Funded by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Green Climate Fund […]

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Women living in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region, which is particularly prone to drought, say how hard it is to live off the land and support their families. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

By James Jeffrey
ADDIS ABABA, Sep 24 2018 (IPS)

Faced with worsening droughts due to climate change, Ethiopia is joining an international initiative seeking to build global resilience against the problems caused by it, and enable developing countries to become part of a united solution to the ongoing problem. 

Funded by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Green Climate Fund (GCF) was established to help developing countries achieve national efforts to reduce national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

The GCF is part of a united global response fuelled by the urgency and seriousness of the climate change challenge. That clarion call gained momentum worldwide after the 2015 Paris Agreement in which signatories agreed to collectively tackle climate change through the mechanism of implementing nationally determined contributions (NDC), a country’s tailored efforts to reduce its emissions and enable it to adapt to climate change-induced challenges.

Ethiopia is taking this multilateral global endeavour particularly seriously due to the massive changes the country is undergoing as it develops economically.

“Ethiopia is one of the few countries that have submitted a very ambitious and conditional NDC to the UNFCCC,” says Zerihun Getu with Ethiopia’s Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation. “Ethiopia aims to cut 64 percent of emissions by 2030 and build a climate resilient and middle-income economy.”

Currently Ethiopia has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to many other countries, having not industrialised, but Zerihun notes why it is important to take action now.

“Projections indicate that with population and economic growth, Ethiopia’s level of emissions will grow significantly, from 150 million tonnes in 2010 to 450 million by 2030,” Zerihun tells IPS. “Hence Ethiopia should focus both on mitigation and adaptation measures in order to reduce emission as well as build resilience and reduce vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.”

Approved in October 2017, Ethiopia’s GCF-backed project will be implemented over the course of five years at a cost of USD50 million—with USD5 million co-financed by the government—to provide rural communities with  critical water supplies all year round and improve water management systems to address risks of drought and other problems from climate change.

The funding will go toward a three-pronged approach: Introducing solar-powered water pumping and small-scale irrigation, the rehabilitation and management of degraded lands around the water sources, and creating an enabling environment by raising awareness and improving local capacity.

Guidance on the project’s implementation is coming from the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), a treaty-based international organisation that promotes green growth: a balance of economic growth and environmental sustainability.

Climate change has a disproportionately worse impact on the lives and livelihoods of societies which depend on the natural environment for their day-to-day needs. In Ethiopia, about 80 percent of the population remain dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Those who are subsistence farmers are especially vulnerable to shifting weather patterns that can result in severe water shortages, devastating food production and livelihoods.

When such natural disasters strike, the situation of vulnerable populations can quickly deteriorate into a food and nutrition crisis, meaning the poor, many of whom in Ethiopia are women, are disproportionately affected.

This is what the Ethiopian GCF project seeks to mitigate, hence its focus on improving economic and social conditions for women.  Over 50 percent of the project’s aimed for 1.3 million beneficiaries will be women, with 30 percent of beneficiary households being female-headed.

During the past three years, regions of Ethiopia have experienced terrible drought exacerbated by the ocean warming trend El Niño that is causing unusually heavy rains in some parts of the world and drought elsewhere.

While El Niño is a complex and naturally occurring event, scientific research suggests that global warming could be making this cyclical event occur more frequently and intensely.

Despite there being some scientific uncertainty about how the naturally occurring El Niño event and human-induced climate change may interact and modify each other, Ethiopia has experienced enough climate-related trouble so that its government doesn’t want to take any chances.

Hence Ethiopia is an example of an early adopter of green growth. In 2011 the country launched its Climate-Resilient Green Economy (CRGE), a strategy to achieve middle-income status while developing a green economy.

“The government’s goal is to create climate resilience within the context of sustainable development,” says Mitiku Kassa, Ethiopia’s state minister of agriculture and commissioner for its National Disaster Risk Management Commission. “Then, one day, we will be able to deal with drought without any appeals.”

In addition to challenges posed by El Niño, most of the world’s scientific community agrees that long-term significant changes in the earth’s climate system have occurred and are occurring more rapidly than in the past.

Furthermore, continued emissions into the earth’s atmosphere are projected to cause further warming and increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible effects on every continent, including increasing temperatures, greater rainfall variability with more frequent extremes, and changing the nature of seasonal rainfalls—all of which threaten Ethiopia’s agricultural backbone.

It’s not just scientists making such claims. Ethiopian pastoralists in their seventies and eighties who have lived with frequent droughts say the recent ones have been the worst in their lifetimes—and they aren’t alone in noticing worrying trends.

