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One of the Eldis RSS newsfeeds on major development issues

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Work, family and social protection: old age income security in Bangladesh, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam

17 Feb 2017 12:45:16 GMT

How does growing older affect a person’s income security in Asia? This question is becoming increasingly urgent in the context of rapid population ageing in the region, yet relatively limited comparative analysis has tried to answer it. This report aims to fill the gap by providing a comparative investigation of the income security of older people in five Asian countries that have diverse contexts; namely, Bangladesh, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

The report paints a picture of the multiple sources of income that contribute to income security in old age and how they interact. This has been done by mining existing survey data in each country to explore three key sources of income for older people: work, transfers from family and social protection. This marks a departure from most previous analysis of old age income security which has focused on age-disaggregated poverty data – which can only provide a relatively superficial picture of the issue. As well as providing new insights, this study highlights many weaknesses of existing data on ageing and points out opportunities for improvements in data collection and analysis.

Invasive plants and food security in Africa:the potential of Earth Observation Data

17 Feb 2017 11:50:34 GMT

The spread of invasive plant species has serious consequences for Africa. Toxic weeds and harmful shrubs significantly shrink rangelands and lower the productivity of major grain foods such as maize (in some instances by up to 45%).
Toxic weeds suppress the growth of staple crops and take over fields that could otherwise be used for agriculture. The UN Sustainable Development Goals emphasise the need to better manage land degradation and biodiversity loss and develop strategies to combat poverty.

However, the invasion of rangelands and croplands by harmful non-native species is not specifically mentioned in the UN sustainability framework as a significant and emerging environmental issue. Equally, the AU Commission (AUC) sounds the alarm over rising food insecurity in Africa, but there are no tools or coherent strategies on how to address the challenges posed by invasive species in the context of enhancing food security. This briefing highlights the significance of earth observation (EO) data for the development of tools and strategies to curb the increasing spread of invasive species.
  • amendments to existing and future policy frameworks, such as the CBD and the AUC strategy, are required to emphasise the need to develop more effective and coherent protocols for the management of invasive species
  • spatial occurrence maps of invasive species should be used by decision-makers to better understand and manage their effects on cropland and rangeland productivity, and ultimately food security in Africa
  • policymakers and decision makers need sound evidence on the local uses and impacts of invasive species in order to become aware of their costs and benefits
  • international bodies that promote the use of EO for societal benefit areas (such as GEOSS and UN SPIDER) must include invasive species mapping in their outreach and training agendas. This should be facilitated by country- or region-specific case studies that help to show the potential of EO products to more effectively manage invasive species across borders

Young women’s household bargaining power in marriage and parenthood in Ethiopia

17 Feb 2017 11:41:18 GMT

In Ethiopian government policy, marriage under the age of 18 is considered ‘early marriage’ or ‘child marriage’ and is categorised as a harmful traditional practice. Efforts to tackle harmful traditional practices in the country have been made in the name of gender equality.

In 2014, Ethiopia ranked 129 out 188 countries in the Gender Inequality Index (UNDP 2015). This is despite the government’s commitment to improve the social standing of girls and women, and the number of programmes targeting different aspects of gender inequality, from early marriage to women’s job creation, as well as attempts to change local cultural belief systems.
This working paper examines the factors that affect the bargaining power of young married women in marriage and parenthood in Ethiopia, where power structures remain overwhelmingly male-dominated and patriarchal. It draws on longitudinal qualitative data and survey information collected by Young Lives with children, young people and their families between 2007 and 2015.

The paper’s main focus is young women’s changing relations and analysis of their ‘bargaining power’ before and after marriage. The concept of bargaining power has been used to understand gender inequality, primarily from the field of economics, but this mainly qualitative paper takes bargaining power to mean the negotiating capacity of young married women within their marital relationships and households.

The paper argues that intra-household, social-institutional and individual factors intertwine to shape young women’s agency towards bargaining power in differing areas of their lives. Generally, factors such as urban or rural residence, education, standard of living, customs and norms combine to shape the bargaining power of young women in marriage. Decisions are usually made at a collective level, whereas agency at the individual level is often very shallow.

The study has several policy implications:
  • policies aimed at helping women exercise gender equality in marriage and even before marriage have to consider the household-level factors, individual-level factors and the wider perspective of community level factors that shape the bargaining power of women
  • policies and programmes targeted towards reducing gender inequality at the intra-household level have to also consider contexts and how cultural beliefs and norms shape the frameworks of marriage and of decision-making more broadly
  • this examination of bargaining power draws attention to the role of relationships, such that policies aimed to empower women must also work with and for those who have a stake in limiting or enhancing women’ s agency, including their mothers, husbands, other relatives and community members

Governing health care in Uganda: explaining the mixed record on delivering rural maternal health services

17 Feb 2017 04:52:20 GMT

Uganda’s ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM), came to power with a ‘Ten-Point Plan’. This outlined clear and specific ideas about what was needed to improve service delivery, and the role the public would play in achieving this objective and wider ambitions. Government made some important advances in the health sector, particularly in terms of reducing the level of HIV-AIDS prevalence and improving the accessibility of primary health care centres for rural citizens.

In recent years, however, the imperative of maintaining power seems to have distracted politicians at national and local levels from building a more effective health service that can deliver high-quality provision. This problem is particularly evident in terms of providing for maternal and child health, with Uganda recording slower rates of progress than some of its counterparts towards keypolicygoals, such as the MDG 5 target to reduce the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) by
three-quarters by 2015.
Key findings:
  • the quality of public health care in Uganda, including the delivery of maternal health services, is highly uneven; this is closely shaped by politics at the global, national and local level
  • the channelling of vast amounts of money into the health sector through internationally funded projects has created several power centres and bred rivalries. This has left the Ministry of Health highly factionalised and less capable of delivering on its remit
  • for much of the past decade, the health sector has been governed for political ends rather than geared towards higher levels of performance
  • capacity for supervision, inspection and enforcement of standards by central government is lacking; accountability at district level is therefore dependent on local monitoring and evaluation systems that are often too weak to
    improve levels of performance
  • local politics also closely shapes service delivery at district level: the quality and motivations of local leaders and their capacity to collaborate have a significant influence on the quality of service delivery
  • the highest levels of performance are driven by developmental coalitions with the capacity and commitment to devise and enforce innovative approaches to governing the sector

Corporate social responsibility and political settlements in the mining sector in Ghana, Zambia and Peru

17 Feb 2017 04:43:45 GMT

This paper explores and compares the political effects of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the mining sector in Zambia, Ghana and Peru. The paper adopts a political settlements approach to answer the question: How do the CSR practices of mining companies affect local and national political settlements? After setting out the main tenets of the political settlements approach, this is articulated with literature on the politics of natural resource extraction and CSR. The paper then sets the wider context of the international drivers of increased attention to CSR in the extractive sector, before exploring the impact of the CSR practices of mining companies on the political settlement in Ghana, Peru and Zambia at the national and local levels. The final sections offer a comparative discussion of what the findingsmean for understanding CSR’s role in inclusive development and natural resource
The paper argues that recent increased CSR expenditure does not necessarily translate into development for those living near mining companies, particularly in contexts of exclusionary political settlements, of which all case studies exhibited characteristics. There are a great many institutional and contextual limitations placed on the ability of CSR to deliver development for affected communities. Across the case studies, the opportunities that CSR programmes afford tended to aimed at those with the greatest capacity to disrupt operations, rather than those with the greatest need. In concluding, I argue that, despite some obvious limitations, the political settlements approach can generate new insights through its focus on the politics of development, and, in particular, the politics of stability.

The politics of promoting social protection in Zambia

17 Feb 2017 04:29:50 GMT

The rise of the social protection agenda in Zambia over the past few years seems in some ways to fit with mainstream accounts of how welfare states are likely to emergein developing countries, particularly in terms of the links to elections and pro-poor political parties. However, here the authors demonstrate that this (still incipient) policy shift flows more directly from two alternative sources, namely shifting dynamics within Zambia’s political settlement and the promotional efforts of a transnational policy coalition.

