Craig Eisele on …..

March 30, 2008

Road reflects why $568 billion in aid to Africa has largely failed


    

 

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Road reflects why $568 billion in aid to Africa has largely failed

By CHRIS TOMLINSON Associated Press Writer
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP)

To judge how far aid has helped Africa along the road to prosperity, just look down at the pavement _ or the lack of it.
The most important highway in East Africa starts at the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa. Tens of thousands of trucks every year carry food, fuel and other goods to 100 million people in east and central Africa up a bone-jarring two-lane road.
Despite millions of aid dollars spent on roads, the wear and tear is so bad that journeys take weeks. And the cost makes it cheaper to have a container of corn shipped from Iowa than to truck it 500 miles (800 kilometers) to western Kenya.
In the 50 years since the first African countries won independence, the world has spent US$568 billion (euro394 billion) on Africa. Yet Africans are poorer now than a quarter century ago, and much of the money has ended up on the road to nowhere. This dismal record is sparking a vigorous debate on how best to help the world’s poorest continent, and to what degree aid is the answer.
A growing chorus of Africans is saying what they need is not handouts, but investment so they can rebuild on their own.
“Africans….are tired. They are tired of being the subject of everybody’s charity and care. And what is happening in many African countries now is the realization that nobody can do it but us,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a World Bank managing director and former finance minister of Nigeria, at a talk on a changing Africa. “We can invite partners who support us, but we have to start.”

___

Roads are the lifeblood of an economy, the delivery system for agriculture, mining, tourism and other mainstays of African industry. But roads in Africa are few and bad. When foreign companies calculate the price of doing business on the continent, they look at figures like the cost of transportation and decide to go somewhere else.
“No one would ever have 100 million people in the rich world along a broken-down, two-lane, undivided road as we do here,” said leading economist Jeffrey Sachs about Nairobi. “If the donors were thinking about what would really provide development, it’s a proper, divided highway on which truck traffic could go.”
Truth is, they did think of it _ and almost built it _ 40 years ago. But today, the east-west Trans-African Highway exists only on maps. On the ground, it turns into a muddy footpath in the jungles of eastern Congo.
The story of the highway shows why aid to Africa has largely failed in the past, and what can be learned for the future.
Back in 1969, the Japanese government proposed extending the Mombasa Highway to Lagos, Nigeria on the Atlantic Ocean. The four-lane, 4,400-mile (7,080-kilometer) paved highway would be slightly longer than Interstate 90 running from Boston to Seattle across the United States. It was to bring modern trade to six African countries.
By 1971, the deal had the support of the six countries, nine other rich countries and six international aid agencies. They hoped to have at least two lanes of all-weather road open by 1978.
It did not take long for problems to emerge. Dictator Idi Amin took control of Uganda and threatened neighboring Kenya, which then closed the highway.
The fight reflected a constant plague for foreign aid to Africa _ corrupt dictators, and donors who gave them money to protect political and economic interests. Nowhere was this exchange clearer than in Zaire, now known as Congo.
Zaire needed to build roads from scratch. But the Central African country was ruled by Mobutu Sese Seko, one of the most brutal dictators in African history.
Mobutu took power during the Cold War, at a time when the United States and the Soviet Union were scrambling for influence in Africa. In the mid-1970s, he was a funnel for arms flowing to anti-communist rebels.
And so billions of dollars poured into Zaire to keep him happy, and to maintain the flow of Zairean gold, diamonds and copper to the West. Western nations largely looked the other way as the aid money disappeared into his offshore bank accounts and into the pockets of dozens of corrupt leaders.
Mobutu stopped plans for the highway in 1974, after stealing the money Belgium gave him for initial surveys. In a well-known African joke that reflects the thinking of the time, a young African dictator calls Mobutu for advice after coming under rebel attack.
“Did they come by sea?” Mobutu asks.
“No,” the younger ruler would reply.
“Did they come by air?” Mobutu asks.
“No, they came by road,” the protege answers.
“Tsk tsk, my son, I always told you,” Mobutu says. “Never build roads.”

___

Despite Mobutu in Zaire, the highway was in good condition in Kenya. In the 1970s, the East African country’s economy was booming, with trucks filled with valuable coffee and tea running downhill from mile-high (1.6-kilometer-high) Nairobi and across breathtaking African savanna to the port of Mombasa.
But roads do not last forever. The average African highway is designed to last 15-20 years, if properly maintained, says Andrew Gitonga, the Kenya roads project officer for the European Union. Since 1983, the European Union has spent US$200 million (euro139 million) to repair Kenya’s section of the highway and has about US$120 million (euro83.2 million) more of road projects planned this year.
Gitonga says the road needs to be completely rebuilt.
“There has been no standard maintenance program for 15 years, so the roads are falling into disrepair until they collapse,” he says. “Some government contracts in the past were given in an untransparent manner to unqualified contractors without clear standards.”
The transition between good road work and bad is painfully obvious when you hit a pothole at 50 mph. A close examination of the hole will show that whoever built it skimped on the thickness of the rock bed and the asphalt surfacing, pocketing a little extra profit.
Almost every day road workers can be seen patching the holes. One man sprays in some tar, a second shovels in a little asphalt and a third goes over it twice with a compactor. Within five minutes the lane is open, with hundreds of cars every hour driving over a repair that will probably last less than six months, or until the seasonal rains wash it away.
The same neglect for maintenance has led to the slow deterioration of thousands of donor-funded projects over the years.
Just off the Mombasa highway in Nairobi, the International Committee of the Red Cross maintains its distribution hub for eastern Africa. Trucks loaded with food and supplies set off to deliver aid to some of the world’s most desperate people.
The biggest obstacle: The roads.
“The roads are in a desolate state and they are not getting any better,” says Bent Korsgaard, logistics director for the Kenya office.
A University of Minnesota study determined that big trucks cost about 43.4 cents a mile (1.6 kilometers) to operate on normal roads. In Africa, the cost for Red Cross trucks is US$2.88 (euro2) a mile (1.6 kilometers).
A truck that follows the Trans-African Highway for the 1,500 mile (2,400-kilometer), 21-day roundtrip to Butembo, Congo requires five days in the workshop when it gets back. It’s cheaper to hire a Russian cargo plane than to drive a truck to some cities within 620 miles (1,000 kilometers).
That doesn’t even count the bribes truckers have to pay on African roads. A recent survey in West Africa found they range from about US$3.33 (euro2.3) per 60 miles (97 kilometers) in Togo to US$25 (euro17) in Mali.

