"Extreme is the new normal"

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

Thunderstorm in Angola © Christoph Püschner/Brot für die Welt

Alexander Müller

Alexander Müller

Alexander Müller, a graduate sociologist, is the head of a global study of the UN Environment Program on "The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food" and CEO of "TMG - Töpfer, Müller, Gaßner GmbH, ThinkTankforSustainabilty".

Jes Weigelt

Jes Weigelt is Head of Programmes at TMG Research gGmbH, the research wing of TMG. Töpfer, Müller, Gassner. ThinkTank for Sustainability. He tweets at @jes_tmg.

 

TMG – ThinkTankforSustainabilty

GIZ

Since 1961, average annual temperatures in Africa have been rising as a result of the rising concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. This increase is mainly due to the past and ongoing emissions of the industrialised countries. The consequences of this anthropogenic climate can already be observed on a regional and local level, for example in the variability of precipitation, and the forecasts are bleak. In its 5th assessment report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that corn yields in many sub-Saharan countries will fall by more than 20 percent - and maize is the central food source there. Forecasts by the Intergovernmental Science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) predict that the productivity of African lakes will be reduced by 20 to 30 percent by the year 2100, which means that animal and plant biodiversity will decline sharply. It is only vaguely clear to what extent the resulting loss of ecosystem services will affect agriculture and rural development opportunities. What is undisputed, however, is that climate change will exacerbate existing challenges to food security and rural development and must be considered as an amplifier to the major challenges that already exist.

 

These tasks will become all the more challenging if the internationally agreed goal of limiting average global warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius is reduced. According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) presented so far will still lead to a temperature increase of around 3 degrees Celsius. There is consensus among scientists that temperatures in Africa are rising faster than the global average. Christoph Müller from the German Development Institute in Bonn provides the factor 1.5. That would mean a temperature increase of 4.5 degrees Celsius in Africa.

Adapting to climate change in Africa and resilience strategies (i.e. the ability to cope with crises) will be key tasks in the coming years. Climate change increases the vulnerability of people, especially the poor. This requires appropriate measures for shaping rural structural change and coping with massive urbanisation. This can only be accomplished by approaching rural development and urbanisation in new ways. Innovative forms of cooperation will be needed to secure food provision and maximise employment without overburdening natural resources.

 

We find it very important not to analyse these challenges individually, but rather in their complex interaction and, more importantly, with joint solution strategies in mind.

 

Development Trends

Climate change coincides with long-term trends, which must be understood as a framework for action over the next decades.

 

Population Growth and Urbanisation

Based on the so-called median population forecast, the population of Africa will increase from 1.5 billion today to more than 4 billion by 2100. This means that by 2050 an additional 1 billion people will need to be fed.

 

With an urbanisation rate of 40 percent, the population of Africa lives predominantly in rural areas. At the same time, the urban population is growing at a faster rate by global comparison. For that reason, the United Nations expects an urbanisation rate of 56 percent by 2050.

 

Need for Jobs

As the population grows, so will the demand for jobs. According to the African Development Bank, the number of young Africans aged 15-35 will double to more than 830 million by 2050. Of the 415 million young people in Africa today, one third are already without formal employment, one third in so-called precarious employment relationships and only one sixth have regular employment. And while 10 to 12 million young people enter the labour market every year, just under 3.1 million new jobs are created. The challenge also affects the entire education system. How many schools and universities need to be built and run, how many apprenticeships should there be outside the universities, how can equal opportunities be created for girls and boys in education to prepare for sustainable jobs? And what economic dynamism is needed to provide employment, income and a future for the graduates?

 

Malnutrition and Undernourishment

According to "The State of Food Security and Nutrition 2017", the number of starving people worldwide has been rising again since 2014. While there were around 900 million people starving in 2000, the number had fallen to 775 million in 2013, and has since risen to 815 million. The percentage of starving people in the total population also fell from 14.7 per cent in 2000 to 10.6 per cent in 2015, but has since risen again slightly. In sub-Saharan Africa, the absolute number of starving people has increased from 178 million in 2000 to 224 million in 2016.

 

 

 

At the same time, overweight and morbid obesity are on the rise worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that new cases of diabetes in Africa have increased from 3.1 per cent in 1980 to 7.1 per cent in 2014. The absolute number of people with diabetes has increased from 4 million to 25 million.

Scarcity and Loss of Fertile Land

According to estimates by the Intergovernmental Science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), approximately 500,000 square kilometres of land in Africa are already degraded by over-exploitation, erosion, salinization and pollution. According to the "Economics of Land Degradation" initiative, Africa could produce around 280 million metric tonnes more grain if it were able to stop the effects of man-made soil erosion. Overall, the initiative estimates that simply continuing to do things the same way and thus neglecting to take measures against the loss of fertile soil would reduce Africa's gross national product by 12 percent.

