Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Africa Hunger and Poverty Facts

Tuesday, 19 May 2015


First African Green Growth Forum Aims to Unlock Economic Potential

Global Green Growth Forum (3GF)

13 May 2015: The first African Regional Green Growth Forum (3GF-Africa) aimed to identify barriers to Africa's sustainable development and ways to turn them into opportunities for green growth and improved livelihoods. The Forum, which brought together over 200 delegates, including African ministers of environment, policymakers, international financial and environmental experts, and private sector leaders, focused on new financing models for green growth, sustainable urbanization and sustainable lifestyles.

3GF-Africa, which took place in Nairobi, Kenya, from 13-14 May 2015, provided a platform for participants to discuss reliable and sustainable energy supply for Africa, achieving sustainable industrialization through the circular economy, and ensuring modern technology reaches Africa.

Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said the Forum provided the opportunity for African stakeholders to define their priorities in order to feed them into the various processes taking place in 2015. He said Africa is well positioned to become the “frontline of a global transition to more-inclusive green economies” building on its strong endowment of natural resource and skills.
Judi Wakhungu, Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Water and Natural Resources, Kenya, said that transitioning to a green economy could enable Africa to achieve improved livelihoods and sustainable lifestyles, if new innovative, sustainable and inclusive growth and business models are in place. Martin Lidegaard, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Denmark, stated that all actors must work together and be “powerful doers” and that the 3GF provide the space for such partnerships.

In addition to discussing green-growth strategies for Africa, participants engaged in concrete partnership-building activities, especially between private and public sectors, in the areas of water, energy, waste management, circular economy and land restoration. More specifically, specific sessions convened on: Visions for Inclusive Green Growth in Africa; African Cities as Unique Opportunities to Drive Green Growth; Energy for Growth in the Green Economy; the Green Industrial Revolution; Unlocking Financing for Green Growth and New Economic Pathways; and Prosperity with Green Growth, Lifestyles, Sustainable Development and Climate Goals.

The Forum was jointly organized by the Government of Kenya, the Government of Denmark and UNEP, under the umbrella of the Global Green Growth Forum (3GF), which brings together governments, businesses, investors and international organizations to act on green growth. 3GF-Africa is the first of a series of regional conferences being organized in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The outcomes of the these regional conferences will feed into the next 3GF Global Summit, which will convene in Copenhagen, Denmark, from 20-21 April 2016. [3GF-Africa Website] [UNEP Press Release] [Statement of UNEP Executive Director] [3GF Website]



Post-2015 Negotiations Begin Discussion on Follow-up and Review

post2015_in518 May 2015: The fifth session of the intergovernmental negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda opened on 18 May 2015, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. The five-day session is focusing on follow-up and review of the post-2015 agenda.
Post-2015 Co-Facilitator Macharia Kamau (Kenya) opened the meeting, noting that only three sessions are left between now and the conclusion of the process. He called on delegates to decide how these three sessions will be handled, and expressed hope that the post-2015 process will be agreed by the end of July in order to provide enough time for capitals to "get themselves ready" for September. He noted that "we will not be able to pick and choose which goals to implement and which goals not to" as they are interrelated, and added that the follow-up and review framework must be the point at which "we all keep on track systematically," He said the follow-up and review framework should relate to people, the planet, prosperity and partnership, and remarked that the social, economic and environmental components must not be lost. He also reminded participants of the need for "vertical" coherence between the community, national, regional and global levels, and horizontal linkages between governments, multilateral agencies, and other stakeholders, among others.
Co-Facilitator David Donoghue explained that a number of questions are set out in the Discussion Paper that was shared in advance of the session to facilitate the discussion on follow-up and review, and requested constructive and precise proposals as to how the follow-up and review should be structured. He stressed that this will be a voluntary framework and is not intended to be a burden, but rather to be a supportive, positive and constructive aid to Member States.
Co-Facilitator Kamau noted that Monday and Tuesday would focus on follow up and review, and Wednesday morning would be dedicated to a discussion with Major Groups and other stakeholders. He said, on Thursday, delegates would engage in a discussion on targets and indicators, and he called on delegates to conclude their discussion on this matter at the end of the week, as well as on the themes of the interactive dialogue for the September Summit. A discussion on the way forward is scheduled to take place on Friday. [IISD RS Coverage of the Fifth Meeting on Post-2015 Development Agenda Negotiations]



UNCTAD Economic Development in Africa Report Calls for New Industrial Policy for Poverty Reduction

11 July 2011: The 2011 Economic Outlook for Africa, published by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), stresses the need for a new industrial policy to induce structural transformation and engender development in African economies.