Adopting a process tracing approach, the paper compares the progress made on social cash transfers and social health insurance in Zambia. It investigates how the interplay of domestic political economy and transnational factors shaped the commitment of government to formulate and deliver the respective policies in the context of competing demands and priorities within the wider distributional regime. Despite some progress made in both policy areas, social protection has not as yet displaced certain interests, ideas and rent-allocation practices that are more deeply embedded within Zambia’s political settlement. However, given that it would be politically dangerous to remove social cash transfers from communities that have become used to receiving them, what matters now is the way in which such transfers become integrated within Zambia’s distributional regime, including whether they simply deepen its clientelist nature or start to form the basis of a new citizenship-based social contract.

Egypt’s new IMF deal comes with a huge price tag for human rights

17 Feb 2017 03:14:27 GMT

The government of Egypt has sealed a loan deal with the IMF following four years of negotiations. The impacts of the structural adjustment reforms associated with the loan raise strong human rights concerns, particularly for the status of economic and social rights in the country; aggravating employment conditions, the right to education, healthcare and to social protection.
The aim of the extended fund facility programme with Egypt is to restore stability and confidence in the economy. To do this, the programme supports the "government's home-grown comprehensive economic reform plan". This plan includes a range of monetary and fiscal reforms that first seek to reduce public spending, including by reforming the civil service and by reducing the public sector's role in the provision of subsidised social services. The second aim of these reforms is to increase state revenue, including by introducing a value-added tax (VAT) and by liberalising the exchange rate to shore up the country's foreign reserves and encourage foreign investment.
There are a number of alternative policy choices the Egyptian government can make with the support of the IMF to help address the country's economic crisis. These would avoid such huge social cost and meet international human rights obligations, offering a blueprint for a fair and equitable economic model, as has been affirmed by various UN bodies in recent years.
Actions to implement these recommendations could include public efforts to reform and revive the productive capacity of the state, so as to provide the foundation for a development model based on decent work and fair wages. A human rights approach to subsidy reform can also guide the government towards building a social protection model that would effectively contribute to the eradication of extreme poverty.

The Bangladesh paradox: why has politics performed so well for development in Bangladesh?

17 Feb 2017 01:47:35 GMT

Bangladesh is widely seen as a ‘paradox’ in terms of governance and development because of the apparent imperfections of its political institutions and its leading players. It scores low/very low on many indicators of the quality of governance. It is close to the top of the global league table for corruption. But, over the last quarter of a century, it has maintained economic growth around a steady 5 to 6% per annum, has out-performed India on most social indicators and has brought down its fertility rate from more than 6 to around 2.2 births per woman. It has made great progress with the Millennium Development Goals, especially with poverty reduction but also in fields seen as especially difficult for a Muslim majority country – maternal mortality has dropped dramatically and girls match/outnumber boys at primary school level. Its government disaster management programs have reduced deaths from super-cyclones by more than 99% (they used to drown up to 500,000 people in the 1970s but now mortality levels are well below 5000).
This briefing paper examines why and how political processes in Bangladesh have performed so well when the main theories of governance and development would predict economic and social stagnation. Using the lens of ‘political settlements’ ‘... the balance or distribution of power between contending social groups and social classes, on which any state is based’ ESID’s work has analyzed the country’s recent experience in education, health, women’s empowerment and economic growth.
The paper explores the way in which three areas of elite interaction – competitive politics, the pursuit of economic opportunities and social provisioning – have created formal and informal institutions and public policies that have supported social progress and economic ‘deals’ that have ensured growth. Political and economic alignments across competing elites have often meant that interests and ideas have supported national advancement. While the actions (and/or inactions) of Bangladeshi leaders and political and business elites are at the heart of these processes, transnational influences and external actors – aid agencies, investors, businessmen and INGOs – have proved important in several fields at key moments.
However, since 2013 there has been a shift in the political settlement away from the multi-party competitive form, in which goods and services are exchanged for political support, towards a dominant party form. This means there are no grounds for complacency. Whether the contemporary dominant party model can continue to achieve the governance-development paradox that has seen the country make economic and social progress is a major cause for concern. Politics in independent Bangladesh have always been imperfect: but, can the post-2013 forms of political imperfection continue to deliver national development?

The politics of negotiating gender equity in Bangladesh

17 Feb 2017 01:30:38 GMT

In Bangladesh there is a paradox when it comes to securing gender-inclusive development outcomes. Since 1991, women have occupied the highest political office and women’s presence is increasing, due to the existence of gender quotas. Women’s movement actors have a long history of mobilisation for women’s rights and securing progressive changes. However, this overlooks the complex ways in which power and politics operate in Bangladesh, including the difficulties of mobilising women as a political force in a patriarchal, informalised, clientelist context. Women, as a political group, have little to offer the ruling elites in Bangladesh: they do not vote as a block; gender equity concerns have little currency in mainstream politics; and women’s organisations are weak actors in the formal political arena.
This paper investigates two successful policy cases – the Domestic Violence Act 2010, and the expansion of access to primary education for girls – to investigate what led the state to address gender equity concerns successfully in some policy areas in a competitive clientelist context? What role, if any, did women and their allies play to make these changes happen? Why do some failures in implementation persist?
Findings indicate that the alignment between each policy reform and the dominant interests and ideas of the ruling coalition influenced the capacity and commitment accorded to each agenda. Progress on passing the Domestic Violence Act was made through the high degree of personal, historical and informal relations with supportive people in government. Opportunity was created by a key moment of state formation which opened up an absence of partisan politicking and a supportive advocate at the centre of government. Expansion of girls’ access to primary education was carried
along by a wave of political support for the expansion agenda, which fitted closely with powerful political logics concerning ideas, patronage, distribution, legitimacy and international support. In both cases, transnational actors, events and discourses are able to tip the balance in favour of women’s rights, and South-South exchanges can play a vital role in promoting women’s rights. Both cases reveal how the political settlement has shaped the promotion of gender equity in Bangladesh, and the value of moving beyond the usual focus on the impact of gender quotas and the
effectiveness of state gender machinery, to the deeper forms of politics and power relations that shape progress on this front.

Understanding children’s experiences of violence in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, India: evidence from Young Lives

10 Feb 2017 11:59:31 GMT

Physical and emotional violence towards children in India appears to be so widespread that it is often difficult to trace the direct effects of poverty; the findings suggest that a range of factors appear to play a role, especially age and gender norms.
This paper explores children’s accounts of violence in Andhra Pradesh, India, and the ways in which factors at the individual, family, community, institutional and society levels affect children’s experiences of violence. The paper analyses cross-sectional survey data and case studies from longitudinal qualitative data gathered over a seven-year period, from Young Lives.

The paper reveals that a child’s disapproval of violence does not necessarily influence behaviour in later life, confirming the need for interventions to prevent and tackle violence as children grow up.

More promisingly, children also describe strategies through which to protect themselves from violence and the threat of violence. The paper contributes to knowledge about the nature and experience of violence among children in resource poor settings, and concludes with some suggestions for policy, programming and practice.

Understanding children’s experiences of violence in Ethiopia: evidence from Young Lives

10 Feb 2017 11:52:39 GMT

Violence affecting children in many forms is widespread in Ethiopia, and indeed in sub-Saharan Africa more generally. Physical, emotional and sexual violence in the home and community are commonplace; however, the underlying factors contributing to the incidence of violence against children in different settings are not well understood. Based on the evidence from Young Lives’ research in Ethiopia, we find that corporal punishment is the most prevalent form of violence both at school and at home, whereas in communities, emotional violence in the form of insults and harassment is more common. Children’s experiences of violence also vary along the lines of age and gender, and in different ways at various points of the life course.
his research report explores children’s accounts of everyday violence in Ethiopia, and the ways in which factors at individual, family, community, institutional and society levels affect children’s experiences of violence. The report primarily draws on analysis of four rounds of longitudinal qualitative data gathered over seven years, complemented with analysis of cross-sectional survey data from Young Lives. After a brief description of the policy context and literature review, the paper describes the study then presents findings from the survey and qualitative research, exploring home, schools, communities, differences by age and gender, and children’s responses to violence. Violence affecting children – mostly physical punishment and emotional abuse – is widespread, accepted, and normalized. Differing economic activities affect family dynamics and the likelihood of children experiencing violence, which is often linked to the challenges of poverty and the expectation that children will contribute to the household economy. The report adds to knowledge about the nature and experiences of violence affecting children in resource-poor settings, and concludes with some suggestions for policies, programming and practice.

