Hotter Planet, Humanitarian Crisis: El Niño, the ‘New Normal’ and the Need for Climate Justice

Hotter Planet, Humanitarian Crisis: El Niño, the ‘New Normal’ and the Need for Climate Justice

Report for ActionAid (November 2016)

The world is enduring an unprecedented combination of climate related crises. We are living through what will almost certainly be the hottest year on record, and have faced one of the strongest El Niño weather events of all time. In 2016, the Earth has recorded the highest ever level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which are set to rise still further. The 2015-16 El Niño may yet prove to have caused the biggest drought that the world has ever seen and many countries are enduring their worst droughts in decades, affecting hundreds of millions of people. The Paris Agreement on climate change was celebrated with much fanfare less than a year ago, but the lack of an adequate response to the global El Niño drought shows that the world is not yet willing or able to respond properly to an actual climate crisis. The report argues that the world must now act to further cut greenhouse gas emissions, and that, since climate-induced extreme weather events are likely to become the “new normal,” far greater efforts are needed to prevent these from becoming humanitarian crises. Governments, donors, climate and humanitarian agencies must work together to prepare for and respond to an increasingly climate-chaotic world.

Read full publication >

Chinese, Brazilian and Indian Investments in African Agriculture: Impacts, Opportunities and Concerns

Chinese, Brazilian and Indian Investments in African Agriculture: Impacts, Opportunities and Concerns

Report for Acord International (June 2016)

This study offers new analysis of Chinese, Brazilian and Indian investments in African agriculture. It brings together three new case studies of Chinese investment and aims to assess the impacts of investment on Africa’s small-scale farmers. The report aims to assess how appropriate these investments are for Africa’s small-scale farmers, including how aligned they are to Africa’s own agriculture strategies. The report finds that there are major problems with Chinese, Brazilian and Indian investments. Some investments are associated with land grabs, several projects are having adverse consequences on local farmers, and the kind of technology being promoted in Africa tends to be more suited to Chinese, Brazilian and Indian agribusiness interests than to Africa’s smallholder farmers. Above all, investments and cooperation programmes do not appear to systematically involve African smallholder farmers in project design or implementation, but appear more suited to large-scale farming. This is despite some projects which proponents claim are resulting in significant crop yield increases, although there are few genuinely independent evaluations of these projects.

Read full publication >

Gated Development: Is the Gates Foundation Always a Force for Good?

Gated Development: Is the Gates Foundation Always a Force for Good?

Report for Global Justice Now (January 2016)

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is the world’s largest charitable organisation, with an asset endowment of $43.5 billion. In global health and agriculture policies, two of its key grant areas, the BMGF has become probably the most influential actor in the world. Bill Gates himself has become probably the single most influential voice in international development. But the BMGF’s increasing global influence is not being subjected to democratic scrutiny. Further, this study shows that the BMGF’s programmes are – overall – detrimental to promoting economic development and global justice. The world is being sold a myth that private philanthropy holds many of the solutions to the world’s problems, when in fact it is pushing the world in many wrong directions.

Read full publication >

New Alliance, New Risk of Land Grabs: Evidence from Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania

New Alliance, New Risk of Land Grabs: Evidence from Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania

Report for ActionAid International (June 2015)

Ten African countries have signed up to the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition – the G8 countries’ main strategy for supporting agriculture in Africa that was launched in 2012. As the New Alliance has been under way for three years, some of its likely impacts are becoming clearer. This briefing – covering Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania and Senegal – shows that some large companies involved in the New Alliance are already accused of taking part in land grabs in some countries. It also presents new research to argue that the initiative is further increasing the risk of rural communities losing their access to and control over land to large investors, largely through policy commitments on land titling and land reform. Implicated in these reforms and risks of land grabs are the G8 donor countries bankrolling the New Alliance and the European Union. These governments must stop all engagement in and support for the New Alliance and replace it with genuine initiatives to support small-scale food producers and advance sustainable agriculture.

French version here –  Nouvelle Alliance, Nouveaux Risques

Read full publication >

Fostering Economic Resilience: The Financial Benefits of Ecological Farming in Malawi and Kenya

Fostering Economic Resilience: The Financial Benefits of Ecological Farming in Malawi and Kenya

Report for Greenpeace-Africa (May 2015)

This report analyses ecological farming as compared to industrial farming, assessing how much African governments are currently allocating to each and comparing the relative benefits for small farmers. It is based on field research with the World Agro-Foresty Centre and ICIPE, comparing groups of farmers using chemical pesticides/fertilizers, with those not. It finds that the average profitability of maize (per acre, per year) for small farmers is three times greater for farmers promoting ‘push-pull’ technology (ie, no use of chemical pesticides) than for farmers using pesticides. In Malawi, average profitability of maize (per acre, per year) was $259 for agro-forestry farmers (ie, no use of chemical fertilizers) compared to $166 for chemical farmers. The income benefits are especially large for women farmers. The report calculates that African governments are spending at least $1 billion a year on chemical fertilizer subsidies. It calls for a shift away from chemical farming towards promoting Ecological Farming Strategies.

