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Fighting BEPS in Africa: a review of Country-By-Country Reporting

19 Jun 2017 12:24:47 GMT

Following the Panama Papers leak and numerous press reports of aggressive tax planning by Multinational enterprises (MNEs) around the world, there has been a concerted effort, notably in developed countries, to combat MNE tax avoidance and increase international cooperation in tax matters. As MNEs operate across borders they can use multi-jurisdictional tax planning, in combination with transfer pricing, to limit their tax obligations. Unfortunately, some MNEs aggressively plan an operation around these tax structures to avoid paying their fair share of tax. This is mostly legal, as MNEs generally do not breach any single tax jurisdiction’s laws. However, such practices have a negative impact on the countries in which they are operating, regardless of whether they are legal or not.

A key responsive measure to address aggressive MNE tax planning has been the OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) Package. Its aim is to close loopholes between various national tax authorities that allow MNEs to unjustifiably shift profits across borders. Within this, a key component, and part of the minimum BEPS action requirements, is Action 13: Transfer Pricing Documentation and Country by Country Reporting (CbCR).

Policy recommendations made by this brief:

  • by the time of the 2020 review MNEs will be more aware of this process, and it is possible that the idea of lowering the EUR 750 million revenue threshold will find a more receptive audience
  • given the trust barriers to lowering exchange of information requirements it is not clear that this issue can be resolved in favour of those African states currently not able to comply. Consequently, African countries need to upgrade their institutional capacities and legal frameworks. Official development assistance could be targeted at this area
  • as Action 13 reports are submitted over the next two years a much more informed assessment of the strengths and limitations of CbCR should emerge. This should enable the refinement, and possibly the extension, of the system
  • the application of CbCR to include other taxes paid by MNEs, beyond corporate income tax, could also be considered
  • the transparency of CbC reports will, no doubt, feature in the 2020 review and African revenue authorities will need to engage with the issue, as it could bridge a lot of their constraints


Africa’s youth employment challenge: new perspectives | IDS Bulletin Vol 48, No 3

16 Jun 2017 12:12:13 GMT

Youth and employment concepts are not new to development discourse in sub-Saharan Africa but over the last decade interest has increased dramatically, becoming a much more important focus for policy, intervention and research throughout the continent (and globally).

This IDS Bulletin reflects challenges in Africa and demonstrates how political context shapes youth-related policy.The articles in the Bulletin consider the evidence on youth employment policy and interventions, the politics of youth policy, the changing nature of young people’s work, and the promotion of entrepreneurship. They are authored by the ten members of the first cohort of the Matasa Fellows Network (a joint initiative by the MasterCard Foundation and IDS), which has a particular focus on the youth employment challenge in Africa.


  • Introduction: New Perspectives on Africa’s Youth Employment Challenge: Seife Ayele, Samir Khan and James Sumberg
  • Youth Employment in Developing Economies: Evidence on Policies and Interventions: Nicholas Kilimani
  • The Politics of Youth Employment and Policy Processes in Ethiopia: Eyob Balcha Gebremariam
  • The Side-Hustle: Diversified Livelihoods of Kenyan Educated Young Farmers: Grace Muthoni Mwaura
  • Gambling, Dancing, Sex Work: Notions of Youth Employment in Uganda: Victoria Flavia Namuggala
  • Navigating Precarious Employment: Social Networks Among Migrant Youth in Ghana: Thomas Yeboah
  • Youth Participation in Smallholder Livestock Production and Marketing: Edna Mutua, Salome Bukachi, Bernard Bett, Benson Estambale and Isaac Nyamongo
  • Non-Farm Enterprises and the Rural Youth Employment Challenge in Ghana: Monica Lambon-Quayefio
  • Does Kenya’s Youth Enterprise Development Fund Serve Young People?: Maurice Sikenyi
  • Promoting Youth Entrepreneurship: The Role of Mentoring: Ayodele Ibrahim Shittu
  • Programme-Induced Entrepreneurship and Young People’s Aspirations: Jacqueline Halima Mgumia



Why isn’t tech for accountability working in Africa?