___

Roads are hardly the only aid fiascos. Kenya alone is littered with dozens of half-baked, half-built projects funded by wealthy countries, monuments to good intentions gone awry.
Often donors did not understand Africa or talk to Africans. The Norwegian government built a fish processing plant on Lake Turkana in the 1970s to provide jobs for nomadic cattle herders _ soon doomed in part because the local community had no fishing culture.
In a self-assessment in 1987, the World Bank found 106 out of 189 African development projects audited _ almost 60 percent _ had serious shortcomings or were complete failures. African agriculture projects failed 75 percent of the time.
The World Bank did better when it worked more closely with communities and better monitored projects. But a recent report on aid from the World Bank’s private arm, the International Finance Corporation, found only half of its Africa projects succeed.
Aid is also hampered because it is often determined not just by what poor countries need but by what rich countries want to give to boost their own economies.
Much so-called foreign aid never leaves the country that promised it, because donor governments spend it to buy domestically-produced products or hire its own citizens as consultants. The World Bank estimates that throughout the 1980s, more than half of all aid was tied to what donor countries wanted to export, often at higher prices than could be found on the market. This practice reduced the value of aid by anywhere from 11 to 30 percent.
Under the Buy American Act, the U.S. Agency for International Development must spend aid money to buy products and services from U.S. suppliers whenever possible, and then deliver them aboard expensive U.S.-flagged ships or planes.
“Foreign assistance is far from charity,” J. Brian Atwood, the USAID director under former President Bill Clinton, told Congress in 1995. “It is an investment in American jobs, American business.”
Other rich nations do the same. Japan, one of the largest donors to Africa, provides a lot of aid in the form of four-wheel-drive vehicles _ despite the roads.
Sachs, the Columbia University professor, argues past aid failed because not enough was invested at every level, in every sector. In 2004, Sachs and the United Nations started the Millennium Project experiment to supply 12 African villages with all they need, all at once, and see if they can be self-sufficient in five years.
“The speed of results is astounding and the point is that if the resources are there, the rate of improvement is wonderful,” Sachs says. “I believe that we’re at the cusp of that now.”
Sachs’ nemesis, economist William Easterly of New York University, retorts that Sachs’ results are on a very small scale. He says only a free market can lift a nation out of poverty, and wants to see far more limited aid for specific programs with good track records, such as health care.
Easterly argues that aid bureaucracies are now rewarded for giving money that never reaches those who need it.
“It’s just not possible for outsiders with their experts to create economic development and prosperity in another country,” he says. “We should say: `There are a lot of problems and as rich outsiders we can’t fix everything, but where can we do the most good for the most people?”’
The stakes are high. The outcome will decide if _ and how _ the world spends another US$568 (euro394) billion on Africa.

___

The dream of a world-class road network for Africa is still alive, at least on paper. The African Union has a plan to build it, but it would take tens of billions of dollars that could come only from rich countries.
The east-west Trans-African Highway is still missing about 1,826 miles (2,939 kilometers). But West African states are building a regional network that will run from landlocked Chad to the Western port of Dakar in Senegal, and from Mauritania to Nigeria. Kenya is also building a road to neighboring Ethiopia.
Aid to Africa is going up again to about US$37 (euro26) per capita, from a low of US$24 in 1999. But this time the world has learned something. Aid to countries with more democratic systems has tripled at the expense of those whose leaders have unchecked power, according to the World Bank.
These days, when a new road is under construction in Kenya, white cars with European Union flags on the doors visit every day to make sure every inch of the highway is built to specification.
And a maintenance contract comes with it.

 
To judge how far aid has helped Africa along the road to prosperity, just look down at the pavement or the lack of it.

The most important highway in East Africa starts at the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa. Tens of thousands of trucks every year carry food, fuel and other goods to 100 million people in east and central Africa up a bone-jarring two-lane road.

Despite millions of aid dollars spent on roads, the wear and tear is so bad that journeys take weeks. And the cost makes it cheaper to have a container of corn shipped from Iowa than to truck it 500 miles to western Kenya.
————————————————–
“Africans do not want to be viewed as a charity case,” adds Okonjo-Iweala, a World Bank managing director. “Ninety-nine point nine percent of Africans are people who are getting on with their own lives. All they are asking for is….a set of tools.”

Roads are the lifeblood of an economy, the delivery system for agriculture, mining, tourism and other mainstays of African industry. But roads in Africa are few and bad. When foreign companies calculate the price of doing business on the continent, they look at figures like the cost of transportation and decide to go somewhere else.

“No one would ever have 100 million people in the rich world along a broken-down, two-lane, undivided road as we do here,” said leading economist Jeffrey Sachs about Nairobi. “If the donors were thinking about what would really provide development, it’s a proper, divided highway on which truck traffic could go.”

Truth is, they did think of it and almost built it 40 years ago. But today, the east-west Trans-African Highway exists only on maps. On the ground, it turns into a muddy footpath in the jungles of eastern Congo.

In conversations with some colleagues and a few so-called friends, I’ve often been the subject of strong criticism for my view that aid money would be better spent on infrastructure and institutions that facilitated the free flow of business and international trade as opposed to food shipments. It’s hard for non-supply chain/logistics people to understand that if you don’t have the necessary infrastructure in place it doesn’t matter how much you throw at the system, it simply isn’t going to move well and all your money is going to be eaten up in logistics costs. It’s no different than looking at international trade – countries with poor infrastructure make trade difficult and expensive. It’s no different with aid logistics. And I think this article is accurate in stating that what most Africans want is not a handout, but simply the means to stand on their own two feet and support themselves. This guy gets it. Although to get Africa’s infrastructure off the ground will take more than micro-credits the concept is still there.

 

http://www.taipeitimes.com/

Published on Taipei Times
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2007/12/22/2003393678

Trans-African Highway mirrors failure of Africa aid

Africans are poorer now than a quarter century ago, despite the US$568 billion in aid poured into the continent in the past 50 years. Many say what is needed is investment, not more aid By Chris Tomlinson
AP, NAIROBI
Saturday, Dec 22, 2007, Page 9

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/photo/2007/12/22/2007112964

ILLUSTRATION: MOUNTAIN PEOPLE

To judge how far aid has helped Africa along the road to prosperity, just look down at the pavement — or the lack of it.

The most important highway in East Africa starts at the Indian Ocean port of Mombasa. Tens of thousands of trucks every year carry food, fuel and other goods to 100 million people in east and central Africa up a bone-jarring two-lane road.

Despite millions of aid dollars spent on roads, the wear and tear is so bad that journeys take weeks. And the cost makes it cheaper to have a container of corn shipped from Iowa than to truck it 800km to western Kenya.

