Bashi's journey may signal a bigger refugee crisis to come

29 Oct 2015

Young Somali men participate in a vocational training and education program in Burao, Somaliland. But as Africa’s population grows, the number of people escaping conflict in countries like Somalia will continue to rise. Photo: UNDP Somalia.
When you read news from Sicily and Calais and Greece, I hope you will remember Bashi*, a young African man among many currently in a migrants’ camp in Europe. I first met Bashi in 2011 in Kenya. He was self-assured and articulate. As I got to know him, I never thought that he would join the young Africans undertaking perilous journeys to seek new starts. Bashi’s story begins in Somalia. At age 14, he crossed the border into northern Kenya to get away from an intensifying conflict. He ended up in Dadaab, one of the largest refugee camps in Africa with more than 350,000 people. After a few years, Bashi made another audacious journey to Nairobi to seek work and education. It is illegal under Kenyan law for refugees to leave the camp, but Bashi “camouflaged” himself in the predominantly Somali neighbourhood Eastleigh. He became a waiter by day, and a student by night, keen to ensure that the circumstances of his birth did not imprison his future. 2014 was a good year for Bashi. He opened his own small shop, selling clothes and “advancing fashion in Nairobi.” Bashi was christened the hipster of Eastleigh with his fondness for tight jeans and oversized … Read more

The Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union’s Agenda 2063: A comparative analysis

23 Oct 2015

Photo: UNDP
Two years ago, while Member States in the Open Working Group began to define the recently adopted universal Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Africa had already set its priorities for the next half a century. At the African Union (AU) Summit in May 2013, Heads of State and Government in their 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration, laid down a vision for the Africa they want to see in the next half a century. The vision later became Agenda 2063, which aims for a peaceful, integrated and prosperous continent by 2063 and is “an endogenous plan for transformation.” Another decision of the AU Summit was to set up a High-Level Committee, tasked with developing a Common African Position to inform African Member States in the Open Working Group and negotiations on the upcoming post-2015 development agenda.  This past September, world leaders signed up to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, of which the 17 SDGs are central, and which aims to address the three interconnected elements of sustainable development: economic growth, social development and environmental sustainability.  In paragraph 42, UN Member States specified that they ‘[…] reaffirm the importance of supporting the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the programme of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development … Read more

How are all countries rich and poor to define poverty?

18 Oct 2015

In Rwanda, a woman works in her tailoring shop. The World Bank recently updated the absolute poverty line to US$1.90 a day, reflecting changes in the average price of the goods and services people require in 15 developing countries, including Rwanda. Photo: Alice Kayibanda/UNDP Rwanda.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is our new development compass. Its 17 goals and 169 targets provide countries – rich and poor – with the coordinates of the new ‘development north’, which more than 190 countries have committed to reach in the next 15 years. As of 1 January 2016, countries, like big vessels, will begin sailing towards this new development north from different harbors. But how will they calibrate their ‘navigation instruments’ to set their course? The 2030 Agenda is very clear in this respect. Paragraph 55 reads: ‘[…] Targets are defined as aspirational and global, with each Government setting its own national targets guided by the global level of ambition but taking into account national circumstances.’ As an example, let us consider Sustainable Development Goal 1: ‘End poverty in all its forms everywhere’. First and foremost, countries, both rich and poor, will need poverty lines (not all countries have one) to set targets and measure progress towards this goal. Countries have different options and these largely depend on their respective level of development: Absolute poverty lines (option 1), including the recently updated World Bank global poverty line of US$1.90/day,  are widely used by developing countries, since large portions … Read more

The best way to rebrand Africa? Invest in entrepreneurship

17 Oct 2015

Because of its long-standing negative image, Africa has been unable to benefit fully from increasing global investments and the advantages that globalization may have to offer. That image will be the subject of extensive discussions during the Rebranding Africa forum, an event organized in Brussels by Notre Afrik magazine on the theme: “Investing in Africa, undertaking for Africa”. Nowadays, African and international media, following in the footsteps of The Economist, are inclined to more accurately portray the continent’s remarkable economic achievements. But Africa still has very little control over its own story. For instance, the continent accounts for less than 3 percent of all Google searches. Further, the narrative on Africa’s emergence focuses narrowly on its impressive and continuous economic growth, to the tune of 5 percent per year on average, over the past 15 years. Changing Africa’s image requires us to go beyond the economic dimension so that at least two additional and fundamental aspects are taken into account: on the one hand, the rising demand from its booming urban middle class, and on the other the continued increase in Africa’s Foreign Direct Investment. These facts should serve to bolster Africa’s reputation as a prime destination for international investors and … Read more

Why we need to save Africa’s historical climate data

14 Oct 2015

Climate archives in Gambia. Photo: UNDP.
Climate data is the lifeblood of any early warning system and the cornerstone for any resilience building effort. It not only allows us to monitor adverse impacts across development sectors, populations and ecosystems, but also helps countries prepare for and adapt to the realities of climate change and protect national development gains and goals. Climate data generally falls into two categories: historical data and data from recent and current observations. While most people understand the importance of current and recent climate data, fewer appreciate the equal importance of historical climate data. Historical data allows us to establish long-term trends, which in turn help us understand and better plan for future changes in climate. Historical climate data records help us develop climate models, satellite-based instruments and seasonal forecasts, as well as provide foundational data for adaptation studies at local, national and regional scales. For example: Climate models are mathematical representations of the interactions between the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, ice and the sun. Once a climate model is developed, it has to be tested to find out if it works. And since we can’t wait for 30 years to see if a model is any good or not, the models have to … Read more

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