May 9th, 2013 4:32 PM UTC
By Guest Blogger
ONE US Policy Manager David Hong and ONE Africa Deputy Director Nachilala Nkombo look at the progress made by Grow Africa in the last year.
Today, five African heads of state, four G8 development ministers, and over 100 private sector companies will meet in Cape Town, South Africa at the World Economic Forum on Africa to assess Grow Africa’s work in 2012, the partnership’s first full year in business.
First, here’s a little background. Two years ago, the African Union Commission, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) agency, and the World Economic Forum combined forces to create a new partnership, Grow Africa, which aims to reduce poverty by accelerating private sector investment in African agriculture.
The partnership is led by the organisations above, and includes eight member countries and various stakeholders such as host governments, companies involved in investment, civil society, research institutions, and farmer organisations.
Here at ONE, we’re taking this opportunity to weigh in on Grow Africa’s first annual report. Overall, the initiative made significant progress last year, especially given the small size of its team. ONE hopes for further and more robust reporting in the coming years so the partnership can demonstrate its value and defend its model. Annual reporting gives Grow Africa an opportunity to demonstrate lessons learned over the past year and what challenges lay ahead.
Here are the headlines:
Obviously, there is a lot to commend here. Thousands of smallholders are being incorporated into commercial food supply chains where they’re growing more food and generating more income for their families. If Grow Africa adds further measures to increase transparency and expand reporting of poverty reduction indicators, the partnership could change the game for farmers and businesses.
For more information on Grow Africa’s report and ONE’s analysis, check out this policy brief.
Mar 26th, 2013 10:58 AM UTC
By Helen Hector
A decade ago, African leaders made a bold commitment to reverse decades of neglect of the agriculture sector. Big promises were made by both African countries and international donors – but have they been kept?
Today ONE launches a brand new report which answers this question.
A Growing Opportunity: Measuring Investments in African Agriculture takes a closer look at who’s leading the way and who needs to do more. Read the report, or get the headline findings in this infographic.
Mar 26th, 2013 10:08 AM UTC
By Roger Thurow
Ten years ago, Africa’s hunger season reached new levels of desperation. Hunger crises gripped the continent from the Horn to the southern tip. In Ethiopia, the feast of successive bumper harvests had incredibly, swiftly turned to famine, with 14 million people on the doorstep of starvation, surviving on international food aid. A drought spread through central Africa and crept down the east coast, destroying harvests. In southern Africa, AIDS was creating a new kind of famine where it wasn’t the crops that were dying but the farmers who planted them.
The suffering was immense. And it exposed the folly of international development philosophy and practice of the preceding three decades: agricultural development and sustained resilience, particularly for the smallholder farmers, had been woefully neglected. The farmers who grew the majority of the continent’s food, who made up the majority of the population in many countries, were seen as too poor, too remote, too insignificant to be worthy of development efforts. This had been the shared attitude of rich world donor governments, African governments themselves, the mighty development institutions and the private sector.
Something had to change. And it did.
Amid the misery in 2003, African leaders gathered in Maputo, Mozambique and determined to reverse the neglect. At an African Union (AU) summit, the heads of state promised to allocate 10% of national budgets to agriculture and seek 6% annual agricultural growth by 2008. The AU leaders also adopted the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) as a common framework to be implemented by member states to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty through agricultural development. This would be development led and owned by African countries, and supported by donors.
How have the seeds sown by the Maputo Declaration grown?
In a report launched today – a valuable yardstick called, A Growing Opportunity: Measuring Investments in African Agriculture – ONE reviews the past decade and finds some notable successes in terms of mustering money and political commitment, and the impact of agricultural development.
As of January 2013, the report notes, 24 countries had signed CAADP compacts and held their business meetings and launched “solid, costed and technically reviewed” plans to accelerate agricultural development. Another six countries had committed to start the process and develop plans. The report assessed 19 of those plans:
Eight of those 19 countries are on track to meet the first Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015. At least 13 have had 6% annual growth in the agriculture sector. Leading the way has been Ethiopia; by 2011, the government was spending 19.7% of the total budget on agriculture, almost double the Maputo commitment. The result is average annual growth of 24.2% in the agricultural sector in the 2008-2011 period, which, in turn, has accelerated poverty reduction, particularly in the rural areas.
Still, the report notes, much remains to be done.
