Sustainable rural development in the Eastern Cape would need a package of interventions if real local economic opportunities for rural communities were to be created.
This was the combined message from three speakers at a seminar hosted by the European Union and Office of the Premier-funded Sustainable Rural Development in the Eastern Cape (SURUDEC) and its local implementing agent, RuLiv in East London in April 2012.
Entitled ‘Rural Livelihoods and Development Planning: Experiences from the Eastern Cape’, the seminar heard presentations from the Eastern Cape Social and Economic Consultative Council (ECSECC), the Agricultural extension department of the University of Fort Hare and from SURUDEC.
Most of the opportunities probably lay in the agro-processing sector according to ECSECC's CEO, Andrew Murray.
He added that as agriculture contributed a mere 2.6 percent to the provincial gross domestic product (GDP), beneficiation and value chains needed to be explored and would probably be the sector where most jobs could be created.
One possible strategy was aggregating micro-projects with a focus on value chain multipliers, but Murray cautioned that producers had to produce the right product at the right time within a market system.
“It’s important to link micro-projects with manufacturing at scale, this needs to be a costed instrument and we have been too slow in getting it right – this needs to be speeded up”.
“Values have to be shared; it is no good squeezing small producers on one end of the scale while manufacturers take home huge revenues.”
Training and learning incubators were also important as making land more productive was a lengthy process and consisted of more than mere access to land. Capital, knowledge and skills together with labour were also needed.
On training, Murray’s view was echoed by Professor Francois Lategan of the Agricultural Extension department at the University of Fort Hare who added that past training of agricultural extension officers had failed and that today’s students needed training in a multiplicity of skills in order to equip them for the job.
This included entrepreneurial skills, innovation and understanding markets. he most crucial skill was the ability to identify opportunities and act on them.
“We lack a message or a workable model for small scale farmers but the message needs to include instilling an entrepreneurial slant.
“Farmers, big and small, need to be shown how to recognise opportunities to make money,” he concluded.
SURUDEC programme coordinator, Dr Stephen Atkins, outlined SURUDEC’s asset-based approach to development which included recognition that communities employed multiple livelihood strategies and that local conditions determined responses and interventions.
An example was one SURUDEC-funded project in the Indwe area, a large farm obtained through a restitution award in 2001. While the farm co-operative had R70 000 in its bank account and was now valued at R10 million, the enterprise could potentially earn a net profit of R600 000 a year while employing 20 people full time.
However, currently additional enterprise and employment generating options were not being considered and Atkins pointed to potential rental accrued from a cell phone mast which was not being collected by the enterprise.
“The business is in a fragile state and long term plans need to be made by all stakeholders for sustainability of the enterprise,” he added.
The second case study was of an ecotourism development initiative at Cata, near Keiskammahoek in which existing and new birding hiking trails were refurbished and developed, a community institution was set up and given business skills training and marketing material had been produced. In addition, the project dovetailed well with previous community development initiatives.
Atkins concluded with some of the lessons coming out of the SURUDEC programme in the Eastern Cape which included:
- It was vital that robust and accurate data support rural development actions;
- It was important to know the area and know the people concerned;
- Possibilities and the challenges needed to be identified;
- Being realistic of the scale and scope of the intervention was needed from the beginning;
- It was important to identify the resources required to undertake an action and to budget correctly;
- Time frames or horizons needed constant monitoring and management;
- Building capacity over time and planning for support and mentoring was an integral part of any intervention and must be planned and budgeted for;
- The prioritisation of options needed to be managed constantly;
- It was important to network with relevant practitioners.
SURUDEC aims to reduce poverty in the province by providing grant funding to support the design and implementation of integrated community-driven development plans (ICDPs). These are plans of action that indicate ways in which the economic situation of a community will be improved and how its asset base will grow over time. These plans would inform district and local government IDPs, and importantly, over time and as resources become available, elements of each community plan would be implemented, either directly from community resources, or in combination with funds from partners, donors or Government.
- Barbara Manning is the Visibility and Communications Coordinator (SURUDEC) within Ruliv.
- Joint Aid Management InternationalPlease note: this opportunity closing date has passed and may not be available any more.Opportunity closing date:Wednesday, May 9, 2012Opportunity type:Employment
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Yatsar Centre is a nonprofit organisation that operates with the mercy of our Lord, as it provides shelter, food and employment for homeless people in Africa, as well as acting as an effective distribution agent to serve other missions to the effect of providing food and necessities on an ongoing basis.
