promoting increased & more effective funding in Africa
Agriculture, small farmers, ending hunger and Africa were hot topics at the G8 meeting at Camp David and the Chicago Symposium on Food and Nutrition Security.
As Roger Thurow noted in his Global Food for Thought blog, ” The powerful and the rich trained their focus on the hungriest and the poorest. Their overwhelming consensus was that the smallholder farmers of Africa – most of whom are women — are indispensable in the great global challenge of doubling food production by 2050 to meet the demands of a population that is growing in both size and prosperity.”
Hopefully this awareness will reverse some alarming statistics such as women in Africa receive less than 10% of the credit extended to farmers and only 1% of the total credit to the agricultural sector despite the fact that women grow 50% of the world’s food. (WTO.org) In August, 2011 Nigerian Obiageli Ezekwesili, vice president of the World Bank’s Africa region, noted “that agriculture is the next big thing on the continent, and this is a sector where the participation of the public sector and the private sector can really make things happen,
The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program is a program of the New Partnership for African Development and is an “African owned and led initiative to boost agricultural productivity in Africa.” It is one of a range of initiatives to address the challenges of hunger that plague every country in the world and especially those on the African continent.
AGAG collaborated with two colleague groups – the International Human Rights Funders Group and the International Funders For Indigenous People on a briefing call on land grab, water supply and indigenous communities in Africa. In listening to Delme Cupido of the Open Society Institute in Southern Africa and Anuradha Mittal of the Oakland Institute talk about the issues from their respectively dispersed geographic offices, I am reminded of how technology has made these global village discussions possible.
At the same time, I am struck with how important these issues are for the range of funders supporting development projects in Africa and yet how most funders who don’t fund this topic specifically, might not see how it relates to their grantmaking.
The call was targeted to grantmakers, so if you are a funder and missed it I encourage you to contact the IHRFG to inquiry if you can gain access. The Oakland Institute has several great publications available on their website that provides more information. I encourage you to review them. They are quite useful in putting development issues in Africa in context.
The Stone Foundation has announced a prize to encourage innovation in addressing the lack of access to water. If you have an idea, you could get £100,000 to further your efforts. For more information check out their website http://www.thesff.com/the-prize/about-the-prize.
According to the UNICEF website – “Almost fifty per cent of the developing world’s population – 2.5 billion people – lack improved sanitation facilities, and over 884 million people still use unsafe drinking water sources. Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services, coupled with poor hygiene practices, kills and sickens thousands of children every day, and leads to impoverishment and diminished opportunities for thousands more.” (http://www.unicef.org/wash).
Seems like a basic problem to be solved if we are all going to move forward.
The New Field Foundation is one of the few foundations supporting organizations in French Speaking Africa. They also send out a resource bulletin with useful information (in both English and French). I wanted to share with one with you and encourage you to check out the New Field Foundation to learn more about their work.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is inviting indigenous peoples’ organizations and communities, and organizations that work with them, to apply for grants that fund projects and partnerships to promote the development of indigenous peoples and their unique cultural identity.
Grants ranging from US$20,000 to US$50,000 will be awarded to applicants from IFAD’s developing Member States through the Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility (IPAF). Member states include, but are not limited to: Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.
You can find more information on application requirements and an application form in English at http://www.ifad.org/english/indigenous/grants/index.htm
The closing date for applications is August 31, 2011.
Despite the overwhelming market for self-improvement methods that urge us to harness our power as individuals we don’t usually hear this type of conversation when talking about development.
Some may argue that in African societies where the emphasis is on the family and not the individual, this approach might not get much traction. Well, I guess the time has come. The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa will host a symposium organized by Africa Unbound Inc that emphasis change beginning with the individual. I guess this is what is meant by the term “empowering people” but this seems like a different, more “homegrown” approach.
The press release describes it as “… a launch pad for a movement of peaceful activism towards enlightenment and social transformation. It will set the stage for a wide range of activities and programs that will seek to enable individuals to be powerful change agents on the continent.”
It takes places on April 28 and 29, 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For more information check out the Africa Unbound website. i look forward to hearing what happens.
What about you? Do you think we need to include personal transformation as a part of the development approach in helping to improve the living conditions on the planet?
Guest Blogger – Chris Allen
Like many of us, I have devoted years of joyful work with partners in the US and Africa to solve some of our toughest social problems. We’ve all tried many promising approaches, and at times had good results. All of these efforts have been worthwhile, but all along I have been nagged by doubts that they were really getting at the Big Things that are behind poverty, disease, oppression, you name it.
How do societies change? How can you make it happen? I read recently something from Robert Chambers, the Wizard of development thinkers, that got me thinking:
“‘Procedures like the logframe and results-based management originate in the simple and complicated domains where cause and effect are in principle knowable. They are then applied in the complex domain of unpredictability which prevails in most development…This forces fabrication of the future as if it were controllable, manageable and measurable, as though development initiatives were immunisation programmes manqués. The misfit has high costs: in misdirected effort which does not respond well to changed conditions; in demotivating those who live and work with those changes….
These frames and procedures, and the mindsets and practices that go with them do not correspond with the complex, emergent realities of the lives and livelihoods of poor people. In policy, project and programme planning, strenuous efforts are made to treat the complex as simple or complicated and the diverse as uniform. Poor people, who are adaptive agents, and their conditions, which are complex or chaotic, are then treated as if these were controllably simple or complicated.”
This is from his latest article, Paradigms, Poverty and Adaptive Pluralism
He uses the distinction between simple/complicated vs. complex, which describes the difference between programs where you know what inputs will produce what outputs vs. programs where the outcome can never be predicted from the beginning because of all the other factors that affect it and are beyond the control of the program.
I think if we really want to solve the problems that need solving, we need to think in terms of the complex processes that govern our lives, and the complex relationships of organizations, networks, media, government and private sector that bounce off each other to write the future.
Chris Allan is Program Consultant with the Global Greengrants Fund, and consults with a variety of other organizations on international environmental and development programming and fundraising. He has twenty-five years experience in community development and environmental protection with a variety of civil society organizations. He is organizing a session at the upcoming Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group Annual Retreat on “Strengthening Networks and Alliances to Solve Complex Social Problems.”
Understanding the context in which organizations are operating in another country can be daunting. This is especially true for post-conflict countries where the infrastructure has been destroyed. Although not in large numbers, private funders are investing in countries with varying degrees of instability such as Zimbabwe, Angola. Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.
Liberia is the West African country that emerged from years of civil war to make history as the first African country to elect a woman as Head of States. It has been very proactive in trying to assist funders in understanding developments in Liberia’s reconstruction and how their investments can fit within the country’s development priorities by establishing a Philanthropy Secretariat in 2009. Supported by foundations and housed in the office of the President, the Secretariat organized a four-day agenda for visiting funders in 2010. Another program is planned for March 2011.
As President Sirleaf has said about her country, “Liberia is not a poor country but a country poorly managed.” The Secretariat is an exciting step in improving the chances of greater impact by harmonizing philanthropic investment and the country’s priorities. I think it is an exciting move in the right direction.
Yvonne Moore of the Daphne Foundation was a guest blogger who wrote about this experiment in Encouraging Transparency in Philanthropy
Imagine an African government with a desire to encourage connection, transparency and collaboration among their donors. Imagine a group of foundations who have chosen not to operate in silos, but instead to share their work, find synergies and combine their resources for wide and sustainable impact.
Such an office exists within the Government of Liberia. It is a pilot project based within the Office of the President and financially supported by private dollars, that embraces reporting and the tracking of outcomes. A tracking system available for the world to see (via the web), provides an avenue of accountability by the country’s citizens and the world at large.
During the recent AGAG retreat my colleagues questioned, fairly, the issues of sustainability, and whether or not being housed within the government will dampen the integrity of the project. I could be proven wrong, but because there are many players involved — not just those from private foundations– it reduces the likelihood. The office has connected with nonprofits working on the ground, individual donors, and other leaders within civil society. Instead of remaining anonymous, the funders of the project have created a grassroots movement to get others donors involved; to let the world know about the project with the hope it might be a replicable model.
