The journey to elevating the voices of Africa’s borderlands has started on a very strong footing, despite the devasting impact of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Africa’s borderlands are regions of strength, all -inspiring beauty, resilience, and creativity. The generations of borderland communities who occupy these spaces prove this as they continue to adapt and thrive. The Africa Borderlands Centre is the manifestation of a bold statement by UNDP, and its partners’ collective resolve to uphold the farmers, pastoralists, intellectuals, traders, historians, artisans, caregivers, women and youth at the heart of UNDP’s development actions.
Admittedly, borderland communities live in the most fragile, insecure, and impoverished locations in Africa. Their historic marginalization is the reason they tend to be underserved in development efforts. Such a situation is fertile ground from increased insecurity and inequality. Climate change has increased the struggle for scarce resources leading to forced migration and resource conflict in some of these regions. We see this from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa, including in the Great Lakes and Lake Chad regions, where communities navigate harsh conditions to lead a simple life.
Despite the challenges, Africa’s vibrant communities play an important role in promoting regional economic and social integration, creating opportunities for inclusive socio-economic empowerment, building peace and social cohesion, boosting social capital and enhancing livelihoods.
The establishment of the Africa Borderlands Centre has a dual role in working towards improving development efforts in borderland regions. First, to conduct the most relevant expert research & analysis and, through innovative approaches, to curate, test and pilot creative ideas by embedding home-grown solutions from within borderland communities. Second, it will co-create an approach that ensures that border communities develop their capabilities, to derive maximum improvement of their quality of life from the economic activities taking place within their geographical space. Both these approaches consider the values and peculiarities of the borderland communities and their socio-economic dynamics. There is no doubt in my mind that borderlands will transform into regions of peace, prosperity, and sustainable development.
It is with great pride and encouragement that I endorse the Africa Borderlands Centre’s mission, a centre piece of the Africa Promise and UNDP’s Renewed Strategic Offer for Africa. I remain resolute in my commitment to support this unique effort to shine the light on Africa’s exceptional resources, initiatives and creativity in yet another inclusive manner.
All the best,