The Centre does not believe in street collections, but utilise a workforce of skilled people to assist it in achieving certain set goals. These people come from broken marriages, destroyed dreams and disillusionment. The organisation’s mission is to guide them back to a normal and fruitful life.
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- President Jacob Zuma has urged South Africans to stand up and fight poverty.
Speaking during celebrations to mark the Day of Goodwill at Mpendle in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands, Zuma urged communities to form themselves into the groups and be part of government's poverty alleviation programmes.
The president called on people to stand up and cultivate the land, adding that funds are available to help organised groups who want to start projects to uplift themselves.
To read the article titled, “Zuma urges citizens to stand up and fight poverty,” click here.Source:SABC News
- Richard Branson, Peter Gabriel and Jeff Skoll join campaign to raise awareness for human rights by tackling poverty
"With three billion people living on less than $2.50 a day, it's clear that they haven't got the same rights that should apply to everyone. By becoming more aware of our universal rights, we can tackle some of our greatest challenges," says Sir Richard Branson.
British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson is supporting Barefoot Against Poverty - the Every Human Has Rights campaign to mark International Human Rights Day on 10 December 2010. International Human Rights Day celebrates the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which includes the proclamation that everyone should live a life free from want.
Joined by fellow leading philanthropists Peter Gabriel and Jeff Skoll, Sir Richard is calling on people across the globe to stand in solidarity on International Human Rights Day and commit to ending poverty.
"I'm delighted to support the Barefoot Against Poverty campaign. It's extraordinary and shameful that we allow millions of children to go without food in their bellies or shoes on their feet," says Peter Gabriel, the world renowned musician.
"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed 62 years ago clearly states that no person should live in want. Unless we as citizens unite and say human rights must be taken seriously by everyone, this reality will not happen," adds former President of EBay and founder of the Skoll Foundation, Jeff Skoll.
Billions of people are still living in poverty, their right to a healthy living free from want being denied. Taking inspiration from Nelson Mandela, Every Human Has Rights believes that the world would be a better place if everyone walked a mile in another's shoes. By raising awareness and creating empathy we might begin to build an understanding and begin to make the fight for human rights part of our everyday lives.
In a joint call, these three leading entrepreneurs are calling on people around the world to join the Every Human Has Rights campaign by taking a simple barefoot step - the first in recognising and acting to uphold our Universal Human Rights.
Sir Richard Branson, Peter Gabriel and Jeff Skoll join the Barefoot Against Poverty campaign
"With three billion people living on less than $2.50 a day, it's clear that they haven't got the same rights that should apply to everyone. By becoming more aware of our universal rights, we can tackle some of our greatest challenges." - Sir Richard Branson
"I'm delighted to support the Barefoot Against Poverty campaign. It's extraordinary and shameful that we allow millions of children to go without food in their bellies or shoes on their feet." - Peter Gabriel, musician
"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed 62 years ago clearly states that no person should live in want. Unless we as citizens unite and say human rights must be taken seriously by everyone this reality will not happen."
- Jeff Skoll former President of Ebay and founder of the Skoll Foundation
Sir Richard Branson and Peter Gabriel
Notes to the editor:
- Join the Barefoot Against Poverty campaign by registering on www.barefootagainstpoverty.org. Take a picture or video of yourself taking a Barefoot action and join the global movement for every human’s rights
- Facebook page: www.facebook.com/everyhumanhasrights
- Barefoot Against Poverty is part of the Every Human Has Rights (www.everyhumanhasrights.org) campaign, which was inspired and launched by The Elders.
- Richard Branson, Peter Gabriel and Jeff Skoll are supporters of The Elders a group of eminent global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela, www.theElders.org
- Every Human Has Rights is hosted by CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation www.civicus.org
- Albie Sachs, one of Nelson Mandela’s first Constitutional Court Judges, talks about Universal Human Rights and going Barefoot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHg0zRn-TGA
- Fashion writer Emily survives on one pair of shoes for the month: www.barefootagainstpoverty.org/shoeamonth
- Videos: Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace, pledges to go Barefoot on human rights day http://www.barefootagainstpoverty.org/index.php/barefoot-against-poverty...