Click on the link above to read the summary or read the full report here.

Read full publication >

Take Action: Stop EcoEnergy’s Land Grab in Bagamoyo, Tanzania

Take Action: Stop EcoEnergy’s Land Grab in Bagamoyo, Tanzania

Report for ActionAid International (March 2015)

Rural communities in the Bagamoyo district of Tanzania are opposing a much-lauded sugar cane plantation project planned by EcoEnergy, a Swedish-owned company that has secured a lease of over 20,000 hectares of land for the next 99 years and which is about to push smallholder producers off their land. Although the company has conducted consultations with affected villagers, this research found the majority have not been offered the choice of whether to be resettled or not, and have not been given crucial information about the irreversible effects the project may have on their livelihoods and their rights to food and land. By failing to obtain the free, prior and informed consent of the communities in the area affected by the project, EcoEnergy is grabbing the land of these communities, or risks doing so. EcoEnergy’s plan to develop a sugar cane plantation is a flagship project of the increasingly controversial New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the G8’s African agriculture initiative.

Read full publication >

Contract Farming and Outgrower Schemes: Appropriate Development Models to Tackle Poverty and Hunger?

Contract Farming and Outgrower Schemes: Appropriate Development Models to Tackle Poverty and Hunger?

Report for ActionAid-International (March 2015)

Out-grower schemes (often referred to as contract farming) are an important component of many current public-private partnerships in developing countries, including the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. Such schemes can benefit farmers because the company often provides inputs and production services, incomes can rise, and such schemes often open up new markets. But they can also exclude the poorest people and women and give companies access to land that would not otherwise be available, thus being a disguised form of land grab. Farmers can often become little more than a form of cheap labour and carry most of the project risk. Many schemes are geared towards (often non-food) crops for export or large urban markets and tend to consolidate the role of large corporations in global agriculture supply chains whether smallholders benefit or not. This report argues that evidence suggests that most existing contract farming and out-grower schemes are not appropriate models to tackle poverty and hunger.

Read full publication >

Why Wait Until the Next Food Crisis? Improving Food Reserves Strategies in East Africa

Why Wait Until the Next Food Crisis? Improving Food Reserves Strategies in East Africa

Report for Acord International (January 2015)

This report highlights the importance of African countries holding food reserves for promoting food security and price stability. It analyses the food reserves policies of three countries in East Africa – Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda – showing how these can, indeed must, be improved to address hunger. National food reserves, when designed and implemented effectively, can play a vital role in promoting food security and price stability. However, although most African countries currently hold food reserves, many are poorly managed, and some hold no stocks at all. Both Kenya and Tanzania hold sizeable grain reserves but Uganda holds none and has explicitly rejected doing so, stating that they are expensive and require careful management. Our analysis is that all three countries need to re-examine their policy on food reserves to improve food security for the most vulnerable. Policy towards food reserves should be seen as a complement to other social protection policies.

Read full publication >

Sowing the Seeds of Success: The Case for Public Investment in African Smallholder Agriculture

Sowing the Seeds of Success: The Case for Public Investment in African Smallholder Agriculture

Report for ActionAid-USA (August 2014)

There is an intense debate in development policy-making circles concerning what investments are needed to increase farm productivity in Africa. Donors and some African governments are increasingly turning towards the private sector, or Public-Private Partnerships, to provide investments, with such models seen not only as complements, but sometimes as alternatives, to increased public spending. This report reviews the literature on public and private investment in agriculture and argues in favour of increasing public resources to support smallholder farming in Africa. It analyses current (low) levels of public investment, gives reasons why public investment can be effective and outlines ten key ways in which public investment should be promoted to benefit small farmers.

Read full publication >

Honest Accounts? The True Story of Africa’s Billion Dollar Losses

Honest Accounts? The True Story of Africa’s Billion Dollar Losses

Report for Health Poverty Action, War on Want, World Development Movement, Jubilee Debt Campaign and others (July 2014)

This report is a first comprehensive attempt to measure the financial flows in and out of sub-Saharan Africa. It shows that Africa is being drained of resources, losing far more each year than it receives. While $134 billion flows into the continent each year (mainly in the form of loans, foreign investment and aid) $192 billion is taken out (mainly in profits repatriated by multinational companies, tax dodging and the costs of adapting to climate change). The result is that Africa suffers a net loss of $58 billion a year. Thus the idea that we are aiding Africa is flawed; it is Africa that is aiding the rest of the world. While we are led to believe that aid from the UK and other rich countries is a mark of our generosity, the research shows that wealthy countries benefit from many of Africa’s losses.

Read full publication >