promoting increased & more effective funding in Africa
Russell Southwood’s BalancingAct -Africa newsletter helps me to navigate developments in the telecommunications industry in Africa. The BalancingActAfrica -YouTube channel always has interesting interviews. Check out the interview with Nyasha Mutsekwa, CEO of the Metvafrica.com. Fascinating developments in streaming media in Africa so be sure to check out metvafrica.com
In March at the 2012 Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group (AGAG) Annual Retreat, a panel on indigenous people and sustainable development in Africa discussed the importance of understanding context when working with indigenous communities. (If you are an AGAG member you have access to the audio and see the power point presentations in the member section ).
As part of the presentation, panelists from the MacArthur Foundation, Global Greengrants, Kivuline Trust and the Christensen Fund talked about the lessons they are learning in their engagement with indigenous communities. Indigenous knowledge and climate change published by the United Nations contains an interesting mix of case studies, research and projects on the impact of climate change on indigenous communities. The MacArthur Foundation supports organizations working to protect the environment and has a list of resources on conservation and sustainable development.
The push to do good and do well by investing to address social problems in contrast to giving is not new. There appears to be a global push to bury the debate that a more business like approach to solving social problems is more effective. I still have my reservations about all of this this. But a recent article by Steven Barboza on thisdaylive.com explains Why African philanthropists seek “Africapitalism.”
The article highlights Tony Elumelu, founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation which is an “African based and African funded” foundation based in Nigeria that invests in small and medium sized enterprises through the partnership with Heirs Holdings, an African investment company headed by Elumelu. The line up of people associated with the foundation include Professor Michael E.Porter of the Harvard Business School who is listed as the “founding patron” and Dr. Wiebe Boer, the CEO who was formerly Associate Director of the Rockefeller Foundation,
Elumelu has coined the term”africapitalism” and you can sign up for the Africapitalist Newsletter to learn more about this approach. Check it out.
The Open Innovation Summit on Africa opened Friday in Nairobi with a great line up of speakers including Emmanuel Okaegwale, Principal Associate of MobileMoneyAfrica. Like most parts of the world, technology developments in the use of mobile devices continues to expand. Information from the 2010 meeting is available online.
Despite the attention and resources to address the challenge of HIV/AIDS, it remains a threat to developing healthy and vibrant communities. For the first time in over 20 years the International AIDS Conference is taking place in Washington, D. C. on July 22 – 27 with the theme “Turning the Tide Together.”
The Global Village is the only area of the conference open to the public but it is also a crossroads of people from all over the world lending their voice and actions to “turning the tide.” Check out the U-tube video at International AIDS Conference.
The Africa Grantmakers’ Affinity Group grew out of the coming together of a group of funders who supported anti-apartheid activities. Like all wars, those who fought are often forgotten and those who fought apartheid were no exception. “No Place by the Fire: The Story of South African Ex-Combatants and the National Peace Accord Trust” examines the story of the more than 80,000 ex-combatants “to adjust to life in a country that seemed to want to forget about them.”
The report was commissioned by Atlantic Philanthropies and you can download a copy from their website and watch videos about how a group of ex-combatants started a business when their benefits never arrived.
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.
In March, 2012 AGAG held its annual retreat and the theme for this year was evaluation and learning. SUSAN GIBBS of the Wallace Global Fund, served as a Conversation Starter on the panel, “Views from the Field” and is author of this guest blog. What do you think?
Many funders seek to use their grant dollars and convening power to partner with advocates to advance progressive social change. Needless to say, the more transformative the agenda, the tougher it is to show impact in one- or two-year grant cycles. Social change requires advocacy, and advocacy is notoriously difficult to measure.
Does that mean funders should steer clear of supporting advocacy? I would argue the opposite. And I would pose the provocative question: Do we set grantmaking objectives for the world we want to see, or the world we can measure?
Advocacy in support of social change is not clear or clean. It is multivariate and chaotic. It is subject to overlapping pressures and actors. Its path is circuitous. It proceeds in fits and starts. It can take decades. And once success is achieved, there are always threats of reversals.
In addition, the connection between advocacy and transformative social change is indirect. For example, by my count, 18 African nations have passed legislation banning female genital mutilation/cutting. However, we can’t simply declare victory now that these bills have been signed. In fact, we are seeing some contradictory short-term effects such as the practice being driven underground or across national borders. In some settings, we are seeing the practice being performed on younger girls. Funders must see advocacy – in tandem with long-term community-led empowerment efforts – as a strategy over the long haul. Funders must be guided by the communities leading the charge.
Another challenge associated with advocacy – and strategies for evaluating it – is the fact that it often provokes fierce, explicit, and intentional opposition, and this opposition has become globalized. Progressive advocates in Kansas and Kampala are encountering some of the same actors, messages, and funding flows. Success in the short term can have the perverse effect of galvanizing advocates on the other side. How should we best measure that?
Should these measurement challenges cause us to throw up our hands and give up? Definitely not. Despite the obvious methodological complexities, there are paths forward. For starters, we need to employ longer timeframes when evaluating advocacy. We should focus on measuring social trends rather than individual grantee outputs. We should measure the organizational capacity of advocacy organizations, looking at such metrics as transformational leadership; the ability to course correct and innovate; and success in stewarding and deploying scarce resources effectively. In the words of Tanya Beer at the Center for Evaluation and Innovation, we need to “allow for uncertainty and emergence.”
As a funding community, we need to connect more and learn from one another and fund more advocacy evaluation, not less. Hopefully AGAG can help our community progress. As with the advocacy approaches we fund, there is force in numbers. Just because our evaluation measures and methodologies are challenging does not mean we should scale back our ambitions.
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.
I recently talked with Marcia Thomas of USA for Africa, one of the cosponsors of the recently launched Africa speaks 4 Africa, and invited her to do a guest blog about this relaunched initiative. She kindly agreed and it follows:
Africa Speaks 4 Africa is a newly launched, independent online magazine featuring the voices and perspectives of Africans on the continent and in the diaspora. The magazine provides a much needed space for dialogue and issue exchange—with Africans at the helm of the conversation.
Recognizing that an African perspective was somewhat limited in contemporary discourses on the continent, the site was built to give prominence to the thinking, ethos, and vision of the African people on all issues affecting their homelands. It was designed to appeal broadly and offer a diversified and lively exchange of ideas with ample opportunities for reader participation.
Within a week of its launch, the magazine received an encouraging and warm reception from hundreds of readers from North America, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Africa, Senegal, Egypt, Ghana, and the United Kingdom—which speaks both to the need and timeliness of a project that gives credence to African voices and reflects the lived realities of those most connected to the continent.
.We invite you to visit, share, and explore the site at www.africaspeaks4africa.org.