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Africa and external actors

13 Jan 2017 12:51:51 GMT

The Cape Town seminar in August 2016 brought together about 30 key scholars, policymakers, and civil society activists to assess bilateral and multilateral relations between Africa’s traditional and non-traditional actors in the post–Cold War era. Key issues pertaining to Africa’s relations with global actors were discussed under the following three broad themes: bilateral relations with traditional powers: the United States (US), Russia, China, France, and Britain; bilateral relations with  non-traditional powers: India; Japan; the Nordics; and Europe and the Arab world; and multilateral relations: the United Nations (UN), the BRICS bloc (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), the European Union (EU), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This meeting examined Africa’s relations with eight key bilateral actors or blocs and six major multilateral actors, assessing progress made in the continent’s efforts to increase its leverage in global politics through engagement with external actors. Policy recommendations:pro-Africa lobbyists in the US need to collaborate closely with legislators in the US Congress as well as Washington-based interest groups as they did during South Africa's anti-apartheid struggles in the 1980s. The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) should also be mobilised to support these battlesthe tens of thousands of highly-educated Africans in America should further help to build a viable constituency for Africapeople-to-people relations are important in Africa’s relations with Russia. Russian cultural centres could therefore contribute to building Russo-African cultural relations to improve language barriers and to strengthen business partnerships with a view to changing stereotypes on both sidesAfrican countries should seize the potential opportunities presented by a weakened, less confident, and less cohesive post-“Brexit” Europe to redefine their relations with the European Union. This includes Africa calling for a moratorium on the economic partnership agreements while the EU completes its “divorce settlement” with Britain, and formulating substantive policy responses to issues such as BrexitAfrican countries should leverage China’s and India’s interest in the continent to reduce their dependence on traditional Western powers such as the US, Britain, and France, while Beijing and New Delhi should assist Africa in broadening its export base through technology transfer and knowledge-sharing. Francophone countries on the continent should reduce their political, economic, and cultural dependence on France. Furthermore, Africa must explore how it can borrow from India’s attitude towards aid and development, which is to accept aid as and when needed, and in specific ways to further its own socio-economic development based on a clear definition of its specific interestsAfrican governments should develop clear, coordinated positions on their goals and the strategies for achieving them in fora such as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation; the Tokyo International Conference on African Development; and in respect of other rapidly emerging economies in the “global South” such as Brazil and IndiaAfrica remains a supplier of primary products to external actors, and should change its trade structures so that technical capacity transfer and capacity-building become more of a focus for partnerships with external actors, with local procurement and beneficiation given more prominence. Furthermore, African countries should claim their own individual and collective agency, and strengthen efforts to add value to their primary commodities; diversify their economies; and increase the competitiveness of the export of manufactured productsbuilding on the experiences of the Economic Community of West African States Ceasefire Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and the African Union missions in Burundi, Darfur, and Somalia, Africa needs to create an effective peacekeeping force; it must fund its own institut[...]

South Africa's trade and investment relationship with the United States post-AGOA

06 Jan 2017 04:12:54 GMT

The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has been recognised as the  cornerstone of America’s engagement with Sub-Saharan Africa for the past 14 years. It is therefore central to an  understanding of the South Africa-US trade relationship. The recent extension of AGOA by  a further 10 years presents many  opportunities for improving that trade relationship and expanding economic ties. There are, however, areas for  caution, as was seen in the debates around the extension of AGOA and the terms of the inclusion of South Africa as a beneficiary of AGOA.

This policy brief considers the three main options available to South Africa in a post-AGOA trade and investment relationship with the United States: to stay in AGOA, negotiate a Free Trade Agreement, or fall back on Most Favoured Nation terms and the Generalized System of Preferences.  

India-Africa seed sector collaboration: emerging prospects and challenges

06 Jan 2017 03:36:47 GMT

India-Africa seed sector has promises for improving trade with various African nations. This discussion paper analyses the external orientation of the Indian seed industry, institutional architecture for enabling trade of vegetable crop seeds, explores the African seed sector for its dynamics and identifies challenges in the seed sector collaboration between the regions. It also brings forth a set of prescriptive recommendations and forward looking plans to strengthen the India-Africa seed sector collaboration.

Illicit financial flows estimating trade mispricing and trade-based money laundering for five African countries

06 Jan 2017 03:05:49 GMT

Illicit financial flows (IFFs) are garnered through the proceeds of illicit trade, trade mispricing, transfer pricing and other forms of organised profit-motivated crime. This paper focuses on the commercial tax evasion component of illicit financial flows (IFFs), clarifying concepts often used interchangeably, namely transfer pricing, abusive transfer pricing, trade mispricing (or trade mis-invoicing), trade-based money laundering (TBML), tax evasion and tax avoidance. It also shows how they link to IFFs. It estimates the extent of trade mispricing by enhancing the model currently used by Global Financial Integrity, and by developing a TBML model as a means of quantifying IFFs between two developing countries. There are data challenges with this methodology, as it is an estimation of illegal or hidden activities, using the International Monetary Funds Direction of Trade methodology.

The research points to declining trade mispricing in South Africa and Zambia for the period 2013-2015, and Nigeria for the period 2013-2014. Morocco and Egypt exhibit increasing trade mispricing from 2013 to 2014. The TBML model, which addresses the criticism regarding flows between two developing countries, points to increasing financial outflows for all five countries. These flows mean less revenue is available to the fiscus to invest in socio-economic infrastructure and pro-poor growth strategies, which would benefit women and the poor. Policy recommendations address commercial tax evasion as well as proposals to remedy the data anomalies.

Improving infrastructure finance for Low-Income Countries: recommendations for the ADF

06 Jan 2017 02:48:36 GMT

Low-income countries (LICs) in sub-Saharan Africa face a substantial infrastructure-financing gap. multi-lateral development banks (MLDBs) have traditionally played an important role in mobilising finance for infrastructure in LIcs, but their funding alone cannot match demand. the african development Bank’s (AfDB) concessional window, the african development fund (ADF), is a key infrastructure financier for african LICs, and comprises 37 regional member countries (RMCs), including emerging markets and fragile states. however, in recent years the ADF has faced funding and technical constraints.

This policy brief, based on a discussion paper, outlines the ADF’s role in providing infrastructure financing to LIcs and the challenges that countries face in accessing these funds. It also examines the changing context confronting LIcs as they weigh their infrastructure demands against the requirement to maintain sustainable debt levels. Lastly, the brief explores the challenges and opportunities of mobilising additional finance for LICs.

Policy recommendations:

  • in order to target growing international concerns around debt sustainability, the ADF should increase its efforts to work with countries in understanding and managing their debt levels
  • the ADF should continue to streamline its approval and implementation processes, targeting national capacity bottlenecks as early as possible and ensuring the continuity of AfDB officials from the appraisal to monitoring stages
  • the ADF should direct efforts towards increasing LIC awareness and understanding of its private finance mobilisation tools through greater promotion and dissemination of information, and should increase technical support and training for PPPs. It should place greater focus on measuring the developmental impacts of projects, especially where the private sector is involved
  • project preparation requires more ADF funding, and the ADF’s PPF should explore cost recovery mechanisms to ensure sustainability. LIC governments should create better co-ordination and unified support around proposed projects to decrease risks
  • LICs should be assisted in accessing the non-concessional ADB funds available to them

Climate models: what they show us and how they can be used in planning

05 Jan 2017 12:07:35 GMT

The climate conditions that we experience are the result of complex interactions between processes occurring in the atmosphere and in the oceans. These processes operate at global and local scales and are influenced by other factors, including the land surface, polar ice sheets and the sun. This is why different parts of the world experience different climates. Global Climate Models (GCMs) are computer models that attempt to capture and simulate all these processes, based on our current knowledge.
Global Climate Models are run on supercomputers at a number of centres around the world, including the Max Planck Institute in Germany, the UK Met Office Hadley Centre, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the USA. The models use physical laws and mathematical equations that reflect our understanding of atmospheric and oceanic processes.
The nature of planning decisions that are made over the medium term is different from those that are made in the short term. So what is required from climate projections is different from what is needed from shorter-term weather predictions. The resolution provided by GCMs is useful to inform medium- to long-term planning decisions. The poor availability of historical weather observations in some parts of Africa for example limits understanding of how reliable these models are.

Interactive radio’s promising role in climate information services: Farm Radio International concept paper

03 Jan 2017 04:35:19 GMT

Farmers require relevant, timely and continuous information and advice regarding historic climate variability, probabilistic seasonal forecasts, and monitoring and short-lead information about growing season weather.
Climate services are most useful when built upon dialogue between climate scientists, local expert forecasters, intermediaries, and users such as farmers, pastoralists, project and programme staff, government planners, businesses and others who benefit from climate information (Ambani & Percy 2014). However the cost and limited reach of face-to-face interactions presents challenges to scaling up climate services for smallholder farmers.  
Radio broadcasts, on the other hand, have tremendous reach and coverage, and are very efficient. However, radio broadcasts are conventionally one-way methods of disseminating data that do not provide the exchange, discussion and explanation that helps with decision- making. Further, radio broadcasts are fleeting; one either hears them when they are broadcast, or they are missed. If the weather forecasts are broadcast at a time that farmers cannot listen, they are not helpful.  

