Africa

Area code (UN M.49)
002
Date of publication
January 2013
Geographical focus

Africa south of the Sahara has the world’s fastest growing population and the youngest. By 2050 the subcontinent, with its projected 1.7 billion people, will be the second most populous region in the world, after South Asia, and the only region in which the rural population will still be growing. Between 2010 and 2050 other regions will experience a significant decrease in rural population (which will fall by 50 percent in East Asia, 45 percent in Europe, and 10 percent in South Asia), while Africa south of the Sahara will add an estimated 150 million people in rural areas (an increase of nearly 30 percent). The young people yet to be born are in addition to the 330 million already present and about to enter the labor force, of whom 195 million live in rural areas.1 As Figure 1 shows, the number of people entering rural labor markets each year is projected to increase until at least 2035.

Date of publication
January 1997
Geographical focus

Farm-level diversification, the adoption of alternative income-generating activities by farm households, is rarely deemed an explicit objective by economists. Where agricultural transformation has occurred, markets function well and agriculture is a waning portion of overall national product, such as the rice growing regions of Southeast Asia, farm diversification might be a desirable outcome of pursuing a market liberalization objective, but is probably not an end in itself. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where these conditions often do not hold, development depends on pro-actively commercializing rural areas. African farmers tend to diversify their production activities widely to mitigate risk, but to only produce one or two exportable commodities. High transaction costs are common barriers to diversification into new export opportunities, especially for the poor and less well-informed, who tend to fall behind during times of rapid structural change. Identifying appropriate rural institutions to incorporate rural people into new export opportunities is a major priority for relevant policy research; contract farming and participatory cooperatives offer promise and merit further study.

Date of publication
January 1991
Geographical focus

In late 1985, the International Food Policy Research Institute in collaboration with the Rural Development Studies Bureau of the University of Zambia, the National Food and Nutrition Commission, and the Easter Provice Agricultural Development Project embarked on a major research project in Eastern Province, Zambia. The study sought to obtain a better understanding of the public policies that govern the country's push to increase agricultural production and improve the participation of smallholder farmers in it. In particular, the study aimed to assess the impact that agricultural technology has on productivity, use and distribution of land, agricultural and rural employment both on and off farms, level and distribution of income, and nutrition status and welfare of the rural population.

Date of publication
January 2009
Geographical focus

The major objective of this study was to examine the relationship between the institutional environment of microfinance and access of rural women to microfinance. Focus group sessions were held with groups of rural women who are clients of formal and informal Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) in Esan Local Government Area of Edo State, Nigeria. The two formal institutions were the Ekpoma branch of Lift Above Poverty Organization Microfinance Bank and the Ujoelen Microfinance Bank. Fifteen case studies with fourteen women and one man were also examined. They had all accessed loans from formal and/or informal MFIs. Main findings Institutional environment: The traditional informal microfinance institutions still exist side by side with the formal MFIs. These informal mechanisms have not been absorbed into the regulated microfinance sector. They are still very popular with rural women, many of whom have belonged to these “meetings” for over a decade. These informal thrift and credit societies still remain the only source of funds available to poor women who have not been able to access the formal sector microfinance institutions. Why are rural women poor? According to respondents, rural women in the study area are poor because of heavy family responsibilities. They have to feed their family when the husband does not provide because they cannot leave their children hungry. Additionally, they pay their children’s school fees as they do not want their children to be driven out of school. As a result of all these factors, women do not have enough capital for their trading and farming activities and cannot save. The women are hardworking and if they have capital they can trade with it and lift themselves out of poverty. The respondents gave examples of successful business women in the area that succeeded because they had access to credit from LAPO and other sources. Why it is difficult for women to borrow from banks? Rural women in particular find it difficult to borrow from banks because most do not have bank accounts, they have no collateral to present to the bank, and many women do not know the procedures for accessing bank loans. As they explained, while men inherit land and other property which they can use as collateral, women do not inherit property. They also said that women need their husband’s consent to borrow money from the bank. Sources of microfinance for rural women: The main source of finance for the majority of rural women is their contribution from their savings/market association. However, with the advent of microfinance banks, more rural women are now accessing formal microfinance institutions. Rural women have accessed loans from the Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO) and Ujoelen Microfinance Banks. One of the women’s groups also accessed credit from a government agency – the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP). Some of the more successful women have accessed multiple sources of credit over the years as their businesses have expanded. None of the participants has accessed loans from any of the commercial banks which have established microfinance banks/departments operating in the study area. Impact of microfinance on women’s businesses and lives: According to the women interviewed, microcredit has had positive impacts on their businesses and family life. Many of them have been able to expand their businesses. In some cases, they no longer have to buy goods on credit thereby avoiding interest payments and increasing their profits. At the family level, unlike in the past, they can make more contributions to their family upkeep, they eat better food, are able to pay children’s fees regularly and with less stress. A few who were so inclined have joined political parties such as the PDP and AC. However, to properly assess the impact of microfinance, a quantitative study using measures of impacts will be more reliable. Government policy and access to microfinance in rural areas of Edo State: In the study area, government policy has helped to bring formal microcredit sources to women on a larger scale. The Community Banks that transformed into MFBs now target women as microfinance client, which they did not do when they operated as Community Banks. Microcredit is also available to women through the LAPO, which has always targeted women’s groups. However, while the formal institutions have transformed into Microfinance Banks as required by the government’s Microfinance Policy, the traditional savings institutions still remain outside the regulated microfinance sector. Recommendations: From our findings, we would like to recommend and emphasize the following: * Informal microfinance institutions should be registered at the local government level and encouraged to keep good records in order to provide data on the volume of informal sector transactions in microfinance. * Women find it difficult to access formal finance institutions for several reasons, including lack of collateral or bank accounts and the belief that women do not repay loans. * More MFBs should be established in all Local Government Areas (LGAs) in order to reach the rural dwellers, especially women who should be targets of MFB operations. * Commercial banks which have established microfinance departments should develop products that target rural self-employed women. * MFBs should be properly supervised to protect depositors’ funds. The experiences of depositors with failed Community Banks should not be repeated. Access to microfinance can help rural self-employed women to expand their businesses and improve their personal and family well-being. Women will be encouraged to open bank accounts if they are assured that their deposits are safe and that they will be able to access loans for their businesses at reasonable terms such as low interest rates and convenient savings and repayment schedules.