In the 50 years since the first African countries won independence, the world has spent US$568 billion on Africa. Yet Africans are poorer now than a quarter century ago, and much of the money has ended up on the road to nowhere. This dismal record is sparking a vigorous debate on how best to help the world’s poorest continent, and to what degree aid is the answer.

A growing chorus of Africans is saying what they need is not handouts, but investment so they can rebuild on their own.

“Africans … are tired. They are tired of being the subject of everybody’s charity and care. And what is happening in many African countries now is the realization that nobody can do it but us,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a World Bank managing director and former finance minister of Nigeria, at a talk on a changing Africa. “We can invite partners who support us, but we have to start.”

LIFEBLOOD

Roads are the lifeblood of an economy, the delivery system for agriculture, mining, tourism and other mainstays of African industry. But roads in Africa are few and bad. When foreign companies calculate the price of doing business on the continent, they look at figures like the cost of transportation and decide to go somewhere else.

“No one would ever have 100 million people in the rich world along a broken-down, two-lane, undivided road as we do here,” said leading economist Jeffrey Sachs about Nairobi. “If the donors were thinking about what would really provide development, it’s a proper, divided highway on which truck traffic could go.”

Truth is, they did think of it — and almost built it — 40 years ago. But today, the east-west Trans-African Highway exists only on maps. On the ground, it turns into a muddy footpath in the jungles of eastern Congo.

The story of the highway shows why aid to Africa has largely failed in the past, and what can be learned for the future.

Back in 1969, the Japanese government proposed extending the Mombasa Highway to Lagos, Nigeria on the Atlantic Ocean. The four-lane, 7,080km paved highway would be slightly longer than Interstate 90 running from Boston to Seattle across the US. It was to bring modern trade to six African countries.

By 1971, the deal had the support of the six countries, nine other rich countries and six international aid agencies. They hoped to have at least two lanes of all-weather road open by 1978.

It did not take long for problems to emerge. Dictator Idi Amin took control of Uganda and threatened neighboring Kenya, which then closed the highway.

MOBUTU

The fight reflected a constant plague for foreign aid to Africa — corrupt dictators, and donors who gave them money to protect political and economic interests. Nowhere was this exchange clearer than in Zaire, now known as Congo.

Zaire needed to build roads from scratch. But the Central African country was ruled by Mobutu Sese Seko, one of the most brutal dictators in African history.

Mobutu took power during the Cold War, at a time when the US and the Soviet Union were scrambling for influence in Africa. In the mid-1970s, he was a funnel for arms flowing to anti-communist rebels.

And so billions of dollars poured into Zaire to keep him happy, and to maintain the flow of Zairean gold, diamonds and copper to the West. Western nations largely looked the other way as the aid money disappeared into his offshore bank accounts and into the pockets of dozens of corrupt leaders.

Mobutu stopped plans for the highway in 1974, after stealing the money Belgium gave him for initial surveys. In a well-known African joke that reflects the thinking of the time, a young African dictator calls Mobutu for advice after coming under rebel attack.

“Did they come by sea?” Mobutu asks.

“No,” the younger ruler would reply.

“Did they come by air?” Mobutu asks.

“No, they came by road,” the protege answers.

“Tsk tsk, my son, I always told you,” Mobutu says. “Never build roads.”

REPAIRS, REBUILDING

Despite Mobutu in Zaire, the highway was in good condition in Kenya. In the 1970s, the East African country’s economy was booming, with trucks filled with valuable coffee and tea running downhill from 1.6km-high Nairobi and across breathtaking African savanna to the port of Mombasa.

But roads do not last forever.

The average African highway is designed to last 15 to 20 years, if properly maintained, says Andrew Gitonga, the Kenya roads project officer for the EU. Since 1983, the EU has spent US$200 million to repair Kenya’s section of the highway and has about US$120 million more of road projects planned this year.

Gitonga said the road needs to be completely rebuilt.

“There has been no standard maintenance program for 15 years, so the roads are falling into disrepair until they collapse,” he said. “Some government contracts in the past were given in an untransparent manner to unqualified contractors without clear standards.”

The transition between good road work and bad is painfully obvious when you hit a pothole at 80.5kph. A close examination of the hole will show that whoever built it skimped on the thickness of the rock bed and the asphalt surfacing, pocketing a little extra profit.

Almost every day road workers can be seen patching the holes. One man sprays in some tar, a second shovels in a little asphalt and a third goes over it twice with a compactor. Within five minutes the lane is open, with hundreds of cars every hour driving over a repair that will probably last less than six months, or until the seasonal rains wash it away.

MISGUIDED DONORS

The same neglect for maintenance has led to the slow deterioration of thousands of donor-funded projects over the years.

Just off the Mombasa highway in Nairobi, the International Committee of the Red Cross maintains its distribution hub for eastern Africa. Trucks loaded with food and supplies set off to deliver aid to some of the world’s most desperate people.

The biggest obstacle: The roads.

“The roads are in a desolate state and they are not getting any better,” says Bent Korsgaard, logistics director for the Kenya office.

A University of Minnesota study determined that big trucks cost about US$0.434 per 1.6km to operate on normal roads. In Africa, the cost for Red Cross trucks is US$2.88 per 1.6km.

A truck that follows the Trans-African Highway for the 2,400km, 21-day roundtrip to Butembo, Congo requires five days in the workshop when it gets back. It’s cheaper to hire a Russian cargo plane than to drive a truck to some cities within 1,000km.

That doesn’t even count the bribes truckers have to pay on African roads. A recent survey in West Africa found they range from about US$3.33 per 97km in Togo to US$25 in Mali.

Roads are hardly the only aid fiascos. Kenya alone is littered with dozens of half-baked, half-built projects funded by wealthy countries, monuments to good intentions gone awry.

GOOD INTENTIONS

Often donors did not understand Africa or talk to Africans. The Norwegian government built a fish processing plant on Lake Turkana in the 1970s to provide jobs for nomadic cattle herders — soon doomed in part because the local community had no fishing culture.

In a self-assessment in 1987, the World Bank found 106 out of 189 African development projects audited — almost 60 percent — had serious shortcomings or were complete failures. African agriculture projects failed 75 percent of the time.

The World Bank did better when it worked more closely with communities and better monitored projects. But a recent report on aid from the World Bank’s private arm, the International Finance Corp, found only half of its Africa projects succeed.

Aid is also hampered because it is often determined not just by what poor countries need but by what rich countries want to give to boost their own economies.

Much so-called foreign aid never leaves the country that promised it, because donor governments spend it to buy domestically-produced products or hire its own citizens as consultants. The World Bank estimates that throughout the 1980s, more than half of all aid was tied to what donor countries wanted to export, often at higher prices than could be found on the market. This practice reduced the value of aid by anywhere from 11 to 30 percent.