Recent developments in interactive radio, which combines radio with widespread and growing mobile phone access, offer the exciting prospect of combining the benefits of participatory interaction with the immense reach of radio and mobile phones. Interactive radio integrates accurate and interpretive radio broadcasts with “on demand” access to interactive voice response (IVR) systems, SMS services, and unique uses of missed call voting to provide users with personalized feedback and allow for two-way communication and learning.  

Interactive radio combines some of the benefits of face-to-face interaction (between farmers and climate experts) found in workshops with the reach of mass media to provide equitable access to female and male rural farmers. This paper proposes a framework and strategy for developing interactive radio programing to extend the reach and benefits of weather and seasonal climate information and related advisory services for smallholder farmers. It offers a promising complement to face-to-face interaction and other methods of delivering climate information to farmers.

Climate-smart livestock interventions in West Africa: a review

16 Dec 2016 12:26:19 GMT

The livestock sector is one of the major contributors in agriculture, by some estimates contributing up to 18% of the global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Of this, about one third is reported to be due to land use change associated with livestock production, another one third is nitrous oxide from manure and slurry management, and roughly 25% is attributed to methane emissions from ruminant digestion.  Recent analysis suggests that developing world regions contribute about two thirds of the global emissions from ruminants, with sub-Saharan Africa a global hotspot for emissions intensities, largely due to low animal productivity, poor animal health and low quality feeds. These numbers suggest, therefore, that there are opportunities for easy gains to be made in terms of mitigation in the livestock sector, as improving feed resource use efficiencies would improve livestock productivity as well as reduce emissions per unit of product. In this context, climate-smart agricultural practices are necessary in the West Africa region and in sub-Saharan Africa in general. Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) is an approach that provides a conceptual basis for assessing the effectiveness of agricultural practice change to support food security under climate change.

This review focuses on livestock-related CSA options in West Africa looking at herd management, feed, grazing management, animal breeding strategies, manure management, and policy options.

Integrating gender into climate change adaptation programs: a research and capacity needs assessment for Sub-Saharan Africa

16 Dec 2016 02:52:06 GMT

Research shows that paying attention to gender matters not only for the equity of climate change adaptation programs but also for their efficiency and effectiveness. Many organizations working to increase resilience to climate change with local communities also recognize the importance of gender yet the degree to which gender is integrated in project implementation is unclear.

This study examines the extent to which organizations involved in climate change and resilience work are incorporating gender-sensitive approaches into their programs using data collected through a Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) survey and Key Informant Interviews (KII) targeted at government agencies, local and international NGOs, and other practitioners.

The results show that although organizations have access to research on climate change from various sources, more evidence is needed to inform gender integration into climate change adaptation programs across a range of local contexts. Moreover, large gaps exist in integrating gender into projects, particularly during project design. Lack of staff capacity on gender, lack of funding to support gender integration and socio-cultural constraints were identified as key barriers to gender integration by many respondents, particularly from government agencies. Increasing the capacity of organizations to carry out rigorous research and pay greater to the gender dimensions of their programs is possible through greater collaboration across organizations and more funding for gender-sensitive research.

The future of food security, environments and livelihoods in Western Africa: four socio-economic scenarios

16 Dec 2016 02:08:27 GMT

Researchers, policy makers, entrepreneurs and development practitioners working to improve food security, environmental health and rural livelihoods in the developing world face many uncertainties when exploring the future of food systems. It is difficult to predict what economic, political and social conditions will be like in the next few years and virtually impossible to predict the medium to longer term. Climate change and variability are among the greatest unknowns, and are likely to have far- reaching effects on food security, environments and livelihoods. 

This working paper presents four alternative plausible futures, or scenarios, for food security, environments and livelihoods in West Africa. The scenarios are based on different assumptions and pathways of socio-economic and political development. They were developed under the auspices of CGIAR's Research Programme 7: Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). A number of workshops, attended by stakeholders, drawn from governments, civil society, the research community and the media, fed into the development process. The scenarios describe trends and events since 2010 up to 2050. These scenarios were translated to semi-quantitative assessments of a range of drivers and indicators and quantified with two agricultural economic models, IMPACT, developed by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and GLOBIOM,  developed by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). The separate presentation of the semi-quantitative and quantitative results in this report allows the stories to flow and also makes it easier for the reader to compare data between the different scenarios

A place for subnational governments at the international climate negotiating table

08 Dec 2016 03:43:44 GMT

It can be difficult for subnational governments and cities to acquire a place at the negotiating table for international climate events, such as UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) gatherings. This is despite the fact that subnational governments are often best placed to implement the outcomes of climate change negotiations. The role of cities in global geopolitical negotiations and agreements has been undervalued, with subnational governments dependent on national structures to carry their message forward, even as the city space gains ever greater prominence with rapid global urbanisation. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and local government associations (LGAs) have stepped into this often contested and politically charged space to represent the voices of subnational governments and cities on the world stage. They profile the need for co-ordinated, effective climate action at subnational level through improved vertical and horizontal co-operation with central governments and other role players in the climate action space.

Recommendations: To ensure that the targets and action measures from international climate agreements are relevant and implementable at the local scale, an institutional architecture should:

  • actively strengthen internal co-operation and collaboration between national and subnational governments by moving beyond ‘consultation’ to a model of ‘co-production’ in the climate change policy sphere
  • adopt fiscal measures that allow for the rapid movement of finance for climate change mitigation and adaptation measures from donor organisations to subnational governments
  • deepen the collaboration between transnational actors, central and subnational governments to maximise the opportunities for innovative and locally relevant mitigation and adaptation measures
  • recognise potential intra-governmental sensitivities and plan accordingly for conflict resolution measures that diffuse tensions that may arise

Averting 'New Variant Famine' in Southern Africa: building food-secure livelihoods with AIDS-affected young people

06 Dec 2016 12:19:41 GMT

Numerous reports have linked AIDS’ impacts on young people and their long term food insecurity, through, for instance, orphans’ failure to inherit property and resources; inability to retain rights to land which they are too young or inexperienced to farm; or interruption of intergenerational knowledge transfer following parental deaths. Hitherto, however, reports have only addressed isolated aspects of young people’s livelihood prospects, and most lack substantive evidence. Impacts of AIDS on young people’s attitudes and dispositions remain neglected.  responds to the clear need to understand better how AIDS affects young people’s livelihood participation in varying geographical/livelihood contexts.

The research covered in this report aimed to generate new, in- depth understanding of how AIDS, in interaction with other factors, is impacting on the livelihood activities, opportunities and choices of young people in rural southern Africa. This was intended to support the development of policies and interventions that enhance AIDS- affected young people’s prospects of achieving sustainable, food -secure livelihoods throughout the region.

Africa’s climate: Helping decision‑makers make sense of climate information

06 Dec 2016 05:19:15 GMT

African decision-makers need reliable, accessible, and trustworthy information about the continent’s climate, and how this climate might change in future, if they are to plan appropriately to meet the region’s development challenges.

This report is designed as a guide for scientists, policy-makers, and practitioners on the continent. The research presents an overview of climate trends across central, eastern, western, and southern Africa, and is distilled into a series of factsheets that are tailored for specific sub-regions and countries.

The report consists of 15 factsheets that are grouped into three sections:

  • Regional Overviews focus on regionally relevant questions for east, west, central and southern Africa
  • Burning Questions focus on the key issues relating to the ability of the current science to accurately provide climate change projections and communicate future climate change in Africa
  • Country Factsheets provide information on the climate and the possible impacts for Rwanda, Uganda, Senegal, and Zambia. They also consider how climate information is used in Tanzania and Malawi, and how accessible the information is to the communities that need it

Climate change impacts in Sub-Saharan Africa: from physical changes to their social repercussions

01 Dec 2016 03:47:06 GMT

The repercussions of climate change will be felt in various ways throughout both natural and human systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. Climate change projections for this region point to a warming trend, particularly in the inland subtropics; frequent occurrence of extreme heat
events; increasing aridity; and changes in rainfall—with a particularly pronounced decline in southern Africa and an increase in East Africa. The region could also experience as much as one meter of sea-level rise by the end of this century under a 4 C warming scenario. Sub-Saharan
Africa’s already high rates of undernutrition and infectious disease can be expected to increase compared to a scenario without climate change. Particularly vulnerable to these climatic changes are the rainfed agricultural systems on which the livelihoods of a large proportion of the region’s population currently depend. As agricultural livelihoods become more precarious, the rate of rural–urban migration may be expected to grow, adding to the already significant urbanization trend in the region. The movement of people into informal settlements may expose them to a variety of risks different but no less serious than those faced in their place of origin, including outbreaks of infectious disease, flash flooding and food price increases. Impacts across sectors are likely to amplify the overall effect but remain little understood.