18 May 2017 10:22:28 GMT

Expanding mobile networks and falling costs could transform communication between African citizens and governments. So far, however, attempts to harness new technologies to improve transparency and accountability in Africa and elsewhere have had disappointing results. What is going wrong? Research suggests that an important reason for this failure is a poor understanding of technologies and limited skills in developing and using them.
It seems that civil society organisations (CSOs) and governments often ‘re-invent the flat tyre’: experimenting with new tools without finding out what has been tried (often unsuccessfully) before. They also do not follow best practices in how to source, develop and test technologies to ensure these are ‘fit for purpose’. Decision makers should focus on building an effective innovation ecosystem with better links between technologists and accountability actors in both government and civil society to enable learning from successes – and mistakes.
  • those with responsibilities in creating the innovation ecosystem, including funders, should focus on building a supportive innovation ecosystem
  • funders should shift their focus from supporting short-term pilots to building institutions capable of success over time, and invest in strengthening links between initiatives and disseminating learning resources across the continent
  • those who are leading and managing innovation initiatives – in government and CSOs – should focus on getting better and smarter at managing the innovation cycle
  • research suggests the following ‘rules of thumb’ will lead to better outcomes: acknowledge what you do not know, think twice before building a new tool, get a second opinion, test technologies in the field, plan for failure, budget to iterate, and share what you learn

Community-level perceptions of drivers of change in nutrition: evidence from South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa

16 May 2017 11:37:42 GMT

Changes in the immediate, underlying and basic determinants of nutritional status at the community- and household-level are a logical and empirical prerequisite to reducing high levels of undernutrition in high burden countries.

This paper considers these factors directly from the perspective of community members and frontline workers interviewed in six countries in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In each country, in-depth interviews were conducted with mothers, other community members and health workers to understand changes in health and nutrition practices, nutrition-specific interventions, underlying drivers and nutrition-sensitive interventions, and life conditions.

Overall, the need for basic improvements in livelihood opportunities and infrastructure are solidly underscored. Nutrition-specific and -sensitive changes represented in most cases by deliberate government or NGO supported community interventions are rolling out at a mixed and uneven pace, but are having some significant impacts where solidly implemented. The synthesis presented here provides an invaluable source of information for understanding how community-level change occurred against a wider backdrop of national level progress.


  • the community is a critical nexus for the interventions and wider socio-economic changes that drive nutritional change

  • there is a paucity of community level studies of such broad drivers of nutritional change
  • this six country community level synthesis supports wider data (this issue) on changes in underlying and basic determinants.

  • the performance of “nutrition-specific” community interventions is mixed and uneven


Rethinking infrastructure in Africa: a governance approach

21 Apr 2017 09:57:46 GMT

Infrastructure deficits have long been recognised as being central to Africa’s developmental malaise. This paper looks at the state of the continent’s infrastructure, with a focus on the actions that governments can take to spur its development. In other words, it attempts this analysis from the perspective of governance. By any measure, Africa is on average less well provisioned with infrastructural assets (roads, railways, power grids, communication networks, water and sanitation systems) than any other part of the world. Much of what does exist has been degraded by unsatisfactory maintenance. The most comprehensive estimate is that an amount of some $93 billion annually will be needed until 2020 to achieve the necessary development. Funding continues to fall short of this, although the sums available are growing. Africa’s governments, bilateral and multilateral donors and the private sector are all investing large amounts in infrastructure. Funding is no longer the defining problem in relation to Africa’s infrastructure development, and questions of governance need to be accorded greater recognition.


Studies demonstrate that gains are to be had through better project preparation, greater efficiencies and so on. Adequate maintenance is particularly important. These actions would help secure better infrastructure without significantly greater outlays. Achieving them would, however, require sometimes tough and politically unpopular decisions – making appropriate governance choices are therefore critical. Managing infrastructure construction and maintenance across borders is central to Africa’s infrastructure needs. With so many countries landlocked, cross-border links are imperative for their economic fortunes. This is a complex issue, and resolving it demands that governments and regional institutions cooperate with one another, imposing another set of governance choices. The paper concludes by noting the need to shift debate around Africa’s infrastructure to the governance obstacles it needs to confront. It suggests that governance action could be taken in seven areas to help achieve this: finance; policy, planning and project preparation; efficiency; the regulatory environment; private sector involvement; engagement of Africa’s people; and a focus on regional integration.

Economic integration and development partnerships: Southern perspectives

28 Mar 2017 12:16:17 GMT

As part of its work programme on capacity-building among developing countries on global and regional economic issues RIS has been conducting its flaghship Capacity-Building Programme on International Economic Issues and Development Policy (IEIDP) under the ITEC/SCAAP programme of the Ministry of External Affairs.
The programme is aimed to inculcate in participants enhanced understanding on challenges and opportunities associated with the processes of globalization and development. It is also designed to expose the participants to the growing complexities of global economic issues and negotiations and to build their analytical skills to deal with them. In this year’s programme, conducted from 13 February-10 March 2017, 33 participants from 25 countries took part.
The participants enthusiastically engaged in technical sessions and group discussions. They identified critical areas to deliberate upon and eventually come up with status papers highlighting regional and global contexts and country experiences.
Based on individual areas of expertise and inclination, they formed five thematic groups. This report comprises of contributions from each group:
  • Drivers and Experience of Regional Integration in Asia and Africa
  • South-South Cooperation: Select Country Experiences
  • Financing for Development: Developing Countries’ Perspectives
  • Economic Growth of Developing Countries in the Globalization Context:  Lessons from some Developing Countries
  • SDGs in Post-Truth: Do SDGs Matter for Developing Countries?

Older people in situations of migration In Africa: the untold migration story

28 Mar 2017 03:18:51 GMT

Older people in Africa are involved in all aspects of the migration chain: they are voluntary or forced migrants themselves, they shape the migration experience of others by funding youth migration and being involved in the decision-making process, they also benefit from remittances. Yet, they remain invisible in migration policy, as well as aid and development planning.

This briefing tells the untold story of older people in the migration ecosystem in Africa. It highlights the importance of including older people in migration policies and practice – whether they are left behind, on the move, or returning to their country of origin. It identifies the key challenges facing this generation, explores policy options and calls for more thorough research to improve understanding of the capabilities and needs of older people in situations of migration in Africa.

Mineral governance barometer - Southern Africa

23 Mar 2017 10:35:35 GMT

Southern Africa is endowed with lucrative mineral resources such as diamonds, gold, copper, coal, platinum, and uranium.  This rich endowment can be a major asset in the quest for inclusive and sustainable development, yet mining in Southern Africa has often been criticised as an enclave sector that at best contributes little to economic development and at worst does substantial social and environmental harm.  To avoid such pitfalls emerging international consensus emphasises the importance of good mineral governance. This involves the adoption and implementation of regulatory frameworks that promote deeper linkages between the mining sector and the broader economy, and that protect people and the environment from the potentially harmful consequences of mineral extraction.

This pilot study provides a barometer of mineral governance in ten Southern African countries: Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, South  Africa,  Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The barometer takes stock of mining regulations in place at the end of 2015, the extent to which they are implemented, and features of supporting institutions.  It is based on the observation that while regulations impose obligations on mining companies, in doing so they directly impose obligations on the state to monitor and enforce compliance, and they also indirectly impose obligations for citizens and civil society to hold the state and mining companies accountable.  The barometer includes indicators of mineral governance  across  four  main  issue-areas:  national  economic  and  fiscal  linkages;  community  impact; labour, and the environment, with artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) treated as a special topic.  The barometer also includes indicators of state capacity and state accountability with respect to mineral governance.

A practical agenda to reducing technical barriers to trade in SADC

14 Mar 2017 02:19:31 GMT

Technical regulations refer to product and process specifications, whether voluntary (standards) or legally required (compulsory specifications).

This policy brief provides context for technical regulation in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. It then offers some cross-cutting solutions for developing monitoring mechanisms that can allow policymakers to identify problem areas, and some specific interventions for the Standards, Accreditation and Metrology functions that can build capacity at low cost. It provides some recommendations for a practical agenda on reducing Technical Barriers to Trade (TBTs) in the SADC – ones that can be executed with minimal cost, and that improve the institutional capacity of regional organisations to grapple with the complexity inherent to the field. Above all, these regulations will need to be carefully attuned to assure that they provide the maximum protection for the region from dangerous substandard imports, while still allowing for a dynamic, mutually beneficial trading relationship.