Understanding children’s experiences of violence in Peru: evidence from Young Lives

10 Feb 2017 11:46:27 GMT

In Peru, violence is considered a major public health concern. In the last 20 years, there have beens ignificant efforts to prevent, punish and eradicate violence, particularly in the case of violence against women. Nevertheless, the prevalence of violence against children in Peru remains very high (around 30 per cent).

The paper has been commissioned as part of the UNICEF Multi-Country Study on the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children in Italy, Peru, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe. The Multi-Country Study is analysing how factors at the individual, inter-personal, community, institutional and structural levels interact to shape everyday violence in children’s homes. It uses the socio-ecological model to
explore the complexities of violence affecting children in order to help communities develop more effective national strategies for violence prevention.
This paper focuses on children’s accounts oftheir experiences of violence at home, and explores drivers of violence at the individual,
interpersonal and community level. In line with international definitions, the authors analyse the occurrence of three forms of violence enacted by parents on children: physical violence (the intentional use of physical force against a child that either results in or has the potential to harm the child’s health, survival, development or dignity); mental or psychological violence (not providing an appropriate and supportive environment for the child, including acts that can be detrimental to a child’s psychological development, emotional health and well-being); and neglect or negligent treatment (the failure to meet children’s physical and psychological needs, protect them from danger or obtain medical, birth registration or other services when those responsible for their care have the means, knowledge and access to services to do so).

Understanding children’s experiences of violence in Viet Nam: evidence from Young Lives

10 Feb 2017 11:38:36 GMT

Despite the fact that the Vietnamese Government has issued many laws and regulations to protect children from harm and exploitation, research has shown that violence against children in Viet Nam is widespread. With the aim of developing better national strategies for preventing violence against children, UNICEF’s Office of Research is conducting a Multi-Country Study on the Drivers of Violence Affecting Children in Italy, Peru, Viet Nam and Zimbabwe.

This paper has been commissioned as part of this ongoing study. Drawing on Young Lives longitudinal qualitative data and school survey data, this paper provides an account of children’s and young people’s perspectives on violence in the home.

Specifically, the paper addresses the following questions: a) what do children know about violence in the home and how do they experience it?; b) what do they think drives violence in the home?; c) what do they perceive to be the consequences of the violence they experience?; and d) what support do they find to be most effective in addressing violence in the home?

Population aging in India: facts, issues, and options

10 Feb 2017 10:58:43 GMT

India, one of the world’s two population superpowers, is undergoing unprecedented demographic changes. Increasing longevity and falling fertility have resulted in a dramatic increase in the population of adults aged 60 and up, in both absolute and relative terms. This change presents wide-ranging and complex health, social, and economic challenges, both current and future, to which this diverse and heterogeneous country must rapidly adapt.
This chapter first lays out the context, scope, and magnitude of India’s demographic changes. It then details the major challenges these shifts pose in the interconnected areas of health, especially the massive challenges of a growing burden of noncommunicable diseases; gender, particularly the needs and vulnerabilities of an increasingly female older adult population; and income security.
This chapter also presents an overview of India’s recent and ongoing initiatives to adapt to population aging and provide support to older adults and their families. It concludes with policy recommendations that may serve as a productive next step forward, keeping in mind the need for urgent and timely action on the part of government, private companies, researchers, and general population.

CLTS engagement, outcomes and empowerment in Malagasy communities

10 Feb 2017 10:29:27 GMT

Gender equality, serving the most vulnerable, and addressing the particular needs of women and girls are among the core principles of the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF). In order to better understand the link between gender dynamics and the impact of its Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) interventions, the GSF supported a study in a small number of communities in Madagascar in 2015. These communities are in the area covered by the GSF-supported programme in Madagascar, known locally as ‘Fonds d’Appui pour l’Assainissement’ (FAA). This ‘GSF in focus’ case study highlights and reflects on the study.

A review of the current state of research on the water, energy, and food nexus

10 Feb 2017 04:45:34 GMT

The purpose of this paper is to review and analyze the water, energy, and food nexus and regions of study, nexus keywords and stakeholders in order to understand the current state of nexus research.

It starts with the hypothesis that to date the research in this area has been somewhat fragmented and there is no clear definition of the term. In addition, the relationships of all three resources such as water–energy, water–food and/or water–energy–food are interrelated and interdependent, which implies that the complexity of the nexus system has not yet been fully clarified. 

High and Dry: Climate change, water and the economy

10 Feb 2017 04:33:21 GMT

This World Bank reports finds that water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, could hinder economic growth, spur migration, and spark conflict. However, most countries can neutralize the adverse impacts of water scarcity by taking action to allocate and use water resources more efficiently.

Key Findings

  • Water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, could cost some regions up to 6% of their GDP, spur migration, and spark conflict.
  • The combined effects of growing populations, rising incomes, and expanding cities will see demand for water rising exponentially, while supply becomes more erratic and uncertain.
  • Unless action is taken soon, water will become scarce in regions where it is currently abundant - such as Central Africa and East Asia - and scarcity will greatly worsen in regions where water is already in short supply - such as the Middle East and the Sahel in Africa. These regions could see their growth rates decline by as much as 6% of GDP by 2050 due to water-related impacts on agriculture, health, and incomes.
  • Water insecurity could multiply the risk of conflict. Food price spikes caused by droughts can inflame latent conflicts and drive migration. Where economic growth is impacted by rainfall, episodes of droughts and floods have generated waves of migration and spikes in violence within countries.
  • The negative impacts of climate change on water could be neutralized with better policy decisions, with some regions standing to improve their growth rates by up to 6% with better water resource management.
  • Improved water stewardship pays high economic dividends. When governments respond to water shortages by boosting efficiency and allocating even 25% of water to more highly-valued uses, such as more efficient agricultural practices, losses decline dramatically and for some regions may even vanish.
  • In the world’s extremely dry regions, more far-reaching policies are needed to avoid inefficient water use. Stronger policies and reforms are needed to cope with deepening climate stresses.
  • Policies and investments that can help lead countries to more water secure and climate-resilient economies include:
    • Better planning for water resource allocation
    • Adoption of incentives to increase water efficiency, and
    • Investments in infrastructure for more secure water supplies and availability.
[author's summary]

Sustainable development and the water–energy–food nexus: A perspective on livelihoods

10 Feb 2017 04:15:50 GMT

The water–energy–food nexus is being promoted as a conceptual tool for achieving sustainable development. Frameworks for implementing nexus thinking, however, have failed to explicitly or adequately incorporate sustainable livelihoods perspectives. This is counterintuitive given that livelihoods are key to achieving sustainable development. In this paper we present a critical review of nexus approaches and identify potential linkages with sustainable livelihoods theory and practice, to deepen our understanding of the interrelated dynamics between human populations and the natural environment. Building upon this review, we explore the concept of ‘environmental livelihood security’ – which encompasses a balance between natural resource supply and human demand on the environment to promote sustainability – and develop an integrated nexus-livelihoods framework for examining the environmental livelihood security of a system. The outcome is an integrated framework with the capacity to measure and monitor environmental livelihood security of whole systems by accounting for the water, energy and food requisites for livelihoods at multiple spatial scales and institutional levels. We anticipate this holistic approach will not only provide a significant contribution to achieving national and regional sustainable development targets, but will also be effective for promoting equity amongst individuals and communities in local and global development agendas. [authors abstract]

Ending child marriage and stopping the spread of HIV ...opportunities and challenges for action

10 Feb 2017 04:14:39 GMT

AIDS is now the number-one killer of adolescents in Africa. What is more worrying is that seven of every 10 new infections of HIV among adolescents are girls, which shows how vulnerable girls are to acquiring HIV. Similar socioeconomic factors drive both HIV and child marriage, but very few studies have shown the causal effects and links between the two.
This desk review examines some of the existing literature to highlight what is known about the links between child marriage and HIV, and spotlights opportunities for further action. Very few studies have explicitly explored the two phenomena. Given recent increases in the number of adolescent girls who are HIV-positive and the high numbers and rates of child marriage in countries with high HIV prevalence, the data do suggest a correlation between ending child marriage and stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS.
This review argues that gender, gender relations and women’s empowerment play a significant role in linking child marriage and HIV. When girls marry young, usually to older men, they are vulnerable to gender-based disadvantages. The imbalance of power in a child marriage significantly erodes a girl’s control of her body and her social and economic potential.