Date published:03/12/2010Organisation:CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation
- Media Officer, Rowena McNaughton: +27 11 833 5959 / +27768695293 email@example.com
- Campaign Coordinator, Rashmi Mistry: +27 11 833 5959 ext 139 / +27726430632 firstname.lastname@example.org
- In this very timely book, two of the world’s most prominent critics of the global food system, Eric Holt-Giménez and Raj Patel, dissect the causes of hunger and the food price crisis, locating them in a political economy of capitalist industrial production dominated by corporations and driven by the search for profits for the few instead of the welfare of the many. Here, greed has played just as destructive role as in the financial sector.
This book is an analytical resource for anyone interested in understanding the food crisis. It is an information manual for those who wish to do something about it, including students, researcher and practitioners in the areas of food security, sustainability, public administration and development economics.
For more information, click here.
- The most important, single issue facing government today is improving conditions for greater labour absorption.
The South African Bill of Rights says, “Every citizen has the right to choose their trade, occupation or profession freely.” But local laws and institutions do not fully support that right, and one consequence is our staggering unemployment rate.
The results of the Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS), recently published by Statistics South Africa, revealed some alarming labour market trends. According to the strict definition, the unemployment rate increased from 24.3 percent (4.165 million) in the last quarter of 2009 to 25.2 percent (4.310 million) in the first three months of 2010 – a loss of 145 000 jobs. When the first quarter of 2010 is compared to that of 2009, if we include discouraged work seekers who have given up searching for work because they believe there is none available, the unemployment rate increases from 28.4 percent (5.4 million) to 32.4 percent (6.1 million) unemployed people.
This paints a very bleak picture indeed.
To make matters worse, these employment figures are at odds with the growth in real gross domestic product (GDP) – 4.6 percent in the first quarter of 2010 compared to 1.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2009. And, according to the Quarterly Employment Survey (QES), gross labour earnings paid to employees in the formal non-agricultural sector in the first quarter of 2010, was 11.7 percent more than in the first quarter of 2009. Therefore, on average, for those with jobs in South Africa, things got a whole lot better despite almost a million losing theirs in 2009.
A further worrying concern is that, of the unemployed, 63.5 percent have been out of a job for longer than a year, and the majority are young with limited education and other skills. If the low end of the labour market were allowed to function unhindered, young and unskilled people would not have such a desperate struggle to get onto the first rung of the employment ladder. Without doubt, the already employed will protest that any weakening of job-security legislation or erosion of minimum wages will lead to increased poverty. Studies have shown that unemployment is a significant driver of poverty, so how can we close our eyes to it.
Often ignored is that worker productivity is the main determinant of what employers are willing to pay, and a legislated increase in the price of labour does not increase worker productivity. According to fundamental economic logic, if a minimum wage of R2 000 per month can improve conditions for workers, then one of R20 000 per month should improve conditions even more. But, obviously, a minimum of R20 000 would render more people unemployable. People who do not get jobs as a result of such legislation are unseen victims while those who can clearly be seen to lose jobs are only too visible.
Claire Bisseker states in an article (Financial Mail, 25 June 2010) that, “There are 387 manufacturers that have refused despite an exhaustive legal process by the clothing industry national bargaining council, to honour minimum wages and conditions of employment.” She reveals that a total of 43 percent of clothing manufacturers in the country are not complying with minimum wage legislation. The clothing industry national bargaining council is currently sitting on execution orders against the first 70 firms that have failed to meet their regulatory obligations, which, if carried out, could result in about 4 000 workers losing their jobs. I know that if I were one of these 4 000 individuals facing unemployment, I would certainly be against the carrying out of the execution orders.
Bisseker sums up the situation succinctly, “The standoff in the clothing industry forces a choice to be made between upholding decent working standards and making thousands of people redundant in the middle of winter”. So, at the heart of the matter is the African National Congress’ policy of ‘the creation of decent work’. The small firms that ‘refuse to honour minimum wages and conditions of employment’ do not do so out of pure cussedness or because they are mean but because they cannot afford to pay the higher costs. But, who gets to decide what is ‘decent work’? Despite all statistics, if you were the one unemployed, so that, as far as you are concerned, the rate of unemployment is 100 percent, surely you would want to have the right to decide for yourself what constitutes ‘decent work’.