West Africa Regional Diagnostic Study: report summary

29 Nov 2016 11:51:32 GMT

Home to hundreds of millions of people, the semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia are particularly vulnerable to climate-related impacts and risks. Working in 11 countries in these regions, ASSAR is a research project that seeks to understand the factors that have prevented climate change adaptation from being more widespread and successful. At the same time ASSAR is investigating the processes - particularly in governance - that can facilitate a shift from ad-hoc adaptation to large-scale adaptation.

ASSAR is especially interested in understanding people's vulnerability, both in relation to climatic impacts that are becoming more severe, and to general development challenges. Through participatory work from 2014-2018, ASSAR aims to meet the needs of government and practitioner stakeholders, to help shape more effective policy frameworks, and to develop more lasting adaptation responses.

ASSAR has recently completed its Regional Diagnostic Study phase which took stock of the current state of knowledge on the extant and emergent climatic and non-climatic risks in Africa and India. During this phase ASSAR explored why different people are differentially vulnerable to these risks and how people, governments and other stakeholders at various scales are responding to current and future climatic and non-climatic challenges.


Important barriers to adaptation comprise development, gender, and governance dimensions. Among the key development barriers are: lack of integrated water resource planning, extensification of agriculture onto drought prone soils, reduced access to pastoral corridors, increased encroachment of farming onto rangelands, and under investment in dryland areas. Among the key gender barriers are: traditional gender norms that manifest in unequal access to resources and decision-making processes, limited livelihood and technologic options for women, predominance of male migration that leave women, children, elderly and disabled dependents vulnerable to shocks, particularly where remittance flows are weak or nonexistent. Among the key governance barriers are: incomplete government decentralization, top-down policy interventions for managing natural resources that lack local incentives and lock local communities out of resource access, and lack of coordination within national-level institutions and across national to district scales.

Important enablers of adaptation also comprise development, gender, and governance dimensions. Among the key development enablers are: research agendas that increasingly emphasize participatory processes for knowledge co-generation, greater prominence of appropriate technologies for soil and water conservation and natural resource management, and increasing efforts to better channel weather information to local communities. Among the key gender enablers are that adaptation provides an entry point for better addressing the needs of differentially vulnerable groups. Among the key governance enablers are: a significant increase in national policy development around climate change, leadership that is emerging in key ministries, and increasing evidence of mainstreaming of climate into different sectoral policies and strategies

Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in the semi-arid regions of West Africa

29 Nov 2016 11:46:12 GMT

The West Africa region spans humid, sub-humid, semi-arid and arid climate regimes. It is currently home to over 340 million people, and constitutes 39% of sub-Saharan Africa’s population. The regional population is expected to exceed 400 million by 2020 and 500 million between 2030 and 2035.

This report, which encompasses the findings of a Regional Diagnostic Study (RDS) for West Africa, was undertaken in 2014-15 to advance understanding of climate change in semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia. The RDS represents the first phase of a research effort under the Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) project. ASSAR is one of four consortia generating new knowledge of climate change hotspots under the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA).

The RDS provides a foundation for developing an integrated regional research program (RRP) on climate change vulnerability and adaptation centered around advancing knowledge on socio-economic and biophysical systems, governance and institutions, gender, and wellbeing. The RDS thus provides a broad regional-scale context into which the RRP can be designed to focus on achieving deeper understanding of the multi-faceted nature of vulnerability, adaptation enablers and adaptation barriers.

There are multiple target audiences for the findings generated through this RDS. They include academics and researchers, stakeholders from government, civil society, and the international donor community. The findings of this report will be used to inform a communication strategy that will allow for broader dissemination of key findings from this RDS.

Fertilizers and low emission development in sub-Saharan Africa

29 Nov 2016 03:09:51 GMT

Many countries in Africa included fertilizer use, soil fertility management, and agricultural inputs as part of their contributions to the Paris Climate Agreement. While nitrogen (N) fertilizers contribute substantially to nitrous oxide (N2O) emissions globally, emissions from fertilizers are still low in sub-Saharan Africa. Projections of future food needs in Africa point to the need for substantial increases in nutrient inputs on cropland. An opportunity exists in Africa to meet those future food security needs while using N fertilizers efficiently.

Since African countries will now be preparing to implement their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and further fleshing out their low emission development strategies, it is an opportune time to reflect on the role of fertilizers and soil fertility management in climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies in a holistic manner.

This policy brief outlines the main issues to consider as countries develop their own specific agriculture and soil fertility management strategies with a view towards supporting food security, adapting to climate change and limiting greenhouse gas (GHG) missions.

Key messages:

  • greenhouse gas emissions from fertilizer usage in sub-Saharan Africa are currently low due to low application rates of nitrogen fertilizer
  • as African countries begin to implement their Nationally Determined Contributions to the Paris Agreement, there is an opportunity to improve crop productivity to meet future food needs while continuing to use N fertilizers—both organic and inorganic—efficiently
  • efficient use of N fertilizers requires combining balanced and appropriate nutrient inputs with good agronomic practices, such as the use of improved, high-yielding varieties that are adapted to local conditions and needs, application and recycling of available organic matter, water harvesting and irrigation under drought stress conditions, and lime application on soils with acidity-related problems
  • policies for soil fertility management in the context of climate goals may consider the need to:
  • improve the availability, access and affordability of organic and inorganic
    nutrient inputs, along with other key inputs such as high-yielding varieties
  • build capacity in adaptive nutrient management and agronomic best practices that support crop productivity
  • ensure equitable access to inputs, particularly for women and vulnerable groups



East Africa Regional Diagnostic Study

25 Nov 2016 12:42:19 GMT

Home to hundreds of millions of people, the semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia are particularly vulnerable to climate-related impacts and risks. Working in 11 countries in these regions, ASSAR is a research project that seeks to understand the factors that have prevented climate change adaptation from being more widespread and successful. At the same time ASSAR is investigating the processes - particularly in governance - that can facilitate a shift from ad-hoc adaptation to large-scale adaptation. ASSAR is especially interested in understanding people's vulnerability, both in relation to climatic impacts that are becoming more severe, and to general development challenges. Through participatory work from 2014-2018, ASSAR aims to meet the needs of government and practitioner stakeholders, to help shape more effective policy frameworks, and to develop more lasting adaptation responses.

ASSAR has recently completed its Regional Diagnostic Study phase which took stock of the current state of knowledge on the extant and emergent climatic and non-climatic risks in Africa and India. During this phase ASSAR explored why different people are differentially vulnerable to these risks and how people, governments and other stakeholders at various scales are responding to current and future climatic and non-climatic challenges

Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change in the Semi-Arid Regions of East Africa

25 Nov 2016 12:37:58 GMT

The Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) Consortium seeks to deepen understanding of climate vulnerability and adaptation in semi-arid regions, and help transform current adaptation practice to a mode that achieves proactive, widespread adaptation embedded in development activities. The project works at multiple scales, but with a central focus on advancing adaptive livelihoods for vulnerable groups. As part of the ASSAR project, the East Africa team’s work concentrates especially on dryland zones of Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda.

This report summarises key findings from the regional diagnostic study (RDS) of the ASSAR East Africa team, and identifies major gaps in the existing literature on areas of vulnerability and adaptation in East Africa. The discussion provides the foundation for detailed case study work planned for the major phase of research, the Regional Research Programme (RRP), as well as an underpinning guide to develop a dialogue on adaptation options.

The primary purpose of the report is to capture the current state of affairs and evaluate trajectories of change with respect to vulnerability, impacts and adaptation across semi-arid regions in East Africa, with a particular focus on Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. It also identifies gaps in knowledge, policy and practice with respect to climate change adaptation in the region. Therefore, the report can be useful for a wide variety of target audience working in the area of climate change adaptation in the region – including academics and researchers, stakeholders from government, economy and policy as well as climate change practitioners, I/NGOs, media, grassroots organisations, community groups and the wider public

Planning for climate change in the semi-arid regions of Southern Africa

25 Nov 2016 11:03:47 GMT

Semi-arid areas in Southern Africa are characterised by high rainfall variability, frequent droughts, low soil moisture and extreme events such as flash floods. These conditions provide the foundation of vulnerability of communities in these areas.

Such communities are generally dependent on primary production and natural resources, rely on rain-fed agriculture, have limited livelihood options and employment opportunities, depend on activities that are sensitive to the impacts of climate change, face high levels of poverty, are exposed to high levels of HIV/AIDS, have limited infrastructure and services, and are affected by limited institutional capacity and weak resource governance.

It is therefore essential to understand how to enhance the ability of communities, local organisations and governments in Southern Africa to adapt to climate change in a way that minimises vulnerability and promotes long-term resilience.

