It all comes down to the young population

What happens when young people leave the rural areas? How can the region achieve what is referred to as the demographic bonus – and how can it reap the benefits of the demographic dividend? A look at demography shows the following: What is most important is promoting women’s rights and education.

 

Schoolchildren and their teacher on a schoolyard in the 40,000 inhabitant city of Kaina, East Congo. Photo: Christoph Püschner/Diakonie disaster relief

Jan Rübel

Jan Rübel is author at Zeitenspiegel Reportagen, a columnist at Yahoo and writes for national newspapers and magazines. He studied History and Middle Eastern Studies.

A man gets out of his green Landrover. On the trailer, the two side doors folds up into a roof. Quickly he puts up a desk with a computer. Just as quickly, he is surrounded by adolescents, here in the Umkhanyadue District in Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa. “Not so fast,” he laughs. His organisation is called Mpilonhle, meaning “The good life” in Zulu. The adolescents try their luck with the computer. They are being educated about AIDS prevention, and they discuss their problems with the social worker. His Landrover is a type of learning vehicle. “We are a port of call for them,” he says. “So that the kids can understand they situation and continue their education.” Actually, these young people have a reason to be hopeful: The strong economic growth should create enough jobs for them. However, there is a problem: The economic growth and wealth are spread unequally, and they do not tend to reach the young people in rural Umkhanyadue. This is why Mpilonhle counts on education on wheels. “Only those who learn can escape poverty.”

 

In Kwazulu-Natal, there is a threat of constant migration of young people to the big cities. Liveable perspectives for the future are required in order to stop this trend. In order to achieve this, people need to break habits and they must, quite literally, get in motion. In Umkhanyadue, “mobile units” do this. Those who recognise population trends and rise to the challenge will keep their opportunities for the future.

 

Democracy wasn't always high on the agenda.

Demography provides the facts to back this up. This science examines developments within a society based on the three areas of birth rates, mortality rates, and migration. From this, the key areas for intervention, such as family planning, retirement planning, professional training, and health services can arise. Countries can learn from each other although there is no silver bullet; each country requires a tailor-made solution. For Africa, there are two winning formulas: Promoting women’s rights and education.

 

Identifying demographic trends is like a temperature curve. Demography has not always been this popular. When biologist Paul Ehrlich published his book “Die Bevölkerungsbombe” (The population bomb) in 1968, he scared the world’s population with his warnings of famines. They’re inevitable, he warned, given that the material resources would not suffice in relation to the overpopulation. “Overpopulation” became a “charged term” because it is the reason for a large number of problems. States institute programmes for family planning. China even imposed the one-child policy on its population. However, given that some of his predictions were incorrect, demography was featured less and less in public debates since the 1980s. Having faith in the power of the economic system was once again in vogue: With successful economic and social development, a belief held for a long time, would, for example make the overpopulation of African countries south of the Sahara desert go away all by itself. However, this did not happen. Even the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of the United Nations of 2001 did not address the issue of demography at all. At the turn of the millennium, however, the topic demography was back. On the one hand, climate change and higher food prices have raised awareness of the issue among larger parts of the population. On the other hand, demographers have payed more attention to detail: They are no longer only focussing on the pure size of populations but also at its composition, the relations between the different ages groups, regional dispersion within a country as well as factors like international migration and demography as a global issue. They are demanding that politicians listen more carefully: DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung - German Foundation for World Population) estimates that twelve thousand billion dollars would need to be invested for family planning in developing regions annually; double the amount invested currently. This would be money well spent on the prevention of other costs.

 

The knowledge of demographers helps the politics of tomorrow

A pastoralist on his dried up pasture in Marsabit, Kenya. Photo: Christoph Püschner/Diakonie disaster relief
A pastoralist on his dried up pasture in Marsabit, Kenya. Photo: Christoph Püschner/Diakonie disaster relief

Time is pressing. Sociologist Jack Goldstone has identified four demographic mega trends that will decisively determine the course of the history of mankind. Firstly, by 2050 the world population will rise to 9.2 thousand billion people. Secondly, by 2050 the number of people aged older than 60 years of today will rise to 780 thousand billion. 80 percent of these elderly people will be living in developing and emerging countries. Thirdly, it is there in particular that the largest amount of younger people ever will be growing up. Given that it is becoming more and more difficult for them to meet their expectations for the future, levels of frustration and violence rise and as a result, people go where they see a brighter future for themselves. Finally, the fourth mega trend is urbanisation. By 2050, two-thirds of humanity will live in cities, a large part of which will be mega cities in emerging and developing countries.

 

There does not appear to be an alternative to these mega trends. And yet clever policies can influence or even overcome the consequences of this development or its consequences. But understanding demography is necessary to do this.

 

A society creates a good starting point for material wealth when the workforce is larger than the “dependents”, i.e. children and the elderly. Such a society has what is referred to as a “demographic bonus”. This bonus is usually created when a society reduces its high birth rates, when more children survive or grow up healthily, and when mortality among adults decreases. It goes without saying that this demographic bonus comes with a time window: When birth rates decrease, the proportion of elderly people will increase in future, i.e. the bonus will come to an end. This is because the fit for work will belong to the group of the elderly (“dependents”) at some point whereas lower birth rates mean that fewer people fit for work will take their place.

 

What is referred to as demographic dividend in this is the economic gain that a country can make in this thanks to the bonus. What exactly does this mean for a country? Why is it that this bonus is converted at a profit into an economic dividend in one part of the world and in a different part of the world this is not the case?