Employees do not happily work under trying conditions for extremely low wages because they prefer such jobs to better paying and more attractive ones. They take such jobs because, at the time, it is their only chance to earn the money they need to support their families. Their choice is often between a poorly paid, unpleasant job, and starvation for their families and themselves.
A significant and laudable factor that emerges from Bissiker’s article is that it was the South Africa Clothing and Allied Workers’ Union (SACTWU) that asked for the writs of execution to be delayed to “explore further avenues”. The spokesperson for the Apparel Manufacturers of South Africa (AMSA) was more uncompromising. According to Ms Bissiker he said that, “they don’t want to shut companies down either but neither can the status quo be allowed to continue, simply to save jobs”. Do AMSA and SACTWU truly believe that the workers will be better off unemployed than in jobs that, in their view, are not “decent”? Will they support the families of the unemployed workers who lose their jobs because of these actions? Self-interest is usually buried in such strange logic.
Other manufacturers will benefit if the 387 firms can be knocked out of the competition, but the self-interest of the labour union seems more obscure. Is it in the interests of SACTWU members for their union to be a party to making first 4,000 and later even more workers unemployed? Labour unions are supposed to look after the interests of their members, a task they perform with vigour. It is not their responsibility to solve the country’s socio-economic problems. That is the task of government.
The most important, single issue facing government today is improving conditions for greater labour absorption. For government to achieve its stated objective of reducing unemployment and stimulating growth, it has to urgently address labour market policies and laws that exacerbate unemployment, such as those that abridge the constitutional and human rights of garment manufacturing workers, and threaten to imminently make thousands of them unemployed.
- Jasson Urbach is an economist at the Free Market Foundation. This article first appeared in the Tshikululu Social Investments’ (TSI) Thought Leadership. It is republished here with the permission of TSI.
- The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says nearly 1.7 million Zimbabweans will require food assistance in the 2010/11 season despite the recent recovery of the country's troubled agriculture sector.
In a report released this week, WFP’s Jan Delbaere, points out that, "Despite the improved availability of food, up to 1.68 million people will need food assistance because prices remain comparatively high for families with low incomes and little or no access to United States dollars or South African rand."
The report states that general poverty and food insecurity have contributed to increased prevalence of chronic malnutrition in young children.
To read the article titled, “UN: 1.7 million Zimbabweans need food aid,” click here.Source:Mail&Guardian
Women and Food Insecurity in Zimbabwe: Stuck between Gender Norms, the Economic Downturn and Climate ChangeThe combination of climate change and the global economic downturn means that most African countries, including Zimbabwe, face food insecurity. Droughts, floods, poverty and unemployment result in high levels of uncertainty and anxiety about where the next meal is going to come from. Like many other matters, the concept of food insecurity in Zimbabwe is also characterised by gendered dimensions, in that women usually bear the brunt of food insecurity at household level (3). Zimbabwean women are often the ones responsible for feeding their families and a lack of food is therefore their problem to solve.
Food insecurity varies according to context, which means that definitions of the phenomenon need to fit the specific context they refer to. The term ‘food insecurity’ can refer to food supply, access to food and adequacy and utilisation of food and food processes (4). Due to rural location, poverty and climate change, Zimbabwean women often resort to subsistence farming and their food insecurities are therefore relative to food production. The politicisation of landownership and food aid by the Government and NGOs alike have been a major cause of women’s struggle to produce enough food for their households.
The majority of Zimbabwean women play the role of breadwinner because thousands of men have migrated to neighbouring countries in search of improved political and economic circumstances. In their absence, women have faced abundant food production and access problems, and have thus started resorting to informal trade and risky behaviour, including trading sex for food aid. Food insecurity in Zimbabwe has deterred those men who had the means and will to leave, and driven many of the women left behind to prostitution. Sadly, desperation for money and food means that women who resort to sex work are at the mercy of their male clients’ demands. In other words, the state of food insecurity directly exacerbates women’s vulnerability. This tragic situation is a direct consequence of the combined impact of the country’s eco-political state and the normative gender roles that favour males and still govern land matters.
Gender roles, land reform and politics
Zimbabweans have suffered from hunger for a decade and 2010 has already been declared a ‘hunger year’ after all crops wilted at knee level. According to Gaidzanwa (5), women did not benefit from the land reform programme which Government embarked on during its land redistribution mission. She notes that only elite women benefited from land reform, because the political economy in Zimbabwe still subscribes to the ‘Victorian ideology’ which perceives men as the main breadwinners who should have access to land and food supply. Ironically, elite, well-off women in political circles were therefore the only women who benefited from the land reform programmes intended to help the disadvantaged. The fact that women are most affected by food insecurity in the country can therefore be partially explained by the norms that govern the gender roles that men, women and their societies adhere to.