 

Complex Problems Require Systemic Answers

Sustainable food security strategies are needed in sub-Saharan Africa, covering both rural and urban areas. Focusing on either rural areas or cities alone will not sufficiently counteract the dynamic urbanisation and population growth rates. At the same time, strategies need to be differentiated to meet the individual needs and opportunities of vulnerable groups. As tempting as it is to solelyfocus on budgets, which are already positionedto become part of agri-economic growth strategies with market-based approaches, such an approach will not contribute to overcoming structural barriers to rural development. 

To avoid misunderstandings: These considerations are not aimed at stopping rural structural change. But even households without secure food resources must be successively bettered instead of pushing them further to the brink of poverty.

 

Taking the identified trends into consideration, three investment areas will be discussed here, which exemplify networked response strategies and which will play an important role in dealing with the challenges.

 

Urban Agriculture in Controlled Environments:

The high urbanisation rate and undernourishment among the urban middle class and poor populations highlights the importance of fresh food production in the cities. The image of the "prosumer", i.e. a person that is both producer and consumer of fresh agricultural products, is becoming increasingly important in cities as well. Creating jobs and improving nutrition go hand in hand. Food production in cities will take place in controlled environments, ranging from urban gardening to high-tech solutions that will allow production without pesticides. In combination with the increasing competitiveness of renewable energies, new forms of food production will become possible and necessary in the face of climate change and climate variability. This type of production is also an adaptation to climate change.

 

Creating a Framework for Ecosystem-Based Adaptation

Agricultural production in sub-Saharan Africa will have to face increasing climate variability in the future. Heavy rain and prolonged periods of drought are just examples of climate extremes that will be the new normal due to climate change. Pilot projects have shown that successful ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change is possible through adaptation measures that are based on the proper use and protection of ecosystem services. These projects stand in contrast to pure infrastructure measures such as the construction of dams. Following the successful implementation of pilot projects, it is now necessary to create the framework for up-scaling, i.e. applying them on a larger scale. Thus, an ecosystem-based adaptation approach will become more "political" as issues of land use and land rights will become more prominent. Another challenge lies in how to design adapted financing systems for the preservation of ecosystems that allow both initial and long-term investments.

 

Designing Structural Change to be Active: SME Policies and "Responsive Service Systems"

 In the foreseeable future, insufficient jobs will be created in the service industry or in industrial production. The creation of new jobs in rural areas will therefore have to mainly focus on agriculture and the corresponding upstream and downstream sectors. For example, market-oriented companies can increasingly focus on specialised products, opening up new market opportunities for households with unsteady income and nutrition. A central component of food security strategies are responsive service systems that explicitly support such families. Agricultural production under the conditions of climate change will require even more intensive expertise. In many cases, households in sub-Saharan Africa with unsecured food availability often do not have access to agricultural advisory services and the necessary inputs. This means that the focus of demand-driven guidance systems must be on mixed counselling systems with content that is adapted and made available to vulnerable groups in an appropriate way.

 

Breaking New Ground!

The question is how solution strategies can be developed, tested and scaled up when faced with the size of the tasks, the time constraints and the complexity.

 

The 2030 Agenda and the adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement open up the possibility for nations to agree on development priorities. And they open up the opportunity for citizens to hold their governments accountable. This means that the follow-up and review processes established in these agreements are very important. They must be structured and implemented both globally and nationally.

 

The search for solution strategies involves research that uses the need for action by political leaders and civil societies as a point of reference and challenges them critically. Care must also be taken to ensure that these solution strategies do not involve the externalisation of problems and thus make it even more difficult to tackle the other challenges. An example of how to analyse such externalities in the food supply system is the TEEBAgriFood initiative, which proposes a systematic framework for analysis.

 

Such solution strategies must be rights-based. In its report "Governance and the Law", the World Bank has set out that elites influence the process of policy formulation. Measures for the implementation of economic, social and cultural human rights are a central element to counteract this influence. This includes increasing the accountability of political leaders.

 

The solutions outlined above require alliances for change to be implemented. Development policy concepts and strategies must therefore highlight commonalities instead of getting lost in limitation issues. 

 

But this overview also shows Germany's global responsibility. Initially, this concerns the contributions to the achievement of the German and European climate targets. Failure to achieve these targets does not only have political implications, but also a direct impact on our neighbours and their stability. This overview also shows that development policy and its partners should focus significantly on giving marginal populations a voice in the transformation processes.

 

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What do you expect from this Pre Summit, Mr. Haddad?

Interview with Lawrence Haddad (GAIN)

Nutrition experts from all over the world are coming together in Rome. They are not only distilling 2000 ideas to improve food systems - they are also preparing for the big UN summit in New York in September. An interview. 

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Mr. Campari, how do we create sustainable food systems?

Interview with Joao Campari (WWF)

Journalist Jan Rübel spoke with Joao Campari ahead of the UNFSS Pre-Summit. The Chair of Action Track 3 highlights key challenges in transforming existing food systems towards sustainable production and shares his expectations for the Summit.

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Land Rights, Gender and Soil Fertility in Benin

A contribution by Dr. Karin Gaesing and Prof. Dr. Frank Bliss (INEF)

Especially in densely populated areas, land pressure leads to overexploitation of available land and a lack of conservation measures. The West African country of Benin, with heavily depleted soils in many places, is no exception.