Under the Buy American Act, the US Agency for International Development must spend aid money to buy products and services from US suppliers whenever possible, and then deliver them aboard expensive US-flagged ships or planes.

“Foreign assistance is far from charity,” J. Brian Atwood, the USAID director under former President Bill Clinton, told Congress in 1995. “It is an investment in American jobs, American business.”

Other rich nations do the same. Japan, one of the largest donors to Africa, provides a lot of aid in the form of four-wheel-drive vehicles — despite the roads.

MILLENNIUM PROJECT

Sachs argues past aid failed because not enough was invested at every level, in every sector. In 2004, Sachs and the UN started the Millennium Project experiment to supply 12 African villages with all they need, all at once, and see if they can be self-sufficient in five years.

“The speed of results is astounding and the point is that if the resources are there, the rate of improvement is wonderful,” Sachs says. “I believe that we’re at the cusp of that now.”

Sachs’ nemesis, economist William Easterly of New York University, retorts that Sachs’ results are on a very small scale. He says only a free market can lift a nation out of poverty, and wants to see far more limited aid for specific programs with good track records, such as health care.

Easterly argues that aid bureaucracies are now rewarded for giving money that never reaches those who need it.

“It’s just not possible for outsiders with their experts to create economic development and prosperity in another country,” he said. “We should say: `There are a lot of problems and as rich outsiders we can’t fix everything, but where can we do the most good for the most people?”‘

The stakes are high. The outcome will decide if — and how — the world spends another US$568 billion on Africa.

DREAM STILL ALIVE

The dream of a world-class road network for Africa is still alive — at least on paper. The African Union has a plan to build it, but it would take tens of billions of dollars that could come only from rich countries.

The east-west Trans-African Highway is still missing about 2,939km. But West African states are building a regional network that will run from landlocked Chad to the Western port of Dakar in Senegal, and from Mauritania to Nigeria. Kenya is also building a road to neighboring Ethiopia.

Aid to Africa is going up again to about US$37per capita, from a low of US$24 in 1999. But this time the world has learned something. Aid to countries with more democratic systems has tripled at the expense of those whose leaders have unchecked power, according to the World Bank.

These days, when a new road is under construction in Kenya, white cars with EU flags on the doors visit every day to make sure every inch of the highway is built to specification.

And a maintenance contract comes with it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trans-African_Highway_network

Capetown to Nairobi
Nairobi to Lagos
Lagos to Dakar
Dakar to Kano
Kano to Algiers
Algiers to the 21st century.

 

Would you try to off-road?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Map_of_Trans-African_Highways.PNG


http://www.expertafrica.com/



 


Andrew Maykuth, The Inquirer’s Johannesburg bureau chief, and photographer Michael Wirtz journeyed through East Africa, accompanying a food aid truck into rebel-held territory in Sudan. Their odyssey through Kenya and Uganda into Sudan is chronicled here in articles, photos, and multimedia presentations.


http://www213.pair.com/maykuth/odyssey/pages/start.html

Andrew Maykuth, The Inquirer’s Johannesburg bureau chief, and photographer Michael Wirtz journeyed through East Africa, accompanying a food aid truck into rebel-held territory in Sudan. Their odyssey through Kenya and Uganda into Sudan is chronicled here in articles, photos, and multimedia presentations.

Trans African Highway 1 on Flicker Photo Sharing: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11707386@N06/2201934782/

 



Start the year off right. Easy ways to stay in shape in the new year.

February 13, 2008

World Leaders Issue Call to Action on Millennium Development Goals

Personally, I believe this (article listed below)is too little too late… and the basic NEEDS of Africa to meet and even exceed these goals are not congruent with the basic need for infrastructure like a drivable road!! 

World Leaders Issue Call to Action on Millennium Development Goals

World Economic Forum (Geneva)
PRESS RELEASE
28 January 2008
Posted to the web 28 January 2008
Davos
World leaders have issued a joint statement at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos vowing to make 2008 a turning point in the fight against poverty.

The world is facing a “development emergency”, they said. “We pledge to work together to help the world get back on track to meet the MDGs.”

Leaders spearheading the call to action include Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General, United Nations, New York; Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, President of Nigeria; Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; H.M. Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and Member of the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum; William H. Gates III, Chairman, Microsoft Corporation, USA; Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum; Bono, Musician, DATA (DEBT, AIDS, TRADE, AFRICA), United Kingdom; and John T. Chambers, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Cisco, USA.

“We are here to say one thing loud and clear: Not on our watch!” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

“I speak to those who are most vulnerable to climate change and those who suffer the most grinding poverty. Let 2008 be the year of the bottom billion,” he said.

“We all agree that it is time to move from promise to performance …. Let us put our promises back on track for all the world’s children,” said Queen Rania.

“This is a moral compact, not a legal contract. To take a concrete step forward, we must take this from a moral compact to legally binding contracts,” Bono told a packed press conference. “Thanks to African leadership and debt cancellation, 29 million children are now in school,” he said.

“For us in Africa, the achievement of the MDGs is our sacred duty,” said Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. “One of the major challenges in Africa is the infrastructure gap that is one of the key enablers of the achievement of the MDGs. I welcome this initiative from the global community.”

“It is right that, here in Davos, we tell the truth that there is a development emergency and that we must summon everyone in a call to action to take measures to meet the MDGs by 2015,” said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

“This [call to action] fits in with the idea of creative capitalism,” said Gates. “We can make more progress and it is important to be part of this endeavour,” he said. “I want to challenge the business community” to join the renewed efforts of governments and NGOs, said Chambers. “It’s the power of collaborative innovation that makes a difference,” he said.

The joint statement said:

“At the Millennium Summit in 2000 the international community – every world leader, every international body, almost every country – vowed to spare no effort to achieve the seven key Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Halfway to 2015 we have made some vital progress:

  • 3 million more children survive every year
  • 2 million people now receive AIDs treatment
  • There are 41 million more children in school
  • 2 million lives are saved every year by immunization
  • Polio, leprosy and neonatal tetanus are on the verge of elimination
  • African economies have been growing at 6% for the past three years, and are set to grow faster in the years ahead

This progress inspires us all to do more. We know we can make a difference. But we still face an enormous challenge – a development emergency:

  • 72 million children are still not in school and many who are receive a very poor quality education.Half of the developing world lack basic sanitation.
  • If current trends continue, the world is likely to miss the MDG sanitation target by almost 600 million people.
  • Over half a million women still die each year from treatable and preventable complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Over 33 million people are living with HIV, and more than 1 million people die of malaria every year, including one child every 30 seconds.
  • 980 million people still live on less than US$ 1 a day.