In practice, these dominant gender roles in Zimbabwe mean that, even though women now perform the previously male role of household heads and breadwinners, they do not have the normative male claim to land or the male power to influence land issues. They can be likened to soldiers without weapons – they want and are expected to feed their families, yet the Government seems unwilling to provide them with the means to do so, namely free and fair food aid and access to land.
Women in the rural areas have focused mainly on subsistence farming rather than commercial farming or farming for national consumption. They struggle to produce enough food for national consumption because of the partisan distribution of farming inputs. In an effort to empower ‘new’ farmers, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe embarked on a five year policy in 2008 to distribute tractors and other heavy farming equipments on credit and with zero deposit. It is striking that this Government which has reserved a quota for women in Parliament and politics did not implement the same quota in its five-year agricultural plan, considering that so many women are trying to survive by farming. Ultimately, women in Parliament benefited most from the equipment, whilst women in the rural areas remained neglected and impoverished. In addition, farming inputs such as seed and fertiliser were not distributed to every woman in the rural areas; instead those few men and women in politics had access to the inputs and were able to hoard them. They reportedly proceeded to resell them at exorbitant prices beyond the reach of many. The voice of rural women could furthermore not be heard in the media or in speeches made at any national conferences. The odd instances where rural women were mentioned distorted their experiences of food insecurity to suit Government campaigns.
A recent survey (6) indicated that when food aid from Government or NGOs is distributed, the headman is expected to take on the responsibility of aid distribution. The distribution of food aid is a political task and recipients of aid are determined along partisan lines. Rural women who do not support the correct politicians then need to seek out extra-marital affairs with, and/or perform sexual favours for either the headman or food aid distributors. This sexual behaviour becomes necessary because of the politicised nature of land and food aid distribution and will increase the spread of HIV and AIDS amongst Zimbabweans.
Sex work to cope with food insecurity
Women use their agency to negotiate obstacles and find solutions to their troubles, but they also need to navigate the given set of circumstances in which they find themselves. Women in the rural areas of Zimbabwe and many of those who seek livelihoods outside the country, deal with the challenge of food insecurity, although in some cases in an arguably immoral way. Nyangairi (7) found that some Zimbabwean women who cross the border engage in sex work, mainly for financial benefit. The women then remit their earnings to their families back in Zimbabwe. The women’s narratives reveal that they feel like they have no choice but to engage in risky sexual acts because it is the only way for them to support their children. Although the women usually use condoms, some clients are willing to pay more for sex without a condom. Zimbabwean women who struggle with food shortages thus resort to sex work (sometimes unprotected) inside and outside of the country in order to obtain food aid and money.
Again, normative ideas of masculinity expose women to HIV infection. Unprotected sex is perceived by some men as ‘real sex’ which is masculine in nature, referred to as kurova nyoro in Shona. Interestingly, the women say they are aware that they are vulnerable to HIV and AIDS, but they refer to their situation as similar to that of soldiers who have been deployed for war: one can die, but survival is possible if you adhere to the rule of the game, which is condom use at all times.
The Zimbabwean Government’s failure to address food insecurity and its causes has largely affected women’s lives in terms of their access to land and other food related resources, such as food aid. The Legal Age Majority Act of 1982 clearly states that women are citizens equal to men, but social and material inequality has continued at national and household level. Instead of comprehending women’s situations and supporting their needs, the Government has simply clamped down on their survival strategies.
Gaidzanwa condemns the Government’s deployment of police unit, Operation Chinyavada (Operation Scorpion), around beer halls, sheebens and brothels, which arrests any woman seen in and outside those buildings at night. Of course, only women are arrested by Operation Scorpion; their male clients are not considered ‘criminals’. Gaidzanwa argues that the operation and arrests are a violation of women’s rights to freedom of movement and choice. The Government seeks to combat sex work and HIV and AIDS with the criminalisation of sex work, a sign that it does not understand the broad and complex nature of the phenomenon, which is much more than simply women who sell their bodies for money.
