By Triphomus Muyagu
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has warned that water and sanitation will remain one of the key development challenges facing African communities and nations, with direct impacts on economic growth.
The statement from AfDB has been made at the 6th Africa Water Week (AWW6), held in Dar es Salam, Tanzania, from July, 18 which has ended today.
“Africa is one of the developing regions that have not met the drinking water and sanitation targets. More than 50% of Africa’s population currently does not have access to safe and reliable water and sanitation services. Also an estimated of 1 million Africans die every year from lack of adequate sanitation, hygiene and from water borne diseases,” Mohamed El Azizi, AfDB’s Water and Sanitation Director, said.
The AfDB is in a unique position to help African countries better cope with water and sanitation challenges. “We have track records in implementing water, sanitation and climate change resilience projects as well as a robust experience in managing dedicated trust funds and tools: the award-winning African Water Facility, the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative, African countries can really benefit from our experiences and lessons learnt,” said El Azizi.
“Expanding access to clean water and better sanitation is a strategic priority for the AfDB. Overall, our projects created 116,000 m3 of drinking water capacity between 2013-2015, with more than 6.1 million people benefiting from improved access to water and sanitation as a result of our projects,” he added.
The AfDB and the African Water Facility an instrument established by the African Ministers’ Council on Water and hosted by the AfDB took part in a series of events aimed at translating the high-level commitments on water security and sanitation into implementation.
Discussions have allowed to identify the main “game changers” and the policy shifts that are needed to reach the 6th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG6) endline to “Ensure access to water and sanitation for all” Participants also tried to develop a common understanding of policy design options and financing requirements for practical implementation of climate change resilience projects.
“Getting the right design is critical for financing of any infrastructure. Key design parameters for water infrastructure are hydrological information. In many countries this information is weak and the uncertainties introduced by climate change make projections even more difficult. A new program Hydromet can support better information for design in climate resilient infrastructure,” said Jean-Michel Ossete, acting coordinator, African water facility.
“To meet SDG6 targets in Africa, realistic and comprehensive financing plans are needed based on the costs of providing both hardware and software components, as well as operations and maintenance to ensure services operate efficiently and sustainably,” added Jochen Rudolph, water and sanitation expert, AfDB
AWW6 was an opportunity to explore and identify opportunities for linkages and collaboration across global, regional, and sub-regional monitoring initiatives in order to better track progress on SDG6.
The Bank’s delegation to AWW6 also seized the opportunity to explain how AfDB’s top five priorities or “High 5s” as well as its climate finance strategies can help accelerate the attainment of SDGs.
The International community and the big donors who have invested huge amounts of money in Africa over many decades to alleviate hunger and eradicate poverty were not successful in finding solutions to these problems.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the world’s population will increase by one-third between now and 2050.
If current income and consumption growth trends continue, the FAO estimates that agricultural production will have to increase by 60 percent by 2050 to satisfy the expected demand for food.
Agriculture must therefore transform itself if it is to feed a growing global population and provide the basis for economic growth and poverty reduction.
During the period between 2010 and 2012, almost 870 million people were estimated to be undernourished.
In addition, another one billion people are malnourished, lacking essential micronutrients.
About 60 percent of malnourished people are small subsistence farmers. This is shocking because they are the very people on whom most of the countries in Africa and the international community rely to feed the millions of undernourished and malnourished people.
The first obstacle on the road to food security in these mostly underdeveloped African countries is the unwillingness or inability of the countries and the international community to make a paradigm shift and realise that the production of food by small subsistence farmers will never be the solution to famine and poverty in Africa.
These farmers are in many cases struggling to make a living themselves.
It is a fact that no farmers in the world, regardless of their colour, race or the size of their farms, can make a contribution to food security if they cannot produce food profitably and sustainably.
The time has now arrived for everybody involved in wanting to achieve food security in Africa to acknowledge and accept this reality.
Once this obstacle is overcome and the mindshift made towards transformation of the agricultural industry, the road to food security can become a scientific and economic reality in Africa.
But an important question should be asked in this regard: how is it possible that the international community and big donors continued year after year and decade after decade with the same development policy that proved unsuccessful, but then expected a different result?
The ultimate question is, then, what should be done to achieve food security and eradicate poverty in these countries?
The answer is simple: profitable and sustainable production of food commercially.
This is the prerequisite for any country that wants to achieve food security. There is no other way.
The second obstacle to achieving food security and relieving poverty is the fact that the subsistence agricultural industry in Africa has never had the capacity to support an ever-growing population in a sustainable manner.
The fact that the agricultural industry still makes the biggest contribution to economic growth, and that it is still the most important part of the economy, is a further obstacle and remains the most important reason for the underdeveloped status of these African countries.
The only solution is the deliberate transfer of a major proportion of the population out of the agricultural industry to relieve the industry from its enormous burden, even if this takes longer than a generation or two to achieve.
Secondary and tertiary services will provide industries that are essential during the transformation of the current struggling subsistence agriculture to a highly scientific and commercialised industry.
The investment in industrial development, specifically in agriculturally related industries, will have to play a major role in this transformation process.
It will create business and employment opportunities outside the agricultural industry.
Food production must be intensified and vertically expanded. After this further horizontal expansion can be continued.
Production must be commercialised, operated and managed on a profitable basis to be sustainable and to achieve food security and poverty eradication.
Food production should be adapted to climate change and must also be directed towards the conservation of the environment and natural resources.
The international community and big donors should invest in this transfor- mation process by appointing qualified agencies with the required expertise, skills and experience to produce food in these countries.
It should be produced in partnership with and to the benefit of the small subsistence farmers and the population as a whole.