The report: examines the status of industrial development in Africa with a focus on African manufacturing; analyzes past attempts at promoting industrial development in the region and lessons learned; and offers policy recommendations on fostering industrial development in Africa under conditions of changing international trade rules, growing influence of industrial powers from the South, the internationalization of production, and increasing concerns about climate change.

The report finds that manufacturing plays a limited role in Africa while its share in GDP varies substantially among African countries. Furthermore, Africa is: losing ground in labour-intensive manufacturing, while making some progress in boosting technology intensive manufacturing; remains heavily dependent on resource-based manufacturing; and has a manufacturing sector that is dominated by small and informal firms.
The report recommends that African countries should intensify efforts to develop manufacturing to realize its opportunities for sustained growth and poverty reduction based on a strategic approach to industrial policy making. It proposes a framework for industrial strategy design that takes account of the heterogeneity of African economies and is also tailored to country specific circumstances, based on elements such as fostering scientific and technological innovation, promoting entrepreneurship, and improving government capabilities.
Such activities should be supported by economic policies that ensure development results, including: avoiding exchange rate overvaluation; appropriate monetary and fiscal policies; and enhancing resource mobilization. In addition, the report recommends strengthening regional integration and maintaining political stability in Africa to provide a robust and stable market environment to unlock Africa's manufacturing potential. [UNCTAD Press Release][Publication: Economic Development in Africa Report 2011]


Africa Hunger and Poverty Facts 

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 239 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were hungry/undernourished in 2010 (its most recent estimate). 925 million people were hungry worldwide. Africa was the continent with the second largest number of hungry people, as Asia and the Pacific had 578 million, principally due to the much larger population of Asia when compared to sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa actually had the largest proportion of its population undernourished, an estimated 30 percent in 2010, compared to 16 percent in Asia and the Pacific (FAO 2010).  Thus almost one in three people who live in sub-Saharan Africa were hungry, far higher than any other region of the world, with the exception of South Asia.

In 2008, 47 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa lived on $1.25 a day or less. (United Nations 2012).

What are the causes of hunger and poverty in Africa?
In general, the principal causes of poverty are  harmful economic systems, conflict, environmental  factors such as drought and climate change, and population growth (WHES 2012).  Poverty itself is a major cause of hunger. All are very important as causes of poverty and hunger in sub-Saharan Africa.


Poverty is the principal cause of hunger in Africa and elsewhere.  Simply put, people do not have sufficient income to purchase enough food. Conflict and drought, for example, are certainly important causes of hunger, but the most typical situation is that people just do not have enough income to purchase the food that they needthey could be starving in some slum somewhere, for example.  As noted above, in 2008, 47 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa lived on $1.25 a day or less, a principal factor in causing widespread hunger.

Harmful economic systems

Hunger Notes believes that the principal underlying cause of poverty and thus hunger in Africa and elsewhere is the ordinary operation of the world's economic and political systems. Essentially control over resources and income is based on military, political and economic power that typically ends up in the hands of a minority, who live well, while those at the bottom barely survive. We have described the operation of this system in more detail in our special section on Harmful economic systems.  The role that harmful economic systems play cannot be demonstrated briefly and should not be taken as confirmed truth by students, who should nevertheless consider it seriously. Controlling the government and other sources of power and income is a fundamental way of obtaining income.  Freedom in the World is an annual index that measures the degree that people have political rights and civil liberties.  See its (mainly low) freedom rankings for sub-Saharan African countries http://www.freedomhouse.org/report-types/freedom-world. One way that those in positions of power obtain income is through corruption.  The 2011 map of perceived corruption worldwide done by Transparency International (2011) shows that many sub-Saharan African nations are viewed as corrupt.

2011 saw suffering on an epic scale. For so many lives to have been thrown into turmoil over so short a space of time means enormous personal cost for all who were affected. We can be grateful only that the international system for protecting such people held firm for the most part and that borders were kept open. –Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR 2012)
Conflict is a principal source of human misery, including poverty and hunger. Poverty rates are 20 percentage points higher in countries affected by repeated cycles of violence over the last three decades. Every year of violence in a country is associated with lagging poverty reduction of nearly one percentage point. People living in countries currently affected by violence are twice as likely to be undernourished and 50 percent more likely to be impoverished. Their children are three times as likely to be out of school .  Countries with serious human rights abuses or weak government effectiveness, rule of law, and control of corruption have a 30 - 45 percent higher risk of civil war, and significantly higher risk of extreme criminal violence than other developing countries (World Bank 2011b).
The threat of death and serious injury resulting from conflict can result in such a desperate situation that people leave their homes. This is in spite of the fact that this requires leaving nearly everything behind:  house and land, sources of income, and most possessions,  becoming uprooted from the place where you have lived (which was home and loved), to go--typically a journey of great danger--in search of a better alternative, which is usually a very bare bones refugee camp or other marginal situation. Africa had an estimated 13.5 million refugees and internally displaced persons in 2011, as Table 1 indicates.  While not all refugees are caused by conflict/violence, most of them are.
Table 1. African refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs),  returnees (refugees and IDPs,  and others of concern to UNHCR  (end-2011)

Type Number (millions)
Refugees   3.5
Internally displaced people (IDPs)   7.0
Returned refugees and IDPs   2.6 
Other   0.4
Africa total 13.5
World total 35.4
Africa as % of world   38%
--Adapted from UNHCR 2012 p 45
 Africa faces serious environmental challenges, including erosion, desertification, deforestation, and most importantly drought and water shortages, which have increased poverty and hunger by reducing agricultural production and people's incomes.  Many of these challenges have been caused by humans; the environment can be said to be overexploited.  Deforestation, for example, has been caused by humans seeking new places to live, farm, or obtain firewood.  Drought, water shortage and desertification in Africa have been caused to some extent by global warming, which has mostly been caused by the effects of human energy use outside of Africa.

Population growth 
Africa's population has been increasing rapidly, growing from  221 million in 1950 to 1 billion in 2009.  Africa, the world's poorest continent, has the highest population growth rate. A woman in sub-Saharan Africa will give birth to an average of 5.2 children in her lifetime (Guardian 2011). This rapid growth, along with other negative factors such as harmful economic systems, conflict and  deterioration in the environment,  has limited growth in per capita income, causing poverty and hunger.

Freedom House. 2012.  Freedom in the World 2012 http://www.freedomhouse.org/report-types/freedom-world
Food and Agriculture Organization. 2010. The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2010 http://www.fao.org/docrep/013/i1683e/i1683e.pdf .
Guardian, The. October 22, 2011. "Global population growth fears put to the test in Africa's expanding cities." http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/22/global-population-growth-africa-cities
Transparency International. 2011.  Corruption Perceptions Index 2011 http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2011/results/
United Nations. 2012.  "Millenium Development Goals Report 2012" http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/MDG%20Report%202012.pdf.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 2012. "Global Trends 2011."  (41 page PDF file) http://www.unhcr.org/4fd6f87f9.html
World Bank. 2011a. World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security, and Development. http://wdr2011.worldbank.org/fulltext
World Bank. 2011b. "WDR 2011 Facts and Figures." http://wdr2011.worldbank.org/sites/default/files/ENGLISH_WDR2011_FACTS_FIGURES.pdf
World Hunger Education Service. 2012.  "World Hunger and Poverty Facts and Statistics" http://worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/world%20hunger%20facts%202002.htm

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