The Government needs to recognise and acknowledge that a large number of households are now female-headed and start mobilising support for them to access land and fulfil their social responsibilities. It is questionable, however, whether the Government will be motivated and able to do so, considering that it is probably largely driven by ‘traditional’ patriarchal ideas itself. Instead of addressing the symptoms of poverty and patriarchal thought systems, the Government needs to first rid itself of this thought system and then put tremendous effort into supporting the mothers of the nation.
NGOs and other aid distributors need to have the same mindset, however. What use is aid when it is simply absorbed by the usual crevices and creases of corruption instead of flowing to those who really need it? Development programmes and so-called ‘interventions’ need to keep in mind the contexts that their beneficiaries live in as well as the power structures that regulate those contexts. This is complicated and certainly much harder that simply throwing money or food at the issue, but a sustainable solution to food insecurity and its impact on women’s lives is more than necessary – it’s the right thing to do.
(1) Godfrey Maringira is an External Consultant for Consultancy Africa Intelligence’s Gender Issues Unit.
(2) Charlotte Sutherland is Research Manager: Gender Issues for Consultancy Africa Intelligence’s Gender Issues Unit.
(3) UN-HABITAT. 2009. The state of Sub-Saharan Africa. Implications for poverty reduction.
(4) Crush J. (2006) HIV & AIDS, Migration and Population Mobility.
(5) Gaidzanwa, R. 2004. Women and Land rights in Zimbabwe. UZ publications, Harare.
(6) http://www.zimbabweansituation.com. October 2009: Distribution of food aid and farming inputs in rural areas of Zimbabwe.
(7) Nyangairi, B. 2010. Migrant Women in Sex Work: Trajectories and Perceptions of Zimbabwean sex workers in Hillbrow, South Africa, MA thesis by Dissertation submitted to Forced Migration Studies Programme. University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
- Godfrey Maringira is an external consultant for Consultancy Africa Intelligence’s Gender Issues Unit and Charlotte Sutherland is Research Manager: Gender Issues for Consultancy Africa Intelligence’s Gender Issues Unit.
This article is republished here with permission from Consultancy Africa Intelligence (CAI), a South African-based research and strategy firm with a focus on social, health, political and economic trends and developments in Africa. For more information, see http://www.consultancyafrica.com or http://www.ngopulse.org/press-release/consultancy-africa-intelligence. Alternatively, click here to take advantage of CAI’s free, no obligation, 1-month trial to the company’s Standard Report Series.
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- Greetings to you all on the eve of Africa Day
It is an absolute joy and delight to address the public on Africa Day. Today is a day to be proud and a day to celebrate! Quite often, when “AFRICA” is on any agenda the discussions revolve around the many challenges, problems and frustrations that face our governments, business and civil society, especially in the area of development, upliftment, progress and poverty alleviation. But Africa Day, for me as an African and the many Africans on our beautiful continent, is a day to
REMEMBER, REFLECT AND REJOICE.
We celebrate Africa Day on the eve of the 2010 FIFA World Cup; the first hosted on the African continent. We REMEMBER the commitment and dedication of our African leaders, who through tremendous effort and sacrifice brought about independence in our continent – leaders who stated quite categorically that they could not rest until every square inch of Africa was free.
Today we celebrate Africa; we celebrate our achievements, our people and more especially our ability to change our future for the better. In celebrating Africa today we also remember, the many travesties of our past that have created unacceptable levels of poverty and desperation. We remember also the many heroes of our continent that have spoken out and acted on behalf of the common good of our continent and people.
We REFLECT on the possibilities of a new dawn for a better life for the people of Africa. We also reflect on the multitude of challenges that face us in the mammoth task of ensuring that Africa reaches its full potential.
We REJOICE that today we have visionary leaders that are seeking to find solutions for sustainable development in our continent. We salute the leaders who formulated a plan for Africa’s development in 2001 which led to the adoption of the G8 Plan of Action on Africa and the creation of NEPAD. We also rejoice, because Africans are ready and motivated to work for social development programmes that will bring positive change and improvements for the people of Africa. We have the true potential and latent energy to carve out our own destiny.
Dear Friends, Africa is a continent with a future full of HOPE. As one of my favourite Nigerian proverbs goes - “The pillar of the world is HOPE”. At the heart of our development towards progress in the future are the people who have the energy and ability to be in control of their own destiny. The hope continues in the Opportunities that we have to use the vision and aspirations of these people, together with our natural resources to create long lasting sustainable development interventions that will improve the lives of our people. The future for Africa is NOW and the future for Africa is HERE!
