Special report: Millions face starvation across Africa as land rush intensifies

A report released recently by Oxfam says that poor people, particularly in Africa, are hardest hit by a new wave of land deals. In many African countries, local residents regularly lose their land to elites, domestic or foreign investors, because they lack the power to claim their rights effectively or to defend and advance their interests. According to the report, in developing countries, as many as 227 million hectares of land – an area the size of Western Europe – has been sold or leased since 2001, mostly to international investors. Thus, there is a general fear that this surge in large-scale acquisition of land for investment will do more harm than good if land grabbing is not stopped. Read more here.
The Citizen

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Agriculture investment, empowering women key to food security: FAO

Leaders from the international community met in Rome on Oct 17, 2011 to celebrate World Food Day, and called for more investment in agriculture and moves to empower women to ensure global food security. “Food prices – from crisis to stability” was this year’s World Food Day theme, after five consecutive years of unstable and often rising food prices, which currently stand close to record levels, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Greater investment said to be key to mitigating food price fluctuations and building poor people and nations’ resilience. Read more here.
Xinhua

Africa urged to ban food production for bio fuel

According to FAO’s 2010 estimate, 240 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa were chronically undernourished. The rising food prices and growth of Africa’s middle classes are having an enormous impact on the food production that also have had and are continuing to have an impact on Africa’s food security. To overcome two of Africa’s most urgent problems, food security and hunger, governments should work towards rural development policies and a collective continental policy to ban the production of food crops for bio fuel. Read more here.

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.

Change MudanÇa

In the past few years, economic growth, political stability, and a strong partnership of the private sector, civil society and government has positioned Mozambique in better situation than in the past. However, the country still faces challenges such as poverty, food insecurity and HIV/AIDS. Change MudanÇa Magazine is the product of a partnership between the South African trust and the African Monitor, and it discusses the current socioeconomic and political condition, including the agricultural sector, of Southern Africa, specifically Mozambique. 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 progress towards reducing hunger and poverty in Africa

In reviewing progress towards ensuring food security and reducing poverty on the African continent, recent trends across regions and individual countries showed that 10 countries had met the 6% agricultural growth rate in 2008. The decline in the average malnutrition rate was encouraging but was still high at 29%.
About 13 countries were making progress towards the hunger or poverty targets but only Ghana was on track to achieve both the targets by 2015. Estimates of the Global Hunger Index of The International Food Policy Research Institute showed that the majority of countries had managed to reduce hunger and poverty but Africa, as a whole, was not on track to achieve the primary Millennium Development Goal. This added to the sense of urgency for speedy and effective implementation of CAADP. Read more here.