Horn of Africa Drought, Food Crisis: Agricultural Trade Policies Questioned

Almost twelve million people are in need of food aid because of drought and conflict in the Horn of Africa region, according to many reports. As the crisis grows, some experts are questioning the role of agricultural trade and investment policies in the region. A joint statement from intergovernmental agencies and a humanitarian aid group has said that the “slow-onset” humanitarian crisis leaves millions of women, men, and children vulnerable to “devastating hunger and malnutrition.” According to economists, there has been a neglect of agriculture and, importantly, of sustainable agricultural practices. Luck of investment in smallholder agriculture, livestock disease and unsustainable grazing, and food price inflation have played roles in contributing to the current crisis. Read more here.
International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

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Aid effectiveness in a changing landscape – the case of global funds and programs

Aid delivered to fight poverty and to foster development risks failing due to fragmentation and volatility.  While traditional donors have set up new bilateral and multilateral channels, private and non-DAC-actors have dramatically increased their funding role in recent years. Additional players are welcomed since they bring new resources and new approaches, but the recent evolution of the international aid architecture has reinforced longstanding concerns about the effectiveness of aid.

Global programs are well placed in the global aid structure to make a real difference in achieving development impact. These funds and programs are increasingly important development actors and represent specific advantages and disadvantages in the development landscape. However, the addition of new, targeted multilateral funding facilities also raises questions about fragmentation and volatility, as well as how to meet the challenges of broader sectoral and intersectoral development, of donor coordination, and of agency effectiveness in scaling up successful interventions.

From 9 – 10 September 2010, the third in a series of workshops was organised on behalf of the steering committee by Idasa and the Development Policy Forum, InWEnt – Capacity Building International.

This workshop was designed to address the many important opportunities and challenges which the emergence of global funds and programs poses to the development community. Read more here.

A visit to iLEDA Schools for democracy in Malawi

iLEDA Volunteer Amy Eaglestone from the Netherlands visits Idasa’s iLEDA School for citizen leadership for democracy in Malawi. She travelled to the southern African country with iLEDA School head Noxolo Mgudlwa and trainers Auburn Daniels and Lesley Adams. She discovers several development challenges and argues for citizen leadership training.

By Amy Eaglestone
It was raining when my colleagues and I landed on the only flight that day into Lilongwe International Airport in Malawi. It wasn’t the tropical rain that buckets down to offer a short respite from the African heat and humidity, but that European drizzle, that does nothing but make your clothes and hair damp and uncomfortable. So as we ran across the tarmac to the shuttle bus, I mentioned to my colleague that this wasn’t exactly what I was expecting in the heart of Africa.
But to a westerner like me, Malawi met my expectations. The women wear colorful traditional African dresses, they carry heavy buckets of water and other necessities on their heads, food is sold from small stalls or just off the ground along the main roads, the red soil stains everything, coca-cola in little glass bottles is so sweet it makes your teeth stick together, you need a 4×4 to get from one town to the next and the best place in town to eat is the café behind the petrol station. But above all it is where natural beauty, cultural diversity and extreme poverty go hand in hand.

Making Aid Work

Idasa recently hosted the ‘Southern African Civil Society Consultation Workshop & Multi-Stakeholders Consultation on Aid Effectiveness: Catalysing Broad Implementation Of The Accra Agenda For Action (AAA)’. This was one of a series of workshops on the African continent and around the world. Others have been held in the Philippines and Columbia. These workshops are aimed at providing information and building capacity for participation in the aid reform process, ultimately making aid more effective, transparent and democratically accountable in achieving mutually-agreed development objectives. See more here.

Live or Dead Aid – Who is responsible for development in Africa?

Who is responsible for development in Africa?

Dambisa Moyo

Dambisa Moyo

This is the question I’m mulling over, after a presentation by Dr Dambisa Moyo, author of Dead Aid.  The book has caused quite some controversy, not least among NGOs and recipients of the aid that Moyo critiques.

Foreign aid is a complex subject and one that has many vested interests. Any discussion on the future of aid is likely to be heated and emotional.  There are those of us whose very livelihoods depend on it, for without that donor money, we wouldn’t be able to pay our own bills.  And there are those of us lefties who struggle with the politics of the author – neo-liberal, economic focus, seemingly aligned to the interests of global capital. Her work experience is at the World Bank (seen by some as an arrogant manipulative International Financial Institution (IFI)) and Goldman Sachs. Her background at these institutions dents her credibility in South African development circles, where your politics and credentials are judged before you’ve opened your mouth.

Some people view her ideas with skepticism and see her as an emissary from yet another global institution that is intent on imposing their own agenda. Moyo contests this vocally, saying she is born and bred Zambian and has strong roots in the heart of Africa.  For most of us, despite any critique, it is fabulous to have an African academic raising these issues for debate. Continue reading