“While working in Central America, East Africa, and the Middle East, I’ve always talked to elder people, especially those in agriculture, and the message from them is consistent,” says Sam Wood, Save the Children’s humanitarian director in Ethiopia. “Weather patterns are becoming less predictable and when rain comes it is too much or too little.”

As of May 2018, the GCF portfolio has 76 projects worldwide worth USD12.6 billion with an anticipated equivalence of 1.3 billion tonnes of CO2 avoided and 217 million people achieving increased resilience.

“We’re working with GCF in Senegal and Tajikistan [and] we think their work will be vital,” the World Food Programme’s Challiss McDonough tells IPS. “WFP’s goal of ending hunger cannot be achieved without addressing climate change.”

But the GCF can only do so much. The overall bill just for empowering Ethiopia to effectively respond to climate change is estimated at USD150 billion, Zerihun notes, a sum that can only be achieved through “huge investment.”

“Ethiopia allocates its domestic resources for climate actions [but it] should also mobilise support from international communities including the GCF to realise its vision and achieve its NDC targets,” Zerihun says. “The GCF will make a significant contribution to Ethiopia’s vision through financing projects and programmes as well as through helping Ethiopia build capacity to mobilise other climate finance sources and leveraging other investment.”

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Recognising the Debilitating Nature Conflict Has on Food Securityhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/157707/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=157707 http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/157707/#respond Fri, 21 Sep 2018 09:00:54 +0000 Busani Bafana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157707 Nyalen Kuong and her daughters fled to safety after an attack on their village in South Sudan in which Kuong’s husband and two sons where killed and the family’s cattle lost. Kuong, her daughters and other families from their village fled to islands surrounded by swamp land. There, she had little to eat. And soon […]

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For many people affected by conflict, agriculture is their only means of survival, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Credit: Busani Bafana/IPS

By Busani Bafana
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, Sep 21 2018 (IPS)

Nyalen Kuong and her daughters fled to safety after an attack on their village in South Sudan in which Kuong’s husband and two sons where killed and the family’s cattle lost. Kuong, her daughters and other families from their village fled to islands surrounded by swamp land. There, she had little to eat. And soon began suffering from diarrhoea, brought on by acute malnutrition.

Eventually she was taken to a hospital camp where she was treated and was placed on an intravenous feeding drip. This is Kuong’s story as told by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). When she recovered she was given fishing equipment by FAO, which she now uses to supply her own food.

South Sudan is Africa’s newest state, but it has been mired in civil conflict since December 2013. Some 2.8 million people, a majority of whom depend on livestock for their livelihoods, are now facing acute food and nutrition insecurity, according to FAO.

The debilitating nature of conflict

Kuong’s experiences continue to be replicated in conflict zones around the world. Conflicts cost livelihoods and drive hunger and malnutrition, some of the most pressing development challenges today.

In May 2018, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2417 (2018), explicitly acknowledging the link between conflict and hunger and calling on all partners to protect civilians as well as their means to produce and access food.

Hunger has been on the rise for three years in a row, the U.N. found in a new report published this September. The global body says 821 million people are now hungry and over 150 million children stunted, putting the goal of hunger eradication at risk.

FAO is using its mandate to end hunger and malnutrition and to cultivate peace. This will ultimately enable food and nutritional security, which are linked to the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Agenda 2030.

“Agenda 2030 clearly links sustainable development and peace and calls for improved collaboration on conflict prevention, mitigation, resolution and recovery,” Enrique Yeves, director of communications at FAO, told IPS. “Sustaining peace encompasses activities aimed at preventing outbreak and recurrence of conflict.”

Yeves emphasised that interventions in support of food security, nutrition and agricultural livelihoods for conflict prevention and sustaining peace, are fundamentally important as they address not only the symptoms but also the root causes of conflict.

As the world marks the International Day of Peace on Friday, Sept. 21, the impact of conflict on humanity is a call to build a peaceful world. Sustainable Development Goal #16 underscores promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.

“It is time all nations and all people live up to the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which recognises the inherent dignity and equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human race,” said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, in a message ahead of the International Day of Peace. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Food after the fight

For many people affected by conflict, agriculture is their only means of survival, according to FAO.

The U.N. body says agriculture accounts for two-thirds of employment and one-third of GDP in countries in protracted crises. Since 2000, 48 percent of civil conflicts have been in Africa where access to rural land underpins the livelihoods of many. In 27 out of 30 interstate conflicts in Africa, land issues have played a significant role.

In 2018, FAO partnered with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development to facilitate peaceful livestock movement between Kenyan and Ugandan cross-border areas.