Key points:

  • The semi-arid regions of Southern Africa are a true climate change “hot-spot” – experiencing more extreme climate changes than surrounding areas
  • Over the next 50 years, and compared to the surrounding areas, these regions are expected to become hotter, with continued variation in rainfall and more flooding
  • Climate changes – including increased frequency and intensity of droughts and floods – are predicted to negatively impact food security, economic growth, infrastructure and human health

The way forward:

  • improve technical capacity at the national and sub-national levels, to develop a greater understanding of climate change and its effects, and to develop and implement appropriate responses and adaptation strategies to reduce the impacts of floods, low rainfall and high temperatures on people, crops, livestock, infrastructure and services
  • agricultural adaptation strategies may include: coordinating the timing of ploughing and crop planting events with rainfall events; using drought-resistant crop varieties and livestock breeds; shifting livestock to alternative grazing areas and; implementing soil and water conservation policies and practices
  • develop common goals and facilitate better integration of different policies and practice sectors
  • develop policies and programmes that accommodate and encourage new and diverse livelihood options and generate financial capital
  • build an improved and accessible evidence base of adaptation options, and their associated benefits, that provides tangible demonstrations of these benefits

Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change in the semi-arid regions of Southern Africa

25 Nov 2016 10:51:18 GMT

The semi-arid areas of southern Africa are culturally and ecologically diverse characterised by a high proportion of poor people with limited access to services, high unemployment levels, high levels of inequality, and high levels of HIV and AIDS. In addition to agriculture, the people living in these areas are reliant on a variety of natural resources, employment and remittances for their livelihoods due to the relatively low agricultural productivity of land.

Semi-arid areas in southern africa are characterised by seasonal and highly variable rainfall (inter-annually and intra-seasonally), frequent droughts and flash floods. Temperatures are predicted to increase in semi-arid areas in southern Africa by between 1 and 4 degrees Celsius by 2050 and substantial multi-decadal variability in rainfall is predicted to continue into the future, without certainty in the direction of change in rainfall in any area.

This report discusses a Regional Diagnostic Study with objectives to:

  • develop a systematic understanding of existing knowledge and perceptions of climate change trends, impacts, vulnerability, adaptation strategies, and barriers and enablers to effective adaptation in SARs
  • provide a system scale perspective from which ASSAR researchers can undertake research in the Regional Research Programme (RRP); and
  • help inform the more detailed sets of specific research foci for the RRP

Social Protection for Sustainable Development: dialogues between Africa and Brazil

25 Nov 2016 03:42:48 GMT

Over the last few decades, Latin American countries have experienced a boom in social protection policies. This increase has been fuelled by the expansion of fiscal space as the result of steady economic growth. While many of these countries had already had some type of social security system in place, most still lacked effective policies to reduce poverty and few had public programmes offering social assistance.

Cash transfer programmes rapidly emerged in countries all over the continent, followed by other social assistance programmes focusing on vulnerable individuals and families. The design of policies or systems varies according to the context and capacity of each country. Even within a country, there is great heterogeneity in the quality of services offered. This process has rapidly shown interested countries that even when the implementation of public policies is strongly inspired by a model existing in another country, their experience will always be unique.

Africans are interested in learning more about the successful experiences of countries, such as that of Brazil, which serve as a reference and guide for developing their own pathways to social protection solutions.

The partnership between the Government of Brazil and the Government of Senegal, the African Union Commission, UNDP World Centre for Sustainable Development (RIO+ Centre), UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa and the Lula Institute provided the opportunity for a high-level debate at the International Seminar
on Social Protection in Dakar. In addition to Brazil and Senegal, there were representatives from Cape Verde, Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Zambia and Zimbabwe at the event.

This publication registers the inputs and results of the International Seminar in Dakar. It reveals a theoretical alignment regarding the social agenda that is necessary to both African countries and Brazil, especially in regards to social protection.

Do Africans still want democracy?

25 Nov 2016 02:38:21 GMT

More than half of all Africans today live in functioning multi-party electoral democracies that are demonstrably freer than the military or one-party regimes that previously dominated the continent. At the same time, the post-1990 gains that African countries registered in terms of civil liberties and political rights peaked in 2006, at least according to expert judgments offered by Freedom House.

Trends of this sort around the world have led some analysts to conclude that Africa is currently part of a global democratic recession In other words, multiple things may be true. That is, democracy may seem to be declining when measured with a near-term yardstick. At the same time, democracy may be alive and well, since the continent is still far more democratic than it used to be when viewed from a longer-term perspective.

With these mixed possibilities in mind, this report emphasizes what ordinary citizens in 36 African countries think. Do they desire a democratic form of government, or what we call “demand for democracy”? By tracking 16 African countries that have had been surveyed over more than a decade, Afrobarometer has previously demonstrated a steady rise in popular demand for democracy. Yet large proportions of Africans remain skeptical that they are being “supplied” with democracy by their current political leaders. Under these conditions, do Africans continue to consider democracy to be the best available form of government? Or have global trends questioning the desirability of democracy begun to diffuse within Africa?

Key findings:

  • on average across the continent, Africans support democracy as a preferred type of political regime. Large majorities also reject alternative authoritarian regimes such as presidential dictatorship, military rule, and one-party government. Smaller proportions agree on all four of these aspects of democratic preference, an index we call “demand for democracy.”
  • large cross-national differences exist in demand for democracy. For example, while three in four respondents in Mauritius are consistent, committed democrats, fewer than one in 10 Mozambicans merit the same description
  • demographically, demand is highest amongst those who live in urban settings, have a university education, and work in middle-class occupations. There is also an important gender gap, with women significantly less likely to demand democracy than men
  • across 34 countries included in both of Afrobarometer’s two most recent rounds of surveys, popular demand for democracy increased in 10 countries, decreased in 14 countries, and remained essentially unchanged in 10 countries
  • a for longer-term trends in 16 countries surveyed since 2002, a steady, decade-long upward trend in demand for democracy has ended with a downward turn since 2012
  • the quality of elections helps to explain demand for democracy. African countries with high-quality elections are more likely to register increases in popular demand for democracy than countries with low-quality elections
  • in a positive sign for the future of democracy, popular demand for democracy still exceeds citizen perceptions of the available supply of democracy in most African countries (26 out of 36 in 2015)

How can we better understand and manage the impacts of droughts

25 Nov 2016 02:27:06 GMT

Semi-arid regions of the world are often thought of as being particularly vulnerable to climate change. They are already climatically stressed with high temperatures, low rainfall and long dry seasons. Semi-arid ecosystems are highly dynamic, with bursts of productivity in the wet season and in good years, and very low productivity in dry years, often leading to temporary or longer-term land degradation.

Traditionally, inhabitants of semi-arid areas managed this variability in natural resource availability though pastoralism or agro-pastoralism. Nowadays, population growth, land-ownership issues, national borders and competition with other land-uses has reduced the opportunities for people to respond in traditional ways to the ecosystem dynamics of these systems, and has resulted in many instances of enhanced vulnerability to climatic variability.

It is clear that drought is already affecting many parts of the system in semi-arid regions, and climate change is likely to make drought events more frequent. Therefore, it is critical to assess the viability of scaling up successful local solutions to this challenge, and to identify new solutions. Importantly, this needs to be done in a participatory manner, with researchers and practitioners working alongside local stakeholders, local government and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

Communicating climate change for adaptation: challenges, success and future priorities

25 Nov 2016 02:22:49 GMT

Communicating climate change to communities in semi-arid regions remains a difficult task. This information brief helps communicators understand best practice and helps researchers understand where knowledge gaps exist.

Key findings:

  • currently, relatively little attention is given to understanding the ways that important actors from policy, practice or the media in semi-arid regions perceive climate variability and change, and where important gaps in knowledge and information exist
  • aside from the limitations of resource availability, adaptive capacity largely depends on the extent to which problems are understood, knowledge is accessible to vulnerable groups and policy makers, and adaptive responses are recognised and available. Framing climate change messages in line with these local contexts is crucial and greatly improves their effectiveness
  • few attempts have been made to directly test for correlations between climate communication efforts and observed behaviour change. Yet, an understanding of this relationship can offer important guidelines for future climate communication efforts


Gendered vulnerabilities to climate change: insights from the semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia

25 Nov 2016 01:59:18 GMT

Vulnerabilities to impacts of climate change are gendered. Still, policy approaches aimed at strengthening local communities’ adaptive capacity largely fail to recognise the gendered nature of everyday realities and experiences.

