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November 02, 2020      

Dear Colleagues,  

Welcome to the Eighteenth Edition of our Africa Weekly Digest - A round-up of the news, stories, and publications that captured our hearts and minds this past week. This digest is “Made in Africa and Globally curious”.   

Happy reading and we look forward to your feedback.

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1. World Lemur Day celebrates Madagascar's Endangered animal -  World Lemur Day, which took place on 30 October, aims to raise awareness about lemur diversity and their critical conservation needs. Sadly, 98% of lemur species are threatened with extinction, and 31% are categorized as critically endangered, which is the highest threat level. Without urgent action, 95% of the habitat of lemur species could be destroyed by 2070 because of global warming. Here are 5 facts about Lemurs from WWF Madagascar.  (World Wide Fund for Nature)

2. South African Environmental Activist Shot Dead in Her Home:- Fikile Ntshangase, 65, was involved in a legal dispute over the extension of an opencast mine operated by Tendele Coal near Somkhele, close to Hluhluwe–Imfolozi Park, the oldest nature reserve in Africa. (The Guardian.com). In this blog, WWF South Africa honors her memory and those of other slain Environmental Activists: (Daily Maverick). 

3. 
African Countries Commit to Accelerate Actions Towards Food Security:- Around 900 delegates including 95 ministers and other government officials from 48 African countries met last week at the largest ever FAO Regional Conference for Africa. The conference was held in the context of rising food insecurity and malnutrition exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and multiple overlapping crises - climate change, transboundary pests and diseases, conflict, and economic downturns. In the Ministerial Declaration approved on 28th October; delegates committed to accelerating the transformation of African agriculture and agri-food systems, including through innovation and introducing digital technologies in the agriculture sector. They also supported making further contributions to the African Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF), describing it as an instrument "to show that Africa is capable of taking charge and leading priority programmes". (Allafrica.com ). 

4.  African Nations Spend Between 2% and 9% of their GDP on Climate Adaptation and Mitigation measures: Tropical 
cyclone Idai, which hit Mozambique in March 2019, slashed the country’s GDP growth that year to 2.3%, compared to the 6.6% forecast before the storm. According to IMP, Africa’s GDP could decline between 7.04% and 12.12% under a worst-case climate scenario, in which the world warms by 4ºC by the end of the century. Middle-warming scenarios see GDP falling between 3.3% and 8.28%. And the news gets worse. The latest research and climate models reveal that 80 years from now, temperatures could exceed 50 degrees Celsius (122F) in parts of northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, Mali, Niger, and western Chad - seriously affecting health and livelihoods. (AllAfrica.) However, the future looks bright as South Africa’s major cities have decided to Switch to Solar. (Bloomberg).

5. How Biodiversity-Friendly trade can support COVID-19 recovery:- A new call to action at the Biodiversity Summit urged countries to make BioTrade a lever for recovery and resilience in the wake of the pandemic. (
UNCTAD). The UNCTAD BioTrade Initiative, established in 1996 to promote legal, traceable, and sustainable trade in biodiversity-based goods and services in line with the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), among others. BioTrade refers to the collection, production, transformation, and commercialization of goods and services derived from biodiversity under environmental, social, and economic sustainability principles and criteria, known as the BioTrade Principles and Criteria (P&C).  Many countries in Africa including, Uganda, South Africa, and Namibia have been engaging on Biotrade with support from UNCTAD and PhytoTrade Africa (UNCTAD),  a non-profit trade association that helps African rural producers in southern Africa to develop and market their plant-based natural products for export. (UNCTAD).

6. Oil Drilling, possible fracking planned for Okavango region—elephants’ last stronghold. A petroleum exploration company headquartered in Canada,  ReconAfrica, has licensed more than 13,600 square miles of land in Namibia and Botswana for a new oil and gas field. ReconAfrica says the Kavango Basin could hold up to 31 billion barrels of crude oil—more than the United States would use in four years if consumption remained the same as in 2019. It’s possibly the world’s “largest oil play of the decade,” according to Oilprice.com, an energy news site. This development poses a risk to the survival of some 18,000 of the country’s estimated 130,000 elephants roam the Okavango region. The Kavango Basin, as the area is known to geologists, is larger than the country of Belgium, Botswana is home to the continent’s largest remaining herds of African elephants and other endemic species. (National Geographic). 

7. CEOs from 21 Environmental & Sustainable Development Organizations call for Integrating Nature into COVID-19 Recovery Efforts. The organizations, including WWF, came together in unparalleled consensus to urge policymakers to integrate nature into COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. The leaders are calling for an integrated approach and unprecedented cooperation to achieve an equitable carbon-neutral, nature-positive economic recovery, and a sustainable future. The recommendations to policymakers for meeting this challenge are offered here. (World Resource Institute(WRI).

8. Sudan’s Record Wheat Harvest:- Despite coronavirus-related lockdowns, travel, and transport restrictions, Sudan has just recorded its largest wheat harvest. According to Sudanese officials, the nation saw a wheat production level of a 1.115 million-ton harvest from 315,500 hectares of farmland. That’s quite an improvement from just five years ago, when farmers in Sudan working about a quarter-million hectares of land harvested just 472,000 tons of the grain. Development experts and economists say the nation is on the path to become Africa’s next wheat-sourcing breadbasket, and Sudanese farmers and government leaders are crediting the African Development Bank's Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation program, or TAAT, for delivering the latest technology of heat-tolerant wheat varieties to Sudanese wheat farmers at scale. (African Development Bank Group).

