T16P05 - Policies to Enhance Sustainable Development in Africa

Topic : Sustainable Development and Policy

Panel Chair : Geoffrey Nwaka - geoffreynwaka@yahoo.com

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

Call for papers

Session 1 Pathways to sustainable development in Africa

Friday, June 30th 08:15 to 10:15 (Block B 5 - 3 (35))


Joseph Obosi - jobosi@uonbi.ac.ke - University of Nairobi - Kenya

Indigenous Knowledge as Local Response to Globalization and Climate Change in Africa

Geoffrey Nwaka - geoffreynwaka@yahoo.com - Abia State University, Uturu, Nigeria - Nigeria


As we now adopt the Sustainable Development Goals post-2015, indigenous knowledge may prove to be “the single largest knowledge resource not yet mobilized in the development enterprise”.  Many critics of African development liken the current pattern of development in the continent to building a house from the roof down as “all the institutions of modernization appear to be suspended over societies that have no firm connection to them, and whose indigenous institutions, even when oriented in the right direction, lack the necessary scaffolding to connect them to their modern surrogates”. Africa contributes least to, but suffers the most from the disastrous consequences of climate change. While the industrialized and more affluent countries are rightly being called upon to take greater responsibility for the current global environmental and economic crises, Marshall Sahlins has emphasized the need for all peoples “to indigenize the forces of global modernity, and turn them to their own ends”, as the real impact of globalization depends largely on the responses developed at the local level. How can Africa engage profitably with globalization, and cope effectively with the worsening threats of flooding, droughts and other emergencies that result from extreme weather conditions?

For a long time African customs and traditions were mis-conceived as irrational and incompatible with the conventional strategies of development. But the current global economic and ecological crises have exposed flaws in the Western neo-liberal model of development which is largely to blame for these problems, and for widening inequalities within and between nations. With the obvious under-performance of the Millennium Development Goals in Africa, there is now renewed interest in an alternative approach to development which emphasizes the cultural dimension of development, and the overlooked potential of indigenous knowledge. This paper considers how indigenous knowledge and practice can be put to good use in support of good governance, agriculture and natural resource management, poverty alleviation, and the mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Although poverty may sometimes force people to use resources unsustainablely, most traditional African societies have deeply entrenched ideas about environmental protection and sustainability because their livelihood depends largely on the land and on the stability of the ecosystem. They believe that land and other forms of nature are sacred, and are held in trust by the present day users on behalf of dead ancestors and future generations.

The paper argues that the indigenous knowledge movement is not only a useful and creative way to respond to globalization, it also has great potential for the mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Africa cannot now contemplate an insular and entirely home grown approach to its development, but indigenous knowledge does offer a model for rethinking and redirecting the development process, and for enlisting positive traditional values and institutions in a way that enables and empowers local actors to take part in their own development.  Development agents, researchers and donors, who often assume a knowledge or capacity vacuum in Africa, should instead try to tap into indigenous knowledge for locally appropriate ways of forecasting weather systems, traditional techniques of soil management, pest and disease control, adopting suitable crop and animal varieties, and so on. By building on the indigenous we can make development more participatory and sustainable, and also promote intercultural dialogue in African development.

African Traditional Approach: Sustainable Option in Curbing Corruption

Adewale Kupoluyi, - adewalekupoluyi@yahoo.co.uk - Babcock University, Ilishan-Remo, Nigeria - Nigeria