Date of publication
January 2000
Geographical focus

This report presents an analysis of the structural determinants of living standards and poverty in Mozambique, which is based on nationally-representative data from the first national household living standards survey since the end of the civil war: Poverty in Mozambique is predominantly a rural phenomenon and is pervasive, with over two-thirds of the population falling below the poverty line. The degree of regional variation of poverty within the country is striking. The policy simulations that illustrate the impact that changes in the levels of determinants of poverty have on poverty levels allow us to identify six possible elements of a prospective poverty alleviation strategy for Mozambique. These include (1) increased investment in education, (2) sustained economic growth, (3) a sectoral pattern of growth favoring faster growth in the industrial and services sectors, (4) measures to raise agricultural productivity, (5) improved rural infrastructure, and (6) reducing fertility and dependency load within households. In conclusion, any meaningful poverty reduction strategy in Mozambique must give the highest priority to rural areas and must address these macro-level and household-level determinants of poverty in its policy formulations.

Date of publication
January 1997
Geographical focus

During the last 25 years, African policymakers have been bombarded with often conflicting advice on agricultural development strategy from an increasing array of international development agencies. In this brief, Christopher Delgado gives a chronology of agricultural paradigms for Africa. He points out that agricultural development paradigms have gone back and forth between defining agriculture as the engine for growth through cash and export cropping, and emphasizing food production, import substitution, and food self-sufficiency. . Each paradigm has left an intellectual heritage, and today there is some consensus on the issues of importance. Development practitioners now generally agree on the need to increase agricultural productivity, lower high transportation and rural transfer costs, increase rural employment, integrate remote and lower-potential areas (about 80 percent of cropped area) into the national growth strategies, and ensure that Africans design and implement future strategies.

Date of publication
January 2011
Geographical focus

This annual trends report for agricultural and rural development indicators is a monitoring and evaluation tool. It can be used to facilitate critical assessment of the progress being made in implementing and achieving the goals of Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) and other national developmental goals. CAADP aims at helping African countries to achieve high economic growth through agriculture-led development. The agricultural sector in Kenya contributes significantly to the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employment. It provides a livelihood base for the majority of the population that live in the rural areas.

Date of publication
January 2001
Geographical focus

This research report examines three questions that are central to IFPRI research: How do property-rights institutions affect efficiency and equity? How are resources allocated within households? Why does this matter from a policy perspective? As part of a larger multicountry study on property rights to land and trees, this study focuses on the evolution from customary land tenure with communal ownership toward individualized rights, and how this shift affects women and men differently.This study’s key contribution is its multilevel econometric analysis of efficiency and equity issues. Using a combination of community, village, and household surveys in Western Ghana and Sumatra, two areas with traditional matrilineal inheritance systems, the authors and their collaborators analyze the effectiveness of village-, household-, and parcel-level property-rights institutions and arrangements.

Date of publication
January 1995
Geographical focus

This paper presents new evidence on the association between gender and poverty based on an empirical analysis of 11 data sets from 10 developing countries. The paper computes income- and expenditure-based poverty measures and investigates their sensitivity to the use of per capita and per adult equivalent units. It also tests for differences in poverty incidence between individuals in male- and female-headed households using stochastic dominance analysis. Stochastic dominance analysis reveals that differences between male- and female-headed households among the very poor are not sufficiently large that one can conclude that one is unambiguously worse- or better-off, except for a few exceptions. When we use the method of endogenous bounds, persons in female-headed households in rural Ghana and Bangladesh are consistently worse-off, using two stochastic dominance criteria. These results suggest that, among the very poor, persons in male- and female-headed households may not differ significantly. The consistent and significant exceptions, rural Ghana and Bangladesh, suggest that cultural and institutional factors may be responsible for higher poverty among women in these countries. Our results point to the need to analyze determinants of household income and consumption using multivariate methods, and to give greater attention to the processes underlying female headship.

Date of publication
January 2012
Geographical focus

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) faces great challenges in development, including the highest poverty rate in the world, food insecurity, and malnutrition. Given that agriculture is the single most important source of rural livelihood in Africa, an agricultural growth strategy will go a long way to reducing hunger and poverty on the subcontinent. Among the numerous challenges to enhancing agricultural production in SSA is the large spatial and temporal variability and availability of water resources. Currently, agriculture in SSA is predominantly rainfed. The limited access to water in arid areas or during dry seasons and drought spells often presents restrictions to farming and to improving agricultural productivity. Therefore, enhanced agricultural water management has been regarded as a promising solution to boost levels of agricultural productivity in SSA.

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