 

The value of the demographic bonus

Children from Ikoko-I-Mpenge, a pygmy village in the Congolese rainforest. Photo: Christoph Püschner/Bread for the world
Children from Ikoko-I-Mpenge, a pygmy village in the Congolese rainforest. Photo: Christoph Püschner/Bread for the world

The purpose of a trip to a number of countries is to show what the situation of the demographic bonus is and how differently the chances of earning a demographic dividend are utilised: We will examine South Korea as a country utilising the dividend. Then we will continue to North Africa and the Middle East for examples of how the demographic bonus fails to be utilised. Our next stop will be sub-Saharan Africa with its population structure that is still miles away from reaching its demographic bonus. Finally, we will look at Germany and China, both of which are actors in the period after their demographic dividend.

 

It was only 50 years ago, that the first country that we are going to examine, South Korean, was an isolated and poor agricultural country. The average South Korean family had five children. Then politicians, economists, and scientists developed a comprehensive approach aimed at promoting the country: Investments in education and family planning were made. Broader access to birth control and improved health care for mothers and children meant lower birth and mortality rates. This country created a demographic bonus for itself. The realisation of just how important labour market participation of woman is for economic progress came with a delay. The revenue generated was reinvested in education. Today South Korea is among the richest countries in the world. The Berlin Institute for Population and Development has proven that no country has developed in socio-economic terms without its birth rate having decreased along with this. This was proven in an analysis of 103 current and former developing countries.

 

However, the demographic bonus can also become a burden and manifest itself in violence. In March 2011, teenagers in the Syrian city of Daraa sprayed dissident slogans on the wall of a school. When the security forces arrested 15 of them, they probably did not think that this would be the start of a civil war. Only days prior to this, it was also young people, this time from the slums of Cairo, who held demonstrations in Tahrir Square in protest to the dictatorship. In both of these cases, young people directed their anger from the margins of society to the centre of power. The Arab revolts caused by this surprised many, but not the demographers. They had predicted that the growing number of young people in Arab societies - a demographic bonus, in fact - would respond with frustration unless their politicians would do something for young people. The people in charge suffered the consequences of their politics: By neglecting the young population fit for work, they created a high level of youth unemployment and frustration due to the unfulfilled hopes of many university graduates. The same holds true for the lack of political freedom and raging corruption. Especially because more young people in these country had enjoyed a good education, these young people vented their anger over the very limited job market and the stagnant development of the private sector.

 

Successful population policy needs strong women

Thus, North Africa and the Middle East have developed to be the blue print for our third stop: sub-Saharan Africa. In a few years from now, the region south of the Saharan desert might show an equal potential for unrest as the countries of North Africa. For the time being, however, most African states are lagging behind, and they can only see any potential demographic bonus in the distance.

 

This region is among the poorest regions in the world. According to estimates by the World Bank, 41 percent of people in the countries south of the Sahara lived on less than two US dollars a day. Birth rates are at almost five children per woman. The population pyramid is missing the “belly” of those fit for work and the breadwinners. This impedes the establishment of wealth and economic growth.

 

The reasons for the children boom are complex. Two factors, however, appear to stand out in particular, and these make for a good opportunity to respond: The Guttmacher Institute determined in 2018 that 62 percent of all young women in Africa who would like to prevent pregnancy do not have access to modern contraception. Furthermore, a large number of children die due to the bad state of healthcare. However, when parents cannot be certain regarding the survival rates of their children, then this leads to more births given that properly functioning welfare systems are lacking. More often than not, children are the only “insurance”. Informational family planning, health care, and wider access to contraceptives are, therefore, lacking. After all, decreasing birth and mortality rates would take the region towards the kind of demographic bonus what could stimulate economic growth.

 

Demographers are seeing the same thing all around the world: The better educated the women the more independent they are when it comes to making decisions, and the fewer children they have. Successful population policy, especially in states with higher birth rates such as the sub-Saharan region, means education policy. Above all, it means this: A policy aimed at empowering women at all levels.

 

The gender aspect is becoming more and more of a factor here. The African agricultural sector is led by women. More than 90 percent of basic food and more than 30 percent of the fruit in the market are produced by women. Women account for 70 percent of the workforce in the agricultural sector. There are a number of reasons for this. Migrant labour is without a doubt a key factor. This is because it has become an important form of income that men have claimed for themselves. Women are disadvantaged in urban job markets. So they lead agricultural businesses. On average, however, they do not have the relevant rights. Due to long-held beliefs, men claim the “performance” skill for themselves. The authority to make decisions and access to land are limited for women, and their performance is not sufficiently valued by society. This is despite the fact that women especially have been shown to be a major force in the modernisation required in the agricultural sector and its changed products.

 

This is where policymakers can take action in a number of areas: More female agricultural advisors should be trained, and the “customary law”, relict from Colonial times needs to be addressed more specifically: In some areas, this is in contravention with the laws of the country, and it discriminates against women.

 

International Women's Day celebrations at the IDP camp (internal displaced persons) "Habile" in Koukou, Chad. Photo: Christoph Püschner/Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe.
International Women's Day celebrations at the IDP camp (internal displaced persons) "Habile" in Koukou, Chad. Photo: Christoph Püschner/Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe.

 

The set screws have to be turned today.

