Food Security Deadline for Africa and Other Reports
Every week, Rural Reporters collate reports on development in rural Africa and its environs. The reports include some of our top picks from recent must-read research, interviews, reports, blogs and in-depth articles which have been carefully selected to help you keep up with global issues. Here are some of the updates you may have missed from the previous week:
Here’s a rundown of the top stories making headlines in rural Africa this week.
For the 30% of people living in sub-Saharan Africa who are undernourished, climate change is expected to make matters significantly worse. But a new study, published in Nature Climate Change, aims to prevent future environmental impacts from devastating the food supply chain in developing nations by providing both a time-scale and a framework for improved food security, the first of its kind to do so.
The second day of the National Disability Rights Summit on Friday saw delegates attending parallel sessions covering various topics critical to the white paper on rights of persons with disabilities being implemented.
Delegates attended commissions and discussions focusing on numerous issues affecting the quality of life of people with disabilities, and how to overcome these problems.
The sessions focused on issues, such as compounded marginalisation affecting women, children, older people and people with disabilities living in poverty, and access to information and services in rural communities.
“The main challenge in the country is unemployment,” said participant Manthipi Molamnu during the conversation about community-based services. The role of non-governmental organisations advocating disability rights was “to ensure the communities are integrated”, she said.
While Royal Dutch Shell Plc paid 55 million pounds ($77 million) in compensation last year, residents have spent almost all of it and can’t finish their new homes. Standing at the waterfront, Christian Kpandei, a 56-year-old pastor, surveys the row of unfinished houses near the bank.
“This is why they are crying,” said Kpandei, who led the compensation campaign against Shell. “There’s no money again.”
Twenty years after the oil-pollution crisis in the Niger delta shot to world attention when the then military government hanged the author and environmentalist, Ken Saro-Wiwa, residents in the region are seething with anger again that the problem hasn’t been fixed. Militants who carried out an armed rebellion in the region from 2006 to 2009, cutting as much as a quarter of production in Africa’s biggest oil producer, are threatening to resume their campaign. While President Muhammadu Buhari is promising to accelerate clean-up efforts, he says he understands the communities’ anger.
“The devastation caused by oil spillage has destroyed many lives and livelihoods,” Buhari said in January during a visit to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. It “is clearly one of the reasons why many people in that region lost faith in government and resorted to the many criminal activities we are seeing.”
Shocking? Yet, this is the reality. In parts of Africa up to 75% of people have never heard of the internet.
Pan-African website AfriTree.com quotes a report written by by social media giant Facebook who says while connectivity to the internet creates massive advantages: like greater economic opportunities, easier access to education, better access to healthcare and increased empowerment for women, the majority of unconnected people, including millions in Africa, are not even aware of the internet.
It’s only one of the disconcerting findings made by Facebook in its second ‘State of Connectivity’ study. The social innovators undertook the study to gather an understanding of how large the gap is between communities with internet access (connected communities) and those without (unconnected communities). They also try to find solutions to bridging the so-called ‘digital divide’, which is particularly wide in Africa.
Africa’s population is booming. By 2100, it will be home to 4.4 billion people – four times its current population.
Such an increase – far larger than the global population increase of 53 per cent by 2100 – will pose significant challenges. Poverty, conflict, disease and access to education are all issues African governments will continue to face, having to build states that can support ever-increasing amounts of people.
By 2050, more than half of Africa’s 2.2bn people will live in its rapidly expanding cities. That’s the equivalent of the population of China.
The UN has counted 71 African cities with a population higher than 750,000, many of which lack the infrastructure to support large populations. These cities are growing at an unstoppable pace – expected to hold 100m more people in 2025 than they did in 2010.
Last week, a UN committee focused on women’s human rights (known as the “CEDAW Committee”) issued important new guidance for countries about the rights of rural women. It emphasized that rural women, a quarter of the world’s population, face massive barriers to realizing their rights. It called on governments to eliminate discriminatory laws on land and inheritance.
Kenya has taken some steps in the right direction. Its 2010 constitution provides for the elimination of gender discrimination in law, customs, and practices related to land and property. But a lot more needs to be done in Kenya – and around the world – to guarantee that women can realize their property rights.
A regional forum organized by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to be held 14 to 18 March in Abuja will examine lessons learned from IFAD-funded projects in West and Central Africa with a particular focus on successful investments in rural youth.
Over five days, the forum on Investing in rural youth How we do plant the seeds for the future will focus on effective investments that create opportunities for youth in rural areas. While the number of young people in Africa has never been higher, the situation is particularly acute in rural Sub-Saharan Africa, and especially in West and Central Africa, where half of the population is under 25 years of age.
While they have a positive role to play in the development of their communities, too often young rural people are disadvantaged because of their age, facing social and cultural constraints that make it difficult for them to gain access to land and financial resources. In recent years, IFAD has played an important role in advocating for and investing in initiatives that encourage sustainable agriculture and entrepreneurialism among rural youth.
After being out of fashion for a long period, agriculture has been coming back into the spotlight again as part of development policy. Amid rising concerns about food insecurity and high expectations from agribusiness, policymakers have started to emphasise the importance of agriculture as a source of employment.
Across Africa interest in agricultural investment as a source of employment growth and profit is growing. In South Africa, the national development plan identifies agriculture as the potential basis of one million new jobs.
But how realistic are these hopes? In our globalised and competitive world, agricultural development is not a great direct generator of jobs. In fact, increases in the intensity, efficiency or competitiveness of agriculture often push large numbers of people off the land. Farm workers, less efficient small farmers, and women often get the short end of the stick.
The success of the UN’s post-2015 development agenda is predicated on one underlying theme: no one should be left behind – and certainly not the world’s rural poor –in the fight to eradicate hunger and poverty by 2030.
Over 70 percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas and amongst indigenous communities which are deeply entrenched in rural environments. The United Nations says these include subsistence farmers and herders, fishing communities and migrant workers, artisans and indigenous peoples – all of them struggling for economic survival.
But the world body points out that empowering rural people– largely in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean– “is an essential first step to eradicating poverty”. In today’s world, says UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, too many people continue to face exclusion, too few economies have attained inclusive and sustainable growth, and people were frustrated at “working harder” while “falling behind”. He said economies must be put at the service of people, through effective integrated social policies, particularly in a world where inequality was still too high and where too few economies had attained sustainable growth.