On 3 February 1960, then British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, in an address made to the Parliament of South Africa, made his famous ‘Winds of Change’ speech in which he signaled the end of British colonial rule on the continent. Macmillan said, “The wind of change is blowing through this continent. Whether we like it or not, this growth of national consciousness is a political fact”.
Here we are today in our jubilee year, 50 years free from colonialism. As a cleric, it would be an oversight if I do not make reference to the Holy Scriptures. The biblical texts make reference to the obligations and benefits of a jubilee year. It is a time when debts and loans are paid off, when land is given back, when the poor are given a clean slate. The texts acknowledge that the earth and all creation belong to God and therefore no human being is to have sole rights to any resource for ever. For Africa, the concept of a jubilee year is a sign of hope that we can be the drivers of our own development. The poor have hope that through using our own resources we may embark on a process of progress and development so that our people may acquire an acceptable standard of living and live with dignity.
We are a continent, where our people have excelled in areas of art, literature, sport, poetry, economics, environmental issues, world peace and human rights. Africa has given the world the wisdom and skill of people like Wangari Maathai, a famous environmentalist from Kenya; Nelson Mandela the first democratically elected president of South Africa; Kofi Annan a Ghanaian who was former secretary of the United Nations; and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel peace laureate. Of course I have no illusions about the challenges that we still face as a continent. There is still a lot that needs to be done in the areas of peace, human rights and development.
On Africa day we celebrate the achievements of countries like Malawi, where after the drought in 2002 there were about five million people - out of its 12 million population - in dire need of food aid. Malawi now has this year become an overnight donor of maize to other hunger stricken countries in the region. In 2008 after donating crops to other countries they were even able to sell the surplus harvest. Dare I add that this success occurs after they ignored recommendations by some funding agencies not to subsidise fertilizer and other farming inputs!
This is one of the most dramatic incidences in the history of the battle against hunger in Africa.
Sierra Leone was once a war-torn country but now has been declared a success story in Africa in the significant areas of good governance, political tolerance, strong commitment to fight corruption and drug trafficking and her pursuit of praiseworthy peace building initiatives. Through its strong leadership in President Ernest Bai Koroma (who by the way was recently conferred the 2010 ACCORD’s Africa Peace Award), Sierra Leone was invited to Australia to be the co-founder of the international commission for the fight against corruption. We also celebrate their successful minerals projects funded by DFID.
In Mali, a landlocked country, the implementation of a multi-modal (road, rail, and sea) transportation system was key to overcoming infrastructural constraints. This, coupled with improved phytosanitary, orchard management and post-harvest handling training programmes, increased mango exports to the European Union by five-fold between 2003 and 2008 and boosted incomes for Malian farmers.
We have success stories in Rwanda in the coffee sector, in Kenya in the mobile phone industry and many more like these. The successes have changed the lives of many. Aloys Havugimana for example, a Rwandan coffee farmer, was a business owner with a shop and a car until the genocide when he lost everything. After deciding to plant coffee he has been able to put his three children to school, donate livestock to his neighbours, build houses with good construction material and plant a four hectare forest.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the economic conditions and landscape has changed dramatically since the middle of the 90’s. Aggregate gross domestic product’s (GDP) have grown from 2.5 to over six percent in 2008. The region has also begun to make headway on poverty reduction and on achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
On Africa Day in 2010, we are 50 years on in our independence and already we have much to celebrate. Development is often a long, slow and painful process, it does not just happen overnight. Looking at the many achievements in Africa after such a short time is really amazing. One only has to compare the length of time it took the so called developed countries to recover and develop after wars, famines, etc. and we can see that our progress is quite remarkable indeed.
I believe that the winds of change that are driving this new progress with passion and vision is due to the fact that we now have stronger leadership, better governance and an improved business climate. Africans have come to the fore with innovation, market based solutions, people participation, and an ever growing tendency to rely on home grown strategies for development. Africans are driving our own development!
Within the context of this development it is important to stress the importance of intra-Africa trade and integration that will be rapidly achieved with greater infrastructure development. The African continent has great growth potential and to be able to reach this potential we need to advocate and promote trading within Africa.