Other regions have already completed the processes that, for example, Africa is yet to begin. The penultimate stop of our tour is Western Europe: Being exposed to strong population growth and high infant fatality rates, the situation improved at the beginning of the 19th century with medical advances being made. Industrialisation was followed by better education which, in turn, helped promote economic growth and lead to social security being created. Finally, once wealth had been achieved, fertility rates dropped. This was because industrialisation and urbanisation brought with them higher levels of education among the general population, and this brought about social change. Peasant families with a lot of children were becoming less and less common. Having a lot of children became less and less necessary and even less desired. This is how Western Europe opened itself up for a demographic bonus, with dropping birth and fertility rates. Today’s Germany now has to face different demographic trends: According to the Federal Statistical Office, 3.41 million Germans were in need of care at the end of 2017. In 2030, this figure will be higher by one million, and this is while the population will shrink by 17 million people by 2060.

 

Our last stop: China is facing similar, yet more dramatic challenges than Germany. The demographic bonus will be up soon, with the dividend expiring in a few years’ time. The days in which vast numbers of young workers stimulated economic growth are over. A few years from now, the country that has instituted a one-child policy for more than three decades up until this day will be replaced by India as the most populous country in the world. Until then, it will adapt to forms of emotional loneliness: Besides the elderly, there will be children without siblings, men without wives. This is because many women choose to have an abortion if the child is a girl. Boys are deemed more valuable. The “fiscal time bomb” is a particular challenge for aging countries: With age, costs for health care rise, and state budgets are more strained. China especially is seeing the limits of state action. According to calculations by the US-based Brookings Institute, China will have to raise taxes for each person employed by 150 percent in the next 20 years to be able to look after its old people as well as it does today.

 

At the end of this tour d’horizon between bonus and dividend, one thing is certain: Failure is punished severely. It is not enough that demography, that has now woken up from its deep sleep, is now becoming a buzzword. The right changes need to be made today.

 

Go back

Similar articles

FERTILE SOIL THROUGH THE RIGHT COMBINATION OF METHODS

In the Ethiopian highlands, much of the soil is exhausted. New fertilizers and improved seed are making it fertile again.  

A Project of GIZ

Read more

©Sofia Shabafrouz

SUNFLOWERS OVER TOBACCO

The farmers in Malawi have long been holding on to the cultivation of tobacco - which led to a dangerous dependency.

A Project of GIZ

Read more

(c) Florian Kopp / Misereor

THE BEST IDEAS GROW LOCALLY

Small farmers in Burkina Faso are trying to tackle big challenges locally. Local organizations are helping them.

A project of Misereor

Read more

(c) Florian Kopp / Misereor

HOW MILK PRODUCTION CHANGED A VILLAGE

Powdered milk exports pose a threat to cattle farmers in Burkina Faso. Pasmep helps shepherds increase their own milk production.

A project of Misereor

 

Read more

STUDY VISITS STRENGTHEN LOCAL FARMERS' ASSOCIATIONS

At Andreas Hermes Akademie, farmers from Africa and India are learning new techniques and organizational forms.

A project of Andreas Hermes Akademie

 

Read more

(c) Eli Wortmann, Kolundžija / ZEF

RESEARCH FOR AGRICULTURAL INNOVATIONS

The Program of Accompanying Research for Agricultural Innovation (PARI) brings together partners working to ensure a secure food supply in Africa and India.

A project of the Center for Development Research

Read more

(c) WFP / Carlos Muñoz

CASH AND VOUCHERS AGAINST HUNGER

Often food is not lacking, but the money for it is. With electronic vouchers hunger is to be controlled in the Horn of Africa.

A procet of the WFP

Read more

(c) WFP/ Mohammad Batah

IRIS SCAN TECHNOLOGY FOR SYRIAN REFUGEES IN JORDAN

Syrian refugees in Jordan don't pay for their food with cash or credit cards, but rather with a quick glance at the camera.

A project of the WFP

 

Read more

INCOME STRENGTHENS PEACE

Congo is daring to rebuild. Improving nutrition and incomes will provide hope for the future, particularly for women and adolescents.  

A project of Welthungerhilfe

 

Read more

FROM EXODUS TO MORE SELF-CONFIDENCE

In Afghanistan, thousands of domestic refugees live in poverty. A project brings education and acrobatics into their lives.

A project of Welthungerhilfe

Read more

HAY FOR THE DRY SEASON

Climate change makes the nomadic life of the Masai in Kenya more difficult. A new project introduces them to agriculture.

A project of Welthungerhilfe

Read more

GREEN BUSINESS IDEAS IN RURAL AREAS

It is above all a lack of opportunities which is driving many young Indians into the cities. An educational; program creates new opportunities in the countryside.

A project of Welthungerhilfe

Read more

TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE COCOA SECTOR

About 60 percent of the cocoa processed in Germany comes from the Ivory Coast. It is grown by 800,000 cocoa farmers, who typically only own up to five hectares of land.

A project in cooperation with the GIZ

Read more

(c) GIZ

THE FOOD ON THE TABLE DETERMINES OUR HEALTH

Cambodians eat too much rice. GIZ is joining with farmers to form multi-purpose farms, as well as advising health care centers on nutritional questions.

A project of GIZ

Read more

FROM RANCHERS TO MANUFACTURERS

How to: In Benin, farmers are opening factories now that they have learned what an entrepreneur needs to know.

A project of GIZ

Read more

DEVELOPMENT THROUGH SWEET POTATOES

For Kenyan small farmers, the harvest yields little more than they need for themselves. How the orange sweet potato can change the life of an entire region.

A Project of GIZ

Read more

SECURING THE FOOD SUPPLY IN MALAWI

Securing the food supply requires a holistic approach. That's why mango and papaya will be on the menu in Malawi.

