Our Perspectives

Africa

Africa’s Defining Challenge

07 Aug 2017 by Mohamed Yahya, Regional Programme Coordinator, UNDP Africa

By 2055, the continent’s youth population (aged 15-24), is expected to more than double. Photo: Aude Rossignol/UNDP DRC
Africa has the youngest population in the world, and it’s growing fast. By 2055, the continent’s youth population (aged 15-24), is expected to be more than double the 2015 total of 226 million. Yet the continent remains stubbornly inhospitable – politically, economically, and socially – to young people. The success of African governments’ efforts to address this will be the single most important factor determining whether the continent prospers or suffers in the coming decades. A business-as-usual approach would risk exposing Africa not only to economic underperformance and a brain drain, but also to criminality, political and social unrest, and even armed conflict. But Africa can thrive if its governments act now to tap the energy and dynamism of the burgeoning youth population. What is needed is a comprehensive policy agenda, comprising demographically informed measures that address political, cultural, and economic exclusion in a synchronized manner. This will be no small feat, not least because of the massive age gap between Africa’s young majority and their leaders: the average age of an African president is 62, while the median age of Africa’s population is 19.5. That is the world’s largest age gap between governors and the governed, and it raises concerns about … Read more

Confronting climate change in South Sudan

29 Jun 2017 by Jean-Luc Stalon, Deputy Country Director, UNDP South Sudan and Biplove Choudhary, Team Leader, Human Development and Inclusive Growth, UNDP South Sudan

Up to 95 percent of the people of South Sudan, or more than 11 million people, depend on climate sensitive sectors, including agriculture, forestry resources and fisheries. Photo: Albert Gonzalez Farran, UNDP
The man-made crisis in South Sudan has pushed the country back on multiple fronts, hampering agricultural production, disrupting livelihoods and the coping abilities of communities. These are but few of several compelling reasons as to why climate change risks in South Sudan should be a pressing worry at this point in time for the policy makers and international partners. Despite its having no role in contributing to global warming, the country is at once highly vulnerable and least prepared to address looming threats systematically across sectors. According to the Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2017, South Sudan is ranked amongst the five worst performing in the world alongside the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Haiti and Liberia. Projections indicate that in South Sudan, global warming will be felt 2 ½ times more than the global average Up to 95 percent of people in South Sudan, or more than 11 million people, depend on climate sensitive sectors, including agriculture, forestry resources and fisheries for their livelihoods. Anecdotally, seasonal streams are beginning to dry up, affecting fishing communities in several parts of the country. Drier weather spells are also likely to be an underlying driver of increased deforestation and resource-based conflicts between … Read more

Land degradation and Migration: will restoring degraded lands keep people at home?

16 Jun 2017 by Phemo Kgomotso, Regional Technical Specialist, Ecosystems and Biodiversity, UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa.

People living in drylands and other marginal landscapes have always lived with uncertainty and livelihood insecurities. Over time, they have employed a myriad of coping strategies, including seasonal migration in search of food, pasture and water. Photo: UNDP Somalia
Would forced migration end, if people knew that they could survive and thrive in their homeland? The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) asks this pertinent question as we observe World Day to Combat Desertification on 17 June, focused on examining the important link between land degradation and migration. A childhood memory that has stayed with me is from 1992, when Botswana, along with many other countries in southern Africa were hit by what the New York Times called 'the worst drought of the 20th Century'. That year, on a hot and dry December day, one of my family members and I spent half a day trekking livestock to the only water source that hadn’t dried up, and another half day trekking back to my grandmother’s farmstead. That year, my family lost over 40 heads of cattle. Mainly dependent on livestock for subsistence, people living in drylands and other marginal landscapes have always lived with uncertainty and livelihood insecurities and constraints presented by such environments. Over time, they have employed a myriad of coping strategies, including seasonal migration in search of food, pasture and water. The Fulani herders, found in Nigeria, Niger, Guinea, Mali and many parts of the Sahel … Read more