Key points and recommendations:

  • gender is not just about women, but the arrangement of roles, responsibilities and relations between men and women of different social groups, ages, educational and marital statuses. Both perceptions of risks and actual vulnerabilities are shaped by these roles, responsibilities and relations, and hence may vary across place, time and social position/location
  • policies still largely fail to acknowledge the intersection of social relations and identities, which could provide a more exact understanding of adaptive behaviour in semi-arid contexts. To facilitate the inclusion of gender in policies, practices and extension services, gender should form an early focus in dialogue spaces, decision making processes and policy discussions
  • adaptive strategies need to pay attention to the divisions of work between men and women to ensure that women’s everyday lives are not overburdened, and that suitable technologies are put in place to support their performance of everyday tasks (e.g., ensuring water for domestic use in the context of scarcity)
  • adaptive strategies also need to work with social norms (that shape what kind of activities are appropriate for men and women to engage in) which might be restrictive but are not inflexible. Such social norms must be taken into consideration, and sometimes challenged, to promote gender equality and improve or increase women’s rights
  • attention needs to be paid to the growing resource conflicts around the use and management of water and land, and the underlying causes ‒ particularly with the monetisation and commoditisation of these resources posing a threat to the already-precarious survival of some semi-arid communities
  • new forms of diversification and collective action are emerging, especially by women, and trade-offs between short-term coping strategies and longer-term adaptation adaptation are becoming more apparent. All of these changes need to be better understood in terms of how gender works, is arranged and rearranged over time and place. At the same time, by building the capacity of local community ‒ especially women ‒ to access resources and ensure their voices are heard, their adaptive capacity can be increased and their dependency on state welfare can be reduced
  • studies on climate change vulnerability and impacts and identification of adaptation strategies should be done from a gender-sensitive perspective. Further research is needed to understand the potential impacts of the reorganisation of domestic groups and the rise in numbers of female-headed households on their adaptive and coping strategies, particularly in the semi-arid regions in Africa

Climate change adaptation practice in semi-arid regions: views and insights by practitioners

25 Nov 2016 01:50:10 GMT

The Research into Use (RiU) element of the research project Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) aims to ensure that ASSAR’s research outputs and findings are taken-up in adaptation practice and policy spheres across semi-arid regions. For that purpose, the ASSAR consortia is keen to engage with practitioners early in the research process to reflect their views in the research design and in the definition of research questions. It is recognised that this step is key to enhance the likelihood of research up-take and creates interest and ownership in the research process by practitioners.

In order to solicit views and insights by climate change adaptation practitioners, Oxfam GB, one of ASSAR’s consortia lead partners, collaborated with one of the leading knowledge platforms for adaptation practitioners, weADAPT. Oxfam GB and weADAPT devised a short online survey (see annex 1) with questions focused on a) information needs (type and usefulness) and sources used (frequency and ease of access); b) barriers to implementation of adaptation actions and c) additional insights in the realities of implementing adaptation projects, programmes and strategies.

The survey findings have been analysed by taking into account the professional sector/ type of organisation and institution the respondents indicated. For this purpose, the findings have been divided into three categories: (1) total = all respondents; (2) practitioners and (3) researchers. This has been done to explore whether there is significant difference in information needs, information sources and perceived barriers to implementation between practitioners and researchers.
Strong efforts were made to target climate change adaptation (CCA) practitioners working specifically in semi-arid regions in order to maximise relevance to ASSAR’s research agenda.

This report elaborates recommendations aimed at ASSAR’s Regional Research Teams (RRT) as they enter the transition between the Regional Diagnostic Studies (RDS) and the Regional Research Programmes(RRP), and as such, recommendations hope to influence the design and refining of research questions. The Oxfam team is committed to supporting the RRTs in this transition process by offering them tailored support. [

Use and communication of climate information to support uptake of adaptation action in the semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia

25 Nov 2016 01:41:57 GMT

Africa and Asia are among the continents most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. This vulnerability is further worsened by the poor state of their socio-economic development and low adaptive capacity. Hence the states within these two continents face a serious challenge in providing sustainable livelihoods for their populations, especially in the vulnerable and fragile ecosystems of their respective semi-arid regions. There is therefore a critical need for the development of adaptation policies, strategies and plans in response to the changing climate. To develop effective adapation policies, strategies and action plans, however, it is necessary to have a comprehensive and multi-sectoral understanding, communication and use of weather and climate information. The Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA) aims to build the resilience of vulnerable populations and their livelihoods in semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia by supporting collaborative research to inform adaptation policies and practices. To realize this research goal, CARIAA has developed the Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR). One of the research activities funded within this program is research on the factors that shape understanding and use of weather and climate information as well as challenges to and opportunities for effective communication of climate information in semi-arid regions of Asia and Africa. This research is structured in three overlapping but complementary phases: (1) Regional Diagnostic Study phase (RDS); (2) The Regional Research Program (RRP), and (3) Transformative Scenario Planning (TSP) and Knowledge Synthesis and Sharing phase.This paper reports on the findings of the first phase of the research. This phase involved a desk study to examine how weather and climate information is understood, communicated and used in semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia and the challenges and opportunities that could support effective communication and use of weather and climate information in semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia. Specifically, this diagnostic study phase addressed the following questions, to inform the next phase of the resarch:what factors shape understanding and use of weather and climate information in semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia?how is weather and climate information communicated and used in semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia?what challenges and opportunities could support effective communication and use of weather and climate information in semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia?The study found that understanding and use of weather and climate information in semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia is influenced by both intrinsic and contextual factors. The intrinsic factors that influence weather and climate information understanding and use include the communication channels, forms, and formats used to communicated the information. Contextual factors include community’s cultural practices and religious beliefs; community’s indigenous knowledge; community’s social structures and networks; locality i.e. rural versus urban settings; community livelihood practices and experiences; and gender. Although both intsrinsic and contextual factors influence understanding and use of weather and climate information, the study noted there is little resea[...]

Climate change, ecosystem services and adaptation in East Africa’s semi-arid regions: Early diagnostics of critical knowledge gaps for landscape conservation

25 Nov 2016 01:23:48 GMT

ASSAR (Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions) seeks to deepen understanding of climate vulnerability and adaptation in semi-arid regions, and to help transform current adaptation practice to a mode that achieves proactive, widespread adaptation embedded in development activities.

ASSAR is a five-year, multi-country research project, which aims to deepen the understanding of the barriers and enablers for effective, medium-term adaptation within the dynamic and socially differentiated semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia. ASSAR will generate new knowledge about how adaptation processes – especially those linked to governance systems, policies and adaptation responses – can be modified or improved upon to achieve more widespread, equitable and sustained adaptation. We are particularly interested in understanding people’s vulnerability and, in doing so, exploring the dynamic structural and relational aspects linking vulnerability to social difference, governance and ecosystem services.

Planning for climate change in the semi-arid regions of East Africa

25 Nov 2016 01:16:27 GMT

The semi-arid regions of East Africa are among the most food insecure regions in the world. Many people rely on the rains for their crops and livestock. Additionally, communal conflict, and the resulting population displacement, is an ongoing challenge to regional security and peace.

Climate change is bringing a new dimension to East Africa’s vulnerability. This is partly because the institutional and economic capacity to deal with climate change impacts is often inappropriately allocated and structured.

It is therefore essential to understand how to enhance the ability of communities, local organisations and governments in East Africa to adapt to climate change in a way that minimises vulnerability and promotes long-term resilience.

Key ponts:

  • over the next 50 years, the semi-arid regions of East Africa are expected to become hotter, with more wet extremes
  • These climate changes will compound existing developmental pressures
  • climate changes – including increased frequency and intensity of droughts and floods – are predicted to negatively impact food security, economic growth, infrastructure and human health

Panama Papers and the looting of Africa

21 Nov 2016 04:44:07 GMT

On the 3rd of April 2016 the German Newspaper Sud Deutsche Zeitung in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) made an unprecedented release of documents from a database of the Panama based offshor e law firm Mossack Fonseca which is the world’s fourth largest offshore services law firm. The release captured global attention and would turn out to be the largest data leak in history. It exposed the offshore secrecy structures of wealthy businessmen, politicians, suspected drug lords and arms dealers use to hide their wealth.

The extent and magnitude to which the African continent is exposed to the shadowy world of offshore dealings is illustrated through the Panama Papers which found that implicated companies were operating in 44 out 54 African countries. A recent study by the United Nations committee on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) showed that commodity dependent countries are losing up to 67% of their export earnings worth billions of dollars due to trade misinvoicing. While it remains to be seen how much the Panama papers will lead to a rethink of the international financial system the leak has significantl y contributed to exposing its fault lines. The prevailing discourse on illicit financial flows (IFFs) and the global financial transpar ency has until now focused on the demand side elements originating primarily from poorly governed developing countries. In contrast, the revelations in the Panama Papers suggest a systemic failure in the global financial architecture and illustrate the depth of advanced accounting, finance, and legal systems providing the supply-side infrastructure for IFFs to offshore territories and high secrecy jurisdictions.

Silencing the guns: terrorism, mediation and non-state armed groups

18 Nov 2016 12:35:35 GMT

On 21–22 October 2015, the African Union (AU), in collaboration with the Government of Namibia, hosted the Sixth AU High-level Retreat of Special Convened under the theme of “Terrorism, mediation and non-state armed groups”, the objectives of the retreat were to provide a platform for delegates to deliberate on the successes and challenges in relation to tackling the underlying causes of terrorism in Africa, to provide recommendations, and to discuss and exchange views on shared responsibilities and coordination between African and international actors working on preventing and combating terrorism.

A key element of the retreat was to use the opportunity to start conceptualising a shared continental counterterrorism response strategy, as well as specifically to explore the ways in which dialogue and mediation could be used to counter terrorism. A key outcome of the retreat was the Windhoek Declaration, attached as an appendix to this report.Envoys and Mediators on the Promotion of Peace, Security and Stability in Africa in Windhoek, Namibia.