A Project of GIZ

Read more

HEALTHY FOOD FOR ALL

Brazil is world champion in the use of pesticides. In the southern part of the country, a network of organic farms is supplying municipal schools and kindergartens with healthy food.

A project of Brot für die Welt

Read more

BETTER VOCATIONAL TRAINING FOR FARMERS

At vocational schools in Ethiopia, farmers learn to use their land sustainably. The curricula are tailored to climate change and droughts.

A project of IAK Agrar Consulting

Read more

(c) Cotton made in Africa

MARKET FORCES, NOT DONATIONS

For more than ten years, Cotton made in Africa has been setting standards for the protection of the environment and better living conditions in the cotton industry of sub-Saharan Africa. 

A project of Cotton made in Africa

Read more

(c) GIZ/Jackson Muchoki

STRONG TUBERS: SUPPORTING POTATOE FARMERS

Potatoes are staple foods in Kenza. Raising their profit is an important contribution to prevent malnutrition. 

A Projct of GIZ

Read more

Local rather than global

An increasing number of people in Togo's capital city are consuming cheap imported food. The OADEL organization promotes local products.

A project of Brot für die Welt

Read more

©Sofia Shabafrouz

HERE IS MY HOME

Where in the Ethiopian Tigray just a few years ago only parched soil and sand could be seen, grass is growing again. Previously, the inhabitants fled from famines. Today farmers use the valley for the cultivation of grain or vegetables - and have new prospects.

A project of World Vision

Read more

(c) GIZ

IMPROVED LAND GOVERNANCE

Weak land governance and insecure land rights are still major development challenges for Africa. The global program to strengthen land governance in Africa aims to strengthen marginalized groups.

A project of GIZ

Read more

(c) Joachim E. Roettgers

SUSTAINABLE STRUCTURAL CHANGE

Researchers from the Humboldt University of Berlin are developing solutions for more socially inclusive and sustainable structure of structural change in sub-Saharan Africa.

A project of the Center for Rural Development

 

Read more

(c) Joachim E. Roettgers

MAINTAINING SOIL FERTILITY

Many farmers suffer from droughts. A climate program to combat desertification helps Indian small farmers preserve soil fertility.

A project of KfW

Read more

(c) Save the Children

A STRONG NETWORK

Malawi has just survived the most severe food crisis in 35 years. An initiative helped with money for food aid - the goal: to strengthen self-sufficiency. 

A project of Save the Children

Read more

(c) Privat

How much private investment is the agricultural sector able to bear?

By Pedro Morazán

Small farmers in developing countries must modernise their farming methods, but poorly understood reforms could exacerbate poverty instead of alleviating it.

Read more

(c) Christoph Püschner

The price isn’t everything

By Bettina Rühl

In Togo’s capital, Lomé, home-grown rice costs almost twice as much as the imported product from Thailand. Yet there are good reasons for preferring the local product

Read more

(c) Christoph Püschner/Zeitenspiegel

Slaves do not produce quality

By Tilman Wörtz

Every child in Germany knows Ritter Sport – but most of the children harvesting cocoa on western African plantations have never even eaten chocolate. Can a chocolate manufacturer change the world? Conversation with Alfred Ritter about the power and powerlessness of a businessman.

Read more

Uli Reinhardt/Zeitenspiegel

No dirty dealing

Von Marlis Lindecke

Shit Business is Serious Business: A successful cooperation between research and the private sector.

Read more

“They said: You can do it”

By Bread for the World

As President of the IABM cooperative in Muhanga, Alphonsine Mukankusi is not simply focused on the figures. She has learned how to deal with people and how to take on responsibility. At the same time, her work helps her to come to terms with the past

 

Read more

(c) Privat

Borderless food security

By Christine Wieck

Enabling smallholders to trade across regions and borders promotes food security and economic growth. Although everyone is calling for exactly that, implementation is still difficult

Read more

picture-alliance/Zentralbild

Land is Crucial for Development

By Roselyn Korleh and M. Sahr Nouwah

The Liberian town of Kinjor is a picture-book example for what happens, if land rights aren’t protected, and it illustrates how to move forward from there. The keyword: Multi-Actor Partnership

Read more

(c) Privat

The 'Grey Gold'

By Maria Schmidt

The Cashew Council is the first international organisation for a raw material stemming from Africa. The industry promises to make progress in processing and refining cashew nuts - and answers to climate change

Read more

(c) Privat

Human Rights, Land and Rural Development

By Michael Windfuhr

Land rights are no longer governed by the law of the strongest. That is what the international community has agreed to. Governments and private companies have a duty to respect human rights and avoid corruption.

Read more

(c) Privat

A classroom in the Garden of Eden

By Iris Manner

Deforestation harms people and the environment. With nurseries, farmers can earn money and do good. You just have to know how to do it

Read more

Uli Reinhardt/Zeitenspiegel

Bitter fruit

By Frank Brunner

Why aren’t bars of chocolate made where cocoa is grown? Author Frank Brunner analyses the industry’s fragile value chain from the plantation to the supermarket

Read more

Uli Reinhardt/Zeitenspiegel

Enough of being poor

By Marcellin Boguy

In western Africa a new middle class is emerging. Their consumer behaviour is determining the demand for products – home-produced and imported goods, on the internet or at the village market. The people of Ivory Coast in particular are looking to the future with optimism.

Read more

(c) Thomas Trutschel/BMEL/photothek

Rethinking funding

By Anna Sophia Rainer

Peasant farmers tend to fail due to bank credit limits. But investment could help them generate a sustainable income. This has given rise to an intense discussion about potential digital solutions.