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The Rice Sector in West Africa: A Political Challenge

New insights on trade and value addition in the rice sector in West Africa

Low import tariffs, smuggling activities, unpredictable tax exemptions and weak enforcement of food safety standards: The potential of local rice value chains is undermined in West African countries.

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“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.

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(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.

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Uli Reinhardt/Zeitenspiegel

No dirty dealing

Von Marlis Lindecke

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

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„You must be multisectoral in your thinking”

Interview with Adriano Campolina (FAO)

For years, place-based approaches to development have been considered important features in development cooperation, at the BMZ and in FAO. Both organisations are aiming at advancing these approaches: an interview with Adriano Campolina from the FAO on territorial and landscape perspectives.

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Support for sustainable start-ups

Companies in Africa that need financing between $20,000 and $200,000 find relatively few investors, as this sector is too large for microcredit and too small for institutional investors. This creates a "gap in the middle" where companies have limited options. A project of the World Resource Institute provides a remedy with the Landaccelerator 2020.

A World Resources Institute project

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(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

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Pesticides – a blessing or a curse?

A debate between Lena Luig and Ludger Weß

What are the consequences of using synthetic pesticides in agriculture? Where do they help, where do they harm? Lena Luig, expert for the development policy organization INKOTA, and science journalist Ludger Weß discuss this controversial topic of international scope.

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© GIZ

One Health – What we are learning from the Corona crisis

A contribution by 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?

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Joerg Boethling/GIZ

"The Green Revolution reaches its limits"

Interview with Stig Tanzmann (BfdW)

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.

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(c) Privat

The 'Grey Gold'

A contribution by Maria Schmidt (GIZ)

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

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(c) Privat

Human Rights, Land and Rural Development

A contribution by Michael Windfuhr (German Institute for Human Rights)

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.

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picture-alliance/Zentralbild

Land is Crucial for Development

A contribution by Roselyn Korleh and M. Sahr Nouwah (WHH)

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

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No rainforest for our consumption

A contribution by Jenny Walther-Thoß (WWF)

In the tropics rainforests are still being felled for the production of palm oil, meat and furniture. It is high time to act. Proposals are on the table.

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Biodiversity and agriculture – rivalry or a new friendship?

A contribution by Irene Hoffmann (FAO)

In this article, the author describes what we know about interlinkages, what role agriculture has to play in the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity, and what the necessary changes in agricultural systems might look like, both on small and large-scale farms.

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The fight against illegal fishing

A Report

The oceans are important for our food supply, but they are overfished. To halt this trend the global community is now taking action against illegal fishing. Journalist Jan Rübel spoke with Francesco Marí, a specialist for world food, agricultural trade and maritime policy at "Brot für die Welt," and others.

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"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 .

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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.

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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.

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New campaign for women: "Poverty is sexist"

Interview with Stephan Exo-Kreischer

This is a benchmark for everybody: More rights for women are a very influencing solution in the struggle against extreme poverty and hunger worldwide, says Stephan Exo-Kreischer, Director of ONE Germany. The organisation specialises in political campaigning as a lever for sustainable change.

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(c) Simon Veith

The Big Bang is possible

Interview with Joachim von Braun

Happy youngsters in rural areas, green development and the connection to the digital age – professor Joachim von Braun believes in this future sceneraio for Africa. For three decades the agricultural scienties has been researching how politics can create prosperty on the continent. 

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(c) GIZ

Youth employment in rural areas

The world’s population keeps on growing; with this rise comes an increased need for food as well as productive employment opportunities. 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

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More than just a seat at the table

A contribution 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.

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(c) Foto Privat

Story: In Blocked Chains We Trust

A contribution 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.

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An opportunity for the continent

A contribution 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.

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(c) Christoph Pueschner/Zeitenspiegel

From start to finish: a vision of interconnectivity

A contribution 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.

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The Life of Their Dreams - What Children Want

Interview with Gnininkaboka Dabiré and Innocent Somé

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.

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“They said: You can do it”

A contribution 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

 

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A new attempt at Africa's industrialization?

A contribution by Helmut Asche

Afrika is about ready. There are promising approaches for a sustainable industrialization. However, the path poses challenges to the continent.

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(c) Privat

Small Farms, big money

A contribution by Agnes Kalibata

Agnes Kalibata, AGRA president since 2014 and former minister of agriculture and wildlife in Rwanda, is convinced that Africa's economy will only grow sustainably if small-scale agriculture is also seen as an opportunity.

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School Feeding: A unique platform to address gender inequalities

A contribution 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.

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Not waiting for a savior

An article by Lidet Tadesse

While Africa is the least affected region by Covid-19 so far, the number of confirmed cases and deaths on the continent is quickly rising. Despite the challenges many African countries continue to face, the African response to the coronavirus pandemic displays innovation and ingenuity.

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Good health is impossible without healthy food

A contribution 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.

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