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Sanctions on Russia already hitting remittance-dependent countries in Central Asia: IOM

UN ECOSOC - 16. Juni 2022 - 4:10
As the UN marks the International Day of Family Remittances on Thursday, there is concern that economic contraction and job losses in Russia - likely to now rise further as a result of sanctions imposed since the invasion of Ukraine - are already having an impact on remittance-dependent communities in Central Asia, according to experts with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Kategorien: english

Digital public technology can help drive sustainable development progress

Brookings - 15. Juni 2022 - 19:59

By George Ingram, John McArthur, Priya Vora

Digital technology is receiving growing attention in international dialogues on global prosperity and stability. In August 2021, the G-20 digital ministers identified ways digitalization can enhance the ability of the economy and government to contribute to a “resilient, strong, sustainable, and inclusive recovery” following COVID-19. In May 2022, the Indonesian government, as part of its G-20 presidency this year, encouraged the G-20 Digital Economy Working Group to prioritize digital connectivity, digital skills and literacy, and cross-border data flows. Meanwhile, for this year’s upcoming G-7 Summit at Schloss Elmau, the German presidency has proposed that the objective of “stronger together” should prioritize “social justice, equality, and inclusive digitalization.” 

In the best cases, digital technologies are contributing to massive improvements in access to public services, the provision of social protection, and economic opportunities for millions of people. Nonetheless, profound questions are being raised. Some of these focus on corporate control and ownership of digital infrastructure and platforms. Large private firms own and manage many of the world’s underlying digital systems, with enormous influence over users of the technologies and potentially even the governments with a mandate to regulate them. Others focus on how digital technologies have opened the door to new forms of government surveillance, empowered autocrats with repressive digital tools, exacerbated inequalities, and encouraged social divisions through the spread of disinformation.  

In response, a growing international movement is emphasizing the public dimension of digital technologies. In a recent working paper, we explore how digital public technology (DPT) could help accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with an emphasis on extreme deprivation and basic needs. By DPT, we mean digital assets that create a level playing field for broad access or use—by virtue of being publicly owned, publicly regulated, or open source. One prominent example is India’s Aadhaar platform, which provides personal identification for more than a billion citizens to allow them ready access to government programs and services.  

Benchmarking SDG challenges

Any consideration of DPTs for the SDGs needs to be anchored in empirical assessment of SDG gaps. Drawing from a separate forthcoming study of numerous SDG indicators, a trend assessment finds that none are fully on course for success by 2030. Some—like child mortality, access to electricity, access to sanitation, and access to drinking water—are on track to achieve gains for more than half the relevant populations in need. Some are on a path to less than half the needed gains, including stunting, extreme income poverty, maternal mortality, access to family planning, primary school completion, and noncommunicable disease mortality. Others like undernourishment and children overweight are moving backward. Many of the SDG challenges are highly concentrated in a small number of populous countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, India, and Pakistan. Many other smaller countries, such as South Sudan, Chad, and Central African Republic, are also severely off-track on many SDG targets.  

As the world approaches the 2030 SDG deadline, a holistic approach to broadening digital access while building robust institutions, fostering data governance regimes, and encouraging participatory processes could help drive much faster rates of sustainable development progress.  

In this context, issue- and country-specific assessments are essential when considering the potential role and contributions of DPTs. In many countries, sound approaches will frequently depend on the underlying physical infrastructure and economic systems. Rwanda, for instance, has made tremendous progress on SDG health indicators despite high rates of income poverty and internet poverty. This contrasts with Burkina Faso, which has lower income poverty and internet poverty but higher child mortality.  

Core elements of digital public technology

To help frame the issues for DPT conversations, we draw from an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) typology to identify three layers of a digital ecosystem: physical infrastructure, platform infrastructure, and apps-level products. Physical and platform layers provide the rules, standards, and security guarantees so that local market innovators and governments can develop new ideas more rapidly to meet ever-changing circumstances. Apps-level products provide specific services such as gathering data on a health need or intervention, providing market information to farmers, making an application for a government license, and providing access to an educational or entertainment program.  

We then describe five types of DPT platforms:  

  1. Personal identification and registration infrastructure, which allows citizens and organizations equal access to basic rights and services.
  2. Payments infrastructure, which enables efficient resource transfer with low transaction costs.
  3. Knowledge infrastructure, which links educational resources and datasets in an open or permissioned way.  
  4. Data exchange infrastructure, which enables interoperability of independent databases.  
  5. Mapping infrastructure, which intersects with data exchange platforms to empower geospatially-enabled diagnostics and service delivery opportunities.