Transmission, spread and control of HIV hinges on improving gender relations, and this may be even truer with child marriage. Fundamentally, child marriage is a construct and a result of gender imbalances.

The Water-Energy-Food Nexus: A new approach in support of food security and sustainable agriculture

10 Feb 2017 04:05:24 GMT

This FAO note gives a brief introduction to the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) Nexus conceptual framework as a useful way to describe and address the complex and interrelated nature of our global resource systems. It puts forward WEF as a conceptual approach:

  • to better understand and systematically analyse the interactions between the natural environment and human activities
  • to help work towards a more coordinated management and use of natural resources across sectors and scales
  • to help identify and manage trade-offs andto build synergies allowing for more integrated and cost-effective planning, decision-making, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

Climate change and water: An overview from the World Water Development Report 3: Water in a changing world

10 Feb 2017 03:47:02 GMT

This World Water Assessment Programme Special Report brings together messages on water and climate change from the World Water Development Report 3: Water in a Changing World. Water in a Changing World shows that changes in our water resources are shaped to a great extent by a number of key externalities, among them climate change, and that decisions taken far from the conventionally defined water sector have a tremendous influence on water resources and how they are used or misused. The report also describes the dynamic linkages that interconnect changes in climate, the state of our water resources, demographic expansion and migration issues, food and energy shortages, and the continuing challenge of poverty. Rather than addressing these issues in isolation, it argues that a holistic approach is crucial if we are to solve the crises we face today and avoid worse crises tomorrow.

Water and Climate Blue Book

10 Feb 2017 03:26:23 GMT

Llaunched by the Morroccan government at COP22 in Marrakech, the blue book aims to raise international awareness on the vulnerability of water in the context of climate change and the urgency of action. It also speaks in favor of merging both agendas of water and climate, in order to ensure a total integration of water in the negotiations on climate change.

The book also presents concrete actions in the water field to cope with the impact of climate variability, actions which have already been launched or are being implemented, including the Water for Africa initiative. It is organized around chapters that highlight the challenges of water, its positioning within the adaptation and mitigation set of actions, and the recommendations to the international water community for a better water resilience to climate change and ensure sustainable development.

Child labor in Myanmar’s garment sector challenges and recommendations

10 Feb 2017 03:03:21 GMT

Buyers and investors are back in Yangon looking for opportunities, attracted in part by the country’s low labour costs. However, Myanmar has spent over a decade cut off from Western markets and the compliance culture that has evolved around social and environmental management of supply chains.

Meeting buyer expectations now requires not only investing to meet higher requirements for speed and quality, but also ensuring that labor practices meet or exceed international standards.

Child labour is a particular area of concern. In a country with high levels of poverty, low rates of secondary school enrollment, and weak enforcement of labour laws, child labour is unsurprisingly a common option for families in need of additional income. Underage workers (younger than 14, the legal minimum) are prevalent in many sectors, ranging from construction to teashops.
This report explains the context of child labour in Myanmar, both across sectors and specifically for garment manufacturing.
Findings include:
  • young workers are participating in the garment sector but usually make up a small percentage of a factory’s workforce, and underage workers are rare. However, young workers are often working the same hours as adults, and laws regulating their working hours and conditions are not being enforced
  • increased access to U.S. and European markets is reshapin g the garment industry, but the majority of factories are not yet selling to U.S. and European buyers, and their labour practices are lagging

Key recommendations:

To prevent and remediate child labour, buyers and investors should support the establishment of a protective framework. This will require consistent and sustained action by diverse stakeholders, including:
  • enacting clear and coherent laws and regulations
  • fostering cultural norms that prioritize education for children until the legal minimum working age
  • ensuring livelihoods for adults that can support the entire household
  • implementing a system of monitoring and enforcement that includes workers, management, inspectors, unions, and community members

Eliminating child labour, achieving inclusive economic growth

10 Feb 2017 02:50:35 GMT

Whilst weak and unequal economic growth can also lead to child labour through its impact on poverty and labour markets, this report seeks to address the issue from a new angle: showing that eliminating child labour can in itself contribute to economic growth. This approach builds economic elements into the already strong child rights case for eliminating child labour, appealing to policy-makers who typically neglect child labour as a ‘social’ or ‘rights’ issue, when it is also an important economic one.
This report shows the different transmission pathways through which child labour contributes to slower economic growth, particularly where it is more prevalent. It draws clear links between eliminating child labour and the UK government’s ability to fulfil its international development objectives. Indeed, several of the UK's Department for International Development’s (DFID) policy commitments cannot be fully achieved without tackling child labour. This analysis is equally applicable to other development actors globally, including donors and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
This report argues that a focus on ending child labour resonates strongly with the following two DFID strategic objectives:
  • promoting global prosperity: the UK government will use official development assistance (ODA) to promote economic development and prosperity in the developing world
  • tackling extreme poverty and helping the world’s most vulnerable: the government will strive to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030, and support the world’s poorest people to ensure every person has access to basic needs, including prioritising the rights of girls and women



The interplay between community, household and child level influences on trajectories to early marriage in Ethiopia

10 Feb 2017 01:10:22 GMT

Child marriage is a global concern and a priority issue for the African Union; the Ethiopian government has devised a strategy to eliminate the practice by 2025.

This paper analyses Young Lives survey and qualitative data from girls aged 19 to understand pathways to early marriage, which the authors argue can best be explained by a combination of interacting factors at community, household and individual levels.

Findings confirm that child marriage is primarily a female, rural phenomenon, with regional and local differences related to cultural norms. Early teen marriage is more common in regions in the north and is often related to family poverty. Customs of dowry in the north and bridewealth in the south present constraints, especially for teenagers from poorer families.

Household characteristics are also important; parental education, especially that of the father, reduces the likelihood of child marriage. Parental death and absence was highlighted in the qualitative case material. Household wealth was particularly significant, with less than 10 per cent of early marriages among the top tercile, and family circumstances such as ill-health and drought were compounding factors. Parental imposition of marriage was stronger and girls’ agency more limited among the younger teenage girls, whereas older teenagers were more likely to make their own marital choices.

The gender imbalance is stark, with 13 per cent of teenage girls married compared to less than 1 per cent of boys. Girls continuing with schooling were less likely to get married, but most left school first due to family poverty and problems. Paid work at 15 was found to be statistically significant as a predictor of early marriage, while case material suggests that some girls chose marriage over jobs involving hard labour. Once married, return to schooling was constrained by social norms and childcare.

The findings suggest a need to recognise that there are early marriage ‘hotspots’, and conversely other areas where the practice is declining faster and girls marrying later, which can provide important lessons for interventions. Policies should further promote girls’
education, including for already married girls, and focus more on protection for younger teenager girls who are at more risk from imposed marriages.

Climate change adaption readiness: lessons from the 2015/16 El Niño for climate readiness in Southern Africa

09 Feb 2017 09:59:25 GMT

Southern Africa is experiencing its worst drought in at least 35 years. The drought is associated with an acute El Niño cycle, a periodic weather phenomenon that affects weather patterns across large regions of the globe, including Southern Africa. While the El Niño cycle is not linked directly to broader climate change processes, an assessment of
the region’s responses to the current drought does provide insight into its capacity to respond to severe environmental stresses. Insights drawn from such an assessment allow for a deeper understanding of climate adaptation readiness in the region.
This paper concludes that there is a need to expedite the development of regional and national response plans to severe environmental stresses, and in particular to strengthen capacity to effectively implement and co-ordinate appropriate actions. At the national level, response capacity in numerous Southern African states remains low. Even in South Africa, where government capacity is the highest in the region, implementation delays and co-ordination challenges have hampered effective responses to the drought. Yet despite these problems, there have also been successes in regional and national responses to droughts and longer-term climate challenges. Such programmes and innovative responses can be scaled to achieve more far-reaching impacts and thereby further develop the region’s climate adaptation readiness.

Post Amnesty Conflict Management Framework in the Niger Delta

09 Feb 2017 02:48:18 GMT

The general aim of the research project, The Post Amnesty Conflict Management Framework in the Niger Delta, was to ascertain how the implementation of the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) which had been introduced by the Shehu Musa Yar'Adua-led administration in 2009 was perceived by the people of the Niger Delta, and to what extent it had contributed to creating lasting conditions for peace and stability in the region.