In 2017, FAO signed a USD 8.7 million agreement with Colombia’s Rural Development Agency to help boost agricultural competitiveness and restore rural areas affected by armed conflict between the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the government of Colombia.
FAO believes promoting food security and livelihoods can help address some of the conflict drivers.

“In conflict and post-conflict situations the humanitarian agenda takes the place of states that have failed, including welfare issues such as food, but also to some extent security functions in refugee camps. For example, thus the driving forces for it become global rather than local, with all the problems that it will entail,” David Moore, a researcher and political economist at the University of Johannesburg, told IPS.

Moore noted that conflicts are complications that a simplistic “helping hand” cannot resolve — but where there are local actors influencing and acting with global agencies, like FAO, some issues can be addressed and perhaps alleviated.

Strengthening government and private sector engagement for food and peace

Recognising that food security can support peace building, the FAO-Nobel Peace Laureates Alliance for Food Security and Peace was established by the director general of FAO Jose Graziano da Silva and currently there are 10 Nobel Peace Laureates as members, said Yeves.

He added that the aim of the Alliance is not only to raise awareness and champion the links between food security and peace building, but also highlight the leadership of FAO in agricultural and food security policies and actions that promote peace, rural development and food security.

The Alliance members include Muhammad Yunus, Oscar Arias Sánchez, Tawakkol Karman, Betty Williams, Juan Manuel Santos, Frederik Willem de Klerk, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Jose Ramos-Horta and Mairead Maguire.

This year, on Sept. 24, the Alliance is inducting a new member from Africa during the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, a U.N. General Assembly high-level plenary on global peace

Graça Machel, humanitarian and widow of former South African president Mandela, will be named an honorary member of the Alliance this month in recognition of her late husband’s struggle for freedom and peace.

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In the Race to Achieve Zero Hunger and Mitigate Climate Change, We Must Look Down — to the Soilhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/race-achieve-zero-hunger-mitigate-climate-change-must-look-soil/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=race-achieve-zero-hunger-mitigate-climate-change-must-look-soil http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/race-achieve-zero-hunger-mitigate-climate-change-must-look-soil/#respond Tue, 18 Sep 2018 09:41:57 +0000 Esther Ngumbi http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157654 Esther Ngumbi is Distinguished Post Doctoral Researcher, Entomology Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Illinois. She was the 2015 Clinton Global University (CGI U) Mentor for Agriculture and 2015 New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute.

The post In the Race to Achieve Zero Hunger and Mitigate Climate Change, We Must Look Down — to the Soil appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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John Daffi on his piece of land that is part of a cooperative that began in 1963 in Upper Kitete, Tanzania. Experts says the importance of soil cannot be overstated as healthy soils underpin agriculture and sustainable food systems. Credit: Adam Bemma/IPS

By Esther Ngumbi
ILLINOIS, United States, Sep 18 2018 (IPS)

Recently, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UN FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva urged countries, scientists, policymakers and stakeholders invested in building an equitable, sustainable, and thriving planet to pay attention to the soil. He further noted that the future of the planet depends on how healthy the soils of today are.

I agree. In the race to beat food insecurity, achieve zero hunger, and address climate change, we must pay attention to the soil. The importance of soil cannot be overstated. Healthy soils underpin agriculture and sustainable food systems.

But there is more to healthy soils. They can deliver many other benefits.

First, healthy soils can help address and mitigate climate change through storing soil carbon. Research studies have shown that healthy soils hold more carbon and these reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50-80 percent.

At the same time, research studies and reports have shown that soils that are rich in organic carbon can deliver many benefits, including increasing crop yields,  soil water holding capacity and storage. Plants can use stored water in periods when water is scarce.

Secondly, healthy soils make it possible for the inhabitants of the soils —soil microorganisms — to continue playing their roles. Unseen to the naked eye, tiny soil microorganisms that include bacteria and fungi are hard at work, helping plants to grow better while keeping our soils healthy, which ultimately allows farmers to grow food amidst a changing climate.

Further, these microorganisms deliver other benefits including helping plants to tolerate climate change induced extremities including drought. These microbes can also help plants to fend off and suppress insect pests, including invasive pests and other that have become a force to reckon with in the developing countries. Thriving and functioning soil microbes can be key to revolutionising agriculture.

Thirdly, taking care of the soil and keeping them healthy, ensures that farmers around the word build resilient ecosystems that can bounce back from extremities that come along with a changing climate.

Esther Ngumbi is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Auburn University in Alabama. Courtesy: Esther Ngumbi

However, even with all these benefits that come along when soils healthy, around the world, a third of our soils are degraded.