In principle, each platform type can contribute directly or indirectly to a range of SDG outcomes. For example, a person’s ability to register their identity with public sector entities is fundamental to everything from a birth certificate (SDG target 16.9), land title (SDG 1.4), bank account (SDG 8.10), driver’s license, or government-sponsored social protection (SDG 1.3). It can also ensure access to publicly available basic services, such as public schools (SDG 4.1) and health clinics (SDG 3.8). Payment platforms can facilitate transfers linked to desired policy interventions or they can support unconditional objectives such as extreme poverty reduction, digital food stamp vouchers for food insecure people, targeted support to single mothers with young children, or emergency humanitarian assistance (SDGs 1.1, 2.1, 3.1, 3.2, and 11.5). 

Factors for promoting public well-being

Given the broad potential for DPT contributions to the SDGs, a practical challenge is to “level the playing field” such that a wide array of service providers can use the physical and platform layers of digital infrastructure equally. Three levers can help do this: public ownership and governance; public regulation; and open code, standards, and protocols. Typically, DPTs are built and deployed through a mix of these levers, enabling different public and private actors to benefit through unique pathways.  

Considerable challenges often lie in the implementation design and deployment of DPTs. Issues might include a lack of financial sustainability, limited capabilities within government to oversee a platform, and government procurement obstacles. Further, DPTs can undermine SDG outcomes if they compound inequities in digital access, contribute to concentrations of power in certain public or private entities, or lead to misuse and abuse of individuals’ data.  

Amid these complexities, few official donor organizations have so far made broad issues of digital development strategic priorities. Robust official statistics are not available, but one OECD estimate suggests relevant digital-focused funding rose to $6.8 billion in 2019, with multilateral institutions providing more than bilateral donors. A few large private philanthropies appear to be placing greater relative priority on digital technology, with estimated funding adding up to $491 million in 2019. 

Looking forward

As fast-changing digital technologies penetrate more dimensions of all societies, successful DPT strategies will require multipronged approaches that promote benefits while mitigating risks. Governments can establish participatory design processes and citizen-centric data governance regimes while ensuring accountability and redressal systems. Civil society can represent diverse voices in policymaking while spreading digital literacy and holding governments accountable. Funders can finance risk-based support frameworks while prioritizing sustainability.  

In this context, international actors would be well served to increase their focus on DPTs as potential tools for advancing policy strategies and outcomes. As the world approaches the 2030 SDG deadline, a holistic approach to broadening digital access while building robust institutions, fostering data governance regimes, and encouraging participatory processes could help drive much faster rates of sustainable development progress.  

      
Kategorien: english

Pour quelles raisons faut-il faire une simulation de prêt immobilier

UN Food and Hunger - 15. Juni 2022 - 14:15

Pour une demande de prêt immobilier, vous pouvez faire une simulation en ligne gratuitement. Cependant, en quoi consiste cette technique et quels sont ses avantages ? Ce guide vous apporte des éléments de réponses pertinentes !

Simulation de prêt immobilier : que faut-il comprendre ?

Pour trouver un financement capable de vous aider à avoir un logement, il convient de réaliser une simulation de prêt en vue d’évaluer votre pouvoir d’emprunt. C’est une méthode assez simple qui consiste à recueillir des informations cohérentes et vraies pour effectuer le calcul des mensualités, définir le prêt à taux zéro et déterminer les frais de notaire. Pour en savoir plus, n’hésitez pas à faire l’expérience par vous-même en choisissant une plateforme fiable dédiée à cet effet.

Les principaux avantages d’une simulation de prêt immobilier 

En choisissant de souscrire à un crédit immobilier, vous devez savoir que cela implique la possibilité de procéder à un remboursement du montant de chaque mensualité sur une durée définie. Ainsi, faire le calcul du prix des mensualités de prêt à l’avance vous permettra de comprendre la faisabilité de votre projet.

La simulation de crédit n’est pas une opération à banaliser. Elle est indispensable et aide à définir la capacité d’emprunt. Si la mensualité s’avère être trop élevée, vous pouvez diminuer le montant à emprunter. Toutefois, il faut noter que l’outil de simulation donne la possibilité de se projeter dans l’achat immobilier et de rechercher également des biens. Il vous suffira donc d’évaluer le prix de votre apport et le montant du logement que vous désirez acquérir.
Voilà donc l’essentiel à savoir sur l’importance de la simulation de prêt immobilier. Vous avez tout à gagner en optant pour une simulation de crédit immobilier. N’attendez plus, lancez le processus dès maintenant.

The post Pour quelles raisons faut-il faire une simulation de prêt immobilier appeared first on burudi.net.

Kategorien: english

À quel moment peut-on négocier le prix d’un bien immobilier

UN Food and Hunger - 15. Juni 2022 - 14:13

La négociation du prix d’un bien immobilier est un art très crucial qui mérite d’être mené minutieusement si vous désirez réussir l’achat d’un immobilier. À cet effet, il est important de connaître les moments favorables à une négociation du prix d’un bien immobilier. Voici ce que vous devez savoir.