“Despite progress, Maputo financing commitments are off track,” ONE found. “Disappointingly, our analysis shows that only four of the 19 countries examined have met the target of spending 10% of the national budget on the agriculture section.” Those countries are Ethiopia, Niger, Malawi and Cape Verde. Two more countries are close behind (Senegal and Sierra Leone). And six are at least halfway there (Mali, Tanzania, Gambia, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda). Seven countries, though, are seriously off track, spending less than 5% on agriculture; six of them actually lowered their agriculture spending. The resulting funding gaps of the proposed agricultural development plans in these 19 countries amounted to a $4.4 billion budget shortfall in 2011.
ONE exhorts African leaders to “act with urgency” to fill the gaps in partnership with donors.
As for the donors, their actions also need to match their pledges. Meeting at L’Aquila, Italy, in 2009, the world’s leading industrial countries, known as the G8, pledged $22 billion over three years to support sustainable agriculture and food security in the developing world. In 2012, at their Camp David summit, the G8 leaders launched the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, a partnership between the governments and private companies to accelerate investments in agriculture with the ambitious goal of lifting 50 million people out of poverty over 10 years.
The ONE report found that these G8 countries may have, in words and intentions, met their $22 billion pledges, but only half of the money has been dispersed and is working on the ground.
When the benefits do reach the fields, progress is remarkable. “Sub-Saharan African agriculture could, and should, be thriving,” the report concludes. “Unblocking Africa’s agriculture potential would also unlock its development.”
To accelerate the success, ONE suggests the agriculture development plans need more transparency and greater consultation with civic organizations, particularly farming groups and women’s organizations. They need a clearer focus on women farmers, who do most of the smallholder farming in many countries. And they need a stronger emphasis on improving nutrition as well as production.
This year, ONE says, “is a turning point.” The decade-old commitments to improve African agriculture need to be renewed and bolstered and put into action. Or the days of negligence could begin again.
Surely, no one wants that – not the Africans who depend on agriculture to drive their economies nor the rest of the world that needs African farmers to be as productive as possible to meet the great challenge of feeding a growing global population.
The hunger season in Africa has gone on far too long.
Mar 3rd, 2013 10:05 AM UTC
By Helen Hector
Today ONE launches a new report that looks at the progress made in fighting extreme poverty since the historic pledges made by world leaders at Gleneagles in 2005.
Get the headline facts from the graphic below, or if you want to delve deeper, read the full report.
Feb 19th, 2013 11:59 AM UTC
By Alan Hudson
The horsemeat scandal shows how hard it can be for people to keep track of what goes into the food that they put on their plate.
Faced with a complex web of transactions, it’s hard for people to make sense of what’s going on. This is a big deal – people should be able to know what they’re eating.
In developing countries there is a different kind of secrecy that’s worse. Far worse. In four out of five countries covered by the Open Budget Survey, governments don’t provide their citizens with enough information to make sense of their national budget.
The problem is particularly pronounced in countries that have an abundance of natural resources such as oil, gas and minerals. This means that people can’t see how their resources are being used – whether they’re being wisely invested in health, agriculture and education, or whether they’re being siphoned off to the accounts of corrupt leaders. This needs to stop.
ONE campaigns for more transparency in the fight against global poverty, so that people in developing countries can hold their governments to account and take control of their lives in a future beyond aid.
Follow the meat. Follow the money. Demand transparency.
Nov 4th, 2011 5:16 PM UTC
By Tom Wallace
Africa suffers from an infrastructure deficit that greatly limits growth and poverty reduction on the continent. 70% of the population do not have access to electricity and many rural communities lack road to access to markets or health facilities. In some areas a lack of infrastructure reduces economic output by as much as 40%.
However both government and private investors often find it difficult to find African infrastructure projects to invest in. This isn’t because of a lack of projects, but rather a lack of information being made available to investors. As a result potential investors find it very hard, time consuming, and at times, expensive to find information on projects and other potential investors. This impedes investment even though new projects often yield attractive rates of return. The result of this is that African people continue to suffer from this lack of infrastructure.
Today however at the G20 summit in France world leads took steps to address this problem by endorsing the establishment of the Sokoni African Infrastructure Marketplace. This African Development Bank and the Zanbato Group Sokoni proposal (‘Sokoni’ is Swahili for ‘marketplace’) should help overcome many of the challenges investors face by creating a single platform for information on a large number of African infrastructure initiatives. Governments and investors will be able to come to find transparent information and link up efficiently with each other. Using ICT and technology Sokoni will help enhance efficiency, transparency, and connectivity in the market and help to mobilize increased resources from Africa and abroad for badly needed infrastructure projects.