9. Protecting Africa’s Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs):- KBAs are the most important sites in the world for nature (species and ecosystems) and mapping, monitoring, and conserving them is critical to tackling the biodiversity crisis.
South Africa became the first megadiverse country to practically test the Key Biodiversity Areas (KBAs) standards across a full range of species groups and ecosystems. Preliminary results from this assessment have identified more than 540 KBAs in South Africa. These KBAs collectively cover about 370 000 km2 of South Africa’s terrestrial and freshwater environments, equivalent to 30% of South Africa’s mainland. Further, about 173 200 km2 of KBAs are located beyond the mainland owing to the presence of significant seabird colonies.(Engineering News). 

10. Malawi Constitutional Court Judges win Chatham House 2020 Award. The 2020 Chatham House Prize has been awarded to Malawi’s constitutional court judges in recognition of their courage and independence in the defense of democracy. And a recent comment piece in  African Agency in International Affairs series, highlight how African actors need to leverage the power of their collective voice to influence systems of global governance to aid post-COVID recovery. (Chathamhouse.org). 

WHAT WE ARE READING:

Below are the Publications and Blogs that Captured our Attention this Past Week
 

AFRICA'S NEW YEAR OF ZERO; A Special Report on the Future of Wildlife Tourism. The effects of Covid on conservation tourism in Africa have been seismic – on a continent where, in 2019, tourism contributed 14.7 percent of Namibia’s GDP, 10.7 per cent to Tanzania’s, and 8.2 per cent to Kenya’s. The need to innovate and transition beyond tourism is critical for a continent like Africa where wildlife-based tourism specifically generated more than US$29bn annually and employed 3.6m people. Here is an interesting special report from  Financial Times


NATURAL CAPITAL ACCOUNTING - Uganda First National Forest Accounts! Uganda has produced a comprehensive valuation of all wood assets and forest resources in Uganda. The data generated will inform policymakers on effective governance of these resources to ensure sustainability. Find a brief summarizing the report here: here and the full report here: Wavespartnership.org.


BLENDED FINANCE IN AFRICA: The State of Blended Finance 2020; shares the latest deal trends in blended finance, reflecting nearly 600 blended finance transactions, representing aggregated financing of nearly $144 billion to date. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most targeted region for blended finance.  Download the latest report to learn more: Convergence’s flagship report


AFRICA CUISINE:- “In Bibi's Kitchen: The Recipes and Stories of Grandmothers from the Eight African Countries that Touch the Indian Ocean”: This cookbook “fills a deep and vast void in the contemporary cookbook market,” “There are barely any cookbooks published by American publishing houses that feature African food,” adding that Africa is time and time again mistaken for a country or a homogeneous place with one cultural point of view


WORLD CITIES REPORT 2020. The World Cities Report 2020 shows that the intrinsic value of sustainable urbanization can and should be harnessed for the wellbeing of all.  The report reveals that the informal economy has become the lifeblood of many cities in developing countries: Informal employment comprises more than half of non-agricultural employment in most regions of the developing world: 66 percent in Sub-Sahara Africa, 65 and 45 percent in the Middle East and North Africa. Read the report here: UN-Habitat.

LATEST SDG TRADE MONITOR. A new 
SDG Trade Monitor was launched on 20 October during the commemoration of the third World Statistics Day. The portal aims to improve users’ understanding of the relationship between trade and sustainable development by enabling customized analysis of the trade-related SDG indicators and highlighting the latest progress in achieving the relevant SDG targets. Explore it here

IPBES REPORT ON BIODIVERSITY AND PANDEMICS. This new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) says up to 850,000 animal viruses could be caught by humans, unless we protect nature. The report calls for a “transformative change” in addressing the causes of virus outbreaks to prevent future pandemics and their devastating consequences. (
IPBES). Meanwhile, Bushmeat Consumption in Africa is on the Rise: Estimates for the Congo Basin range from 1 million to 4 million tons of bushmeat consumed every year, while urban bushmeat consumption in Zambia is rising as populations grow and wealth increases even as  Zambia’s wildlife populations are declining. The social and economic dynamics of the bushmeat trade vary from place to place, so findings in one region are not necessarily applicable elsewhere. In many African countries, there is currently little or no research into the bushmeat trade and the high cost of the research required is often beyond the means of already thinly stretched park authorities. However, without local studies, it is impossible to manage this issue. Conservationists in Southern Africa are exploring new ways to contain this. ( Mongabay). 


BANKROLLING EXTINCTION REPORT: The banking sector’s role in the global biodiversity crisis. This week’s #BankrollingExtinctionreport finds that financial institutions provide the capital that is funding over-exploitation of our lands and seas, putting #biodiversity in freefall. Last year, the world’s 50 biggest banks provided $2.6tn (£1.9tn) in loans and other credit to sectors with a high impact on biodiversity such as forestry and agriculture. (Portfolio.earth).


MAP OF THE WEEK
Flood Risk and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa 

Floods are one of the most common and severe natural disasters induced by climate change, especially in low-income countries where infrastructure systems to manage floods tend to be weaker. The figure below shows the subnational relationship between poverty levels and flood risk in sub-Saharan Africa; areas colored in dark blue both face a high risk of flooding and have high levels of poverty. The World Bank examines these concerning trends in its annual report, “Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2020: Reversals of Fortunate’’. (Brookings.edu).  

Africa Weekly Digest| WWF Africa | Eighteenth Edition 

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