In 2015, the U.N. launched the International Year of Soils and highlighted the extent with which soils were degraded worldwide. Since then, countries, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and many other stakeholders have stepped up to the challenge. They are paying attention to soils.

Ethiopia launched a countrywide initiative to map the health and status of Ethiopian soils which has allowed farmers to reap the many benefits that can come when soils are healthy including increased crop yields. Because of paying attention to soil health, Ethiopia is slowly transforming agriculture, and paving way for its citizens to become food secure.

In addition, in early June, the FAO together with the Global Soil Partnership launched the Afrisoils programme, with a goal to reduce soil degradation by 25 percent in the coming decade in 47 African countries.

Moreover, because soil health is not only an African problem, developed countries are stepping up.

In the United States, the Soil Health Institute continues to coordinate and support soil stewardship and the advancement of soil health. The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers tips, guidelines and many resources that can be useful to stakeholders and governments and farmers that want to help restore the health of their soils. Advocacy groups like Soil4Climate continue to advocate for soil restoration as a climate solution.

This must continue.

But, as Africa and the many stakeholders look to the future and pay attention to soils, what are some of the areas and innovations surrounding soils that are likely going to pay off?

Innovations surrounding beneficial soil microbes. When beneficial soil microbes are happy, healthy, and plentiful in the soils, the nutrients are available to roots, plants grow big, insects are repelled and farmers ultimately reap the benefits—a plentiful harvest.

We must ensure that products and solutions that spin off from beneficial soils microbes are affordable, especially so to the over 500 million smallholder farmers, who live on less than a dollar a day.

Innovations surrounding soil heath diagnostic kits that help farmers to rapidly and precisely determine the health of the soils will be a win-win for all.

As shown in Ethiopia, where knowing the status of the heath of the soils has resulted into the doubling of farmer’s productivity and improving soil health these innovations can be a game changer in the race to beat food insecurity across Africa.

Translating innovations into products and solutions requires funding. Luckily, innovators, researchers, NGO’s and for profit companies thinking of making this happen can apply for funding through FoodShot Global’s Innovating Soil 3.0 challenge.

This unique investment platform catalysing groundbreaking innovation to cultivate a healthy, sustainable and equitable food system will be offering a combination of equity and debt funding to innovative businesses and a groundbreaker prize of more than USD500,000 to researchers, social entrepreneurs and advocates taking bold “moonshots for better food”.

These cash prizes will allow winners to translate bold ideas that utilise the latest in technology, science and engineering into solutions that address the soil health crisis.

To reap the many benefits that come along with healthy soils, the right interventions and innovations to improve soil health must be funded, rolled out and scaled up. Healthy soils are the foundational base that will enable countries to achieve the U.N. sustainable development goals. In the race to achieve these goals, we must pay attention to the soil. Time is ripe.

The post In the Race to Achieve Zero Hunger and Mitigate Climate Change, We Must Look Down — to the Soil appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Excerpt:

Esther Ngumbi is Distinguished Post Doctoral Researcher, Entomology Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Illinois. She was the 2015 Clinton Global University (CGI U) Mentor for Agriculture and 2015 New Voices Fellow at the Aspen Institute.

The post In the Race to Achieve Zero Hunger and Mitigate Climate Change, We Must Look Down — to the Soil appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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Africa Needs Strong Political Will to Transform Agriculture and Spur Economic Growthhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/africa-needs-strong-political-will-transform-agriculture-spur-economic-growth/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=africa-needs-strong-political-will-transform-agriculture-spur-economic-growth http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/09/africa-needs-strong-political-will-transform-agriculture-spur-economic-growth/#respond Mon, 17 Sep 2018 15:11:05 +0000 Busani Bafana http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=157640 Africa needs strong political commitment to accelerate the transformation of its agricultural sector. According to the 2018 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR), Catalyzing State Capacity to Drive Agriculture Transformation, released this September by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), African states need political will to boost production and income on the millions […]

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Ndomi Magareth, sows bean seeds on her small piece of land in Njombe, Cameroon. Africa currently spends over USD 35 billion annually on food imports, money that could make a big difference if invested in agriculture development. Credit: Monde Kingsley Nfor/IPS

By Busani Bafana
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, Sep 17 2018 (IPS)

Africa needs strong political commitment to accelerate the transformation of its agricultural sector.

According to the 2018 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR), Catalyzing State Capacity to Drive Agriculture Transformation, released this September by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), African states need political will to boost production and income on the millions of small, family farms that grow most of Africa’s food.