Corruption has been described as a major problem militating against the political, economic and social development of many Sub-Saharan African countries. To stem this tide, several policies, programmes and institutions have been put in place by the various African governments with the support, intervention and collaboration of civil society groups and international organisations to curb the malaise. Unfortunately, the more of such external interventions that are introduced, at the expense of local and indigenous initiatives, the incidence of corruption seems to remain on the alarming rate. Is there something fundamentally wrong with the Western model of curbing corruption that makes it ineffective in Africa? What better alternatives can be explored? The main objective of the paper is to clamour for a revisit and the rejuvenation of the African traditional approach, which have been found to be cheaper and more effective in curbing corrupt practices. The study is qualitative. Primary and secondary sources of data were used. The instruments of primary data collection were interviews and focus group discussion with key stakeholders such as traditional rulers, chiefs, religious leaders, rural dwellers and local historians in Yorubaland in all the six (6) Yoruba-speaking south-west states of Nigeria, namely; Ekiti, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Osun and Oyo, where the rich traditional African cultures, religions, beliefs and taboos still exist in the fight against corruption. The traditional anti-graft approach is highly organised and prevents the innocent from being unjustly sanctioned while offenders are severely punished without any fear or favour. Relevant books and journals were consulted as secondary data sources. Findings show that the use of traditional African approach is sustainable in the curbing corruption by fostering the entrenchment of the necessary legislation and public policies in African states, that will invariably bring about good governance in terms of sustainable economic growth, educational empowerment, enhanced living standards, employment, financial stability and by becoming a major player on the global scene.


Keywords:  African Tradition, Corruption, Culture, Development, Yorubaland.


Joseph Obosi - jobosi@uonbi.ac.ke - University of Nairobi - Kenya

Public Private partnership (PPP) has become preferred public service delivery approach in the provision of water services in Kenya.  As a strategy,  PPP in water service provision was started in Kenya following water sector reforms in the water Act 2002.  In order to establish the impact on water service delivery in Kenya, a household survey of 288 respondents from seven (7) Water service providers (WSPs) comprising four water utility companies and three (3) community water projects, under Lake Victoria South Water Board (LVSWB) was conducted.  Using quantitative techniques to analyze data under governance theory, the study established that compared to the period up to 2004, the households experienced better services in the year 2012 in terms of  water quality, affordability, access and customer service levels  to the extent that the public institutions that had adopted private sector participation, performed better than those which had not.  On average,  distance to water point reduced by 78.3 metres, frequency of coloured water reduced by 0.2 days, while time taken to restore water supply reduced to three days within the ten years period

The paper fits within the Sustainable Development Policy Panel as it attempts to analyze the challenges of water service provision which is key towards the attainment of Millenium Development Goals especially in the developing countries.  A proper governance of Water service provision through public private partnerships shall ensure access to reliable quality, timely and affordable water which will reduce water borne diseases.  A large population in developing countries suffer from preventable diseases mainly caused by consumption of poor quality water.  The infections further drain the household economic resources through increased expenditure on health and opportunities.

Uniting to Develop: Assessing Regional Integration Efforts to foster Sustainable Development in North-East Africa

Natalia Piskunova - natalia.piskunova@gmail.com - Moscow State University - Russia (Russian Federation)

Fresh water scarcity, underdeveloped infrastructure and economy, alongside with severe climate conditions of equatorial and near-equatorial areas have long cast a negative effect on both living and development conditions of the African continent in general. Countries of North-East Africa are no exception, as severe droughts have numerously caused humanitarian crises in this region, with Ethiopian and Sudan drought and hunger crises being the most acute in the latest decade. Access to fresh water was highlighted both as a crucial value and an international goal in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. With a view to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, this issue remains vital in the most drought-prone areas of the world, particularly in North-East Africa.

This paper assesses joint regional initiatives of the North-East African countries that deal with promoting the MDG/SDG goals. It focuses on the efforts and projects of regional integration groups, such as The IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Development) Partner Forum and The Nile Forum (Nile Basin Group) to evaluate the policies that were applied jointly by the countries of North-East Africa region to achieve MDGs and their prospects of continuing any effective joint policy-making in this respect. As IGAD turns 31 this year, the paper overlooks the origins and the dynamics of this developing regional integration group in particular and evaluates both the failures and successes that were achieved to this date starting in 1996 (before this date, the Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development (IGADD) was in action since 1986). Focal attention in this paper is attached to fighting droughts and overcoming its consequences with joint effort of all countries in the region. To provide a wider picture of prospects of regional cooperation in fighting poverty, hunger, severe droughts, inequalities of economic development of countries of this region, a number of bilateral agreements are also analyzed. Possible scenarios for fostering joint regional integration efforts with the help of the UN (especially UNECA) and international community are suggested.