Technical regulation cannot create jobs, but it is a vital underpinning for the type of policies that drive regional integration and create industrial jobs. As it stands, Southern Africa’s technical regulation is developing too fast, with too few controls to ensure that it is directed towards developmental purposes. Capacity expansion that simply results in ever more standards being churned out increases complexity,
but not quality. Practical interventions that create supporting mechanisms – such as monitoring systems, or assistance for firms seeking accreditation – are essential to creating a development-focused regional technical infrastructure.

Innovative risk finance solutions – Insights for geothermal power development in Kenya and Ethiopia

02 Mar 2017 01:44:39 GMT

Geothermal development is on the rise in many regions of the world. However, the high costs of field development, coupled with the high risks associated with resource exploration and drilling, still pose a significant barrier to private sector financing.

Insurance can mitigate the risks to investors and increase flows of private finance to the industry.

A project by Parhelion, a private sector insurance and risk company focused on climate finance, funded by CDKN, aimed to improve the technical capacity of Kenya’s and Ethiopia’s local insurance industries for using geothermal risk mitigation instruments.

A consultative process with relevant stakeholders in these countries yielded insights and recommendations for international, multilateral and bilateral institutions that are looking to support geothermal resource development. The analysis was enriched by E3G’s expertise in analysing climate finance flows.

The study found that international, multilateral and bilateral institutions should:

  • Support technical assistance and capacity building, which takes into account the needs of all relevant stakeholders involved within specific country and market contexts.
  • Provide targeted concessional finance by taking into account all possible risk mitigation instruments during project development, and by envisioning the leverage of private finance as early as possible.
  • Use insurance instruments to target specific, well defined risks: this can offer very high leverage ratios on the use of public funds, and crowd in private sector insurance capital.

Can the APRM be an effective tool to monitor Agenda 2063 and the SDGs?

24 Feb 2017 02:20:50 GMT

Monitoring and evaluation has emerged as a central concern in development thinking. Both the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the AU’s Agenda 2063 represent responses to Africa’s developmental deficits, with much overlap between them. They will need a robust mechanism to trace the progress that is being made, and this study explores whether – rather than attempting to construct a new system – Africa’s home-grown governance evaluation system, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), might be able to fulfil this role.

A number of factors make the APRM a natural monitoring tool for the other two initiatives. Each is substantively about governance, and deals with similar subjects. Indeed, the priorities of Agenda 2063 fed into the SDGs, and the APRM has made cooperation between itself, Agenda 2063 and the SDG initiatives a strategic priority. The three initiatives also share broad ideological outlooks, are comprehensive in the scope of their activities, are geared for the long term, envision broad-based participation and seek to engender cross-border cooperation. In broad terms, they are all committed to a democratic, participatory governance framework and developmentally oriented policies. However, there are a number of hindrances to the APRM’s fulfilling this role – at present, these arguably render it incapable of taking on the extensive and ongoing monitoring responsibilities that the other initiatives demand.
The APRM has proven larger, more complex and more expensive than its founders realised. It has been slow in conducting reviews, and has not established a consistent set of indicators that would allow for measuring across countries and over time. Nevertheless, the APRM is a recognised brand and is institutionalised as part of the African Governance Architecture. To take on the monitoring of Agenda 2063 and the SDGs it would need to resolve its administrative weaknesses, secure adequate funding and conduct reviews on an ongoing basis.
There is also a need to design a continental system of data gathering and analysis to enable precise measurements of progress in meeting the various developmental goals. These are significant challenges, but they describe the necessary rejuvenation of the APRM required for it to become the monitoring tool for the continent’s developmental endeavours.

Africa’s climate: helping decision-makers make sense of climate information

24 Feb 2017 01:53:41 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 in this report, written by leading experts in their fields, 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. Some of these capture the current state of knowledge, while others explore the ‘burning scientific questions’ that still need to be answered.

