Global Donor Platform for Rural Development
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Richard Mkandawire is a socio-economist and a rural development expert with a PhD. from the University of East Anglia in the UK. Both academic and development practitioner, he has taught at the University of Malawi, the University of Zambia, and in South Africa. Between 1992 and 1999 he was with the Commonwealth Secretariat as the Commonwealth Youth Programme Regional Director for Africa, facilitating micro-financing initiatives as well as the development of a wide range of livelihood initiatives for young people. Now based in South Africa, Professor Mkandawire works as NEPAD’s advisor on agriculture and is nominally in charge of driving forward progress on CAADP. He recently discussed CAADP’s progress with Timothy Nater.
We're confident that, by the end of 2008, on the basis of current trends, 10 African countries will have achieved the Maputo commitment of 10% of national budget allocation to agriculture. Rwanda, for example, has more than quadrupled its budget allocation — up to something like 20 %. Niger, Malawi and Mali are moving towards 10 %, and there's Ethiopia, which has always put considerable resources into agriculture. Of course, the situation varies greatly from country to country. For example, in those with large petroleum or mining industries, like Nigeria or South Africa, reaching 10 per cent of total budget allocation to agriculture is a different matter than in, say, Niger, where agriculture’s contribution to overall GDP is much higher.
But national budget allocation is not the only positive measure of Africa’s agricultural performance. Over the past five years nearly a dozen countries, including Eritrea, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, The Gambia, Senegal and Tanzania, have either nearly achieved or exceeded the CAADP target of 6% growth in annual agricultural productivity.
National governments need to speak with one voice to a common framework for the harmonisation of their policies, and our four CAADP Pillar Frameworks are intended to serve as guides. After two years of work, the Pillar 1 framework on land and water management is fairly advanced. There’s been a significant commitment of resources to this by the international community, notably $150 million dollars from the Global Environmental Facility for supporting sustainable land management under the TerrAfrica initiative, launched in 2005 to fight desertification and land degradation. The TerrAfrica initiative has leveraged an additional $1 billion as investment financing to support the scaling up of sustainable land and water management practices in Africa.
The other framework that has seen the most progress is Pillar 4 or agricultural research, technology transfer and adoption, known as the Framework for Africa Agriculture Productivity (FAAP) and led by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA). A number of African countries are starting to base policy on FAAP and the development community, including the World Bank, the EC and DFID, is already committing very substantial resources to sub-regional research organisations like CORAF/WECARD and ASARECA for Western, Central and Eastern Africa, as a basis for increasing agricultural productivity.
Pillar 2 for market access and food supply, and Pillar 3, the development of rural infrastructure, are still not fully developed. Negotiations are now taking place across Africa on agribusiness and value chain development. The Pillar 2 and 3 framework documents should be ready by July 2008 for endorsement by African ministers of agriculture.
The architecture of development has changed. It is now vital that development is home-grown. The thinking process on African development has to start within Africa, not in the offices of the international donor community. This is time-consuming. We need to collect and build up our capacities on many issues. For these to be African-owned frameworks, it's important to have broad-based consultations, not only with government officials, but also with non-governmental organisations, farmers organisations and other key players that have to be involved in the preparation of these frameworks, and with the African institutions that can provide the necessary facilitation. Africa's constituents have to internalise the entire CAADP agenda so that it is African-owned and African-driven. NEPAD, as the mother ship of CAADP, provides overall leadership in this process, and we’re exploring ways in which donors can help us increase our capacities and work through the regional economic communities, or RECs.
Each of the framework documents are intended to guide national governments as they address generic priorities, the key issues at continental level that drive African agriculture. The key NEPAD-related principles, whether regional markets or regional integration, land policy, private sector involvement or the critical bottleneck of insufficient capacity, need to be focused and brought to the fore.
Rwanda is the only one so far, but we reckon there will be 10 national compacts signed by the end of 2008. Before you can sign a compact, you need to complete a range of consultation and analytical work, define the opportunities and investment requirements and formulate a response at country level. This will shape the nature of the compact. What is significant from our end is that we’re actually managing to focus the attention of national governments on agriculture and reposition it at the top of their national development agendas. Rwanda's national compact was a cabinet-level matter, in which the Minister of Finance together signed a compact with the Minister of Agriculture. We'd like to see the same thing happen in other African countries, and between all development partners.
Peer review is not about being judgemental and finding fault with the performance of other countries, but rather a vehicle for mutual learning, within the context of the CAADP Partnership Platform. This is where regional economic communities and national governments, who are already going through the roundtable process share experiences, discuss the challenges and explore opportunities for surmounting obstacles. Peer review is not happening in a very structured way yet, which is why we’d like some of the regional institutions to help develop discussions that are evidence-based and concern technical challenges, and to provide some guidance on how to structure a new African agricultural agenda.
We welcome these new initiatives to stimulate desired growth in the agricultural sector in Africa. Our appeal is that partners should be aware that there is an African-defined framework, and it is absolutely critical that any initiative taken helps reinforce the CAADP process. It's understandable that a lot of these foundations are impatient. They want to move quickly without being encumbered by government red tape. But while one can agree that governments are sometimes slow, one should also say that a business-like culture can't just be parachuted into a village, or into structures that have already existed for decades. Where there is an opportunity for them to really move quickly in support of transformation, then let it be done, but it must be within the processes that have been defined by national governments.
We're not only encouraging this, CAADP was very much a part of the discussions that led to this decision. ECOWAS countries are heavily dependent on imported rice and have been very adversely hit, especially the urban poor. Common policies and indicators for agricultural production, a reduction of intra-African trade barriers and regional cooperation in the systems of food distribution are all vital weapons in the fight against rising food prices.
There’s no doubt that the Global Donor Platform has begun to really energise the discourse around agriculture in Africa. The very fact that they have nominated a CAADP Focal Point in Addis Abeba, Yihenew Zewdie, is a very positive development. We have discussed with him how to coordinate our efforts. We'd like to see the Platform being supportive of the efforts we've already defined on the ground, rather than duplicating things. We welcome the work they are doing in coordinating donors around the Paris Declaration and would welcome fullest possible participation from all donor institutions. We'd like the Platform to advocate more forcefully to bring on board those countries and organisations that are not yet part of the CAADP process.
This is a unique forum where the RECs, private sector and development partners meet to review progress in agriculture. It’s the first of its kind in the international discourse around Africa. The CAADP Partnership Platform allows for very open discussions around progress and ways to accelerate our commitment to the CAADP agenda. One of its strengths is that it allows African government representatives to meet the donors as a collective and encourages them to speak with a common voice.
We need to address the misconception by national governments around what CAADP intends to achieve. There is a mistaken belief at national level that CAADP will bring huge new funding with it, when in fact our aim is rather to mobilise resources at country level. We've begin in a small way to create awareness that CAADP is not a development project but a framework. Our entry point is principles and processes, and the aim is to add value to structures or initiatives that are already in place. That understanding needs to be gotten across to national governments. Another challenge is that, so far, the public sector has had a sort of monopoly on agriculture. We need to enlarge the playing field for NGOs, civil society and the private sector.
As for me, it is a privilege to be part of the current global efforts in addressing the critical challenges facing us all, namely hunger and poverty in Africa. This is immensely rewarding. Of course, at times it’s also exhausting and frustrating, because we’re not operating in a value-neutral environment. There can be enormous contestation. But what’s important is that we’re making progress.
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