Read more

"Agriculture can become a job engine"

Interview with Reiner Klingholz

How can agriculture modernise Africa? And does the road to the cities really lead out of poverty? Dr. Reiner Klingholz from the Berlin Institute for Population and Development in conversation with Jan Rübel .

Read more

The Life of Their Dreams - What Children Want

By Dreyer Foundation

Later on you want to become a farmer yourself, or would you prefer to take up another profession? Two young people from Burkina-Faso talked to representatives of the Dreyer Foundation about their parents' farms, the profession of farmer and their own plans for the future.

Read more

"Without peace, there will be no development"

Interview with Karina Mroß 

What contribution does development cooperation make to conflict prevention? What can it do for sustainable peace? Political scientist Karina Mroß talks to Raphael Thelen about post-conflict societies and their chances for peaceful development.

Read more

JOERG BOETHLING / GIZ

Continent in an uptrend

By Dr. Agnes Kalibata

Partnering for Africa’s Century: Innovation and Leadership as Drivers of Growth and Productivity in Rural Areas

Read more

An investment in Africa's future

By Essa Chanie Mussa

Rural youth need viable livelihood opportunities to escape out of poverty and realize their aspirations. How could they be helped to fully unleash their potential? This is an aloud call that needs novel strategies among governments, policy makers, and international development partners and donors.

Read more

Joerg Boethling/GIZ

‘The Green Revolution reaches its limits’

Stig Tanzmann is a farmer and adviser on agricultural issues at ‘Bread for the World’. Jan Rübel interviewed him about his reservations about AGRA's strategy.

Read more

KLAUS WOHLMANN / GIZ

’Farmers are smart’

By Jan Rübel

From the lab to the masses: Maria Andrade bred varieties of biofortified sweet potatoes which are now widely used all over the continent. She sets her hope on the transformation of African agriculture.

Read more

Frank Schultze / Agentur_ZS

Video: Visions in agriculture

By Frank Schultze and Jan Rübel

At the beginning of December 2018, AGRA's board of directors met in Berlin. The "Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa" ​​panel discussed the next steps in their policy of modernizing agriculture. How to go on in the next ten years? One question - many answers from experts.

Read more

Frank Schultze / Agentur_ZS

The communicator

By Jan Rübel

What do electrical engineering, telecommunications and agriculture have in common? They arouse the passion of Strive Masiyiwa: Thirty years ago, he started an electrical installation company with $75, later riding the telecommunications wave as a pioneer. Today he is committed to transforming African agriculture.

 

Read more

MarkIrungu /AGRA

Spiritual mortar for the young generation

By Jan Rübel

Fred Swaniker is working building a new era of leaders. And what about agriculture? ‘It needs to be more sexy!’

Read more

Karel Prinsloo/Arete/Rockefeller Foundation/AGRA

'Nutrition is a human right'

Joe DeVries is a breeder – and Vice President of AGRA. What are the chances and risks of a ’green revolution‘ in Africa? A discourse between Jan Rübel and him about productivity, needs, and paternalism.

Read more

KLAUS WOHLMANN / GIZ

Wanted: German investment in African agriculture

Stefan Liebing is chairman of the Africa Association of German Business. The manager calls for a better structure of African farms. Jan Rübel asked him about small farmers, the opportunities for German start-ups and a new fund.

Read more

"Extreme is the new normal"

By Alexander Müller, and Jes Weigelt

As the climate changes, the population of Africa is growing and fertile land and jobs are becoming scarcer. New ways are currently leading to urbanisation of agriculture and a new mid-sized sector in the countryside

Read more

(c) Nina Schroeder/World Food Programme

Policy against disasters

Interview with Thomas Loster

Insurance companies could provide protection during droughts in Africa. How exactly this could be done is what the industry is currently trying to figure out. First experiences are available. An interview with the Managing Director of the Munich Re Foundation, Thomas Loster

Read more

(c) Christoph Mohr/GIZ

Microinsurance against climate change

By Claudia Voß

Climate change is destroying development progress in many places. The clever interaction of digitalisation and the insurance industry protects affected small farmers.

Read more

(c) Nina Schroeder/World Food Programme

Hunger is caused by people, not the climate

Interview with Jacob Schewe

A study by the World Bank predicts that millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa will have to leave their homelands because of climate change. We have spoken with one of the authors

Read more

(c) Nina Schroeder/World Food Programme

Green from the growth container

By Maria Smentek

If there is a lack of fertile soil and rain, hunger breaks out quickly. Hydroponic-systems can help

Read more

(c) Gudrun Barenbrock/GIZ

Edible bugs - the new beef?

By Marwa Shumo

Insect farming is economical and environmentally sustainable, they are high in protein and they live on agricultural waste. Marwa Abdel Hamid Shumo thinks: They are the best weapon to combat hunger

Read more

(c) Christoph Püschner/Brot für die Welt

The North bears the responsibility, the South bears the burden

By Susanne Neubert

Adaptation to climate change can be achieved by making agriculture more environmentally sustainable – if the rich countries also reduce their emissions

Read more

Graphics: Africa's digital disruption

What Africa is experiencing in the course of digitisation is a disruption. Here three steps are taken in one, there you remain. In any case, the changes are enormous and bring some surprises. A graphic walk.

Read more

Answers from the youth: "Leave or stay? That depends on it!"

GIZ study; conducted by Geopoll

Does Africa's youth want to live in the city or in the country? Which career path seems particularly attractive? And how optimistic are the young people about the future? Young adults from rural areas answered these questions by SMS.