So without an extraordinary effort we will fail to achieve the MDGs. 2008 is a critical year. If we don’t begin to get back on track we will fail. Today in Davos we – the undersigned – commit to work to make 2008 a turning point in the fight against poverty. We are pleased to join the 19 countries and 21 private sector companies that are now signed up to the MDG Call to Action. And we pledge to work together to help the world get back on track to meet the MDGs.

We know we will only succeed if governments, the private sector, faith groups, civil society and NGOs work together.

And to catalyse, inspire and focus activity within this broad coalition – and to measure progress towards the 2015 pledges – today we agree that the world community should set some 2010 milestones towards our 2015 goals, including:

  • 75 million more people lifted out of extreme poverty in Africa
  • 25 million more children in school
  • 4 million more children’s lives saved
  • 35 million more births need to be attended by skilled health personnel between now and 2010
  • 70 million more people given improved access to water

A series of international meetings throughout 2008 will identify what more we all need to do to meet these goals and agree concrete action plans:

  • In the spring, the private sector will meet and announce new measures to help achieve the MDGs.
  • In June, European leaders will set out what more the EU can do to accelerate progress towards the MDGs.
  • In July, the Japan G8 Summit will focus on development and climate change.
  • In September, at the UN – and for the first time ever – governments, businesses, civil society organizations, NGOs and faith groups will all convene to mark the halfway point to the MDGs, take stock of progress and agree additional steps the international community will take to accelerate action.
  • And the Italians have agreed to take this forward into 2008 with their G8.
  • The world is witnessing a development emergency, and we need a worldwide effort to get back on track to meet the MDGs. We commit to join and redouble our efforts.”

More than 2,500 participants from 88 countries are in Davos, Switzerland, including 27 heads of state or government, 113 cabinet ministers, along with religious leaders, media leaders and heads of non-governmental organizations. Around 60% of the participants are business leaders drawn principally from the Forum’s members – 1,000 of the foremost companies from around the world and across all economic sectors.

December 4, 2007

Poorest Farmers Ignored By UK Govt.’s Overseas Agricultural Policy

Poorest Farmers Ignored By UK Govt.’s Overseas Agricultural Policy

Concern Worldwide UK (Dublin)
PRESS RELEASE
27 November 2007
Posted to the web 27 November 2007

The agricultural policy of the UK government’s Department for International Development’s (DFID) is ignoring the needs of the poorest farmers and prioritising economic growth over tackling hunger and improving food security, according to a report published tomorrow by Concern Worldwide.

The report – Unheard Voices – The case for supporting marginal farmers - asserts that the failure of DFID’s agricultural policy to specifically address the needs of the poorest farmers in developing countries is particularly concerning given the fact that more than 75% of the world’s hungry and malnourished live in rural areas and depend directly or indirectly on farming for their survival.

“Whilst marginal farmers should be at the centre of DFID’s efforts to defeat poverty and reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) they are instead being ignored in favour of farmers who produce surplus for markets and are therefore considered able to contribute to the growth of the economy” says Ruchi Tripathi, Head of Policy for Concern Worldwide and co-author of the report.

The report reveals that the shift towards economic growth and away from pro-poor policies in agriculture by donors such as DFID has led to a decline in aid to agriculture overall and a weaker demand for assistance from developing country governments. This decline and the way in which aid to agriculture has been allocated means that poor farmers are excluded and unable to access the support they desperately need for low-cost technologies that would help them increase their food output and tackle hunger and spiralling poverty in the rural areas.

The report provides clear examples of the way in which poor farmers, including those with whom Concern Worldwide works, have shown that with the right kind of assistance such as simple low-cost technologies, training in new farming practices and the provision of tools and seeds, they have the potential to significantly increase their output, make themselves more food secure and improve their livelihoods.” This is why donors such as DFID should take into account their specific needs when reviewing their agricultural policy instead of pursuing a ‘one size-fits all’ approach which further marginalises the poorest farmers” says Ruchi Tripathi.

Mahlathi Moyo, Concern Partner and Chairperson of the Mongu District Farmers’ Association in Zambia adds: “Poor farmers are facing many challenges that affect their ability to grow enough to feed their families, but these challenges can be overcome. Good agricultural policies that are appropriate to specific geographical areas must be put in place, and the people responsible for developing those policies must listen to the voices of the poorest farmers to ensure that their circumstances are taken in to account”.

The report forms part of Concern Worldwide’s campaign ‘Unheard Voices’, which calls on DFID to ensure that when reviewing its agricultural policy in 2008 that the role of poor farmers in defeating rural poverty is acknowledged and that their needs are prioritised instead of focusing only on farmers that already produce for markets.

Read the full report.

Concern Worldwide is an international, non-governmental, humanitarian organisation dedicated to the reduction of suffering and working towards the elimination of extreme poverty in the worlds poorest countries.

Africa’s Human Capital

Human Capital – Continent’s Development Albatross

Leadership (Abuja)
ANALYSIS
27 November 2007
Posted to the web 27 November 2007

By Kunle Somorin

No nation becomes great when majority of her nationals are mainly idle, semi-skilled or outrightly unskilled.

Good health, natural resources and infrastructure serve to complement the human resources. Thriving in an information age depends largely on the development of this God-given endowments. That, in the main, is the bane of Africa’s development.

Sustained growth and elimination of poverty will for a long time remain elusive in sub-Saharan Africa until the region succeed in building, retaining and nurturing the required human and institutional capacity vital for grooming the successor generation and interfacing with other developmental partners and process. And to date, it remains the most constraining factor in Africa’s development.

A non governmental organisation, devoted to intervening in this onerous assignment, the African Capacity Building Foundation, ACBF, based in Harare, Zimbabwe, came into existence to address this deficit area. It reckons that although 35 percent of the official development assistance committed to this goal by developmental partners amounting to US$4 billion every year, go down the drain because it could not redress the imbalance between the sending countries and their receiving counterparts. The conundrum ends up being an annual pipedream. The requisite skills have not been delivered because the programmes financed are largely externalised. While externalising Africa’s human development crisis may be instructive, the plausible way seems to seek a genuinely African actualisation to the dream.

Improving Africa’s rating in the United Nations Human Development Index therefore is not only a challenge, but transforming the natural resources to refined products, the only way to prosperity and part to Africa’s renaissance. This nexus can only be achieved from a clearly African perspective to the issue, with focused leadership and an enlightened citizenry that could compete in a world that is divided, but still considered a global village.