The following policy recommendations derive directly from the findings of the research:

  • government at all levels should urgently and singe-mindedly address the issues of electricity, portable water, healthcare, as well as water and road transportation networks, among others, in the Niger Delta. Some communities that were direct victims of the militancy and the state's initial military response should be rebuilt so that their inhabitants are denied any reason to continue feeling bitter against the state and the oil companies
  • concerted efforts should be made by Government to rejuvenate local economies, as a means of increasing opportunities for economic recovery and income generation in the Niger Delta. This could be done through development of large–scale agricultural (e. g. oil palm and rice) and fishing projects into which the youths could be deployed
  • it is important to devise and deploy detailed reintegration schemes that do not focus only on ex-militants but also incorporate the wider communities. In particular, attention should be paid to the needs of the women ex-militants as well as to the psychological needs of mothers whose sons and daughters are now alienated from the communities because they had become militants
  • in order to deny opportunities to those who depend on illegal oil bunkering for resources to bring arms into the region, the Federal government should, as a matter of highest priority, enlist the upport of the international community to put in place a system for tracking oil stolen from Nigeria through ts origin. This will help to address the issue of illegal oil bunkering and crude theft
  • government and relevant stakeholders need to pay attention to the vulnerabilities, the potential as well as the rights of youths, by assisting them to live productive lives, to counter the effect of paying out money to people who are not productively engaged


The sooner the better but it’s never too late: the impact of nutrition at different periods of childhood on cognitive development

09 Feb 2017 02:20:16 GMT

Although it has been argued that undernutrition and its consequences for child development are irreversible after the age of 2, the evidence in support of these hypotheses is inconclusive. This working paper investigates the impact of nutrition at different periods from conception to middle childhood on cognitive  achievement in early adolescence using data from Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam. In order to address estimation problems the paper develops a conceptual framework that delineates the channels through which child health impacts cognitive development and uses exogenous variation in nutritional status arising from weather shocks.

Results suggest that child growth both before and after the first 1,000 days is responsive to weather shocks and impacts cognitive achievement in early adolescence. The paper also finds that part of the effect of early growth on later cognitive achievement manifests through growth in interim periods. Another novel result is that parental investment responses to a change in child health depend on the timing of this change.

These findings have important policy implications. On the one hand, results indicate that nutrition early in life is important for physical growth and cognitive development in subsequent stages of childhood, but on the other hand they suggest that nutrition-promoting investments after infancy and early childhood can act as a remedy for early nutrition and
cognitive deficits and protect from nutritional insults in later stages that may also lead to developmental setbacks.

Overall, the evidence suggests that nutrition-promoting interventions that start early in life and continue to subsequent stages of childhood, combined with support in other areas such as cognitive stimulation and parental involvement, may hold the most promise for the promotion of child development.

Child marriage and early child-bearing in India: risk factors and policy implications

09 Feb 2017 01:53:47 GMT

Prevalence rates of child marriage and early child-bearing have been declining across India over the past two decades, but absolute numbers remain high. This paper uses data collected from 3,000 children over 15 years in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana by Young Lives, a longitudinal study of childhood poverty, to provide an evidence base from which to strengthen policy and programming in this area.

An ecological life-course framework is used to explore the causes of child marriage and early child-bearing and the factors which help to prevent them. Findings show that:
  • girls who stay in school for longer marry later, but gender gaps in enrolment widen during adolescence
  • where household resources are limited, gendered social risks become more acute and parents are forced to make decisions which disadvantage girls
  • aspirations matter but reflect wider realities
  • and social norms that encourage early child-bearing are compounded by inequitable access to health and education services
The paper finds that, whilst child marriage and early child-bearing are driven by entrenched patriarchal norms regarding the role and value of girls (and women) in society, structural factors are critical. Poverty and social disadvantage constrain girls’ opportunities and exacerbate the risks they face, forcing individual girls and their families to maintain ‘normal’ practices, thus reinforcing norms. An ecological life-course framework helps to demonstrate the need for a layered strategy to tackle the gendered disadvantages which drive child marriage and early child-bearing.

Scaling-up early learning in Ethiopia: exploring the potential of O-Class

09 Feb 2017 01:37:00 GMT

SDG Target 4.2 identifies ‘pre-primary education’ as a strategy to strengthen school readiness and contribute to the quality and outcomes of education, which is supported by the powerful evidence from evaluation research. The challenge faced by many countries is to deliver the proven potential of well-planned, quality programmes to scale.

This working paper summarises Ethiopia’s growing commitment to pre-primary education and reports recent Young Lives engagement with the Ministry of Education in Ethiopia and other partners to support scale-up. Ethiopia’s most recent ambitious targets for early learning have been set out in the Fifth Education Sector Development Programme (ESDP V 2015), with pre-primary classes (known as O-Class) within primary schools being seen as the most rapid route to scale-up.

The paper reports on the progress and the challenges in delivering ambitious targets. We report key findings from exploratory fieldwork on two key themes, namely the response of Regional Education Bureaus in planning, financing, management and ensuring human capacity for scale-up; and the potential of Ethiopia’s Colleges of Teacher Education to supply sufficient trained teachers to work with young children, especially in the rapidly expanding O-Classes.

The final section draws on parallel experiences of other countries, notably Grade R in South Africa, and reports on six key challenges for scale-up; equity; age-appropriateness; cross-sectoral coordination; capacity building; and research and evidence. Other key challenges go beyond the scope of this working paper, notably the models for governance and financing that can deliver quality early education for all.

While Ethiopia’s initiative to scale-up O-Class is a welcome indicator of policy commitment to SDG Target 4.2, it is concluded that there is a risk that low quality pre-primary programmes will not deliver on the potential of early childhood education and that children (especially poor children) will be the losers.

Parental background and child human capital development throughout childhood and adolescence: evidence from four low- and middle-income countries

09 Feb 2017 01:29:47 GMT

Although there are a vast number of empirical studies documenting a strong positive link between parental socio-economic status (SES) and child outcomes, we do not know whether these associations remain robust when other parental background dimensions are controlled.

This working paper investigates the association of child human capital indicators with a wide range of parental background dimensions across four low- and middle-income countries, and at different stages of childhood and adolescence, using data from the Young Lives cohort study in Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam.

The key finding is that parental income is strongly and positively associated with child nutritional status and cognitive achievement across all countries and at all stages of childhood and adolescence, even after controlling for other background dimensions, but the same does not hold for parental education. Child non-cognitive skills across all countries and at different ages, however, are mostly predicted by the mother’s personality traits reflected in her non-cognitive skills, social capital, and aspirations for the child’s education. Associations of parental background factors with child human capital measures do not change systematically with child age, except that mother’s aspirations for child education exhibits a positive association with child cognitive and non-cognitive skills that is increasing in child age across countries.

Overall, the results suggest that policies that seek to improve the material circumstances of the household and mother’s education and socioemotional competencies may be effective in promoting child cognitive and socioemotional development in low- and middle-income countries.