ONE welcomes this initiative and the support of the G20 world leaders for it. You can find out more about Sonoki from its website http://www.sokoni.com/
Sep 20th, 2011 2:52 PM UTC
By Alan Hudson
By shining a light on the ways in which governments in developing countries invest aid, natural resource revenues and other public resources, transparency can turbo-charge accountability, helping ordinary citizens to hold their governments to account. This can play an important role in reducing corruption, improving the delivery of essential public services such as health and education, enhancing the climate for growth and investment, and accelerating countries’ progress along the road out of poverty, towards prosperity and beyond aid dependence.
Transparency and accountability provide, in effect, a boost to the quantity and quality of resources available for development. To maximise this “resource dividend” it is essential that there is transparency and accountability for the use of all public resources, including aid, climate finance, taxes, and natural resource revenues, and that budget processes are open, with room for citizen engagement. The Open Government Partnership (OGP) – to be launched today (Tuesday 20th September) by President Obama of the United States and President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil – provides an important opportunity for governments to take a real step forward in enhancing transparency and accountability for the use of all public resources.
OGP is a new international initiative which aims to encourage and enable governments, in partnership with civil society, to promote transparency, increase civic participation, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. By taking advantage of this moment of opportunity, governments can empower citizens with the information that they need to take greater control of their own development and make an important contribution to accelerating progress on poverty reduction.
At the OGP launch, the founding governments – Brazil, Indonesia, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States – will endorse an Open Government Declaration and announce national action plans. The founding governments will also be joined by another 38 governments, including Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania, who will commit to developing and delivering their action plans at a follow up meeting in March 2012 in Brazil. The official launch of OGP event will be live streamed at www.whitehouse.gov/live
As well as participating in the launch, we will be analysing countries’ action plans to assess whether governments’ commitments – on aid, on budgets and on natural resource revenues – will empower people in developing countries with the information they need to hold governments to account. See our recent policy pitch for more information about the commitments that we believe governments should make to promote the transparent and accountable use of public resources. Over the coming months and years we will be working closely with a number of partner organisations to build a global movement on transparency and accountability, to keep transparency and accountability high on the agenda at the G20, the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in 2011, and in meetings of the G8 (US), G20 (Mexico) and the International Anti-Corruption Conference (Brazil) in 2012, and to make sure that governments meet their commitments to become more open.
Transparency alone will not deliver the accountability that is needed to ensure that resources are invested effectively in poverty reduction. Politics is key. But without transparency, political choices are poorly informed and there can be no accountability. With the demands of people across the Arab world for better governance fresh in our minds, now is the time to open government in order to accelerate progress on poverty reduction.
Sep 14th, 2011 5:30 PM UTC
By Tom Wallace
Is ‘infrastructure’ a boring word to you? Because sometimes when I first mention it in conversations people don’t seem that interested. Building a concrete road or putting up an electricity pylon doesn’t seem quite as exciting as giving a small child a lifesaving vaccine, does it? However, in reality building that road could be just as lifesaving and transformative for the village at the end of it – it can allow villagers to reach hospital in lifesaving times, it can open the village up to new markets and opportunities to trade, and it can ensure the delivery of lifesaving healthcare and food in times of need.
In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) a lack of physical infrastructure is not an inconvenience, it is a daily hardship stunting economic growth and poverty reduction. Many regions of Sub-Saharan Africa are still missing the essential physical required for human development, market generation and poverty alleviation. 70% of the population has no access to electricity, 95% of agriculture is without irrigation and the majority of the rural population is not served by roads to market. Rural women walk an average of 6miles a day to get firewood and water – water that may not even be safe to drink. A lack of infrastructure in Africa means poor people too often pay heavily in time and money to access vital services such as sanitation, healthcare and education – binding achievement of the Millennium Development Goals closely to infrastructure access.
It is not all gloom though – more recently there have been huge infrastructure success stories in the region. Telecoms have boomed largely without state support and companies have made considerable profits in this and other sectors. In addition there has been significant progress on infrastructure projects in some major cities, coastal regions and around natural resource extraction sites. However, further infrastructure development in Sub-Saharan Africa is essential for human development, poverty reduction and for Africa to realise its economic potential.
The good news is the G20 countries, a collection of the most powerful economic countries and the European Union, have realised this fact!
Last year, as part of the G20 Seoul Development Consensus, these countries recognised the important role infrastructure plays in poverty alleviation and economic growth. A High Level Panel was set up to look at infrastructure funding and how best to mobilise and scale up financing for this important underfunded sector.