Civil society organisations like us at the African monitor are continually seeking ways to promote people centred and community participation in the development arena. Motivated by the fact that we see poverty as a human travesty, the African Monitor facilitates a process in the most remotest of communities called poverty hearings. Through these hearings the voice of individuals is heard. People are allowed to speak and we listen to them. These people are not just written off as statistics or problems to be fixed.
These hearings are motivated by the fact that we at the African Monitor are passionate about the fact that effective development involves people. Our vision as an organisation is summed up in a motto that says, “African voices for Africa’s development.” It is our mission to ensure that people, who are normally the objects of professional development planners and decision makers, become engaged participants in our own development. I firmly believe that it is people that matter most, while plans and projects are the channels through which individuals and communities may experience positive development that ultimately results in poverty alleviation.
But that ladies and gentlemen is not the end. The African Monitor, as a grassroots-focused organisation, pledges that after listening to the stories we will work vigilantly to ensure that the stories shared are used to amplify the voices of Africans in development issues to the policy makers and implementers.
As an African NGO, it is our task to further advocate and pressurise the policy makers and implementers to facilitate appropriate responses to the information gathered and shared at this process. We strive to create platforms that are used to demand action from development planners and decision makers.
More recently the discussions around the world have been on climate change. It is most welcome that at a recent ministerial conference held in Lilongwe, Malawi the impact of climate change was acknowledged and given serious consideration.
Ministers have committed themselves to the vision of a food-secure Africa within five years, especially by means of policies and strategies that provide incentives to farmers (particularly smallholders), agro-industries and agri-business enterprises to enable them to respond to the growing demand for food in regional and global markets. They have also committed to accelerate the implementation of the Maputo Protocol in which African Governments committed to spend at least 10 percent of their annual budgets on Agriculture and have called on the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to harmonise their policies, strategies and investments to facilitate and enhance intra-regional trade in food and agriculture.
It is important to note that agriculture supports the livelihoods of 80 percent of the African population, provides employment for about 60 percent of the economically active population, and for about 70 percent of the poorest people on the continent. Sixty percent of Africans are reported to be below the age of 30 and want to migrate to more urban areas and they have no jobs, consequently leaving the rural areas vacated. For this reason, there is an increasing realisation that we have to invest in the rural economy.
In order to combat the impacts of climate change which impacts on agriculture the Ministerial Conference further committed to integrate it in their growth, employment and poverty eradication strategies and have urged development partners to provide financial, technological and capacity-building assistance to enable African countries to address climate change challenges, in particular by putting in place effective adaptation strategies as a priority, as well as appropriate mitigation actions.
Ministers have also undertook to accelerate regional integration as a strategy for achieving sustainable socio-economic development in their national programmes, including the scaling up of investments in regional infrastructure within the framework of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) and the AU Minimum Integration Programme (MIP).
Also at this conference thought was given to the establishment of Pan-African financial institutions such as an African Investment Bank, African Central Bank and the African Monetary Fund. Thought was also given about developing strategies to combat illicit financial flows. This augurs well for the future growth and development of Africa.
Through African Monitor’s work, particularly the Poverty Hearings and the Citizen Consultations, we are even more optimistic, as it is emerging more clearly, that the real obstacles to overcoming poverty are now getting into focus and seen to be within reach for many African countries. For example, the indigenous business sector, African governments and civil society are increasingly beginning to overcome their mutual mistrust to be able to form new alliances that are able to bring to the centre stage the mainstay of the African economy, which is the informal sector, infrastructural development and the smallholder led agricultural revolution, hitherto so grossly neglected in preference for big technical solutions, white elephant projects and unsustainable exploitation of resources.
In science too Africa is making progress. Science is beginning to be transformed into culture and the increasing army of educated youth and the African Diaspora is forming the all-important technological bridge in this transformation. This process once galvanised, will give birth to the kind of leadership that has roots in society rather than one which is alienated; one which is more willing to share power rather than consolidate it in a few individuals and their cronies; and the continent’s rich resources will for the first time be put at the disposal of the general populace.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasise that African people are a proud people and are a people of hope. Let us be the fresh winds blowing through the lungs of our people, of our institutions and let us be energised and motivated to work resolutely for a world that is whole, happy and where all may live with dignity.
Together, we can make a difference!
- Archbishop Njongo Ndungane is president and founder of African Monitor.
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