For those of you questioning the accountability of the Liberia leadership, be reminded we are all accountable. You can’t simply question whether or not someone is accountable; you must also be willing to step up if you find that they are not. That responsibility now belongs to you as well.
Regarding sustainability, honestly, only time will tell. But the leadership within the government and those foundations involved are committed to nurturing the project over the remaining two years. Not just through funding, but also by helping develop relationships, systems, and when appropriate, stepping away (often difficult for us) to let the leadership lead.
And for those of you who continually question the authenticity of African leaders – choosing to lump all into the same proverbial barrel – chances are you have plenty of corruption to deal with on your own soil. Let this leadership be free to choose a path of integrity and innovation for their people.
Yvonne Moore is the Executive Director of the Daphne Foundation, a family foundation focused on the causes and consequence of poverty in New York City and in Western Africa. Her foundation is part of a three-year pilot project, The Philanthropy Secretariat, based within the Government of Liberia. The focus of the Secretariat is to connect foundations investing in the country’s re-development to help increase impact, sustainability and improve their connections to and between other foundations, government and civil society.
There is such a wealth of information on Africa produced in Africa. While the Internet has helped these organizations to elevate their profile so that more people are aware of them, social networking sites such as Facebook and YouTube provide platforms where the general public can get to know more about Africa.
The Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA) is a research and capacity-building organization that works to encourage more dialogue between researchers and policy makers in eastern and southern Africa. The main office is located on the campus of Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia.
Institutions and individuals can join and gain access to the online resources that are quite interesting and varied and provide a platform for social science research on a range of topics. They also have a Facebook page where their list of “Favorite Pages” is another source of interesting information on a range or resources such as Wikigender.
YouTube has also provided a platform for the general public to access information about Africa by Africans. A recent example is the video of Chimamanda Adichie’s “The danger of a single story,” featured as one the Tedtalks. This is a powerful reminder to all of us of the danger of looking at Africa through a single lens. There is also a powerful YouTube piece on Rural Women Solar Engineers of Africa that showcases the rural women who brought solar electricity to rural villages the different countries in Africa. It also raises questions about effective and cost effective approaches to education, workforce development and the role of women. It also offers some concrete examples of effective approaches that have demonstrated to work.
For funders interested in supporting organizations and projects in Africa, there are lots of resources to help you to understand better the context of the community and to provide some food for thought. Don’t forget these social media sights as part of your research. While the “openness” of these platforms enables it to be a forum for possible misinformation, it also provides an opportunity to see and learn about things that are working but absence from the major newspaper and media outlets.
If there are some examples you would like to share, please send them to me at email@example.com
My recent move back to my small mostly agricultural home town in Northern Virginia has given me a different perspective on many things. From my office I watch how the seasonal changes affect the woodlands behind my house.
As activists and leaders meet in Copenhagen to try to find common ground on an equitable approach to mitigating the impact of climate change, these talks have much more meaning for me. Like most folks, I guess I don’t really pay attention until things take on a more immediate face. Each time I have to cart my trash to the landfill, I am reminded how waste is poluting the earth. The idea of not buying bottled water because the plastic will be around for much too long makes a lot more sense. What has become much more vivid as well is how all of this affects the lives of so many communities in African countries, which is largely agricultural.
A recent report released by the United Nations Population Fund helps me to better understand the complexity of the situation. The report, “State of World Population 2009:Facing a changing world: women, population and climate” notes that the number of people living on Africa’s vast continent has doubled over the past 25 years. It is now over a billion of the 6.8 billion on the planet.
“While the developed countries have contributed the most to human-induced climate change up to now, people in poor countries—most dramatically in Africa—already are much more likely to die as a result of the climate change that occurred up to 2000″
Maybe big, global issues loom too large for most of us to think we can make a difference. But as this report points out, efforts have to come from all sides. For example, guarding the rights of women and working for reproductive health has an impact on climate change. Supporting civic education in African communities is important in building community awareness and participation. Supporting agricultural practices that respect traditional knowledge is also part of the effort.
There are so many great efforts underway in African communities to combat climate change. I’d like to highlight some of them so if you have links to website or videos about African efforts to combat climate change please drop me a line so I can highlight some of them.