Still no alternative? Popular views of the opposition in Southern Africa’s one-party dominant regimes

07 Feb 2017 04:39:47 GMT

Dominant party systems in Southern Africa differ widely in the extent and nature of this dominance, in their overall democratic quality, as well as in public attitudes toward the political opposition. But while there is widespread support for multiparty politics, opposition parties clearly face major obstacles to obtaining majority support in the near future. Five Southern African countries have democracies dominated by parties that emerged from liberation movements and have governed since independence: Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. This paper uses Afrobarometer survey data to analyse popular attitudes toward political opposition parties in these countries. Do citizens support multiparty politics? What are the trends in levels of citizen support for the political opposition? Do citizens believe that opposition parties present a viable alternative to the ruling party? Given the importance of public opinion in maintaining party dominance, findings offer important insights for scholars of democracy in Africa as well as for opposition parties in these countries. Key findings:about seven in 10 citizens in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe support multiparty competition, compared to only a slim majority (56%) of Mozambicans. On average across all five countries, this support has increased from 55% in 2002/2003 to 67% in 2014/2015however, only minorities endorse an opposition “watchdog” role in Parliament, ranging from 16% of Batswana to 32% of Mozambicans. Even citizens who self-identify as opposition supporters are more likely to say the opposition should collaborate with the government in order to develop the countryon average, trust in opposition parties increased significantly in the five countries between 2002 (16%) and 2015 (38%), although it remains well below the levels of trust in the ruling party (56% on average). Public trust in opposition parties is higher than average among citizens with post-secondary education and those living under secure material conditions (both 43%)the proportion of citizens who feel “close to” an opposition party is highest in Botswana (36%), followed by South Africa (34%), Zimbabwe (28%), Namibia (24%), and Mozambique (20%). Affiliation with opposition parties is higher among urban residents, men, citizens aged under 56 years, and those with at least a secondary educationwhile levels of trust in opposition parties are similar in Southern African countries with dominant party systems and those with competitive party systems, there is a significant difference in trust in the ruling party (56% vs. 40%). And citizens of countries with competitive party systems are significantly less likely to self-identify as ruling-party supporters (16% vs. 44% in dominant party systems)among citizens in the five countries with dominant party systems, Namibians are most likely to believe that the opposition presents a viable alternative vision and plan for the country (52%), followed by Mozambicans (45%), Batswana (44%), South Africans (43%), and Zimbabweans (37%). On average, this perception is higher among urban, male, younger, and better-educated citizensonly small minorities of Batswana, Mozambicans, Namibians, [...]

Russian BRICS Presidency: models of engagement with international institutions

07 Feb 2017 04:24:37 GMT

Six years after the first summit in 2009 in Yekaterinburg, the BRICS grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa has established its identity as an informal global governance forum. The members have consistently consolidated their cooperation, expanded and deepened their agenda, coordinated their efforts aimed at the recovery and growth of their economies, and developed their engagement with other international organizations. This work continued during the Russian presidency in 2015.This article focuses on one dimension of BRICS performance: its engagement with international organizations. There are at least three reasons defining the relevance of this analysis:from its launch, the BRICS collectively pledged to build a multipolar, fair and democratic world order, which cannot be attained without cooperation with the key international organizationsthe objective of enhancing sustainability, legitimacy and effectiveness of the global governance architecture defines the need for the summit institution to rely on a flexible combination of models of engagement with other international institutionsaccording to the concept note published by Russia on its BRICS presidency, one of its priorities was a transition to a qualitatively new level of engagement with international organizations. The analytical framework for the study builds on the theory of rational choice institutionalism. The calculus approach fits the analysis of summit institutions bringing together states from a wide range of cultures, continents and economic development. Its distinctive features clearly apply to the analysis of the origin and performance of the BRICS. First, members act in a highly strategic manner to maximize the attainment of their priorities. Second, summitry presents an arrangement for strategic interaction among leaders to determine the political outcomes. Third, rational choice institutionalism offers the greatest analytical leverage to settings where consensus among actors accustomed to strategic action and of roughly equal standing is necessary to secure institutional changes – the features typical of summit institutions. Fourth, the institutions are created by the voluntary agreement of the respective countries’ leaders to perform specific functions and missions.In order to maximize benefits from the new arrangement, the founders may choose to engage voluntarily withexisting institutions in a mode they regard as most efficient. The summit institution members’ choice of partners, modes and intensity of engagement is accepted to be strategic, intentional and voluntary, aiming to compensate for efficiency in their performance. The models of engagement are not mutually exclusive but coexist, with their choice dependent on the policy area and type of organization. The models of engagement with the other international organizations reflected in the leaders’ discourse indicate their place and role in the global governance architecture, imputed to them at their launch and subsequent evolution.The study applies qualitative and quantitative methods. Drawing on the content analysis of the BRICS documents, the author tracks dynamics of BRICS engagement with multilatera[...]

Fostering inclusive growth in Malaysia

07 Feb 2017 04:10:17 GMT

Malaysia has followed a comparatively equitable development path, largely eliminating absolute poverty and greatly reduced ethnic inequality. Income and wealth inequality have gradually declined since the mid-1970s. With the “people economy” at the centre of Malaysia’s ambition to become a high-income country by 2020, the focus is shifting to the challenges of relative poverty and achieving sustainable improvements in individual and societal well-being through inclusive growth. This shift would be aided by reforms in several policy areas where Malaysia may compare favourably within its region but less so relative to OECD countries. This includes reforms to increase access to quality education, provide comprehensive social protection, raise the labour force participation of women and older persons, maintain universal access to quality public healthcare, improve pension system sustainability and adequacy and
move towards a tax and transfer system that does more for inclusiveness.

Report on the nationally determined contributions survey conducted by the Nairobi Framework Partnership in 2016

07 Feb 2017 03:15:05 GMT

Countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean urgently need financial support to green their power sectors and thereby implement their national climate action plans under the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

This is the key finding from this survey of 79 countries conducted by the secretariat of the UNFCCC on behalf of the Nairobi Framework Partnership (NFP).

The central goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit the global average temperature rise to as close as possible to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Transitioning the power sector to low carbon is crucial to meet this goal, as generating power using coal, gas and oil is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions which cause climate change.

The survey also found that whilst many countries are receiving some form of support to increase transparency (Measurement, Reporting and Verification) from international organizations, in most cases this support is not enough.

The survey clearly indicates that countries believe that making use of the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), Standardized Baselines and Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) can help them to achieve their climate action commitments.

The Asian and African regions were found to be the ones requiring most urgent support for the development of carbon markets and economic instruments for mitigation action.

Resilience Resources: RABIT - Resilience Assessment Benchmarking and Impact

03 Feb 2017 10:21:26 GMT

This page provides guidance materials relating to RABIT: the Resilience Assessment Benchmarking and Impact Toolkit.  This enables the measurement of resilience baselines, and also measurement of the impact on resilience of development interventions; particularly introduction of ICTs.  It focuses on resilience in low-income communities.

The Politics of Evidence

03 Feb 2017 10:12:08 GMT

There has been an enormous increase in interest in the use of evidence for public policymaking, but the vast majority of work on the subject has failed to engage with the political nature of decision making and how this influences the ways in which evidence will be used (or misused) within political areas. This book provides new insights into the nature of political bias with regards to evidence and critically considers what an ‘improved’ use of evidence would look like from a policymaking perspective.

Part I describes the great potential for evidence to help achieve social goals, as well as the challenges raised by the political nature of policymaking. It explores the concern of evidence advocates that political interests drive the misuse or manipulation of evidence, as well as counter-concerns of critical policy scholars about how appeals to ‘evidence-based policy’ can depoliticise political debates. Both concerns reflect forms of bias – the first representing technical bias, whereby evidence use violates principles of scientific best practice, and the second representing issue bias in how appeals to evidence can shift political debates to particular questions or marginalise policy-relevant social concerns.

Part II then draws on the fields of policy studies and cognitive psychology to understand the origins and mechanisms of both forms of bias in relation to political interests and values. It illustrates how such biases are not only common, but can be much more predictable once we recognise their origins and manifestations in policy arenas.

Finally, Part III discusses ways to move forward for those seeking to improve the use of evidence in public policymaking. It explores what constitutes ‘good evidence for policy’, as well as the ‘good use of evidence’ within policy processes, and considers how to build evidence-advisory institutions that embed key principles of both scientific good practice and democratic representation. Taken as a whole, the approach promoted is termed the ‘good governance of evidence’ – a concept that represents the use of rigorous, systematic and technically valid pieces of evidence within decision-making processes that are representative of, and accountable to, populations served.

Impact of climate change on select value chains in Mozambique

03 Feb 2017 09:54:52 GMT

In Mozambique, where agriculture accounts for more than 25 percent of gross domestic product and employs about 80 percent of the country’s workforce, climate change has potential to reduce production of key crops and jeopardize both macroeconomic stability and the livelihoods of millions of people.

Despite this, the country, with just 16 percent of arable land under cultivation, has great potential to expand the agriculture sector. This report considers both sides of the challenge, detailing the likely impact of climate changes on three key crops (soy, pigeon pea and sesame) and analyzing opportunities to manage those risks across the value chain. Focused on the four central provinces, the report concludes with concrete recommendations for decision-makers.