This research report is based on the deliberations of the Windhoek Retreat and provides an overview of the proceedings, highlighting the key points that came out of the discussions. Much of the report is dedicated to expanding and elaborating on some of the discussions that took place. Structurally, the report first explains the background and context to the deliberations by providing an understanding and definition of terrorism, and its origins. It also focuses on the causes of terrorism in Africa and identifies violent extremist actors, trends and dynamics on the African continent. Second, the report highlights the current approaches that have been adopted in response to countering terrorist acts, with specific reference to the challenges that remain and the role of mediation as an effective approach to oppose terrorism, by drawing on a number of case studies. Finally, several recommendations have been elicited to determine the most effective way forward that promotes a holistic approach to dealing with terrorism and violent extremism.


Is the livestock sector in Southern Africa prepared for climate change?

18 Nov 2016 02:30:15 GMT

The climate of the Southern African region is moving towards drier and hotter regimes. Livestock production will be significantly affected by the change and variability of climate, yet the response to climate change in the region has been unco-ordinated and sporadic. The drought of 2015/2016, which has been the most severe in 35 years, has forced policymakers to rethink this issue. As a result, SADC has recently drawn up a Regional Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan to co-ordinate adaptation and mitigation efforts in the region. Many countries in Southern Africa have limited climate change frameworks for the agricultural sector, and still less for the livestock sector. The region is endowed with a rich diversity of livestock, contributing significantly to the agricultural gross domestic product (GDP). Livestock will be adversely affected by increases in temperature, reduced rainfall and other aspects of climate change. Livestock production itself contributes to climate change but smart adaptation initiatives can result in fewer and more efficient animals. Opportunities exist to use indigenous animal genetic resources and green technologies, which can form part of carbon-neutral, climate-smart production systems. It is important to create regional networks where experiences are shared and lessons learnt to enhance effective adaptation of the livestock sector in the region.


  • small-scale livestock farmers face significant climate risks. Climate adaptation policies and strategies should include appropriate and dedicated interventions to support this sector
  • more effective strategies are required for timely support to livestock-dependent small-scale farmers during times of climate stress
  • greater support from national authorities is required for research in appropriate livestock breeding, nutrition, rangeland management and livestock health programmes to support climate-smart agriculture. In this respect, enhanced co-operation between governments, the research community and the agricultural industry is also required 
  • collaborative platforms are required to promote peer learning in the area of climate smart agriculture

A new vision for weather and climate services in Africa

17 Nov 2016 02:13:37 GMT

The collection, analysis and distribution of reliable weather, water and climate information - collectively referred to as hydromet services—has the potential to greatly benefit efforts by African nations to reduce poverty, build resilience and adapt to a changing climate. For over 30 years, the international development community has made substantial investments in the procurement of weather, water and climate technologies for Africa.

Nevertheless, today, according to the World Bank, “most hydromet services in sub-Saharan Africa are unable to meet current needs for weather and climate information, and offer only limited areas of transboundary cooperation.” In this report a new vision to address sub-Saharan Africa’s weather, water and climate monitoring and forecasting needs is explored. The basis for this new vision begins with a review of problems with traditional approaches and how this has affected the ability to achieve development goals, reduce risks and empower Africa’s least-developed countries in supporting their citizens with hydromet services and early warning systems that can save lives, boost productivity and protect the environment in a changing climate.

This new vision includes the implementation of advanced hydrometeorological technologies and services, capacity-building and enabling policies that fortify the position of Africa’s National HydroMeteorological Services (NHMS), as well as the formulation of new partnerships between the public and private sectors.

Creating a sustainable model for the delivery of effective hydromet services in sub-Saharan Africa will require policymakers to critically examine the status quo and establish a new vision for the implementation of this essential public service. This new vision goes beyond the simple procurement and installation of new technologies, to an end-to-end systems approach. There is no silver bullet, but with effectively structured public-private partnerships, new technology and services, strengthened institutions, increased regional cooperation and continued capacity-building, sustainable hydromet solutions are a realistic and attainable goal. Reaching this target will have a significant impact on the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, protecting lives and building powerful resilience for Africa and beyond.

Enhancing the climate resilience of Africa's infrastructure: the roads and bridges sector

17 Nov 2016 01:08:40 GMT

Roads are a key asset for Africa. They connect villages to economic centers, people to hospitals, children to schools and goods to markets facilitating trade. This report examines the implications of climate change for Africa’s road connectivity, and practical steps that can be taken now to minimize the associated risks. The scope of the report includes 2.8 million km of roads throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, with a special focus on new road construction outlined in the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), an African Union facilitated initiative to enhance trans-boundary connectivity through the continent. The main conclusions of the report are:adequate road maintenance is the most critical and most efficient way of reducing the impact of a changing climate on the road system. In the absence of an adequate maintenance regime, the damage caused by climactic events is exacerbated. The uncertainty related to climate change further reinforces this dynamic. Thus, maintenance of pavements and sealing activities; regular maintenance of bridges, culverts and drainage structures to ensure they are functional and not obstructed; maintenance and improvement of slope protection works; and systematic assessments to identify and incrementally address vulnerable and critical road sections are the first defense to climate riskssimply ignoring climate change is not an option. The report shows that climate change is likely to lead to a shortening of roads rehabilitation life-cycle, which, in addition to maintenance, usually entails resurfacing every 20 years. The shortened life-cycle is likely to lead to steep increases in maintenance and periodic rehabilitation costsproactive adaptation in response to temperature increase is a no regret option. Modifying the design in response to an anticipated higher temperature is a low or no-regret option for paved roads in virtually all countries and the vast majority of climate scenarios, including both the PIDA transboundary corridors and the planned expansion/upgrade of the national networks. The reason is that the savings accrued over the road life cycle more than offset the higher construction costs, even if the measures are adopted now, before significant temperature increases are experiencedthe case for proactive adaptation in response to precipitation is not as clear cut, and needs to be assessed case by case. Because of the fundamental uncertainty regarding future climate, it is not possible to be as definiteon how to proactively design for precipitation. Rainfall varies all over the continent, but in several countries (e.g. Angola, Nigeria, Botswana, Togo, South Sudan, Mozambique, Benin, and Cameroon), it is clear that even moderate changes in the climate will induce significant precipitation-related disruption. In these countries, it would be appropriate to start proactively adapting the road system. In other countries, more detailed analysis is needed to identify where, when and how to invest in resilience most appropriately. Some roads in some areas may well already benefit also from pro-active adaptationbetter information on the benefits of avoiding clim[...]

Out of the reach of children? Young people’s health-seeking agency in Africa’s newly-emerging therapeutic landscapes

11 Nov 2016 11:30:14 GMT

The dominant view within Western biomedicine is that children are vulnerable and in need of adult protection, while medicines are powerful, dangerous and should be controlled by experts, however, a growing literature suggests that children and adolescents (in both Western and developing-country contexts) often take active roles in health-seeking. Here, we consider young people’s health-seeking practices in Ghana: a country with a rapidly changing therapeutic landscape, characterised by the recent introduction of health insurance, mass advertising of medicines, and increased use of mobile phones. Qualitative and quantitative data are presented from eight field-sites in urban and rural Ghana, including 131 individual interviews, focus groups, plus a questionnaire survey of 1005 9-to-17-year-olds. This paper shows that many young people take active responsibility for their own (and others’) healthcare. However, there is substantial variation in health-seeking practices and associated agency; these processes are shaped by (and also shape) resources available, including economic, social, cultural, psychological, informational and locational forms of capital. Dynamic interactions between resources and health-seeking agency operate within a wider, rapidly-changing therapeutic landscape, which has opened access to a greater range of healthcare possibilities. The paper concludes by considering implications for health and wellbeing, and suggest possible interventions for facilitating young people to seek healthcare safely and effectively. Changes in Ghana’s therapeutic landscape, which mirror those taking place across the continent, are likely to increase young people’s health-seeking agency over coming years. Regulating rapidly expanding pharmaceutical markets and associated advertising is notoriously difficult, which means that children (and adults) have increasingly easy and cheap access to a range of restricted drugs, without necessarily knowing how to use them appropriately. The pragmatic question is how best to facilitate young people to seek healthcare safely and effectively. Confidentiality and effective, non-judgmental communication are key features of adolescent-friendly services. Ensuring that existing formal health services in Ghana meet the needs of children and adolescents is an important starting point; this will involve investing resources in training and supporting staff to improve inter-generational communication skills and empathetic approaches. With dramatic recent rises in schooling in Ghana (and elsewhere in Africa), schools offer an important forum for health education and services, and school-based health education should be extended beyond the usual health promotion messages to cover safe and appropriate use of medicines. User-fees and health insurance also require careful reflection. Finding here indicate that health insurance, which reduces up-front costs of healthcare, might increase urban adolescents’ independent use of formal, accredited health services. However, many young people are not covered by insurance because their parent[...]

Intergenerational relations and the power of the cell phone: perspectives on young people's phone usage in Sub-Saharan Africa

08 Nov 2016 12:40:07 GMT

Cell phones present new forms of sociality and new possibilities of encounter for young people across the globe. Nowhere is this more evident than in sub-Saharan Africa where the scale of usage, even among the very poor, is remarkable.