En cas de non-conformité dans le dossier de diagnostics immobiliers

Lorsque pendant la vérification du dossier de diagnostics immobiliers, vous constatez la présence des termites, cela voudrait dire que vous aurez d’importants travaux à effectuer. Il en est de même pour la présence d’amiantes, de plomb ou lorsque l’électricité n’est plus conforme aux normes. 

Évidemment, qui dit « importants travaux » parle également de coûts supplémentaires. À cet effet, vous devez chiffrer ces coûts et en tenir compte lors de l’achat d’un bien immobilier. C’est donc le moment de procéder à une négociation du prix du bien immobilier. Pour ce faire, il est important de bien maîtriser le sujet afin d’effectuer une bonne négociation. Plus d’informations sont accessibles ici pour négocier le prix d’un bien immobilier.

En cas de long délai de la mise en vente du bien immobilier

Il est important de faire attention au délai de la mise en vente du bien immobilier. Si la vente a été lancée depuis de nombreux mois, mais que le bien n’a toujours pas été acheté, cela voudrait dire que quelque chose cloche. Il peut s’agir d’un prix trop élevé ou d’un défaut majeur. C’est l’exemple de la proximité du bien avec une voie de chemin de fer. Dans une telle circonstance, il faut envisager une négociation.

Par ailleurs, lorsque vous remarquez que le bien immobilier est surcoté et que son prix est bien trop élevé par rapport au secteur, une négociation est possible. En effet, un tel bien immobilier va mettre plus de temps à se vendre. Enfin, quelle que soit la situation, il est important d’effectuer une bonne lecture des documents liés au bien immobilier avant de signer le compromis de vente ou de proposer votre offre.

The post À quel moment peut-on négocier le prix d’un bien immobilier appeared first on burudi.net.

Kategorien: english

Celebrating Sustainability Champions: First Sustainable Tourism Awards Launched in Mauritius

SCP-Centre - 15. Juni 2022 - 10:59

This year marked a first in Mauritius’ tourism sector with the introduction of the Sustainable Tourism Mauritius Awards. The annual awards were born out of our Sustainable Island Mauritius (SIM) project and will celebrate sustainability champions in the tourism industry to continue the transformation of circular and regenerative tourism on Mauritius beyond the project.

The first awards ceremony took place in May 2022 as part of the SIM project series of final workshops and events. Just after announcing the awards and criteria, the organising committee received over 115 applications, out of which 20 were selected as finalists in categories such as boat and pleasure craft operators, handicraft and local products, hotels, as well as tour operators and guides.

At the launch of the 2022 awards, the chairman of the Mauritian Tourism Authority, Avinash Gopee, noted:

‘‘By recognising outstanding and passionate individuals and organisations that strive for excellence through their engagement in sustainability and green initiatives, we want to inspire other industry members to raise the level of their game so that together we can make Mauritius a great and green destination for our visitors and a great home for our people.’’

The winners were selected based on their effort and inspiring concepts and visions toward a greener tourism sector in Mauritius. The list of the awarded includes among many others: second hand shop, which not only upcycles textiles and furniture but also provides new job opportunities; a small scale eco-tourism lodge and farm working on promoting regenerative agriculture; a zero-pollution solar boat tour operator; a tour operator committed and striving toward a sustainable island; a pop-up store concept that sells local products and supports their artisans to become successful and a beekeeper who installs hives on the Hotel grounds to provide real local honey and was also part of our co-creation process.

The Top Sustainability Performer went to Attitude Group, respectively its Lagoon Attitude hotel that serves as a flagship for the positive impact movement including an integral educational centre. The judging panel accorded the organisation the award for its dedication and relentless effort in integrating a sustainability strategy in its daily operations.

Since its launch in 2018, the Sustainable Island Mauritius (SIM) project has promoted sustainable tourism in order to contribute to the island nation becoming a green destination. The awards are meant to serve as a legacy that can be carried on beyond the project’s life cycle to promote, celebrate and inspire great work toward making sustainable tourism a leading trend in Mauritius and beyond.

For further questions, please contact Kartika Anggraeni.

 

The post Celebrating Sustainability Champions: First Sustainable Tourism Awards Launched in Mauritius appeared first on CSCP gGmbH.

Kategorien: english, Ticker

USA increasingly hit by weather-related disasters

D+C - 15. Juni 2022 - 9:45
North America’s wildfires, heatwaves, storms and floods are becoming more frequent, more dangerous and more costly

This year’s wildfire season started early. Normally, the American West and Southwest have blazes from May on, but in April 2022, about 200 homes were lost to wildfires in New Mexico. Last year’s wildfire season had ended late, with flames destroying homes in the Denver-Boulder area of Colorado in late December. Only three winter months were conflagration-free.