Read more

(c) Foto Privat

Story: In Blocked Chains We Trust

By Solomon King Benge

It is 2080. We are on a farm somewhere in Africa. Everything is digital. The blockchain is an omnipotent point of reference, and the farm is flourishing. But then, everything goes wrong. A dystopian short story, written exclusively for SEWOH.

Read more

(c) Joerg Boethling/GIZ

"We are not Uber for tractors"

Interview with Jehiel Oliver

Jehiel Oliver was a successful consultant. One day, he quit his job in investment banking to become a social entrepreneur. His mission: tractors for Africa. Rental tractors. What gave him that idea? Find out in his interview with Jan Rübel.

Read more

(c) Klara Palatova/WFP

A global signpost: What way is the market, please?

By World Food Programme

There is a clear global task: We need to feed nine billion people by 2050. We, the people of Earth, must produce more food and waste less. That is the top priority of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), too - the description of a challenge.

Read more

(c) Christof Krackhardt/Brot für die Welt

Together and resourceful against worldwide hunger

By Brot für die Welt

Climate change disturbs the climate in Ethiopia. The answer from small farmers in the northern region is convincing: diversify!

 

Read more

© GIZ / Angelika Jacob

This is how developing countries can adapt better to droughts

By Michael Brüntrup und Daniel Tsegai

Droughts are the natural disasters with far-reaching negative consequences. While rich countries are still vulnerable to drought, famines are no longer found.

Read more

(c) Michael Bruentrup/DIE

News from the starting block: Changeover

By Michael Brüntrup

The region of Sub-Saharan Africa is on the decisive verge of a great development boost in farming: it could skip entire generations of technological development. But how?  About possible roles and potentials of digital services.

Read more

Ebay Against Hunger

Small holders around the world are often forced to sell their harvests below market value due to a lack of market and pricing information. A new app by the UN World Food Programme (WFP) is going to change this.

A project of WFP

Read more

Resilience in times of crisis

Yemen is currently experiencing one of the worst disasters, due to war, hunger and disease outbreaks. The GIZ is locally engaged to improve the nutrition and resilience of Yemenites.

A project of GIZ

Read more

(c) GIZ

COST-BENEFIT ANALYSES FOR MORE SOIL CONSERVATION

With the help of sustainable farming methods, soils can be preserved and made fertile again. The investment required is also worthwhile from a financial perspective.

A project of GIZ

Read more

(c) GIZ

Youth employment in rural area

Offering young people in rural areas better employment prospects is one of the objectives of the sector project. The young population is the key to a modern and efficient agricultural economy.

A project of GIZ

Read more

(c) Foto XtraPay

XtraPay - thanks to farmers

XtraPay wants to make international supply chains more transparent and establish a direct connection between producer and consumer. The bonus payment system was successfully piloted on 16 August in ten Edeka supermarkets in Braunschweig.

A project of BMZ

Read more

(c) Luis Vera/Misereor

High on soya

The spread of monocultures is globally harmful to the environment and violates human rights; it makes for more losers than winners. But there are ways out, here one example: Smallholders in Parguay are fighting back.

A Misereor project

Read more

(c) Privat

Small Farms, big money

By Agnes Kalibata

Africas economy can only grow sustainably, if also small-scale agriculture is seen as opportunity.

Read more

An opportunity for the continent

By the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Africa’s population is young and ready to take its destiny into its own hands. Agriculture offers amazing opportunities in this regard. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation wants to support the next generation in this way.

Read more

Freed from trade? Towards a fairer EU Trade Agenda

By Dr. Jan Orbie

‘Fair’ and ‘sustainable’ are key words in Germany’s EU Council Presidency. At the same time, Germany pursues ‘modernization’ of the WTO and ‘rapid progress’ on free trade agreements. Are these goals really compatible? Can we be concerned about fairness and sustainability while continuing with ‘business as usual’?

Read more

Hunger must not be a consequence of the epidemic!

By Michael Brüntrup (DIE)

Even though COVID-19 poses a threat to the health of humanity, the reaction to the pandemic must not cause more suffering than the disease itself. This is particularly relevant for poor developing countries, where the impact of the corona crisis on food security is even more severe!

 

Read more

More than just a seat at the table

By Welthungerhilfe

Africa is home to the world’s youngest and fastest growing population. For many young people, agriculture could offer a job perspective. But to improve the living conditions and job prospects of young people in rural areas, political reforms and investments are desperately needed, as these people will be at the centre of agriculture and agricultural development in the future.

Read more

Global responsibility: Tackling hunger is the only way forward

By Lisa Hücking (WHH)

Chancellor Merkel has begun an ambitious European political programme: Striving for compromise in budget negotiations, an orderly Brexit as well as an appropriate response to the corona crisis. Unfortunately, one of her positions that she previously held is nowhere to be found: Africa's prosperity is in the interest of Europe. 

Read more

Reference values: A building block on the road to social equality

Article by Friederieke Martin (GIZ)

A quick and cost-effective method calculates living wages and incomes for many different countries. The GIZ together with Fairtrade International and Richard and Martha Anker have developed a tool that companies can use to easily analyse income and wage gaps.

Read more

Quinoa could have a huge potential in Central Asia, where the Aral Sea Basin has been especially hard-hit by salinisation.

Supermarket Scorecard on Human Rights

By Dr. Franziska Humbert (Oxfam)

Oxfam’s supermarket scorecard, which is in its third year, shows one thing in particular - it works! Supermarkets can change their business policies and focus more on the rights of those people around the world who plant and harvest food. However, this does not happen without pressure. 