This paper reflects on the inter-generational encounters which are embedded in young people’s cell phone interactions, and consider the wider societal implications, not least the potential for associated shifts in the generational balance of power. An intriguing feature of this changing generational nexus is that while many young people’s phone-based interactions, from their mid-teens onwards, are shifting away from the older generation towards friendship networks in their own age cohort, at the same time they are repositioning themselves – or becoming repositioned – as family information hubs, as a consequence of their phone expertise.

The paper draws on mixed-methods research with young people aged c. 9–25 years and in-depth interviews with older age-groups in 24 sites (ranging from high density poor urban to remote rural) across Ghana, Malawi and South Africa.

Evidence suggests that a generational power-struggle is being played out on a daily basis in many urban and rural homes across the continent: recourse to subterfuge is, on both sides, an inevitable response. With increasingly cheap, imported Chinese handsets and rapid reduction in phone-related costs, however, parental control is probably slipping, especially when young people (by virtue of their phone skills) take on – or are bestowed with – a hub role in family networks. There is limited evidence, for instance, of successful surveillance by elders, since young people’s phone competency increasingly contains surveillance efforts and associated supervision. The cell phone is changing the rules regarding who interacts with whom (and how). Cell phone diffusion thus arguably marks a significant step in the intergenerational power shift in Africa from disproportionately gerontocratic and patrimonial systems towards a new, increasingly technologically-shaped era where young people – of both genders – play a much more proactive role in society.

Children, transport and mobility in sub-Saharan Africa: developing a child-centred evidence base to improve policy and change thinking across Africa

08 Nov 2016 04:58:21 GMT

This project focused on the mobility constraints faced by children in accessing health, educational and other facilities in sub-Saharan Africa, lack of direct information on how these constraints impact on children's current and future livelihood opportunities, and lack of guidelines on how to tackle them. The aim was to produce an evidence-base strong enough to substantially improve policy in the three focus countries - Ghana, Malawi and South Africa - and to change thinking across Africa.

The project successfully tested and implemented an innovative two-strand, childcentred methodology, involving both academic researchers and 70 young researchers. Research was conducted in 8 sites per country (remote rural, rural with services, periurban and urban sites in two agro-ecological zones): 24 sites in total. The qualitative data covers the themes education, health, activities and transport, based on focus groups and individual interviews with children, parents and other key informants. The survey questionnaire covers a wide range of issues with 2,967 children c. 9-18 years, allowing comparisons across sites and countries. This large dataset enables a more nuanced understanding than has hitherto been available of the way mobility and transport constraints interact with other factors to shape particular young lives in particular places. Findings cover topics from pain and negative impacts on education associated with load carrying and other work, to the virtual mobility impacts of mobile phones and the complex interconnections between mobility, gender, work and education. The findings are sufficiently substantial to allow the development of clear guidelines for policy-makers and practitioners.

Reflections on the formulation and implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management in Southern and Eastern Africa from a gender perspective

08 Nov 2016 04:33:05 GMT

While it is claimed that the founding principles of integrated water resources management are the Dublin Principles this does not appear to be the case for Principle No. 3, which underlines the importance of women in water provision, management and safeguarding. Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe are members of SADC and have signed the SADC Protocol on Women and other international human rights instruments. However, we do not see an incorporation of these instruments and other empowerment frameworks into water policies. We find that Principle No. 3 has been sidelined in the implementation of Integrated Water Resource Manageme nt (IWRM). In examining the gender practices in these four nations of Africa, gender equality remains distant from the concerns of the water sector. We enumerate many of the commonalities among these countries in how they are marginalising women'€™s access to, and use of, water.

AIDS-affected young people’s access to livelihood assets: Exploring 'new variant famine' in rural southern Africa

03 Nov 2016 05:02:37 GMT

The ‘new variant famine’ hypothesis suggests AIDS is contributing to food insecurity in southern Africa. Proposed causal mechanisms include a loss of livelihood assets and skills, brought about through AIDS′ impacts on children’s access to inherited property and intergenerationally-transferred knowledge. This paper employs a sustainable livelihoods framework to examine how AIDS is impacting on young people’s access to assets and skills in two southern African countries: Malawi and Lesotho. Drawing on qualitative research with rural youth, the paper shows that AIDS affects some young people’s access to some livelihood assets, but does not do so in a systematic or predictable way, nor are its impacts invariably negative. The broader cultural and institutional context is of key importance. The paper also demonstrates the need for the sustainable livelihoods framework to take greater account of the temporalities of livelihoods, and in particular the significance of lifecourse and generation.


  • the New Variant Famine hypothesis attributes southern Africa’s food crises to AIDSq

  • it suggests AIDS reduces young people’s access to livelihood assets

  • qualitative research with rural youth in Malawi and Lesotho reveals greater complexity
  • AIDS has some impact on youth access to livelihood assets but this is not systematic

  • the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework should incorporate lifecourse and generation

Introduction to the special Issue: Flows and practices: the politics of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in Southern Africa

03 Nov 2016 03:20:45 GMT

For the past two decades, IWRM has been actively promoted by water experts as well as multilateral and bilateral donors  who have considered it to be a crucial way to address global  water management problems. IWRM  has  been  incorporated  into  water  laws,  reforms  and  policies  of  southern  African  nations.  This  article introduces the special issue 'Flows and Practices: The Politics of IWRM in southern Africa'. It provides a conceptual framework  to  study:  the  flow  of  IWRM  as  an  idea;  its  translation  and  articulation  into  new  policies,  institutions andallocation  mechanisms,  and  the  resulting  practices  and  effects  across  multiple  scales – global,  regional, national and local. The empirical findings of the complexities of articulation and implementation of IWRM in South Africa,  Zimbabwe,  Mozambique,  Tanzania  and  Uganda  form  the  core  of  this  special  issue.  We  demonstrate  how Africa  has  been  a  laboratory  for  IWRM  experiments,  while  donors  as  well  as  a  new  cadre  of  water  professionals and  students  have  made  IWRM  their  mission.  The  case  studies  reveal  that  IWRM  may  have  resulted  in  an unwarranted policy focus on managing water instead of enlarging poor women’s and men’s access to water. The newly  created  institutional  arrangements tended  to centralise  the  power  and  control  of  the  State  and  powerful users over water and failed to address historically rooted inequalities.

Flows and practices: The politics of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in southern Africa

01 Nov 2016 05:14:41 GMT

For the past two decades, IWRM has been actively promoted by water experts as well as multilateral and bilateral donors  who have considered it to be a crucial way to address global  water management problems. IWRM  has  been  incorporated  into  water  laws,  reforms  and  policies  of  southern  African  nations.  This  is a special issue 'Flows and Practices: The Politics of IWRM in southern Africa' of the journal Water Alternatives. The empirical findings of the complexities of articulation and implementation of IWRM in South Africa,  Zimbabwe,  Mozambique,  Tanzania  and  Uganda  form  the  core  of  this  special  issue.  We  demonstrate  how Africa  has  been  a  laboratory  for  IWRM  experiments,  while  donors  as  well  as  a  new  cadre  of  water  professionals and  students  have  made  IWRM  their  mission.  The  case  studies  reveal  that  IWRM  may  have  resulted  in  an unwarranted policy focus on managing water instead of enlarging poor women’s and men’s access to water. The newly created  institutional  arrangements tended  to centralise  the  power  and  control  of  the  State  and  powerful users over water and failed to address historically rooted inequalities.

Youth in Tanzania’s urbanizing mining settlements

14 Oct 2016 03:48:04 GMT

Over the last fifteen years many African countries have experienced a ‘mining takeoff’. Mining activities have bifurcated into two sectors: large-scale, capital-intensive production generating the bulk of the exported minerals, and small-scale, labour-intensive artisanal mining, which, at present, is catalyzing far greater immediate primary, secondary and tertiary employment opportunities for unskilled African labourers. Youth residing in mining settlements, have a large vested interest in the current and future development of mining.

Focusing on Tanzania as typical of the emerging ‘new mineralizing Africa’, this paper, examines youth’s role in mining based on recent fieldwork in the country’s northwestern gold fields. Youth’s current involvement in mining as full-fledged, as opposed to part-time, miners is distinguished. The attitudes of secondary school students towards mining as a form of employment and its impact on economic and social life in mining communities are discussed within the context of the uneasy transitions from an agrarian to a mining-based country, from rural to urban lifestyles, and the growing scope and power of foreign-directed, capital-intensive, corporate mining relative to local labourintensive artisanal mining.