Africa's prospects for enjoying a demographic dividend

21 Feb 2017 11:19:36 GMT

While fertility rates and dependency ratios in Africa remain high, they have started to decline. According to United Nations projections, they will fall further in the coming decades such that by the mid-21st century the ratio of the working-age to dependent population will be greater than in Asia, Europe, and Northern America. This projection suggests Africa has considerable potential to enjoy a demographic dividend. Whether and when it actually materialises, and also its magnitude, hinges on policies and institutions in key realms that include macroeconomic management, human capital, trade, governance, and labour and capital markets. Given strong complementarities among these areas, coordinated policies will likely be most effective in generating the momentum needed to pull Africa’s economies out of a development trap.

Conditional cash transfers in Africa: limitations and potentials

21 Feb 2017 01:52:11 GMT

Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) are currently amongst the most popular social protection programmes for addressing
poverty, vulnerabilities, and risks of poor individuals, households and communities in developing Latin American, African, and Asian countries.
However, the increasing popularity and adoption of CCTs in Africa have remained highly understudied in comparison to CCTs in Latin America where they originated in the late 1990s and early 2000s. For this reason, this policy brief discusses some of the current limitations and potentials of CCTs as social protection programmes for reducing poverty and developing the human capital of poor individuals, households, and communities in African countries.

The brief begins with an overview of CCTs in general with special reference to Africa in particular. It then examines some of the limitations and potentials of CCTs on the continent.
  • African countries seeking to adopt CCTs should design, implement, and adapt such programmes with due consideration to the propriety and much needed institutional training for state and non-state officials
  • provision of adequate supply-side facilities such as quality schools and healthcare centres should be a condition for implementing CCTs and no community should be excluded from participation for lack of such facilities
  • the eligibility period for participating individuals, communities and households in CCTs should reflect the amount of time needed to fulfil basic education and healthcare needs as appropriate. Universal coverage of all those in need within each community must also supersede limited coverage
  • adequate planning and institutionalisation of programmes should be done to ensure ownership and sustainability of CCT programmes, especially in countries where programmes are funded mainly by donors. But appropriate partnership agreements for overall developmental and social protection purposes should be explored as necessary

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

17 Feb 2017 11:50:34 GMT

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

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

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

09 Feb 2017 09:59:25 GMT

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

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

07 Feb 2017 04:39:47 GMT

Dominant party systems in Southern Africa differ widely in the extent and nature of this dominance, in their overall democratic quality, as well as in public attitudes toward the political opposition. But while there is widespread support for multiparty politics, opposition parties clearly face major obstacles to obtaining majority support in the near future. Five Southern African countries have democracies dominated by parties that emerged from liberation movements and have governed since independence: Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. This paper uses Afrobarometer survey data to analyse popular attitudes toward political opposition parties in these countries. Do citizens support multiparty politics? What are the trends in levels of citizen support for the political opposition? Do citizens believe that opposition parties present a viable alternative to the ruling party? Given the importance of public opinion in maintaining party dominance, findings offer important insights for scholars of democracy in Africa as well as for opposition parties in these countries. Key findings:about seven in 10 citizens in Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe support multiparty competition, compared to only a slim majority (56%) of Mozambicans. On average across all five countries, this support has increased from 55% in 2002/2003 to 67% in 2014/2015however, only minorities endorse an opposition “watchdog” role in Parliament, ranging from 16% of Batswana to 32% of Mozambicans. Even citizens who self-identify as opposition supporters are more likely to say the opposition should collaborate with the government in order to develop the countryon average, trust in opposition parties increased significantly in the five countries between 2002 (16%) and 2015 (38%), although it remains well below the levels of trust in the ruling party (56% on average). Public trust in opposition parties is higher than average among citizens with post-secondary education and those living under secure material conditions (both 43%)the proportion of citizens who feel “close to” an opposition party is highest in Botswana (36%), followed by South Africa (34%), Zimbabwe (28%), Namibia (24%), and Mozambique (20%). Affiliation with opposition parties is higher among urban residents, men, citizens aged under 56 years, and those with at least a secondary educationwhile levels of trust in opposition parties are similar in Southern African countries with dominant party systems and those with competitive party systems, there is a significant difference in trust in the ruling party (56% vs. 40%). And citizens of countries with competitive party systems are significantly less likely to self-identify as ruling-party supporters (16% vs. 44% in dominant party systems)among citizens in the five countries with dominant party systems, Namibians are most likely to believe that the opposition presents a viable alternative vision and plan for the country (52%), followed by Mozambicans (45%), Batswana (44%), South Africans (43%), and Zimbabweans (37%). On average, this perception is higher among urban, male, younger, and better-educated citizensonly small minorities of Batswana, Mozambicans, Namibians, South Africans, and Zimbabweans believe that opposition parties are most able to address fighting corruption (24%), creating jobs (18%), controlling prices (16%), and improving health services (15%). And although six in 10 (60%) citizens across the five countries say their government is doing “fairly badly” or “very badly” at handling the most important problems facing their country, only 36% believ[...]