Read more

Quinoa could have a huge potential in Central Asia, where the Aral Sea Basin has been especially hard-hit by salinisation.

Africa's face of agriculture is female

By Beatrice Gakuba

Africa has a huge opportunity to make agriculture its economic driver. However, the potential for this is far from being made exhaustive use of, one reason being that women face considerable difficulties in their economic activities. The organisation AWAN Afrika seeks to change this state of affairs.

Read more

Success story allotment garden: Food supply and women's empowerment

By Nadine Babatounde and Anne Floquet

To prevent malnutrition among young children and strengthen the role of women in their communities, Misereor, together with the local non-governmental organisation CEBEDES, is implementing a programme on integrated home gardens in Benin - a series of pictures.

Read more

Quinoa could have a huge potential in Central Asia, where the Aral Sea Basin has been especially hard-hit by salinisation.

Video: 4 Questions to Claudia Makdristo

By Seedstars

Startups are booming in African agriculture. What are the current trend and challenges – and can other regions benefit from innovative approaches? A Video-Interview with Claudia Makadristo, Regional Manager of Seedstars  

Read more

Quinoa could have a huge potential in Central Asia, where the Aral Sea Basin has been especially hard-hit by salinisation.

Planetary Health: Recommendations for a Post-Pandemic World

By Dr. Kathleen Mar and Dr. Nicole de Paula

Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, health is receiving unprecedented public and political attention. Yet the fact that climate change is also affecting the environmental and social determinants of health in a profound and far-reaching way deserves further recognition.

Read more

Innovations for a secure food supply

By German Agribusiness Alliance

The COVID 19 pandemic is hitting developing and emerging countries and their poorest populations particularly hard. It is important to take countermeasures at an early stage. Companies in the German agricultural sector want to make their contribution to ensuring the availability of urgently needed operating resources.

Read more

Turning many into one: CGIAR network restructures

By Jan Rübel

International agricultural research is responding to new challenges: Their advisory group is undergoing a fundamental reform process and unites knowledge, partnerships and physical assets into OneCGIAR.

Read more

The human finca

Interview with Marvin Antonio Garcia Otero

In Eastern El Salvador, campesinos are cultivating a self-image to encourage rural youth to remain in rural areas. With help from Caritas, they have adjusted the cultivation methods to their soils and traditions - Marvin Antonio Garcia Otero,the deputy director of Caritas of the Diocese of San Miguel believes this is the best way to prevent rural exodus and criminality.

Read more

Good health is impossible without healthy food

By Heino von Meyer

Corona makes it even more difficult to achieve a world without hunger by 2030. So that this perspective does not get out of sight, Germany must play a stronger role internationally - a summary of the Strategic Advisory Group of SEWOH.

Read more

© GIZ

Actual Analysis: The locusts came with the crises

By Bettina Rudloff and Annette Weber (SWP)

The Corona-Virus exacerbates existing crises through conflict, climate, hunger and locusts in East Africa and the Horn of Africa. What needs to be done in these regions? To face these challenges for many countries, all of these crises need to be captured in their regional context.

Read more

© GIZ

One Health – What we are learning from the Corona crisis

Dr. May Hokan and Dr. Arnulf Köhncke (WWF)

Due to the coronavirus crisis, the connection between human and animal health has gained new attention. Politicians and scientists are joining forces to propagate the solution: One Health. But what is behind the concept? And can it also guarantee food security for all people worldwide?

Read more

© GIZ

Resilient small-scale agriculture: A key in global crises

By Kerstin Weber and Brit Reichelt-Zolho (WWF)

Biodiversity and sustainable agriculture ensure the nutrition of whole societies. But there is more: These two factors also provide better protection against the outbreak of dangerous pandemics. Hence, the question of preserving ecosystems is becoming a global survival issue.

Read more

© GIZ

Ideas on the ground: Local solutions for global challenges

Interview with Sebastian Lesch (BMZ)

A world without hunger and with sufficient healthy food as well as climate-friendly agriculture can only be achieved if ideas are transformed into innovations and ultimately also applied - a conversation with BMZ Head of Division Sebastian Lesch on the Innovation Challenge programme of the new Agricultural Innovation Fund.

Read more

Developing countries hit doubly hard by coronavirus

By Gunter Beger (BMZ)

In most African countries, the infection COVID-19 is likely to trigger a combined health and food crisis. This means: In order to cope with this unprecedented crisis, consistently aligning our policies to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is more important than ever, our author maintains.

Read more

“Corona exposes the weaknesses of our nutritional systems"

Interview with Arif Husain (WFP)

The United Nations plan a Food Systems Summit - and now the Corona-Virus is dictating the agenda. The Chief Economist of the UN World Food Programme takes stock of the current situation: a conversation with Jan Rübel about pandemics, about the chromosomes of development - and about the conflicts that inhibit them.

Read more

“Healthy ground brings good and many fruits”

Interview with Ben Sekamatte and Boaz Ogola

Africa's cotton production plays a key role in the fight against poverty. The "Cotton Made in Africa" initiative promotes sustainable cultivation - one element of which is the use of organic pesticides. Entomologist Ben Sekamatte and cotton company manager Boaz Ogola talked with Jan Rübel about soil and yields.

Read more

Hier steht eine Bildbeschreibung

Statement from GAFSP Co-Chairs: GAFSP and COVID-19 Pandemic

By GAFSP

COVID-19 has unprecedented effects on the world. As always, the most vulnerable are the hardest hit, both at home and - especially - abroad. A joint appeal by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) and the Department for International Development (DFID).