The flow of IWRM in SADC: the role of regional dynamics, advocacy networks and external actors

13 Oct 2016 03:54:02 GMT

This article explores the entry and spread of IWRM in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. It traces how the idea of IWRM was promoted and sustained throughout the region by mapping key events, actors and networks that were involved in promoting the approach. It highlights the importance of regional networks in promoting IWRM and shows how regional dynamics, playing out at the interface between the global and local levels, influenced the adoption/adaptation and spread of IWRM. The article finds that the idea of IWRM 'hit the ground running' in SADC due to several contributing factors. These include: historical political connections between the member countries; historically rooted well-established channels and connections with bilateral and multilateral donors; the success of networks such as the Global Water Partnership and WaterNet whose mandate was to promote the concept; and the fact that two-thirds of the region’s population live in transboundary basins with IWRM providing a suitable  hook for transboundary cooperation, often inspired by European models. The article further argues that IWRM thrived because of strong donor agendas that were adapted by key SADC actors to suit strategic interests. It thus provided a platform for complex politically charged negotiations to reconcile apparently divergent goals such as infrastructure vs management and regional vs national interests. The practice of IWRM in the region is very much shaped by a conflation of regional, national and donor interests and has now acquired a life of its own, despite changing donor priorities.

The State of African Cities 2014: re-imagining sustainable urban transitions urban transitions

07 Oct 2016 03:42:44 GMT

The overarching challenge for Africa in the decades to come is massive population growth in a context of wide-spread poverty that, in combination, generate complex and inter-related threats to the human habitat. The main premise of this report is that successfully and effectively addressing the vulnerabilities and risks to which the African populations are increasingly being exposed may, perhaps, require a complete re-thinking of current urban development trajectories if sustainable transitions are to be achieved. This report is the third in The State of African Cities series.
It is not only Africa’s largest urban population concentrations that are becoming more prone to vulnerabilities and risks; these are actually increasing for all African settlements. This will add to the already significant social, economic and political hazards associated with Africa’s still pervasive urban poverty. The
combination of demographic pressures, rapid urbanization, environmental and climate change now appear to reinforce a host of negative urban externalities.
Ubiquitous urban poverty and urban slum proliferation, so characteristic of Africa’s large cities, is likely to become an even more widespread phenomenon under current urban development trajectories, especially given the continuing and significant shortfalls in urban institutional capacities. Since the bulk of the urban population increases are now being absorbed by Africa’s secondary and smaller cities, the sheer lack of urban governance capacities in these settlements is likely to cause slum proliferation processes that replicate those of Africa’s larger cities.
This report argues for a radical re-imagination of African approaches to urbanism, both to strengthen the positive impacts of Africa’s current multiple transitions and to improve urban living and working conditions. Africa’s population is still well below the 50 per cent urban threshold. This implies that a major  reconceptualization of its approaches to urban development can still be undertaken. Given the rapidly changing global conditions, especially those associated with environmental and climate change, looming resources scarcity and the dire need to move towards greener and more sustainable development options, Africa has the opportunity to take a global lead in innovations towards greener, healthier and more sustainable urban societies

China’s African infrastructure projects: a tool in reshaping global norms

06 Oct 2016 11:33:41 GMT

The resilience of China’s investments in African infrastructure has been called into question in the light of its own economic slowdown. The substantial reduction in Chinese demand for African commodities has resulted in a significant drop in commodity prices, causing an adverse economic outlook in many commodity-dependent African economies and potentially decoupling the African growth story from China’s influence and economic engagement.
This policy insights paper argues that China’s infrastructure-based economic statecraft in Africa has shown and will continue to show resilience in the face of new economic realities in the China–Africa relationship, as these projects fit into China’s broader goals of reshaping global norms.

On becoming a responsible great power: contextualising China’s foray into human rights and peace & security in Africa

06 Oct 2016 01:18:39 GMT

The deepening of China’s engagement with Africa has also prompted the broadening of its interests on the continent. This has resulted in China’s expansion into increasingly riskier territories, which means there is a greater urgency to protect its interests from the political vagaries endemic to conflict-affected African states. This evolution marks a shift away from traditional perceptions of Chinese engagement in Africa as being limited to its economic interests, towards one where China becomes a politically interested and invested actor. This trend is paralleled by a macro-level reorientation of China’s foreign policy goals, where it envisions itself playing a stronger norm-setting role in the global arena.

This policy insights paper explores the values and imperatives that motivate China’s engagement in peace and security, human rights and human security in Africa.

China’s foray into political matters is a consequence of the growing need for it to respond to attacks on its citizens and investments on the ground, but can also be traced to grander foreign policy underpinnings associated with its desire to position itself as a norms entrepreneur in the global arena. What emerges from the interplaybetween these two factors is a dynamic foreign policy that is responsive to the political contexts of African states while guarding the sanctity of state sovereignty.

To be a successful player in promoting peace, security and human rights in Africa, China has found it necessary to develop an approach that mitigates the challenges of operating in volatile environments by increasing its engagements in multilateral organisations. In doing this, China positions itself as an important alternative to established global norms, projecting its aspirations of becoming a more responsible great power in world affairs.



South Africa in Africa: the dilemmas of foreign policy and human rights

30 Sep 2016 02:30:02 GMT

The Centre for Confl ict Resolution (CCR), Cape Town, South Africa, and the Johannesburg-based Foundation for Human Rights (FHR) hosted two public dialogues in Cape Town, one on 11 April 2016 on “South Africa in Africa: National Interest Versus Human Rights?”, and another on 30 June 2016 on “South Africa in Southern Africa: ‘Good Governance’ Versus Regional Solidarity?” Both events were held at the Centre for the Book in Cape Town.

The main focus of the public dialogue “South Africa in Africa: National Interest Versus Human Rights?” was to discuss South Africa’s obligations to the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) generally, and its specific obligations towards arresting Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes by the ICC. Following the adoption by the United Nations (UN) Security Council of resolution 1593 in March 2005, several investigations resulted in two warrants being issued by the ICC for the arrest of al-Bashir in March 2009 for war crimes, and, in July 2010, relating to charges of genocide, both committed in Sudan’s Darfur region.

The following four key recommendations emerged from the two public dialogues:

  • African and other governments need to work closely with the UN and the ICC to sequence the administration of justice in cases such as Sudan in ways that do not undermine the pursuit and consolidation of peace
  • the South African government should not lose sight of its domestic human rights challenges, particularly in relation to violence, crime, and xenophobia; and Tshwane should give these problems as much priority as its outward-looking foreign policy
  • South Africa, through SADC, should put in place a five-year implementation plan for greater regional industrialisation projects that build strong partnerships to promote socio-economic development and reduce human rights abuses
  • Southern African governments must honour their commitments enshrined in SADC, the AU, the UN, and other international legal documents to promote human rights more effectively across the sub-region

Values, culture and the ivory trade ban

23 Sep 2016 11:01:57 GMT

The new reality of a world without ivory trade demands a re-examination of human values towards both elephants and ivory and what each has come to represent. The closure of the world’s largest ivory markets (US and China), in line with the  longstanding international ivory trade ban, must reflect a change in values. Understanding those values and how they interact with each other will be critical to successful implementation. Values act as arbitrators of meaning, sources of interests and – when collectively framed as regulatory norms regimes – the basis of compliance for local communities.

This paper addresses how policymakers can optimally ensure that such international norms, decided at multilateral forums such as CITES, gain traction at the local level, where it really matters. Local values associated with elephants and ivory differ widely from place to place. At the coalface of supply and demand are often competing and mutually exclusive value sets. For instance, consumers of ivory may attach status significance to owning a rare piece.

On the other end of the spectrum, communities living with elephants may view those elephants as an extension of their identity. These value sets are differentiated across levels of authority and from one region to the next. International and domestic ivory trade prohibitions that do not take this complexity into account may therefore inadvertently produce adverse reactions in local contexts. These dynamics are crucial to understand if international norms are to be locally effective, both on the supply and demand sides of the equation.

Understanding gender in community-based adaptation: practitioner brief

22 Sep 2016 02:41:28 GMT

Accessing weather forecasts, having control over land, being able to influence decision-making processes, being backed by a community group, or being literate and educated are examples of the human and material resources through which people can act on the consequences of climate change. They are also strongly influenced by what makes up people’s social and economic position in society – for example gender, age, ethnicity or religion. In other words, the degree to which a person, family or community suffers from – or thrives in – climatic shocks, weather extremes and uncertainty, or changes in the environment and economy, strongly depend on these and other social factors. People’s social and economic roles and positions in society shift and change over time and for many reasons – media and communication technologies, transportation and urbanisation trends, changing markets, and last but not least shifts in the climate and environment, etc. are all having impacts on them.
Gender is an important part of these shifting social factors, and as such continuously shapes vulnerability to climate change and people’s capacity to adapt. Gender inequality continues to be one of the most persistent and widespread forms of social inequality across the world. And yet, while its importance is increasingly recognised by policy makers and practitioners working to address climate change, its role in adapting to climate change is often poorly understood, or simply misunderstood.
Integrating gender into community-based adaptation:
  • is essential for practitioners and communities to ground the adaptation process in a good understanding of the context, existing vulnerabilities and capacities
  • is essential for communities to ensure the processes and actions they choose are relevant to both men and women in different social settings
  • helps practitioners and communities understand why and how gender groups can be vulnerable to climate change in different ways, and how this changes over time
  • helps to ensure decision-making power is more equally distributed between different social groups affected by climatic changes
  • is required for community-based adaptation to contribute to the transformation of long-standing, deeply rooted barriers to developmen