This report demonstrates a strong likelihood of increased temperatures, extreme weather events and changes in rainfall patterns in Mozambique, together with evidence that some of these changes have already begun. In response, the agricultural system must adapt and become more resilient to these changes. The uncertainty associated with future climate is compounded by the fact that climate change is occurring on top of significant existing interannual variability in climate. Therefore, it is impossible to plan for a single future scenario or single set of on-the-ground agricultural interventions that will be effective in all areas of Mozambique in all years. In the end, it will be important to develop robust solutions that build national, community and individual resilience to respond to the entire suite of future climate scenarios.

One approach is to pair a package of locally relevant climate-smart agricultural practices with improved climate and weather information for decision-making. This way, farmers can decide what will be the most effective adaptive strategy in a specific year given their local context and constraints.

Review of Agri-Food Chain Interventions Aimed at Enhancing Consumption of Nutritious Food by the Poor: Bangladesh

03 Feb 2017 01:42:09 GMT

Bangladesh is primarily an agrarian nation. Most of the people of the country directly or indirectly depend on agriculture. Rural people are more involved in this sector compared to urban people. Agriculture is the single largest producing sector of the economy. The performance of this sector has an overwhelming impact on major macroeconomic objectives like employment generation, poverty alleviation, human resources development and food security. The acceleration in economic and agricultural growth has made a positive impact on the diversity of food intake, away from the rice- and vegetable-based diet in favour of quality food. However, nearly 20 per cent of the population is still calorie deficient and the gender disparity in calorie intake still persists. Bangladesh has made significant progress in reducing under nutrition of children. However, progress in reducing stunting, the indicator of chronic malnutrition, shows a less encouraging picture.

A review on existing agriculture value chain-based interventions that focus on enhancing the availability, affordability, acceptability and/or consumption of nutritious foods in households beyond the farm gate in Bangladesh has been undertaken.

This review covers: 
  • interventions focused on foods that are naturally nutrient-dense
  • interventions focused on enhancing the nutritional value of foods, including staples and prepared foods, whether directed at particular nutritional uses or for consumption by the general population
  • food distribution programmes that might incorporate foods in either of the preceding categories

Understanding the socio-institutional context to support adaptation for future water security in forest landscapes

02 Feb 2017 12:27:41 GMT

This article presents participatory research in forest landscapes in Bolivia, Chile and Argentina that aimed to identify conditions that can facilitate local adaptation planning to address water stress.

During the first half of the 21st century, socioeconomic development is expected to contribute faster and to a greater extent to global water stress than climate change. This study aims to identify conditions that can facilitate local adaptation planning for future water security, accounting for the socio-institutional context, developmental needs, and interests affecting water use and management.

The study focused on three forest landscapes in Latin America where water stress was identified as a current concern potentially leading to future social conflict if not addressed. In the three sites, a participatory approach was adopted to implement a systematic diagnostic framework for the analysis of socio-institutional barriers and opportunities influencing local adaptation decision making. This novel application enabled science-society engagement in which civil society organizations were coleading the research. The field methods used involved participatory social network mapping, semi-structured interviews, and validation workshops.

The study generated insights into several interventions that could help overcome barriers affecting the adaptation decision-making process, particularly in the diagnosis and early planning phases. Points of intervention included fostering local participation and dialogue to facilitate coproduction of knowledge, and strengthening the role of key central actors in the water governance networks. These key actors are currently bridging multiple interests, information sources, and governance levels, and thus, they could become agents of change that facilitate local adaptation processes.

Working jointly with civil society to frame the research proved effective to increase awareness about water issues, which related not only to the technological, economic, and political aspects of water, but also to organizational processes. The involvement of civil society created genuine interest in building further capacity for climate adaptation and water security. Summary from WeAdapt.

Summary of the first UN World Data Forum: 15-18 January 2017

02 Feb 2017 11:45:10 GMT

This IISD summary provide a synthesis of discussion and outcomes from the first UN World Data Forum held in South Africa from 15-18 January 2017. The Forum took place following the recommendation of the UN Secretary-General’s Independent Expert Advisory Group on a Data Revolution for Sustainable Development in the report, “A World That Counts: Mobilising the Data Revolution for Sustainable Development”. The Forum sought to intensify cooperation with various professional groups, such as national statistical offices (NSOs), information technology and geospatial information managers, and data scientists among other representatives of government, intergovernmental organizations and civil society.

Decentralized climate change responses in uganda: climate change adaptation lacks local government funding

02 Feb 2017 10:34:24 GMT

This study explored ways in which Mali’s 25-year old decentralized governance system empowers local government to help communities adapt to the changing climate. The findings suggest that local development plans hold promise as a vehicle for engaging communities and integrating adaptation into local development planning, but that more needs to be done to strengthen the process. Centered in the southern regions of Mopti, Koulikoro and Sikasso, where most livelihoods derive from farming and livestock, the study also found that decentralized governance creates particular opportunities to facilitate problem-solving across villages and build external linkages to NGOs, donors and others. Such relationships are important as households increasingly compete for water and land for grazing and farming, and trees for charcoal and fuelwood. With higher temperatures and decreasing rainfall likely in these regions in the future, effective management of natural resources is vital to maintaining livelihoods and minimizing conflict.

Can workplace secondments build trust in the mining sector?

02 Feb 2017 10:06:00 GMT

Mutual suspicion has characterised the relationship between the South African government and mining companies, particularly in recent years. Resolving the current impasse would require a panoply of policy interventions because of the complexity and age of the mining industry. This briefing proposes that one such intervention could be the introduction of a structured workplace secondment programme between the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and mining companies – together identifying critical areas for co-operation and skills transfer. A well-managed and properly resourced secondment programme offers the potential to deepen understanding, share expertise, improve trust and ultimately facilitate a more functional and productive sector. Secondments carry their own risks, but these can be mitigated through rigorous design, and are far outweighed by the risk of doing nothing to alter the status quo.
  • The Department of Mineral Resources should take the lead in establishing a long-term partnership with the private sector for an ongoing workplace secondment programme for public servants into mining companies
  • the programme should be assigned sufficient human and financial resources to succeed. It should be co-designed by the government and the private sector; target mutually agreed critical areas for building expertise; and be co-funded by the state and the private sector
  • rigorous upfront design and consultation should be undertaken to mitigate risks and ensure a coherent and tightly managed process, right through to the secondees’ return to their workplace

Making waves: implications of the irregular migration and refugee situation on Official Development Assistance spending and practices in Europe

02 Feb 2017 04:00:30 GMT

The year 2015 became a particularly challenging year for European cooperation in the field of migration. As a consequence, in-donor refugee costs have increased dramatically in some European countries. This paper sets out to investigate the implications of recent reactions through the use of ODA to the refugee and irregular migration situation by drawing on five case studies: the European Commission, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. In many ways, reactions have been diverse depending on political and institutional contexts and budgetary systems within these case studies. While not being a full comparative study of the ODA situation within Europe and limited to a number of countries, this study aims to draw out a number of developments and implications for ODA practices that have relevance across EU member states.
Collectively, the EU has made additional finances available to respond to the irregular migration and refugee situation internally and externally during the past years until 2015 - despite the skyrocketing costs for refugee protection within donor countries. Despite the overall increase in ODA, the case studies have revealed a nuanced picture. In some cases, there has been a clear trade-off between hosting refugees within the EU and available funding for external longer-term cooperation. Facing pressures of such cuts to their external budgets, some donors have had to make difficult choices on where to prioritise ODA both geographically and thematically.

Development agencies and ministries also realise that they need to increase their level of preparedness to deal with uncertain funding situations due to uncertain in-donor costs for refugee protection.Beyond a general focus of cooperation under the umbrella of addressing ‘root causes of displacement and irregular migration’, the use of ODA for specific migration aspects such as to accompany voluntary return and reintegration efforts of failed asylum seekers or to support migration governance abroad will in the future most likely be reinforced.

Kenya’s regional diplomacy: peripheral or adaptive pragmatism?