In 2021, over 8000 fires burnt millions of acres. The background is that most of the American West is experiencing a long lasting drought, which makes wildfires more likely. The impacts also include crop failure and ecosystem collapse. Cities in California and Arizona are grappling with the ways to conserve dwindling water supplies. The normally cool Pacific Northwest, moreover, was hit by an unprecedented heatwave with temperatures rising to almost 50 degrees Celsius, which is considered hot even in Pakistan. In Canada and the USA, an estimated 1400 more people died than would normally have happened.

Even though western states are hit hardest by wildfires, the impacts are felt from coast to coast. The whole North-American continent can expect another summer of apocalyptic hazy skies and toxic air pollution from the smoke.

Hurricanes and floods are extremely costly

In 2021, 47 global disasters cost more than $ 1 billion. Almost half of them affected the USA, even though this country is not especially climate vulnerable. Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana in August. It was the world’s most expensive natural disaster in 2021, costing $ 65 billion in recovery. It claimed more than 100 lives in the USA and Venezuela. This year’s hurricane season is again expected to be “above average”.

Floods are getting worse too. Not all are caused by hurricanes, which tend to bring more rain than they did in the past. New flood-risk mapping shows a 26 % increase in flood risk across the USA. Black communities along the southern coasts of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico are exposed most. Wealth disparity and segregation matter very much. Poor and marginalised neighbourhoods have less adaptive infrastructure, are more likely to be located in unsafe places and generally get less government funding.

The federal budgeting office expects extreme weather to cost the US an annual $ 120 billion for coastal disaster relief, flood insurance, crop insurance, health-care insurance and wildfire suppression. To keep costs from rising, all government agencies should prioritise climate mitigation and adaptation. It is a matter of self-interest. At the same time, the USA bears global responsibility given its outsized contribution to humanity’s greenhouse-gas emissions.

Depressingly, federal-level action at the scale required seems unlikely to happen anytime soon. President Joe Biden’s sensible policy proposals are stuck in the Senate (see my essay on www. dandc.eu). Biden wants $ 44.9 billion in federal climate funding next year, but that would not be enough. State and local governments must act too.

Reactionary policymakers and their allies in conservative media want everyone to believe the disasters are nothing special. To some extent, they are successfully making them appear to be normal.

Public opinion surveys conducted by scholars from Yale University show that not even two thirds of Americans say that global warming is affecting the weather. Indeed, people who are especially exposed to extreme-weather events in the Southeast states are less likely to talk about global warming than the rest of the country. Part of the problem is that we still call extreme-weather events “natural disasters”, even though they are actually caused by our unsustainable habits (see Hans Dembowski on www.dandc.eu), and that is why environmentalists, for quite some time, have been demanding a change of wording.

Katie Cashman is a project coordinator and climate policy associate with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA). The views she expresses in D+C/E+Z are hers, not those of the MCEA.
kcashman23@gmail.com

Kategorien: english

South Africa: vaccines for the entire continent

GIZ Germany - 15. Juni 2022 - 9:45
: Thu, 17 Feb 2022 HH:mm:ss
The African Union has learned lessons from the pandemic and is preparing for the future with its own vaccines. South Africa is now setting the course for research and production.
Kategorien: english

Only 99 months to put the brakes on the climate crisis

GIZ Germany - 15. Juni 2022 - 9:45
: Thu, 28 Oct 2021 HH:mm:ss
On the road to climate protection, there is no way around transportation. An article by GIZ Managing Director Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven.
Kategorien: english

Milestone: GIZ has achieved climate neutrality worldwide

GIZ Germany - 15. Juni 2022 - 9:45
: Thu, 21 Oct 2021 HH:mm:ss
The company has offset all its own greenhouse gas emissions worldwide for the first time. It has ambitious targets for the coming years, too.
Kategorien: english

Disabilities convention supports ‘inclusive, accessible, and sustainable world’

UN #SDG News - 14. Juni 2022 - 21:29
We have the tools to end the “systemic marginalization” of persons with disabilities, the UN chief told the 15th Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities on Tuesday.
Kategorien: english

Informal farming in the city

D+C - 14. Juni 2022 - 16:52
In Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, many farms face an uncertain future

In the south of Abidjan, between the Ebrié Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean, the land is swampy and the soil is not very fertile. On the other hand, the high groundwater level makes it easy to irrigate, so it has been used for vegetable growing and horticulture since the 1950s.

Since the 1970s, a large part of that horticultural land has been exempted from urban planning. The Ivorian government has reserved it for an expansion of Abidjan’s international airport. There is no possibility to purchase a plot in this area with any legal certainty. The airport operator, however, tolerates agricultural use within the projected airport perimeter.

Most of those working in the fields and market gardens are young men without much education. They are either self-employed or members of the owner’s family. The women’s role is mainly confined to selling the produce. Many of the young men grew up in Abidjan after their families migrated to Côte d’Ivoire from neighbouring countries several decades ago. They often cannot find employment in the formal job market.