Large projects that are highly labour intensive – such as the production of vegetables, fruit, flowers and other products under irrigation – should also be developed to accommodate a large number of subsistence farmers in a productive way.
The transformation of the agricultural industry should be economically and financially self-sufficient and require only an initial capital investment, with no further financial support.
Industrial development through the investment in agriculturally related enterprises such as seed production, manufacturing of fertilisers, machinery and implements – as well as renewable energy – will be essential wherever it is possible in Africa.
Investment in infrastructure to accommodate the import of production inputs and capital goods which cannot be produced or manufactured locally, as well as for the export of products, must receive a high priority.
Investment in manufacturing and value-added capacity must also have a high priority in developing new markets for agricultural products.
Child labour should not be allowed and all children should attend school and receive further education and training in order to qualify themselves for employment and business opportunities outside the agricultural industry.
An acceptable birth control system would have to be developed and implemented to limit the rapid growth in the population.
As far a South Africa is concerned, the generally accepted goals of the government – of land redistribution and the development of small black farmers – on the one hand and food security on the other can never be compatible.
This is mainly because there is no possibility that small farmers, as in the rest of Africa, can make a meaningful contribution to food security if they cannot produce food profitably and sustainably.
This is a proven fact. Because of the small scale of their farming operations, the severe climate conditions, the fact that most of them might not have the interest, experience, entrepreneurship, or capital or management skills means they could find it very hard to survive financially.
And if they further don’t receive the necessary training and extension services from qualified and experienced agricultural scientists to develop as fully fledged commercial food producers, then it is fair to say that South Africa has taken the wrong road to the longer-term sustainable food security for the country.’
The land redistribution policy and small-farmer development in South Africa, as a purely political objective, may already have placed agriculture on a path to an unprofitable, unsustainable and non-commercial industry.
The question that is also relevant is to what extent these developments – together with the government’s prospects of agriculture apparently being the only industry to create more jobs – have already placed South Africa on a reverse path towards an underdeveloped country?
Fanie Brink is an independent agricultural economist. This article is adapted from a paper he presented yesterday at the Fertiliser Association of Southern Africa Congress in Somerset West.
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The potential to power growth sustainably is there. Policy makers must just rise to the challenge, a new UN report says
AS Africa looks to keep economic growth numbers healthy and improve the well-being of its citizens, many of its initiatives have understandably tended to follow those undertaken by industrialised countries.
The challenge increasingly has been to fund such steps, such as a focus on manufacturing and export-oriented growth, in addition to other bottlenecks such as high-carbon emissions and destruction of the environment.
But a new report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) shows that a switch to green investments provides a huge opportunity for progress in a continent where nearly half of sub-Saharan Africans live in extreme poverty; three in four households have no grid power; and 70% do not have access to improved sanitation.
Currently a buzz phrase, green economies are those that achieve growth through investments that cut carbon emissions and pollution, in addition to using resources efficiently and protecting the environment for future generations.
To make its case to policymakers, the Green Economy Africa Synthesis Report offers staggering numbers obtained from its findings across 10 African countries, with the region, perhaps of necessity, identified as among the global front runners in leading the transition to green economies.
“Enormous sustainable, renewable, and untapped resources exist on this continent. Africa receives 325 days per year of sunlight and is using less than 7% of its hydroelectric potential, and less than 2% of its geothermal capacity,” UNEP executive director Achim Steiner said.
Mail and Guardian Africa picked out eight examples of other such staggering numbers from the report:
1: Under green investment scenarios, the national real GDP in fast-growing Kenya would increase by an estimated 12% by 2030. This would lead to an additional 3.1 million people being lifted out of poverty. One small solar LED lamp could for example save a Kenyan family more than $1 a week, in a country where an average 13% of income is spent on kerosene.
2: Investments in expanding solar and wind capacity in Senegal would by 2035 create up to 30,000 additional jobs. This would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 9%, or about 27 million tonnes, helping the country realise its undoubted potential.
3: South Africa, which has been battling a water crisis, could save billions of tonnes of water if it makes further investments in natural resource management, especially land restoration. This could create up to 737,000 new jobs, helping alleviate a persistent unemployment headache in Africa’s richest economy. Making energy efficient improvements could further reduce electricity demand by 5% in 2030.
4: Renewable energy investment scenarios in Burkina Faso, which is in the throes of Sahel region desertification, could save up to 100,000 hectares of forest area by 2050, reducing carbon dioxide by 16,000 tonnes. If the country invests further in green electricity generation, it could see this category rise from 20% in 2012 to 60% in 2050.
5: Struggling Egypt could save 30% of its energy consumption if it used efficiency measures. The North African country currently consumes 33 billon KW. And just replacing faulty farm pipelines and introducing drip irrigation could save up to 40% water losses, as it frets over downstream use of its lifeline Nile River.
6: In power-choked but quick-growing Rwanda, expanding its grid-connected renewable energy supply could replace its emergency diesel generators, in place since 2004. The country has an installed off-grid hydro capacity of just 1.54 MW, showing just how power deficit economically cripples countries, from Rwanda to South Africa
7: In Mauritius, a green economy scenario results in over 25% more employment that in a conventional growth scenario. Green sectors tend to be more labour intensive than resource intensive, hence creating space for new jobs in a continent where 11 million African join the labour market every year.
8: In Africa, where agriculture accounts for 32% of its GDP and supports the livelihoods of 80% of its population, investments in green practices such as organic agriculture could provide a cash boom. Uganda for example increased its certified organic exports from $3.7 million in 2004 to $22.8 million four years later. The global market for organic foods and beverages is expected to grow to $105 billion by 2015, from $62.9 billion in 2011.
Source: Mail and Guardian Africa
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