Saint-Louis, Senegal: the challenge of sustainability

09 Jun 2017 by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa

Saint-Louis is facing a lot of challenges. Chief among them is the dual threat posed by rising waters and overfishing. Both jeopardize the city’s very survival, its unique heritage and economy. Photo courtesy Eddy Graëff / www.saintlouisdusenegal.com
At the Ocean Conference in New York, we were reminded of two essential truths: life below water, with its rich fauna and flora is precious and the livelihoods that depend on it are in danger. This is especially true along the west coast of Africa, and especially in Senegal, a country where at least two thirds of the population live near coastal areas which are receding at an alarming rate (on average 1 to 2 metres per year) due to rising sea levels and rapid urbanization. Few places illustrate the compounded effects of these predicaments with greater urgency than Saint-Louis, Senegal (also known as Ndar), the island city I am proud to call my hometown. Saint-Louis is a unique place. It looms large in the history of Senegal and indeed that of the whole region. It was once the seat of French West Africa (from 1895 to 1902), the country’s first capital, and the birthplace of philosopher Gaston Berger. It is the very place where the Senegal river meets the Atlantic Ocean. Its bountiful delta attracts thousands of migratory birds. The pristine beauty of its Langue de Barbarie, the sandy peninsula along its shores, its network of quays and its distinctive … Read more

Saint-Louis, Senegal: the challenge of sustainability

09 Jun 2017 by Abdoulaye Mar Dieye, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director, Regional Bureau for Africa

Saint-Louis is facing a lot of challenges. Chief among them is the dual threat posed by rising waters and overfishing. Both jeopardize the city’s very survival, its unique heritage and economy. Photo courtesy Eddy Graëff / www.saintlouisdusenegal.com
At the Ocean Conference in New York, we were reminded of two essential truths: life below water, with its rich fauna and flora is precious and the livelihoods that depend on it are in danger. This is especially true along the west coast of Africa, and especially in Senegal, a country where at least two thirds of the population live near coastal areas which are receding at an alarming rate (on average 1 to 2 metres per year) due to rising sea levels and rapid urbanization. Few places illustrate the compounded effects of these predicaments with greater urgency than Saint-Louis, Senegal (also known as Ndar), the island city I am proud to call my hometown. Saint-Louis is a unique place. It looms large in the history of Senegal and indeed that of the whole region. It was once the seat of French West Africa (from 1895 to 1902), the country’s first capital, and the birthplace of philosopher Gaston Berger. It is the very place where the Senegal river meets the Atlantic Ocean. Its bountiful delta attracts thousands of migratory birds. The pristine beauty of its Langue de Barbarie, the sandy peninsula along its shores, its network of quays and its distinctive … Read more

La situation alimentaire en Ethiopie aussi est extrêmement préoccupante

30 May 2017 by David Das Neves, South-South Cooperation and Development Effectiveness Officer, UNDP Africa

Refugees in EthiopiaFew people are aware that Ethiopia is the African country that hosts the most refugees: 730 000 have been recorded, chiefly from Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea and Kenya. Photo: IOM
Beaucoup de personnes ont des difficultés à imaginer que des individus meurent encore de faim avec tous les moyens à notre disposition. J’ai rejoint le PNUD à Addis-Abeba en provenance de Genève, où les habitants ne se soucient généralement pas de savoir s’ils mangeront ce soir. Lorsque vous vivez en Ethiopie, les enjeux liés à la sécurité alimentaire vous font face et il est impossible d’ignorer la situation de crise que le pays affronte actuellement. Mais il faut faire attention au terme famine, qui a sa propre définition. Le Soudan du Sud est actuellement dans une situation de famine. La Somalie et le Nigeria font partie des pays en Afrique où le risque de famine est imminent. Au-delà du continent, le Yémen est aussi très affecté. On compte ensuite des pays sévèrement touchés par des problèmes de sécurité alimentaire, comme le Niger, le Tchad, le Cameroun, l’Érythrée et l’Éthiopie. Personne ne peut nier l’effet du climat parmi les causes de la crise alimentaire actuelle. La forte sécheresse qui sévit actuellement dans cette partie du globe fait des ravages. Mais d’autres facteurs doivent être pris en compte. … Read more