27 Jan 2017 04:21:19 GMT

Kenya has, for some time, been dismissed as a reluctant regional actor. Those who question its influence and lack of leverage in regional geopolitics point to the country’s comparatively better economy and draw attention to the absence of a corresponding geo-political and cultural influence. These critics argue that Kenya has not consolidated its status as a pivotal state and that it sometimes adopts regional engagement strategies that are a passive object of the geo-strategic interests of others. On the flipside are those who maintain that Kenya has upheld pragmatic principles in its regional engagements by focusing on domestic concerns and generally favouring multilateralism and soft-power approaches. The question is, why has Kenya not consistently converted its material and ideational resources into political influence in regional geopolitics?A radical departure in Kenya’s regional engagements, however, was its incursion into Somalia in October 2011 to wage war against the Islamist extremist group al-Shabaab. This was the largest military adventure that Kenya had undertaken outside the country's borders since independence. Kenya, for once, appeared to be shifting its regional engagement strategies from the customary low-risk, non-interference posture towards a stronger engagement that aligns its interests with its economic and military strengths. Would Kenya be willing to continually use both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ power to grow its image as a pivotal actor in the region?This paper revisits the debate on Kenya’s regional diplomacies and, in particular, explores the passive versus pragmatic dichotomy in its engagement. It assesses the reasons behind Kenya’s perceived ambivalence in regional geopolitics and considers whether or not Kenya needs to assert itself more robustly, especially at regional and continental levels. With the East African and Horn of Africa regions becoming an important hydrocarbon area, and a new frontier for oil and gas opportunities, it is important that Kenya understands the political space it wants to occupy at various levels and also clearly defines instruments it wants to use to maximise the benefits of its diplomatic engagement in line with its long-term development strategy, Vision 2030. The paper also examines whether or not events such as Kenya’s incursion into Somalia (‘Operation Linda Nchi’, which translates as ‘Protect the Country’) and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pronouncements about a more assertive pan-African focus represent a shift in the country’s regional relations and foreign policy. The objective is to promote an understanding of Kenya’s interaction and behaviour within the region and to stimulate discussion around strategic thinking and tools to take advantage of the country’s various forms of power.[...]

Own ways of doing: national pride, power and China’s political calculus in Ethiopia

27 Jan 2017 04:09:04 GMT

China’s evolving position as a key economic actor in Africa, a diplomatic heavyweight in local conflict resolution and a new entrant into peacekeeping, security co-operation and capacity building, illustrates significant policy changes with potentially profound implications for the continent. Mostly unencumbered by Western normative agendas and a concomitant need to reconcile these with its commercial interests, the Chinese government (along with Chinese enterprises) had pursued a mercantilist agenda that seemingly only required local elite compliance to succeed. However, as a result of China’s failure to sufficiently grapple with the intricacies of various political contexts, the early blush of success in places such as Sudan quickly devolved into situations of great complexity, potentially threatening the commercial viability of investments, the lives of Chinese citizens and the country’s international reputation. Against this increasingly volatile backdrop, the pressure on China to devise an approach that mitigates these challenges without unnecessarily exposing the country to greater risks in the process, has become a formidable policy imperative. By embracing multilateralism while cautiously expanding its co-operation with and capacity building of African regional initiatives, Beijing hopes to have devised a winning strategy for securing future engagements across the continent and elsewhere. Yet the African terrain remains complex and unfamiliar, forcing China to pragmatically engage with specific contexts and learn by doing. This opens up a space for a broader conversation with other external partners of the continent (at both a national and a multilateral level) to explore avenues of engagement. In this broader scheme of shifting dynamics, China’s quickly expanding links with Ethiopia offer a contextualised portrait of activities that extend beyond purely economic interests and outcomes. While neither resource rich nor an economic powerhouse at the scale of Nigeria or South Africa, Ethiopia is among the top Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) and loan recipients in Africa. Given its strategic position within a vast geographical zone of conflicts and its increasingly active role in regional peacekeeping missions, Ethiopia plays an important part in the foreign policies of the EU, the US and, more recently, China. By focusing on peace and security, human security and governance capacity building, this paper explores the nature of political culture and concepts of power in Ethiopia, while examining the ways in which China, as a foreign partner, navigates this complex political landscape (both domestically and regionally) as it seeks to expand both its foothold and bargaining power. The first part unpacks the complexity of domestic politics in Ethiopia, as this provides the basis for th[...]

How effective are CCTs in low income settings? A review exploring factors impacting on programme outcomes in Honduras and Nicaragua

27 Jan 2017 02:51:10 GMT

Conditional cash transfer (CCT) programmes have been evaluated extensively and show by and large an increase of consumption amongst beneficiaries resulting in sometimes substantial reductions in poverty. Nonetheless important questions remain outstanding.

CCTs have very heterogeneous impacts in different contexts. This paper presents the findings of a systematic review of papers looking at evidence of effect of CCTs in Nicaragua and Honduras. In particular, this review wanted to look at wider contextual factors and their relationship with programme outcomes. These factors were: household characteristics and intra-household relations; programme design and delivery; supply side conditions; wider political, social and economic factors.
The review included 13 papers and found that:
  • household, programme and wider contextual factors shape the size and nature of programme effects
  • poorer households and communities tend to experience greater relative effects on school enrolment, and a reduction of child working hours
  • programme effects are greater when economic conditions are favourable
  • however, CCTs also help to lessen the effect of economic shock on household consumption
  • how external factors (e.g. economic shock) affect nutrition and health outcomes remains unclear
  • real and perceived dimensions of programme implementation affect participants’ incentives to comply with conditionalities
The paper further suggests that a key gap in existing knowledge is better knowledge of the causal pathways through which different household and economic factors affect the outcomes experienced.

Policies and practices for climate smart agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa: A comparative assessment of challenges and opportunities across 15 countries

25 Jan 2017 04:10:49 GMT

This report is a product of the collaboration between the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and the Earth System Governance Project, on policies for climate-smart agriculture. It synthesizes the findings of 15 scoping studies conducted by national consultants across Eastern and Southern Africa in order to analyze the barriers and opportunities for promoting climate-smart agriculture (CSA) in the region.

The study finds that the onset impacts of climate change (particularly droughts, floods, and other alterations in rainfall patterns, with their associated impacts on crop yields and livestock) are already being perceived both by formal experts and by rural populations across Eastern and Southern Africa. Yet, the promotion and uptake of CSA practices remain limited. All countries have examples of both traditional and research-based agricultural practices that can be deemed climate-smart, but they are not mainstreamed and still receive limited support. Some countries have developed National Climate Change Policies while others countries have National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA) in place. However, such policies often lack adequate instruments to achieve the goals they set. Furthermore, they are not sufficiently connected across sectors. There is a clear need for greater policy coherence to avoid conflicts and create synergies. Furthermore, perverse incentives that hinder CSA implementation remain in place and need revision.

There is an urgent need for SouthSouth and North-South cooperation that promotes the endogenous technological development of Africa. For greater CSA uptake, it is also fundamental that smallholder farmers, particularly women and the youth, have greater participation in policy- and decision-making. Currently, most agricultural and climate change policies have been top-down and carried out through “one-way” extension services that tell farmers what to do and do not sufficiently listen to them. It is essential that institutions be revised to eliminate gender imbalances and incorporate the views, needs, interests and concerns of smallholders, who make up the majority of farmers in Africa.

All in all the author finds that Eastern and Southern Africa hold great potential for CSA, but this potential needs to be further explored.

Low Carbon Development Key issues

23 Jan 2017 05:26:39 GMT

Low Carbon Development: Key Issues is the first comprehensive textbook to address the interface between international development and climate change in a carbon constrained world.

It discusses the key conceptual, empirical and policy-related issues of low carbon development and takes an international and interdisciplinary approach to the subject by drawing on insights from across the natural sciences and social sciences whilst embedding the discussion in a global context.

Low Carbon Development Strategies: A primer on framing nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs) in Developing Countries

23 Jan 2017 04:54:10 GMT

UNEP and UNEP Risø Centre are engaged in providing financial and technical support to a number of countries working on Low Carbon Development Strategies (LCDS) and piloting Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs). From this engagement it is evident that there is a strong need for clarification both of the underlying terminology and possible approaches, and development of more detailed guidance and tools to assist the national processes.

Several initiatives by national, bilateral and multilateral actors are attempting to bring about this clarification and improved understanding, essentially combining practical application with normative development, and providing the experiences as input to the political negotiations being conducted under the UNFCCC.

This UNEP primer aims to contribute to this clarification by presenting the basic principles, proposing some possible elements of a national LCDS and NAMA preparation process, and providing a template for NAMA articulation.