Emerging trends in Africa’s electoral processes

20 Jan 2017 03:02:05 GMT

The quest for competitive elections in Africa, with the modest gains made since the 1990s towards deepening
democratisation, continues to underpin the continent’s efforts to create stable and growing democracies. Since the post-Cold War transition from single-party to multiparty systems, most African countries have embraced elections as their preferred option for power transfer. Drawing especially on AU election observation mission reports, this policy briefing examines trends emerging from elections held in 2015 and 2016, and calls for extensive structural, legal and policy reforms. It argues that adherence to and implementation of the AU treaty and non-treaty standards for democratic elections are key to further strengthening electoral processes in Africa.
  • the AU in collaboration with RECs should develop guidelines for constitutional revisions to give effect to Article 10 of the ACDEG
  • electoral calendars must be respected and changes must be mutually agreed by all stakeholders to protect the sanctity of electoral processes
  • inter- and intra-political party dialogues remain key in safeguarding electoral democracy and deepening political pluralism in AU member states
  • governments should develop and adopt social media codes of conduct for elections to protect the fundamental rights to access to information and expression
  • political parties should undertake reforms to address structural exclusion and guarantee equal participation of young people, women and other marginalised groups in political and electoral processes

Are Africans willing to pay higher taxes or user fees for better health care?

17 Jan 2017 01:09:38 GMT

In many parts of Africa, access to and quality of medical services remain poor. While economic growth in recent decades has fostered improved health care on the continent, weak funding, brain drain of trained professionals, and ongoing battles with diseases such as TB, HIV, diarrheal diseases, and malaria as well as recurring epidemics such as Ebola continue to put immense pressure on medical systems in many countries. Struggling medical systems confront governments and citizens with difficult choices: Needed investment in the medical sector must compete with other priorities, and increasing health spending by cutting other programs may not be a popular or even feasible solution. One alternative may be to raise taxes or user fees in order to increase available funding.
In its Round 6 surveys, Afrobarometer asked citizens in 36 African countries whether they would support or oppose paying higher taxes or user fees in order to increase government spending on public health care. This paper describes citizens’ responses and analyzes whether they are correlated with demographic factors, access to health services, and perceptions of health care, government performance, and official corruption.
Key findings:
  • on average across 36 surveyed countries, half (49%) of Africans went without medical care at least once in the year preceding the survey. Countries vary widely on this indicator, ranging from 3% in Mauritius to 78% in Liberia and 77% in Togo
  • among Africans who obtained medical care, four in 10 (42%) found it “difficult” or “very difficult” to do so
  • Africans are almost evenly divided on the question of whether to pay higher taxes or user fees in exchange for increased government spending on health care, with 42% in favour and 45% opposed. Only eight of 36 surveyed countries register majority support for such a policy (Madagascar, Mozambique, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Mali, Namibia, and Gabon).
  • support for higher taxes/fees in exchange for increased health-care funding is correlated with public trust in the tax department and the president, positive performance evaluations for the president and members of Parliament, and the perception that leaders want to serve the people rather than themselves.
  • perceptions of official corruption and difficulties experienced in obtaining health care, on the other hand, tend to reduce support for higher taxes

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 cou[...]

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.Conclusions: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 sect[...]

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 descriptiondemographically, 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 menacross 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 countriesa 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 2012the 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 cou[...]

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/locationpolicies 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 discussionsadaptive 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 rightsattention 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 communitiesnew 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 reducedstudies 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 Af[...]

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[...]

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.