La promesse d'un père - à mes filles et à toutes les filles

08 Mar 2017 by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau referees the Global Goals World Cup in KenyaUNDP Goodwill Ambassador Nikolaj Coster-Waldau referees the Global Goals World Cup women's football tournament in Nairobi. Photo: UNDP Kenya
Je viens de rentrer du Kénya, où j’ai arbitré la Coupe du monde des Objectifs Mondiaux. Ce tournoi de football international rassemble des femmes et des filles ordinaires pour défendre les Objectifs qui leur tiennent le plus à cœur, notamment l’égalité des sexes et l’éradication de la pauvreté. C’était une expérience incroyable ! Ce fut également pour moi l’occasion de voir en personne le remarquable travail que réalise le PNUD, et les opportunités qu’il crée pour ces femmes et ces filles. J’ai rencontré des femmes qui m’ont raconté leurs histoires, comment elles essaient d’améliorer leur vie et celle de leur communauté. Elles m’ont étonné et inspiré. Et je sais que vous aussi, vous appréciez ce genre de récits sur la manière de bâtir des avenirs meilleurs. C’est quelque chose que nous partageons. En tant que père et mari, je suis particulièrement engagé dans la défense des causes qui me touchent personnellement. Je veux que mes filles grandissent sur une planète propre, sûre et prospère. Une planète qui leur permet de réaliser leurs rêves, de maximiser leur potentiel, et d’avoir un impact sur le monde qui les entoure. Une planète qui ne les relègue pas au second plan en raison de leur sexe. … Read more

Ready, set, innovate!

28 Nov 2016 by Marc Lepage, Innovation and Knowledge Management Specialist, UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa

Photo: Aude Rossignol/UNDP Burundi
In Africa, as in the rest of the world, things are moving! We live in a world that is becoming more and more complex, whether it be in social, economic or political terms. With the introduction of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), we now have to adapt and adjust our practices in order to achieve such goals both efficiently and effectively. It's not uncommon to hear partners or even staff members complain, rightfully or wrongfully, about the red tape involved when it comes to UNDP procedures. Time-consuming processes or administrative tasks have been put into place and seem sometimes to take precedence over the quality of our interventions. Innovation can help correct such dysfunctions and thus allow us to be more productive. So, how can we best define the term ‘innovate’? There are a lot of possibilities, but the one to bear in mind is the fact that innovation enables us to give full rein to the innate creativity that lies within us. It allows us to come up with original and powerful responses to meet specific societal needs – and such responses can be technological or organizational in structure, or even a leading factor in bringing about social or behavioural changes. … Read more

Enfrentando la radicalización y el extremismo violento a través de la acción climática

14 Nov 2016 by Aliou M. Dia, Team Leader, Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change, UNDP Africa

El cambio climático y el extremismo violento serán dos de las mayores amenazas para la estabilidad de los Estados y sociedades en las próximas décadas. En muchos países africanos (Mali, Sudán del Sur, Nigeria, Somalia, etc.), el cambio climático ha incrementado la inestabilidad al poner bajo mayor presión las ya limitadas capacidades de los gobiernos para brindar respuestas efectivas. … Read more

L'environnement n'est pas le seul objet des plans climatiques

14 Nov 2016 by Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of Bureau for Policy and Programme Support

femmes recoltant de l'argan au MarocGrowing demand for argan oil has increased household income but places serious pressure on natural forests. Photo: UNDP Morocco
Un changement climatique dangereux appelle une action climatique courageuse. Atteindre les objectifs fixés par l'Accord de Paris n'est rien d'autre qu'un impératif pour notre sécurité et notre prospérité. Non seulement pour faire face au réchauffement de la planète, mais aussi pour toute une panoplie de bénéfices concernant les ressources alimentaires, l'emploi, la santé et la croissance durable. Pour comprendre en quoi des solutions climatiques efficaces peuvent avoir des effets positifs concrets sur le développement, prenons le cas du Maroc et de l'Afrique du Nord. Selon l'Institut Max-Planck, les températures devraient augmenter deux fois plus vite (en anglais) dans cette région que dans le reste du monde, ce qui pourrait rendre de vastes zones inhabitables, nuire aux économies, limiter l'accès à l'eau et compromettre la sécurité alimentaire. Ces problèmes sont interconnectés. Fort heureusement, les États – architectes de l'Accord de Paris et des objectifs de développement durable – sont conscients de ce risque et militent en faveur de la cohésion. La première étape importante consiste à reconnaître que les objectifs climatiques nationaux inspirés par l'Accord de Paris – les contributions déterminées au niveau national (NDC) – peuvent servir de modèle pour une action climatique concertée. … Read more