Our Perspective

      • It is time to break the cycle of food insecurity in the Sahel

        14 Feb 2012

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        Photo: WFP/Phil Behan

        A food crisis is looming in the West of the Sahel, a semi-arid belt stretching from Africa’s Atlantic coast to the Red Sea. In the lean season, which starts in April, millions of people from Mauritania to Chad will likely require food and nutritional support. For instance, it is estimated that more than a million children will need life-saving treatment for severe and acute malnutrition in 2012. Across the Sahel, extreme weather events, leading to failed harvests and food price increases, have created pockets of acute food insecurity. In addition, the crisis in Libya and the current fighting in Mali have aggravated the security and humanitarian situation in the region. But the key issue is chronic poverty. In the Sahel, the most vulnerable people struggle to feed themselves even in good years, because they lack the livelihoods to buy or produce sufficient quantities of nutritious food. Lack of investment in rural infrastructure; limited access to credit, markets and insurance schemes; and poor social protection coverage, including health services, cause many households to break down when times get even tougher. Later this week, the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark, and the UN’s Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos,Read More

      • Sustainable energy access critical for development in Africa | Helen Clark

        29 Dec 2011

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        Access to modern affordable energy services in developing countries is essential for the achievement of the internationally agreed development goals. Photo: UN Foundation

        Almost 45 per cent of those who lack access to energy live in Sub-Saharan Africa, making up 69 per cent of the region’s population. They number 585 million people. Seventy eight per cent of those living in Sub-Saharan Africa use traditional biomass for cooking and heating (650 million). Energy needs extend well beyond having electricity available in homes. In Africa, where so many depend on rain-fed agriculture for their livelihood, expanding access to energy for irrigation, food production, and processing is vital. It can boost agricultural productivity and rural incomes, and empower women who make up a significant proportion of the continent’s farmers. For UNDP, access to sustainable energy is critical for making societies more equitable and inclusive, and for encouraging green growth and sustainable development overall. We advocate for equity, inclusiveness, resilience, and sustainability to be the guiding principles for efforts to achieve universal energy access.  We recognize that different groups have different energy needs. Therefore, governments need to balance the financing of large-scale energy projects with support for the off-grid, decentralized energy solutions which will help meet the needs of the poorest and most marginalised people. Cleaner cooking and heating fuels and motor power for productive activities are alsoRead More

      • Turning the challenges of sustainable development into opportunity | Tegegnework Gettu

        01 Dec 2011

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        Building green economies in Africa must be reconciled with reducing poverty, creating employment and boosting human development (Photo: UNDP Eritrea)

        The Rio declaration stated that: “Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development.” And that: “The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations.” This message from Rio – that people are at the center of sustainable development – echoes UNDP’s focus on advancing human development. Making human development sustainable is critical for people everywhere. But, as the documents prepared for this preparatory conference show, there are compelling reasons for why this agenda is particularly important for Africa. Despite the marked improvements in economic growth rates over the last decade, our continent still has the highest proportion of people living in poverty and hunger. The overall conclusion from the 2011 regional MDG report prepared jointly by the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, the Economic Commission for Africa and UNDP, was that the overall pace of progress towards the MDGs, while picking up steam in the last decade, has not been strong enough to meet the all the targets everywhere by 2015. But the report also shows that real progress has taken place and that many countries are making strides in advancing human development. ThisRead More