By Human Development Index, attention is focused on the population vis-à-vis the living standard, the nature of growth and the quality of life and living. There is no gainsaying the fact that Africa’s population has been on the increase. By 1960, Africa was about 280million, which was 9 percent of the world’s population. By 1977, the population had shot up to 758million, approximately 13 percent of the world’s population. It is estimated that with its steady growth at 2.5percent annual rate, Africa will account for 20 percent of humanity by 2025. Its population has been estimated would, then, have risen to at least 1.5 billion.

Of its present population, five of its largest countries, accounts for one-thirds. These are Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Congo and South Africa. More than 30 of the 52 African countries have less than 20 million inhabitants, over 60 percent that are illiterate rural dwellers.

One important snag about the people of Africa is that largeness of arable land, preponderance of farming families, excessive deposit of mineral and natural resources, and being ancestral homes to pockets of distinguished scholars, scattered around the globe have not translated to development. Most of the people still live on less than one dollar per day. The few privileged ones that live in obscene opulence make their monies through dubious means, government patronage, contract scams, outright stealing from public treasuries, drug peddling and such prebendal acquisitiveness. The result is that corruption is at the base of every activity and there seems to be no end in sight for the monster to quit the landscape. An undisciplined population is a curse to human capital development.

It is only in Africa that population seems to outstrip economic growth four times and over. Africa’s contribution to world GDP was 7 percent in the 1960s, with agriculture accounting for most of its input, but by the close of the millennium it had stagnated at 2 percent. A continent that used to produce its own food and raw materials for its industries and still had enough to export before 1970s fell into miserable poverty and terrible dependency in the late 1970s, became a net importer of 30 percent of food items from other continents. More than half of the industries that came with self-government and the competition by early nationalists had either totally collapsed or were producing below installation capacity by the beginning of 1990s. While other continents continue to experience growth in socio-economic spheres, the dividends of decolonization and self-rule in Africa have been robbed by human capital depletion agents, like internecine wars, conflicts of attrition, intellectual atrophy, military despotism, hunger, diseases, debts, brain drain, civil, but undemocratic rule and backwardness.

The multilateral agencies have not helped much. By 1960, when sovereign nationhood became a fad in Africa, the new leaders met a cumulative debt profile of less than 100million dollars. Under two decades of self rule, the continent has amassed a crippling portfolio in excess of 100billion dollars. Africa through the treadmill of these institutions commit between 20 to 40 percent of her total earnings to debt payment, servicing or rescheduling. The import of this is that there is a correlation between Africa population growth rate and foreign debt. And it lacks the formidable team of economists to bail it out. It is therefore not surprising that when under two years as Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, negotiated $18billion off her country’s debt, she was not only deified, her singular contribution was made a historical discourse as the country had to engage three firms of multinational consulting firms, less than two months after she left office to help negotiate with creditors on debt relief and forgiveness issues.

The human capital crises are further compounded by the absurd manner of leadership recruitment in the continent. From the respected club of intellectual leaders of the 1950s and 60s that produced the Kwame Nkrumahs, the Julius Nyereres, the Nnamdi Azikwes, the Haile Sailesses, the Obafemi Awolowos, the Sekou Toures, the Jomo Kenyattas and the Leopold Sedar Senghors, Africa descended to the valley of trench-combatants where the Mobutu Sese Sekos, Idi Amin Dadas, Charles Taylors, Samuel Does, and their civilian collaborators hold sway. Indeed, Africa has since independence not been lucky to be governed by ideas men. Most of the leaders are bare-faced thieves, who lack the conceptual understanding of the nuances and praxis of development and so they only leave the continent at the mercy of nature and other elements.

Africa’s Achilles heels are clearly, in her not being able to appreciate the most critical factor in development: human beings. Human beings are the major creator and sustainers of development and only through humans can the manipulations that put nature and material resources make meaning. Material resources are supporters and facilitators of development and that’s why abundance of these resources has not brought prosperity and higher living standards to Africa.

Prof. Dayton who teaches extra-European studies in Oxford has noted in how Africa developed Europe that ‘the most resourceless countries are the most developed in the world’. History of development in the last 500 years has shown that human development is more critical than material resources. Most of the countries in Western Europe and North America are resource poor, but have been able to develop because they have found solution to how to subjugate and dominate the environment, especially the resource rich countries through their human capital in manipulating knowledge. Colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism and globalisation are innocuously shaped and marketed to the resource rich countries, which lack the cohesive capacity to organise themselves and tap their God-given resources to their own advantages. There lies nexus between global politics and global economy.

Even in non-Western countries where development has taken place, South East Asia: Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea, India and China, it would be misleading to attribute such to availability of better material resources than what obtains in the Dark Continent. The Asians understands the need for investment in human capital. Indeed lack of natural and material resources tend to stimulate and excite challenges to maximise energy in order to harness the gains from people’s limitation. A comparative analysis is here inevitable. Ethiopia which shares the same kind of population and natural resource with Korea as at 1960 was poles apart in outlook at the close of the last decade. By 1996, Ethiopia students in Medical, Engineering and Medical science numbered less than 2,000, whereas Koreans in similar fields had 454,000. A similar conclusion can be gleaned from the comparison between Nigeria and Indonesia. UNESCO reports that as at 1960, while Nigeria had 41, 504 in tertiary schools, Indonesia had 25,124; but by 1996, the table had turned with Nigeria having 22,080 in engineering faculties as against Indonesia’s 293,946. In Medicine, Nigeria had 22,121 students against Indonesia’s 44,678.

By the close of the 1980, the most highly skilled professionals had fled Africa due to different frustrating circumstances. The United Nations Development Programme at some point concluded that “the best African professionals prefer to work abroad”. For instance, the exodus of doctors has been most striking in the past two decades. More than 21,000 Nigerian doctors are said to be practising in the United States, 60 percent of Ghanaian doctors have left the country. The crisis prone Sudan had since 17% of her doctors’ leave in 1998, 20% of the university lecturers also left, 35% of the engineers joined the brain drain train as well as 45% of surveyors.

The league leader in arable land and energy reserves is Africa. It shares the same developmental pathology with Middle East, which with its energy reserves and agriculture potential is also the second poorest region on earth. The little development witnessed comes in from activities of transnational corporations prospecting for oil or involved in tapping resources from these resource-rich countries. What African leaders fail to appreciate is that material resources are exhaustible, while human resources are sustainable and infinite; and it takes much longer time to produce material resources than human capital.

Interestingly, the new arsenal for international development is anchored on a labour force that is healthy, skilful, knowledgeable and incorruptible. These are rare commodities in Africa. While it would be unfair to say nothing has been achieved in terms of manpower development, education and research, what is also not in doubt, is that the critical mass in terms of volume, quality and competence is grossly insufficient to power the challenges of economic transformation.