In urban agriculture, the access barriers are low. There are opportunities to acquire a plot of land informally or renting it informally for a single growing season. Vegetable growers can decide for themselves how they organise their work. In the course of time, they acquire horticultural experience and expertise. They perform a very important service by supplying the city with fresh, local food.

Nonetheless, they live precarious lives. First of all, they have no social safety nets – nothing to protect them against loss of income, for example, in the event of illness. Second, their income depends directly on the productivity of their plots, so harvest losses can hit them hard. Third, they live in fear of losing the basis for their livelihood: the land. It could be lost to spontaneous settlements (see my article on www.dandc.eu) or it could be reclaimed at any time by the airport operator and the state.

For these reasons, the young vegetable growers mainly opt for crops with short growth cycles, so several harvests per season are feasible. That is something they achieve through abundant use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. Under these circumstances, it is virtually impossible to manage the land sustainably and produce healthier food. The precarious land situation, moreover, has prevented the establishment of cooperatives. In other parts of the agglomeration, cooperatives serve as points of contact for agricultural support or training programmes.

The public land near the airport is also home to more than 100 horticultural businesses that produce ornamental plants for private gardens, public parks and commercial premises. They were created 40 to 50 years ago by immigrants from neighbouring countries. Today, they employ hundreds of people – mostly men. How much of that employment is informal is difficult to say because each family business makes its own arrangements. However, it may be assumed that far from all the gardeners are formally employed.

The owners of the horticultural businesses are worried about their future. Their sites too could be cleared one day to make way for the airport expansion. The chance of being offered alternative sites in the city is minimal. Abidjan is becoming increasingly dense. To make their voices heard, the owners of the horticultural businesses have organised themselves and set up a council to represent their interests – particularly in dealings with the airport operator and the municipality.

Ultimately, the demand for space in African cities is increasing due to progressive urbanisation. It is making conflict more likely. At least, government authorities must offer informal businesses predictable transitional solutions. They should help them make the switch to formal employment with full social protection. Formal jobs are very rare in many places, and too many people lack the skills and qualifications required for the jobs that are available. As long as there is no improvement in the general level of education, informal employment will continue to be the only option for masses of people.

Irit Eguavoen works at the University of Bonn’s Institute of Geography and at the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE). She has conducted research in Abidjan since 2017. Her study was funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation (10.20.2.003EL).
irit.eguavoen@die-gdi.de

Kategorien: english

The war in Ukraine triggered a global food shortage

Brookings - 14. Juni 2022 - 16:44

By Heinz Strubenhoff

Russian ships and sea mines block Ukrainian Black Sea ports. Before the war, Ukraine exported on average about 6 million tons of agri-commodities monthly to countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Currently, only about 15 to 20 percent of this volume can be exported via rail, Danube river, and trucks (about 700,000 tons in April 2022 and about 1 million tons in May 2022). Also, trade risks related to Russian exports have been increasing due to sanctions by various trade partners and banks. This led to price spikes and supply chain disruptions significantly undermining food security in poor importing countries.

Global trade of cereals except rice is a little less than 20 percent of total world production (about 620 million of about 3.3 billion tons produced in 2020/2021). Total production is sufficient to feed all 8 billion inhabitants of the world, but production in semiarid countries is less and some countries are behind their potential. That’s why trade plays an important role to balance global supply and demand. In the 2020/21 season, Russia provided 52.32 million tons (7.8 percent) and Ukraine 69.82 million tons (11.3 percent) of cereals to the world.

Ukraine also exports oilseeds (sunflower, soybeans, rapeseed) with a well-established crushing industry to produce sunflower oil. Fifty-two percent of globally traded sunflower seed and oil came from Ukraine in 2020. Currently, edible-oil supply chains are disrupted and edible-oil prices increased even higher than cereals prices. In the last weeks, the author couldn’t buy any sunflower oil in his neighborhood in Hamburg/Germany.

Global cereal and oilseed markets were tight even before the crisis due to shrinking stocks leading to upward price trends. This new supply shock led to prices almost doubling compared with two years ago. Agri-commodity market demand is inelastic—people have to eat—and this leads to dire consequences in poor importing countries. The number of people whose food supply is insecure (about 800 million) and people facing hunger (about 44 million) will most likely grow. This will result in increased poverty and threaten social stability in poor importing countries.

Global stocks are shrinking. Global wheat stocks of about 300 metric tons are sufficient to cover about four months of annual global consumption. Of these stocks, about 50 percent (about 150 metric tons) are held in China. We know from the past that prices go up if stocks reach a certain critical low level. In this situation, crisis-induced trade disruptions accelerate market developments and may even lead to government interventions limiting exports to protect national interests. If many countries do this, it has disastrous effects on world markets.

