Currently, 40 percent of the people in sub-Saharan Africa are living below the poverty line — the majority of them in rural areas. They’re mostly poorly educated, young and often female — which is referred to as a triple burden.
A lack of employment prospects, especially for young people, limited access to social services, digitalisation and few opportunities for political participation are factors that contribute to people wanting to migrate to urban centres or neighbouring countries. Climate change, political crises and conflicts add even more pressure onto people, with women often being hit particularly hard.
Promoting sustainable agriculture and rural area development as a broader concept has proven to be effective in terms of enhancing sustainable development efforts, food security and poverty reduction. With such an emphasis on its importance, effective policies have a critical role in ensuring development in agriculture and rural development.
The Policies for Rural Development working group has gained experiences in various countries, on the basis of which it now focuses its activities on peer-to-peer learning as well as on exchanges in the area of policy advice in agriculture and rural development among GIZ projects. This provides strategic and operational direction in our portfolio in African countries.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all working group activities in 2020 and 2021 have been implemented online:
- In a webinar organized by the working group, national senior policy advisors shared their assessments of the impacts of COVID-19 on the agriculture sector in Zambia, Namibia, Kenya and Cameroon. The exchange concluded that it was important to look at how the current policies had gaps in responding to pandemics, hence it was recommended that policy advice from GIZ had to also have a look at how policies could be designed for better preparedness for unexpected pandemics, such as COVID-19.
- Two webinars on the lessons learned during 12 years GIZ CAADP support program operations, and the Biannual Review of CAADP provided more knowledge exchange on the continental policy processes such as the Malabo Declaration and the implementation of National Agricultural Investment Plans in various countries.
- The Policies for Rural Development working group (PPARD at the time) conducted a study on the role and importance of agricultural policy advice in GIZ projects.
Information communication and technology tools have become critical for policy work and the COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened this trend. Hence, a study on the role of digitalization in policy formulation and implementation will be carried out in 2021. The study will aim to assess how digitalization transforms the sector for more target-oriented and efficient policy formulation and implementation. Experiences made in different African countries while adopting certain technologies, such as e-voucher subsidy provision, e-extension and earth observation shall provide insights and identify possible potentials to adopt the technologies in other countries. The results will be presented in the first half of the year.
Furthermore, the 2021 future outlook continues to focus on the rural areas, the nutrition status of people and the agri-food sector which are currently affected by climate change. Issues around food and nutrition security, climate change, youth in the sector and access to finance remain critical.
The working group is headed by Theresa Kinkese (Zambia) as the speaker and only recently introduced Maria Schmidt (Germany – Ghana) as the new co-speaker. The tandem partner from the sectoral department (FMB) is Dominik Fortenbacher. Additionally, the working group will continue to be supported by Klaas Grimmelmann of the sector project Agricultural Policy and Food Security and Johanes Agbahey from the global project Agricultural Policy and Innovation Fund.
Moving forward policy advisory will continue to shift away from discussion and exchange on topics towards exchange about strategies, methodologies, skills of adviser, exchange formats (including south-south exchange) and management strategies for policy reforms and changes to find “fit for the future” strategies, policies and implementation instruments and tools. Another forward process is to find a way to organize the generational shift from senior experts to an incoming, younger generation of policy advisers and ensure knowledge and experience transfer within the team and groups.
Processes, methodologies and management topics for 2021
- Policy process and instruments (also with a focus on fragile context and bad governance structures)
- Peer Learning and trust exchange for managers in GIZ (management, leadership)
- Skills set for policy advisers
- Innovations and future topics in policy processes
Through these processes, methodologies and management, the group will apply the knowledge to the core future issues for Africa which are:
- Ending hunger and malnutrition in all forms
- Creating jobs especially for youths
- Increasing competitiveness and incomes in the agricultural sector
- Promoting climate change adaptation and sustainable management of natural resources