Next month this panel will report back to the G20 with recommendations. However it is important when this happens that they appreciate that some infrastructure is more effective at alleviating poverty than others. To take an extreme example – a clean water delivery pipeline to isolated village where there is currently no safe freshwater will be much more beneficial than a broadband internet cable to the same village who don’t even own a computer. Both are types of infrastructure but one is obviously more beneficial to the village people’s essential needs. To be most effective at tackling poverty reduction the High Level Panel should be aware of how best infrastructure can help alleviate poverty and the ways to ensure infrastructure benefits for the poorest. ONE has tried to ensure the panel considers this and recently sent a submission to them explaining the ways their recommendations and the G20 can ensure this. You can find our submission online here.
ONE will be pushing to make sure governments appreciate these points and keep a strong focus on Africa’s infrastructure need in the coming years, because – frankly – infrastructure isn’t boring it’s essential.
Sep 14th, 2011 4:40 PM UTC
By Joseph Powell
Political momentum increased yesterday for a new transparency law in Europe that would help citizens in poor, but resource-rich, countries. The European Parliament endorsed plans for an EU-wide transparency law to shed light on the payments oil, gas and mining companies make to the governments where they operate. This would empower citizens with the information they need to hold their leaders accountable for money received, and would help governments negotiate fairer deals with extractive industry companies. In both these ways efficiency of public finance would improve, and more resources could be allocated to vital development projects.
ONE is a strong supporter of this type of transparency, and is part of the Publish What You Pay coalition which includes over 600 civil society organisations from around the world. For example we worked with Ugandan activists earlier in the year to deliver the message that the UK can help them make sure their new-found oil wealth is not wasted. Over the last few days Publish What You Pay has been asking people on Twitter what they would do with greater control of their #oilmoney. Education, healthcare and environmental projects were listed as priorities.
Moves towards legally binding measure in the EU will help with this. Jean Claude Katende of Publish What You Pay in the Democratic Republic of Congo argues: “We want to see the European Union adopt rules which are as ambitious as possible. Payment information will help us hold our leaders to account, but other information on profits, sales, production levels and reserves would enable us to judge whether DRC is getting a fair deal for the exploitation of its mineral resources.”
Last July the US passed a law that will soon mean all oil, gas and mining companies listed in America will have to publish their payments at the level of individual projects on an annual basis. Europe will soon propose a similar law. We need both jurisdictions to move swiftly to implementing these laws so that activists in Africa get the revenue information they need as soon as possible.
The end goal of better accountability in this area of public finances is to ensure resources are invested well, including in health and education, so that poor countries’ reduce poverty and progress towards middle-income status.
Nov 23rd, 2010 4:44 PM UTC
By Joseph Powell
Chinese demand for African minerals has grown hugely in recent years, and now represents a critical trading relationship both for the continent’s economic development and China’s growth plans. However, natural resources have a mixed history in driving development, too often succumbing to the ‘resource curse’ spiral of corruption, environmental degradation and in the worst cases conflict.
Last week in China Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – World Bank Managing Director and ONE board member – made an important speech explaining how to consign this ‘resource curse’ to the history books. In her eyes Chinese investments can be made mutually beneficial by following 5 key principles: Align Investments with Countries’ Development Priorities; Practice Transparency; Add Value to the Country and its People; Pay What is Due and Do What is Right; and Engage with Local Communities.
The speech as a whole is well worth reading – and commands attention coming from one of the foremost advocates for transparency and accountability in Africa. While Finance Minister of Nigeria Dr Ngozi published each state’s monthly financial allocation from the federal government in the newspapers. This allowed Nigerian civil society to hold their leaders to account and cut down on wasted funds.
ONE is campaigning for these principles to be applied to the oil, gas and mining industries. In the US this has already paid dividends with the passing of legislation in July that ensures companies have to publish what they pay governments in countries where they operate – once again empowering civil society. We are now seeking to replicate that legislation in other countries, particularly in Europe.
The importance of getting this right should not be understated. In total exports of all natural resources in Africa were worth roughly $393.9 billion in 2008, nearly 9 times the value of international aid to the continent ($44 billion), and over 10 times the value of exports of agricultural produce ($37.9 billion).
Central to success in this area will be the China-Africa relationship, of which the last word should go to Dr Ngozi:
“If China and Africa could work together in a transparent and mutually beneficial way, I am convinced that when history is written, this collaboration will be a strong part of the economic recovery story post financial crises.”
The International ONE Blog is a daily log of the anti-poverty movement. The site is operated by ONE staff, with guest contributions from ONE volunteers, members and allies.
The content of each post and each comment represents the views of that author and does not necessarily reflect the views of ONE. ONE does not support or oppose any candidate for elected office, and any post expressing support or opposition for a candidate is not endorsed by ONE.