Ukrainian current cereal stocks are estimated at about 20 to 25 metric tons. The new harvest in the fall will be much lower than last year due to less acreage and lower intensity caused by lack of necessary inputs and finance. Estimates are difficult, but market observers say it would be about 20 to 30 percent less or about 30 metric tons. Assuming constant domestic demand, this would lead to about 40 to 50 percent lower exports in 2022. So, if the Black Sea ports remain blocked till the end of this year, the world will have about 55 metric tons less of cereals. To put this into perspective, consider that 1 ton of cereals may feed a family of six for a full year. So, this missing number of cereals would mean we would have less food for more than 300 million people.

Global cereal and oilseed markets are hit hard by the war in Ukraine.

And it can get even worse if we consider constrained exports of fertilizer. The share of Russia and Belarus in global potash trade is 40 percent. Russia alone exports about 20 percent of nitrogen and 10 percent of phosphate. Fertilizer prices are increasing. As a consequence of higher cereal and oilseed prices, production in poor importing countries can be expected to increase but this will partly be offset by higher input prices. Poor importing countries in Africa may try to incentivize higher production to feed a growing population, but they would need tremendous efforts of finance, and investments to reach this goal. Even with more resources channeled to agriculture in Africa, supply would react with a time lag.

There are four entry points to lower the pressure: individual, national, international, and ad hoc crisis measures:

  1. At the individual level in industrial countries, we all have to ask ourselves some uncomfortable questions about our individual food consumption habits. We throw away too much in households (Europeans almost 200 kg and Americans about 300 kg food per year). And we eat too much meat. Remember that it takes 3 kg of cereals to generate 1 kg of pork in the production process.
  2. At the national level, we need to rethink biofuels policies. European and American mandates to produce biodiesel using edible oil and petrol using corn should be flexible enough to reduce production during periods of (too) high prices. Second, in EU countries we should think in a more pragmatic way about policies to lower fertilizer use and set aside productive areas for biodiversity. For the time being, we need more production, not less. Climate objectives are good to save the planet, but we also need to feed the people on the planet.
  3. At the international level, we would need to use G-7 and G-20 platforms to agree on measures that would take pressure from international agri-commodity and food markets. So, joint statements of countries to abstain from export restrictions would be needed, reorientation of international cooperation programs toward agriculture and agribusiness would help, and budgets of the World Food Program need to be replenished to avoid the worst.
  4. As long as Russia blocks Ukrainian ports, other transport logistics need to be supported. These are, among others, investments in the Ukrainian railways, including handling facilities, and more phytosanitary laboratories at the Ukrainian-Polish border.

Global cereal and oilseed markets are hit hard by the war in Ukraine. Food prices are increasing and the number of people whose food supply is insecure will inevitably increase.

      
Kategorien: english

Informal markets in Africa under pressure

D+C - 14. Juni 2022 - 16:34
In cities like Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire, many people rely on informal work but the conditions of employment are precarious

Informal work contributes significantly to personal income in African cities. The reasons include a lack of formal employment opportunities and the fact that many people do not meet the requirements for regular jobs. A person’s social background matters very much. People without formal education or registration documents struggle to get legally secure employment.

So they often have no choice but to accept informal employment involuntarily, doing work on the basis of verbal agreements or as day labourers. Some are informally employed by formally registered businesses. Others work for informal enterprises that lack the capital required for registration.

No social protection

The informal sector offers workers relatively easy access to work and a high degree of flexibility. However, it denies social protection, fringe benefits, trade union representation and other improvements regarding labour relations. Many informal workers therefore hope, in time, to cross the divide into the formal labour market, which promises more security as well as higher incomes. In the same sense, informal entrepreneurs hope to formalise their business at some point.

In African cities, activities in the public domain often cannot be clearly assigned to the formal or informal sector. This applies, for example, to the housing market (see my article on www.dandc.eu) One thing is clear, however. Although informal workers often provide important services for society, their status has negative impacts on their lives. This is evident, for example, in Abidjan, the sprawling coastal metropolis of Côte d’Ivoire.

“Urban disorder”

For a number of years, the district government of Abidjan and units of its municipal administrations have been increasingly cracking down on informal markets and unregistered street traders. Entire rows of informal stores have been demolished. In many other West African cities, authorities similarly penalise what they call “urban disorder” or “congestion”. In their eyes, the appropriation of public green spaces, squares and wasteland by informal small businesses is an assault on public order and an anarchic threat to state authority.

The traders take a different view. They claim they are making use of public or unused space in the city to make an honest living, for example as street vendors or craft producers. Even though their small businesses are not registered, many pay market taxes or fees that are collected by municipal staff on site.

Fires occur frequently at informal markets. Some traders suspect this is a ploy to destroy their livelihoods or provide an excuse for evicting them. Few are able to move into new, formally planned and built market halls or shopping streets. The financial hurdles are too high.

