Land and natural resources lie at the heart of social, political, and economic life in much of rural Africa. They represent fundamental assets—primary sources of livelihood, nutrition, income, wealth, and employment for African communities—and are a basis for security, status, social identity, and political relations.
Given the importance of land and natural resources to local livelihoods and well-being, rural people and communities need strong, secure rights over their property. Property rights issues, however, can be complex. They’re often misunderstood, even by many policymakers and development practitioners.
Seventy-five percent of the world’s poor live in often ignored and neglected rural areas. National systems for education and health care, for example, don’t always reach the most needy. In many cases, national governments do not clearly know where their poor populations reside. WRI’s poverty maps are providing governments with powerful visual information about where the poor live and where their federal resources are being spent. With these maps, governments can see the problems and better direct scarce financial resources to where they are needed most. Kenya’s Constituency Development Fund was created in early 2005 to channel development funds to the grassroots level through locally-based initiatives. Relying on poverty maps that WRI helped create, a Poverty Index has been developed by the Kenyan government to ensure that funds are guided to areas that will have immediate gains for the poor.
Poverty maps not only identify the distribution of poor
populations, but pinpoint places where development lags and
highlight the location and condition of infrastructure and natural
resource assets that are critical to poverty reduction programs.
WRI has helped design and support poverty mapping efforts in
Kenya and Uganda. Kenya has used the maps to distribute critical
budget resources to its Constituency Development Fund (CDF)
which has allocated a total of approximately US$475 million for
development and poverty reduction efforts. Before the maps, funds
were based on population rather than on need. That has
changed, with a greater share of funds going to formerly
neglected rural areas.
Poverty maps were also used by the Kenya Water and
Sanitation Program, a five-year, US$65.3 million
effort to ensure resources reached poor communities
with low access to safe water and sanitation.
The Climate Investment Funds (CIFs), one of the world’s largest dedicated funding facilities for climate change mitigation/adaptation projects, have now been in operation for five years. It’s a good time to step back and evaluate what lessons we’re learning from these important sources of climate finance.
WRI recently did just that, inviting a group of representatives from countries accessing CIFs funding to speak at our offices. It became clear from the discussions that while some valuable progress has been made, there is still plenty of room for improvement. In particular, lending institutions involved with the CIFs could deploy climate finance more effectively by fostering a stronger sense of country ownership over mitigation/adaptation projects.
The Good News: Climate Investment Funds Are Contributing to Change on the Ground
We’re starting to see some countries make progress on implementing climate change mitigation and adaptation projects with funds from CIFs programs (see text box). Panelists at the WRI event highlighted a few examples:
As the climate changes, the global community and national governments both need to take action to prevent the kind of humanitarian disaster underway In parts of the Horn of Africa. Early action can help communities confront climate change, take advantage of ecosystem services, and prevent future food-related tragedies due to drought and other extreme weather.
People relying on agriculture and livestock rearing for their livelihoods make up over seventy percent of the total population of east Africa. Over the last two years, the eastern part of the region has faced two consecutive failed rainy seasons. The UN reported that dry-lands of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia were facing "one of the driest years since 1950/51." This extreme lack of rain has reduced the ability of people in the region to grow their food. Pastures have dried up, making it impossible to sustain cattle. With animals and agriculture in jeopardy, the main sources of food and income for many in the region have been greatly threatened. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) declared a famine in parts of Somalia on July 28, 2011.
Bottom-Up Perspectives on Smart Renewable Energy Policy in Developing Countries
This working paper identifies key components of smart renewable
energy policy in developing countries, focusing on
the power sector. It also provides recommendations
for maximizing the effectiveness of international
support for deployment of renewable energies, ...
This report provides a new approach to integrating spatial data on poverty and ecosystems in Kenya. It is endorsed by five Permanent Secretaries in Kenya and with a Foreword by Wangari Maathai (recipient of the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize).