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.

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Three Lessons from the Ebola Crisis for Sierra Leone’s Government and Investors

Three Lessons from the Ebola Crisis for Sierra Leone’s Government and Investors

Report for Budget Advocacy Network, Sierra Leone (January 2015)

The current Ebola crisis has killed or infected thousands of people and caused massive disruptions to peoples’ lives and Sierra Leone’s economy. This briefing argues that the crisis offers three main lessons to the government and companies working in Sierra Leone. The first is that insufficient spending on health has left the country vulnerable to the spread of Ebola. The second is that the government is giving away too much revenue in tax incentives to foreign investors that should be spent on promoting the health of the country’s people. The third is that companies in Sierra Leone receiving those generous tax incentives should now recognise that these are short-sighted, and that their own self-interest lies in contributing greater tax revenues and championing better public services.

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Sierra Leone: Policy Briefs on Health, Education, Water/Sanitation and Social Protection

Sierra Leone: Policy Briefs on Health, Education, Water/Sanitation and Social Protection

Briefings for Budget Advocacy Network Sierra Leone (December 2014)

These briefings highlight the government of Sierra Leone’s commitments in the health, education, water/sanitation and social protection sectors, the challenges facing these sectors and the government’s budgetary spending. They end by making policy recommendations to improve government spending and policy.

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Health Spending, Illicit Financial Flows and Tax Incentives in Malawi

Health Spending, Illicit Financial Flows and Tax Incentives in Malawi

Joint article in Malawi Medical Journal with Bernadette O’Hare (University of St Andrews, Scotland / College of Medicine, University of Malawi) (November 2014)

Malawi suffers from a high disease burden, with one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world and with more than 1 in 9 children dying before their fifth birthday. This article examines Malawi’s health spending in light of the the revenues it loses through providing tax incentives and through illicit financial flows. Malawi needs to spend around $530 million each year to provide a minimal health package for all its citizens, yet government and donors are spending only around $400 million. At the same time, Malawi is losing nearly $400 million a year from the provision of tax incentives and lost tax income from illicit financial flows out of the country. If these lost revenues were recovered, Malawi could pay for a minimal health package from its own resources. (The weblink to this article is here)

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Moving Backwards or Forwards? Norway’s Approach to Responsible Investment

Moving Backwards or Forwards? Norway’s Approach to Responsible Investment

Report for Forum for Environment and Development (Norway) (October 2014)

In 2013, the Norwegian government began to lobby for certain ‘clarifications’ to the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises – the main principles that encourage companies from OECD states to behave responsibly. This lobbying followed an investigation into Norway’s giant Pension Fund related to its investment in South Korean steel manufacturer Posco, which concluded that the Fund had violated the OECD Guidelines. Posco’s project in Odisha, India, is threatening to displace 22,000 people and has been condemned by no less than eight UN special rapporteurs. This report analyses Norway’s stance towards the Guidelines and recommends how the Pension Fund should improve its human rights due diligence.

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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.

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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.

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Losing Out: Sierra Leone’s massive revenue losses from tax incentives

Losing Out: Sierra Leone’s massive revenue losses from tax incentives

Report for Budget Advocacy Network, Sierra Leone (April 2014)

This report analyses Sierra Leone’s ‘tax expenditure’ – i.e., the amount of revenues lost by the government’s granting of tax incentives and exemptions. Using figures obtained from the National Revenue Authority, the report estimates that the government lost revenues worth $224 million in 2012, amounting to an enormous 8.3 per cent of GDP. In 2011, losses were even higher – 13.7 per cent of GDP. The massive rise in revenue losses since 2009 is the result of tax incentives granted to the mining sector. The report estimates that the government will lose revenues of $131 million in the three years 2014-16 alone from corporate income tax incentives granted to five mining companies. Tax expenditures could instead be spent on improving education and health services, investing in agriculture and in providing social protection to vulnerable groups. Yet in 2011 the government spent more on tax incentives than on its development priorities. In 2012, tax expenditure amounted to an astonishing 59 per cent of the entire government budget – over 8 times the health budget and 7 times the education budget.

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Afghanistan in Limbo: New aid priorities and the funding crisis putting future progress at risk

Afghanistan in Limbo: New aid priorities and the funding crisis putting future progress at risk

Report for Islamic Relief (March 2014)

Curtis Research wrote the first draft and contributed much of the research to this report. A new and uncertain chapter has begun in Afghanistan’s bloody and poverty-stricken recent history as foreign troops prepare to withdraw by the end of 2014. Afghanistan remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with extremely low development indicators. This report argues that the international community must not abandon Afghans to their fate but prepare for future challanges. Poverty is killing more people in Afghanistan than direct fatalities from the ongoing conflict. The internaitonal community should support sustained aid funding, improve the quality of aid, focus on basic services, ensure community and NGO involvement, build resilience and strengthen governance.

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Putting Small-Scale Farmers First: Improving the National Agriculture Investment Plans of Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania

Putting Small-Scale Farmers First: Improving the National Agriculture Investment Plans of Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Tanzania

Report for Acord International (January 2014)

This report analyses the National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIPs) of five countries – Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi and Burkina Faso – and assesses the extent to which they are likely to benefit smallholder farmers. The NAIPs are the flagship strategies of governments, outlining how they will support the agriculture sector in the coming years, and include ambitious spending plans. If the NAIPs are to transform agriculture, and promote broader development, they must focus on the people who do most of the farming – smallholder farmers. The report finds that, while the NAIPs of these five countries show a significant commitment to the agricultural sector, there are five key problems: insufficient prioritisation of the real needs of smallholder farmers; a poor focus on women farmers; a lack of explicit prioritisation of sustainable agriculture; unrealistic funding; and limited community participation in implementing the NAIPs.

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