Transitional arrangements could help

When an informal market is cleared, the site is sometimes developed under official urban development plans. It may also be fenced off. Sometimes it is converted into a gated green space. Either way, the site ceases to be available for commercial use.

Despite better knowledge and the lessons of long experience, urban planning generally fails to address the traders’ needs. It normally makes no attempt to create suitable sites for their business in public space. It would even help the traders and their employees if the repressive action would stop. Moreover, reliable transitional arrangements for the use of public spaces would make sense.

The legal status of an employment relationship and the degree of social protection it offers are important. Both contribute to better working conditions. In Abidjan and elsewhere, however, large numbers of people obviously work in the informal sector for lack of alternatives. Accordingly, it is important to ensure appropriate sites for informal commerce in the city. Action needs to be taken. Urbanisation is fast increasing across the African continent, so conflicts around space, a scarce resource, will become increasingly more likely too.

Irit Eguavoen works at the University of Bonn’s Institute of Geography and at the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE). She has conducted research in Abidjan since 2017. Her study was funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation (10.20.2.003EL).
irit.eguavoen@die-gdi.de

Kategorien: english

Dangerous superstition

D+C - 14. Juni 2022 - 16:10
In Benin, faith-based entrepreneurs are misusing poor people’s situation

In many African communities, several people still live by old traditional religious practices. Often branded as witchcraft or “voodoo”, these occult practices remain a developmental challenge. The leaders of these practices have large followings and influence how people live their daily lives.

Benin, a country on the West African coast, is one of the hotspots for these occult practices. Here, many fortune tellers, exorcists and traditional healers earn their livelihood by practicing witchcraft and voodoo. However, their business has negative consequences on the country’s development.

The situation is worse in the rural areas. There is inadequate access to electricity and lighting which is a perfect disguise for the traditional healers and faith-based entrepreneurs. They abuse the desperation of poor people in the rural areas for their business.

Both traditional practitioners and Christian faith-based clerics in temples, convents, mosques and churches actively advertise their services on media channels like radio and television. They offer 24-hour service for deliverance from poverty, health challenges, family- and relationship-based problems and almost any other imaginable issue. They broadcast testimonies from people who claim to have been freed from their challenges by the faith healers.

A young man in Cotonou, who prefers anonymity, says that “witchcraft is really a gangrene that is eating up Benin’s social fabric”. He says it stands in the way of development too. Individuals seeking to introduce developmental projects receive attacks and are sabotaged by people who practice witchcraft and believe in the supernatural.

One of the most affected areas is health care. People in rural areas prefer to deal with traditional healers as opposed to mainstream medical service providers. Stories such as one of a freshly married woman in a nearby village who thought she was going to give birth to a strong healthy baby, only to deliver a calabash (a kind of melon) containing all kinds of weird objects, are famously told and push many to run to traditional healers for deliverance.

There is also talk of “tchakatu”, a type of witchcraft in Southern Benin where pregnant women end up with objects such as kola nuts, sharp nails or padlocks instead of living foetuses. It is claimed that the victim suffers excruciating pain, and X-rays do not help, so doctors can’t prescribe any drugs. Other regions of Benin like the Aguégués near Porto-Novo, or Ganvié village-on-stilts near Cotonou are also ripe with tales of witchcraft and traditional healing.

To shed light on the situation, a catholic priest, Father Pamphile Fanou, of Saint Rita catholic church in Cotonou has published a book. It lays bare the nonsense of witchcraft and warns of the continued damage that the practice is bringing on the lives of people.

Fanou claims to have interfaced with witchcraft while still a teenager growing up in Benin. One day, he writes, an old owl looking terribly scary landed on their rooftop and began to howl. Expectedly, Fanou and his brothers were all terrified, but not his dad, who immediately grabbed his hunting rifle and shot it. Suddenly, an old woman came, wailing and begging Fanou’s dad to hand over the dead animal. “You’ve just shot my husband”, she said.

Karim Okanla is a freelance author based in Benin.
karimokanla@yahoo.com

Kategorien: english

Is foreign direct investment losing clout in development?