Earnest Harsch in his Can Africa Claim the 21st Century underscored Africa’s developmental dilemma in terms of the globalisation process when he called for the bridging of the information gap that keeps widening between North America and Europe on one side and African countries on the other side.

Record available at the beginning of the decade shows that “…whereas Africa has 739 million people, it has a mere 14 million phone line, fewer than in Manhattan or Tokyo…in 1999, only 1 million Africans have access to the internet, compared with 15 million in the United Kingdom; and Africa generate only 0.4 percent of internet content; excluding South Africa, a mere 0.02 percent.”

Much as the situation is improving with increased telephony through the Global System of Mobile Telecommunications, Africa is yet to understand the nexus between Information and Communications Technology, ICT, and economic development through cost saving for industry and increased transport efficiency.

For the poor, largely semi-literate, populace, ICT prospects are enormous. Although GSM provides jobs for the hitherto unemployed youths who sell recharge cards, handsets and accessories as well as operate business centres, ICT is still largely under-utilised. Conversely, unlike in Africa, Asians and Southern Americans use internet to facilitate firm, farm and other economic activities. In villages in Central Peru, people use internet to market organically grown oranges. Small manufacturers of traditional handicraft are already discovering how ICT can be a tool for marketing and distributing their wares across the world.

A recent survey on universities in the world ranked the best university in Nigeria, as the world’s 6001st. Africa’s best university in the ranking was university of Witwatersrand in South Africa and it ranks 2000th. Scientific research that generates knowledge has dwindled in the continent; this has exacerbated the asymmetry between Africa and the rest of the world. A report of Economic Commission for Africa said Africa’s expenditure on research, development, number of science and technology personnel, scientific publications and registered patent widen the hiatus between the ‘connected’ world and Africa. It reveals that the continent accounts for only 0.9percent of the world’s budget for such endeavour, with South Africa accounting for more than half of the continent’s profile.

Even at its highest in 2002, Africa’s share of world’s scientific publication was less than 1.5% and sub-Saharan Africa was 0.8%. For registered patents, sub-Saharan Africa share was a mere 0.2% in Europe and only 0.1% in the United States.

The crisis of human capital is aggravated by lack of access to tertiary education, the highest level where scientific and technical knowledge can be generated. Since that is also the sphere for expertise that can transform the continent’s potential in agriculture, mineral and natural resources, nothing gets done.

A UNESCO report notes that only 10 percent of school leavers are able to gain university admission. Only four countries in the continent achieved over 10 percent of higher institution transition among high school leavers. These are Egypt, South Africa, Tunisia and Algeria. Countries like Ethiopia and Burkina Faso could only achieved 0.06 and 0.08 percent respectively.

In terms of the relevance of even courses offered in these universities there still much to be desired. The major feature of courses reveals a preponderance of liberal arts and paucity of science and technical scholarship. Where they are found, laboratory facilities, qualified staff proved to be major challenges.

Poverty and disease, especially HIV-AIDS and the resurgence of tuberculosis and malaria also contribute to budgetary constraints. These, in part, made Stephen O’Connell and Charles Soludo in their Aid Intensity in Africa argue that since debt dominate Africa’s development, official development assistance must be based on economic criteria that will support human resources development.

Developed Countries Must Cut Emissions, Invest in Adaptation to Prevent Human Development Reversals

Developed Countries Must Cut Emissions, Invest in Adaptation to Prevent Human Development Reversals

United Nations Development Programme (New York)
PRESS RELEASE
27 November 2007
Posted to the web 27 November 2007
Brasilia
The heavy carbon footprint of developed countries threatens to stamp out and then reverse advances in health, education and poverty reduction in sub-Saharan Africa unless critical steps are taken to cut emissions and invest in “climate-proofing” the livelihoods of the poor, according to the 2007/2008 Human Development Report (HDR) on climate change launched here today.

Building on the recently-released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Synthesis Report, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) HDR, entitled Fighting climate change: Human solidarity in a divided world, sets out a pathway for climate change negotiations in Bali, Indonesia, and stresses that a narrow 10-year window of opportunity remains to put it into practice.

If that window is missed, temperature rises of above two degrees Celsius could see an extra 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa go hungry, new and more frequent epidemics of mosquito-born diseases like Rift Valley Fever and malaria and agricultural losses of up to US$26 billion by 2060 in the region, a figure higher than total bilateral aid received by sub-Saharan Africa in 2005.

“The carbon budget of the 21st Century—the amount of carbon that can be absorbed creating an even probability that temperatures will not rise above two degrees—is being overspent and threatens to run out entirely by 2032,” says Kevin Watkins, lead author of the Report and Director of UNDP’s HDR Office, “and the poor—those with the lightest carbon footprint and the least means to protect themselves—are the first victims of developed countries’ energy-rich lifestyle”.

A “nine-planet” lifestyle

Nearly 550 million people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to energy. Families are left in the dark to cook with vegetation and animal dung over smoky stone fires, while their rich counterparts in developed countries run up the energy bills. Respiratory disease, in part caused by breathing in such smokey fumes, is the biggest killer of children in the world today.

Fighting climate change notes that if each poor person on the planet had the same energy-rich lifestyle as an American or Canadian, nine planets would be needed to safely cope with the pollution. In fact, the US state of Texas, with 23 million residents, emits more CO2 than all of the 720 million residents of sub-Saharan Africa put together, says the Report.

Faced with these stark differences, the authors note that critical global emission cuts should not undermine efforts to get basic energy services to the poor. The world’s richest countries have a historic responsibility to take the lead in balancing the carbon budget by cutting emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050, says the Report, in addition to supporting a new $86 billion annual global investment in substantial international adaptation efforts to protect the world’s poor.

“Africa is entering a new century. There is promise. Growth and development are accelerating and peace is being consolidated in many parts of the Continent,” said UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervi, “Getting the fight against climate change right would in turn catalyze significant human development advances across the board. But if we don’t act on climate change, the hope of Africa—the continent with the lightest carbon footprint—could be stamped out.”

Human development “traps”

Current evidence points to a direct linkage between climate change and increased risk of climate disasters, like floods and droughts, and the overwhelming majority of people affected live in developing countries, says Fighting climate change. The authors note that on average between 2000 and 2004, one in 19 people living in the developing world was affected by a climate disaster each year, compared to one person in 1,500 for OECD countries.

In the aftermath of a flood or drought, it is impossible to capture in images the depth of damage inflicted on poor people in Africa. With limited access to insurance, savings or assets, poor households are faced with stark choices in the face of climate shocks that can wipe out crops, reduce job opportunities, push up food prices and destroy property.