The continent currently spends over USD 35 billion annually on food imports, money that could make a big difference if invested in agricultural development. AGRA has said Africa could require up to USD 400 billion over the next 10 years in public and private sector investments in food production, processing, marketing and transport.

Government is ultimately responsible for transforming agriculture by creating a conducive environment and addressing inherent governance challenges, Daudi Sumba, one of the report’s authors and head of Monitoring and Evaluation at AGRA, told IPS in an interview. “This requires vision and leadership to create political will among high-level political leaders to implement effective policies for agricultural transformation.”

Citing the example of the late prime minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi, Sumba said the former Ethiopian leader understood rural farmers as well as how important scientific knowledge was to progress and that contributed to his political will to implement effective policies.

As a result, Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that has achieved the highest agricultural growth rates over an extended period of time.

Most African countries struggle to realise economic growth for agriculture because of lack of political leadership, the report found.

However, the report notes some exceptions of countries whose agricultural development provides an example for others. In addition to Ethiopia, the report says Rwanda has marshalled political support for agriculture and integrated detailed action plans within its broader economic development strategies. Progress in the agricultural sector is credited with lifting over one million Rwandans out of extreme poverty in a relatively short period.


Furthermore, the report finds that  economic output in Ghana’s agricultural sector—driven in part by the government’s new “Planting for Food and Jobs” programme—grew 8.4 percent in 2017 after posting only three percent growth in 2016. Similarly, AGRA experts point to countries such as Kenya, Burkina Faso, Mali and Zambia as places where political momentum and government capabilities are growing.

Jundi Hajji, a wheat farmer from Ethiopia, shows his crop. In Ethiopia, 25 years of steady growth in the farm sector has cut rural poverty rates in half. Credit:Omer Redi/IPS

The increasing willingness of African governments to openly discuss where they are advancing in agriculture and where they are struggling is a reason for optimism, the report says. For example, 47 countries have signed on to the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), a master plan to achieve economic growth through growing agriculture by at least six percent annually.

Ethiopia, for the past 25 years, has consistently exceeded the CAADP target of six percent growth in the agricultural sector. The government consistently made CAADP the core of its agricultural plan.

Available evidence suggests that political will to support agricultural transformation has remained limited in most African countries. This implies that political will must be raised for agriculture to drive economic development, Sumba said.

“Existing data suggest that the political will to support agriculture transformation is likely lower in Africa than in other regions of the developing world,” the report states, adding that it “has not substantially increased during the past decade.”

The report, which was released at the annual African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Kigali, Rwanda, notes that countries like China, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Morocco have seen the economic benefits of intensifying commercial production on small farms.

For example, China’s agricultural transformation is credited with kick starting a rapid decline in rural poverty, from 53 percent in 1981 to eight percent in 2001. In Ethiopia, 25 years of steady growth in the farm sector has cut rural poverty rates in half and in rural Rwanda, over the same period, poverty has reduced by 25 percent, the report notes.

AGRA president Dr. Agnes Kalibata says governments are central to driving an inclusive agriculture transformation agenda. The report highlights the value of strengthening country planning, coordination and implementation capacity while supporting the development of an effective private sector and an enabling regulatory environment to boost agricultural productivity.

“Our experience and lessons have shown that impact can be achieved faster by supporting countries to deliver on their own transformation; driving scale through a well-planned and coordinated approach to resources in the public domain to build systems and institutions,” said Kalibata.

“Governments are definitely central to driving an inclusive agriculture transformation agenda. This body of work recognises their role and aims to highlight the value of strengthening country planning, coordination and implementation capacity while supporting the development of an effective private sector and enabling regulatory environment,” she added.

While Africa needs urgent agricultural transformation, it should attend to the challenges of rapid urbanisation, climate, significant unemployment (one third of Africans aged 15 to 35 are jobless), and chronic malnutrition, which has left 58 million children stunted.

With over 800 million people worldwide suffering from hunger and more than two billion affected by malnutrition, food insecurity remains a real threat to global development and more so in Africa.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) estimates that an additional 38 million Africans will be hungry by 2050. This is despite the fact that the continent has sufficient land, water and manpower to produce more food than it imports. The AfDB projects that food imports will grow to USD 110 billion annually by 2025 if the current trend continues without the urgency to invest in agriculture production and value addition.

“Lack of democratisation looms large when it comes to explaining (and hence diagnosing implementation needs) lack of political will to pursue agricultural transformation, the report says. “Political competition increases the attention to agricultural growth and hence to the extent of discrimination against agriculture on such items as taxation,” the Africa Agriculture Status Report states.

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