GDI Briefing - 14. Juni 2022 - 11:23

Over the last decade, only a single projection of foreign direct investment (FDI) flows by the United Nations influential “World Investment Report” has proposed a negative outlook in the medium term. Based partly on surveys of business executives, these forecasts reflect ex¬pecta¬tions of investment growth which, however, have repeated¬ly failed to materialise. In fact, FDI flows to develop¬ing countries have remained stagnant over the past decade.
Such wishful thinking is nurtured by a long series of positive narratives and facts about foreign investment. FDI has been one of the pillars of international development efforts for over 70 years. Its promise has not been limited to critical finance, but extends to longer term competitiveness through access to better technology, managerial know-how and, above all, prosperity through more and better paid jobs in the formal sector. From the old prescriptions of the so-called Washington Consensus to the hopeful Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the dominant development narrative has therefore favoured a rather indiscriminate pursuit of investment volume.
This brief calls for rethinking of narratives and policies that help to improve the impact of FDI, based on secular trends that challenge our expectations. Four such trends stand out:
First, while other sources of finance for development have grown considerably over the last decades, foreign invest¬ment has not followed the trend. Second, the kind of investment that is associated with stronger gains and longer term commitment in host economies – greenfield FDI – has also been in consistent decline as a share of total invest¬ment, while mergers and acquisitions and project finance have gained in importance. Third, the top 100 multinational enterprises (MNEs), accounting for nearly a quarter of global FDI stock, rely less on employment today than they used to in order to grow their foreign presence. Job creation, knowledge transfer and spillovers are therefore less likely to materialise through the presence of mega-firms and their corresponding investment at scale. Fourth, the growth of Chinese outward FDI within a strategic expan¬sionary political agenda stands to change rules and attitudes towards foreign investment moving forwards.
We argue that, collectively, these trends invite a renewed conversation around the kind of foreign investment we want and expectations of this source of finance for develop¬ment. These facts obscure neither the broad benefits of FDI to developing countries, nor the value proposition of FDI attraction. Rather, they raise questions about expectations, priorities and the alignment of investment policy with the realities experienced across develop¬ing countries.
To that end, we propose four priorities that stand to make a difference in the current context. We call for policy-makers to:
1) Place additional emphasis on retention of investment and linkages with the domestic economy.
2) Try new approaches for FDI attraction that focus on improving domestic investment facilitation frameworks.
3) Be selective as to investment sources and activities in order to mitigate political risks and align inward investment better with sustainable development.
4) Add evidence to improve our understanding of invest¬ment and inform decision-making.
Overall, it is critical to engage in a serious multi-stakeholder conversation around expectations, actors and solutions that respond to the investment reality of today.

Kategorien: english

Is foreign direct investment losing clout in development?

GDI Briefing - 14. Juni 2022 - 11:23

Over the last decade, only a single projection of foreign direct investment (FDI) flows by the United Nations influential “World Investment Report” has proposed a negative outlook in the medium term. Based partly on surveys of business executives, these forecasts reflect ex¬pecta¬tions of investment growth which, however, have repeated¬ly failed to materialise. In fact, FDI flows to develop¬ing countries have remained stagnant over the past decade.
Such wishful thinking is nurtured by a long series of positive narratives and facts about foreign investment. FDI has been one of the pillars of international development efforts for over 70 years. Its promise has not been limited to critical finance, but extends to longer term competitiveness through access to better technology, managerial know-how and, above all, prosperity through more and better paid jobs in the formal sector. From the old prescriptions of the so-called Washington Consensus to the hopeful Addis Ababa Action Agenda, the dominant development narrative has therefore favoured a rather indiscriminate pursuit of investment volume.
This brief calls for rethinking of narratives and policies that help to improve the impact of FDI, based on secular trends that challenge our expectations. Four such trends stand out:
First, while other sources of finance for development have grown considerably over the last decades, foreign invest¬ment has not followed the trend. Second, the kind of investment that is associated with stronger gains and longer term commitment in host economies – greenfield FDI – has also been in consistent decline as a share of total invest¬ment, while mergers and acquisitions and project finance have gained in importance. Third, the top 100 multinational enterprises (MNEs), accounting for nearly a quarter of global FDI stock, rely less on employment today than they used to in order to grow their foreign presence. Job creation, knowledge transfer and spillovers are therefore less likely to materialise through the presence of mega-firms and their corresponding investment at scale. Fourth, the growth of Chinese outward FDI within a strategic expan¬sionary political agenda stands to change rules and attitudes towards foreign investment moving forwards.
We argue that, collectively, these trends invite a renewed conversation around the kind of foreign investment we want and expectations of this source of finance for develop¬ment. These facts obscure neither the broad benefits of FDI to developing countries, nor the value proposition of FDI attraction. Rather, they raise questions about expectations, priorities and the alignment of investment policy with the realities experienced across develop¬ing countries.
To that end, we propose four priorities that stand to make a difference in the current context. We call for policy-makers to:
1) Place additional emphasis on retention of investment and linkages with the domestic economy.
2) Try new approaches for FDI attraction that focus on improving domestic investment facilitation frameworks.
3) Be selective as to investment sources and activities in order to mitigate political risks and align inward investment better with sustainable development.
4) Add evidence to improve our understanding of invest¬ment and inform decision-making.
Overall, it is critical to engage in a serious multi-stakeholder conversation around expectations, actors and solutions that respond to the investment reality of today.

Kategorien: english

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