In the 1999 drought in Malawi, most poor people coped by eating less, says Fighting climate change. They also used up their savings or borrowed money and sold their livestock, poultry or household items. Then in 2002, when drought hit again, nearly five million people were in need of emergency food aid. It did not arrive immediately, says the Report, and households coped by turning to extreme survival measures such as theft and prostitution.

The Report illustrates how climate shocks can lock people into a downward cycle of poverty. The authors found children born during a drought, for example, were much more likely to be malnourished and stunted. In Ethiopia and Kenya, two of the world’s most drought-prone countries, children aged five or less born during a drought are respectively 36 and 50 percent more likely to be malnourished that children not born during a drought. For Ethiopia, that meant two million additional malnourished children in 2005. In Niger, children aged two or less born in a drought year were 72 percent more likely to be stunted, according to the Report.

Fighting “adaptation apartheid”

The authors emphasize that while carbon dioxide emissions know no borders—one tonne of emissions from Texas does the same damage as one tonne emitted by Niamey, Niger—the capacity of the residents in these locations to cope with the effects of climate change varies dramatically.

As global warming changes weather patterns in large parts of Africa, crops fail and people go hungry, says Fighting climate change. By contrast, “in rich countries, coping with climate change to date has largely been a matter of adjusting thermostats, dealing with longer, hotter summers, and observing seasonal shifts.”

In California, for example, rising winter temperatures are expected to reduce snow-fall in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which acts as a water storage system for the State. As this threatens the availability of water throughout the year, California has developed an extensive system of reservoirs and water channels to maintain flows of water to the dry areas, while also investing heavily in recycling water.

In northern Kenya, by comparison, increased frequency of droughts means that women are walking greater distances to fetch water, often ranging from 10 to 15 kilometres a day, says the Report. This confronts women with personal security risks, keeps young girls out of school and imposes an immense physical burden—a plastic container filled with 20 litres of water weighs around 20 kilograms.

“Leaving the world’s poor to sink or swim with their own meagre resources in the face of the threat posed by climate change is morally wrong,” writes Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, in the Report, “[but] this is precisely what is happening. We are drifting into a world of ‘adaptation apartheid’.”

Current spending through multilateral mechanisms on adaptation in developing countries has amounted to $26 million to date—roughly one week’s worth of spending on United Kingdom flood defences. This is nowhere near sufficient, says the Report, and it calls on the developed countries to support a new global investment of at least $86 billion annually, or 0.2 percent of OECD countries’ combined gross domestic product (GDP), in adaptation efforts to climate-proof infrastructure and build the resilience of the poor to the effects of climate change.

A pathway for Bali and beyond

Fighting climate change stresses that unless dramatic changes happen both at the national and international levels, climate change will stall and then reverse efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals in Africa. Existing aid investments will be put at risk because of climate-related events and an increasing portion of development money will be diverted to tackling climate disasters rather than long-term development.

With these challenges in mind, the Report lays out two sets of recommendations. The first set relates to the foundations for successful adaptation planning:

  • Expand the continent’s meteorological monitoring network, so that farmers can get better information faster about climate patterns in the region. Currently the continent has one weather station for every 25,460 square kilometres. The Netherlands, by contrast has one site for every 716 square kilometres.
  • Invest in climate proofing infrastructure such as water-storage or “water harvesting” facilities in countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, and Tanzania with high levels of rainfall concentrated in a few weeks of the year.
  • Improve national social insurance programmes build resilience while protecting farmers and poor urban residents from the worst effects of climate-related disasters. The Kalomo pilot project in Zambia, providing $6 a month to families in the bottom 10 percent of the economy, is a promising example of one such programme.
  • Invest in early-warning systems. Mozambique’s creation of early warning and rapid-response mechanisms following devastating floods in the year 2000 is one such example referred to by the Report’s authors.

The second set of recommendations lays out a definitive checklist for all political leaders meeting in Bali in December—a pathway for a binding and enforceable post 2012 multilateral agreement that the authors stress will be essential to buttress our planet and its poorest people against the worst impacts of climate change:

  • Cut emissions from developing countries by a total of at least 20 percent by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, and for developed countries by 30 percent by 2020 and at least 80 percent by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.
  • Create a Climate Change Mitigation Facility to finance the incremental low-carbon energy investment in developing countries to give developing countries both the means to switch to low emission pathways and the incentive to commit to binding international emission cuts. This would need an investment $25-50 billion annually.
  • Put a proper price on carbon through a combination of carbon taxation and an ambitions global expansion of cap-and-trade schemes.
  • Increase the capacity of developing countries to participate in the carbon market.
  • Strengthen regulatory standards by adopting and enforcing tougher efficiency standards on vehicle, building and electrical appliance emissions.
  • Support the development of low carbon energy provision, recognizing unexploited potential for an increase in the share of renewable energy used and the need for urgent investment in breakthrough technologies such as carbon capture and storage, while supporting growth and promoting access to energy.
  • Allocate $86 billion annually, or 0.2 percent of northern countries’ combined GDP to adaptation to climate proof infrastructure and build the resilience of the poor to the effects of climate change.
  • Make adaptation part of all plans to reduce poverty and extreme inequality, including poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs).
  • Recognize carbon sequestration on forests and land as essential parts of a future global agreement and back international finance transfer plans on deforestation as advocated by Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil among others.

Fighting climate change concludes that “one of the hardest lessons taught by climate change is that the economic model which drives growth and the profligate consumption in rich nations that goes with it, is ecologically unsustainable.” But the authors argue, “with the right reforms, it is not too late to cut greenhouse gas emissions to sustainable levels without sacrificing economic growth: that rising prosperity and climate security are not conflicting objectives.”

* * * *

ABOUT THIS REPORT: The Human Development Report continues to frame debates on some of the most pressing challenges facing humanity. It is an independent report commissioned by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Kevin Watkins is the Lead Author of the 2007/2008 report, which includes special contributions from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Mayor of the City of New York Michael R. Bloomberg, Advocate for Arctic climate change Sheila Watt-Cloutier, Chair of the World Commission on Sustainable Development and former Prime Minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town Desmond Tutu, and the Director of the Centre for Science and Environment Sunita Narain. The Report is translated into more than a dozen languages and launched in more than 100 countries annually. Further information can be found at http://hdr.undp.org/en/reports/global/hdr2007-2008/

The 2007/2008 Human Development Report is published in English by Palgrave Macmillan.

ABOUT UNDP: UNDP is the UN’s global network to help people meet their development needs and build a better life. We are on the ground in 166 countries, working as a trusted partner with governments, civil society and the private sector to help them build their own solutions to global and national development challenges. Further information can be found at http://www.undp.org

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