Read more

(c) Welthungerhilfe

5 questions to F. Patterson: Why is there more hunger?

Interview with Fraser Patterson

Every year in October, the "Welthungerhilfe" aid organisation, with the Irish "Concern Worldwide" NGO, publishes the Global Hunger Index, a tool with which the hunger situation is recorded. What are the trends - and what needs to be done?

Read more

(c) Joerg Boethling/GIZ

What it takes now

By Heike Baumüller

Artificial intelligence, big data and blockchain are the hottest topics of our time. The digital transformation of the African agricultural sector is ready for take-off. What will it take for the future of technology to hit the ground running?

Read more

(c) Katapult/GIZ

The digitised farmyard

By Jan Rübel

Lots of apps are entering the market, but what really makes sense? For African agriculture, some of it seems like a gimmick, some like a real step forward. So this is what a smallholder farm in Africa could look like today - with the help of smartphones, internet and electricity. 

Read more

(c) Christoph Pueschner/Zeitenspiegel

Can this end world hunger?

By Stig Tanzmann

Time to dig deeper: We can only benefit from technical progress if we have a solid legal framework for everybody. But so far, none is in sight - in many countries. Instead, international corporations grow ever more powerful.

Read more

(c) Christoph Pueschner/Zeitenspiegel

From start to finish: a vision of interconnectivity

By Tanja Reith

At the moment, the agricultural industries of African countries exist in relative isolation. Imagine peasant farmers digitally connected to the value chains of the global food industry. How could this happen? A guidebook.

Read more

"Pandemic increases violence against women"

Interview with Léa Rouanet

African countries still face huge gender gaps in terms of access to work and capital. What are the consequences of Corona for women in Africa? Jan Rübel interviewed Léa Rouanet on lockdowns and gender-based violence. The economist works at the Africa Gender Innovation Lab of the World Bank.

Read more

Gender equality: Essential for food and nutrition security

By Carsta Neuenroth (BfdW)

The majority of producers in developing countries are women. Although they contribute significantly to the food security of their families, they remain chronically disadvantaged in male-dominated agriculture in terms of access to land, credit, technology and education.

Read more

Building our food systems back better

By Jes Weigelt and Alexander Müller

What is required to make food systems provide sufficient, healthy food while not harming the planet? How should food security be maintained given the threat posed by climate change? Our authors look at some aspects of tomorrow’s food systems against the backdrop of the corona crisis.

Read more

"We must mobilise all available resources"

By Ismahane Elouafi (ICBA)

Freshwater deficits are affecting more and more people throughout the world. In order to counter this, our global food system will have to change, our author maintains. A case for more research on alternative crops and smart water solutions.

Read more

Do we have to dare a new food system?

By Dr. Felix zu Löwenstein (BÖLW)

Lack of seasonal workers and virus explosion in slaughterhouses, rising vegetable prices, climate crisis – all this demonstrates: Our food system is highly productive and (at least for the rich inhabitants of planet earth) guarantees an unprecedented rich and steady food supply - but it is not resilient.

Read more

Video diaries in the days of Corona: Voices from the ground

By Sarah D´haen & Alexander Müller, Louisa Nelle, Bruno St. Jaques, Sarah Kirangu-Wissler and Matteo Lattanzi (TMG)

Young farmers’ insights on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on food systems in Sub-Saharan Africa @CovidFoodFuture and video diaries from Nairobi’s informal settlements.

Read more

"The virus does not need visa"

Interview by Dr. Ahmed Ouma (CDC)

Countries across Africa coordinate their efforts in the fight against corona by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) of the African Union in Addis Abeba. Until now, the curve of new infections has been successfully flattened – why? Dr. Ahmed Ouma, Deputy Director, explains the work of CDC in an interview with Tilman Wörtz.

Read more

Double interview: The Forest Maker and his director

By Jan Rübel

Tony Rinaudo uses conventional reforestation methods to plant millions and millions of trees – and Volker Schlöndorff is filming a cinema documentary about the Australian. The outcome so far: An educational film on behalf of the BMZ (Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development).

Read more

Ms Rudloff, what are the benefits of a supply chain law?

By Jan Rübel

The Federal Government is fine-tuning a law that would require companies to ensure human rights – a supply chain law. What are the consequences for the agricultural sector? Dr Bettina Rudloff from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) discusses linking policy fields with added value.

Read more

School Feeding: A unique platform to address gender inequalities

By Carmen Burbano de Lara (WFP)

Besides the well known impacts of Covid19 lockdowns for the adult population, the associated school closures led to 90 percent of the world’s children with no access to schools. However, school meals are in often the only daily meal for children. Without access to this safety net, issues like hunger, poverty and malnutrition are exacerbated for hundreds of millions of children.

Read more

Africa's rapid economic transformation

By T. S. Jayne, A. Adelaja and R. Mkandawire

Thirty years ago, Africa was synonymous with war, famine and poverty. That narrative is clearly outdated. African living standards are rising remarkably fast. Our authors are convinced that improving education and entrepreneurship will ensure irreversible progress in the region even as it confronts COVID-19.

Read more

From Berlin to Yen Bai: 10,000 trees for Vietnam

By GIZ and BMZ

It began with clicks at a trade fair and ends with concrete reforestation: a campaign at the Green Week in Berlin is now enriching the forests of the Yen Bai Province in Vietnam. A chronicle of an education about climatic relevance to concrete action - and about the short distances on our planet.

Read more