Multi-Equilibria Model of Human Capital Accumulation for Sustainable Development in Africa.


Why should we be concerned with human capital accumulation in reflecting on the sustainable development in Africa? First, there is already an enormous amount of critical debates on the ability of the sustainable development approach to provide a comprehensive framework or strategy of either basic needs or human development, which are but the real challenges of Africa. The significance of the issue is expressed in the missing of a macroeconomic strategy; concern with employment, inequality, and strategies of redistribution that have serious implications for practical development outcomes. Second, the human capital theory claims that the wealth of a nation is vested in its people. African countries continue to suffer from adverse human conditions such as poverty, food crisis, unemployment, hunger, inequality, external debt and dependence. In such a context, investigating the concept of human capital accumulation as the prime engine of development with qualitative impact in inequality, in the process of development becomes crucial. However, the question remains to know what are the mechanisms by which the human capital would be accumulated for the sustainable development of African villages and cities?

The proposed study resorts to a narrative approach under the qualitative research, and seeks first, a deep understanding of the complex swirl of the disequilibrium situations at the local level. What structures, procedures and tools are available available to policy advocates from the business community, labor, education system, NGOs, and the various branches of government to accumulate the human capital? After grasping the depth of the issues, we will hear from international development experts on how policy advocates might address these critical challenges.   

The results of the proposed study derived from multiple levels of governance, would enrich the understanding of both policymakers and development experts on existing and possible approaches and methodologies for the accumulation of human capital in sustainable development planning in Africa. To that end, the multi-equilibria model of human capital accumulation contributes to produce knowledge derived from real world experience together with the human capital capable of transforming that knowledge into policy changes.


Keywords: Human Capital Accumulation, and Sustainable Development.

Land access to women: the role of policy in promoting gender equality and sustainable development in South Africa

Eyerusalem Amare Wolde - jerygt99@gmail.com - University of KwaZulu-Natal - South Africa

This article argues that given the fact that poverty and underdevelopment has a gender dimension, particularly in rural South Africa; increasing women participation in economic development and mainstreaming gender concerning land will not only increase local buy-in but also sustainable economic development. Despite the existence of policies and initiatives aimed at the mainstreaming of gender equality regarding land, earlier researchers provided little indication of a sustainable transformation of the status of women in this sector. Access to land for women is, therefore, one of the critical measures that will ensure women participation in sustainable development projects in rural South Africa. While women make the bulk of rural population their access to land has been constrained by several traditional and institutional bottlenecks. This paper argues that while an extensive policy framework is a productive ground for projects to boost local economies, practical action should view gender mainstreaming as an ongoing process that needs constant learning and adjustments to succeed. South Africa currently ranks among unequal countries in the world, as measured by income and access to land. Hardest hit by lack of income, landlessness, and lack of access to housing and services are black women residing in rural areas. Yet despite government rhetoric proclaiming concern for gender equality, poor black women have not benefited from land reform. The South African Constitution and development policies explicitly emphasize the significance of addressing women’s land needs and rights in the context of redressing gender inequalities. However, several challenges arise in terms of addressing traditional patriarchal practices that generally view women as dependents. It is for this reason that while several impressive policies and legislations are in place and intentions to address gender inequalities are articulated, the main challenges experienced are to translate these policies and legislations into practice.

In view of this, the proposed study shall provide answers to the following key questions which represent the research problem.

1.      What are the role of policy in promoting gender equality and women empowerment in South Africa?

2.      How does gender equality contribute to sustainable economic development in South Africa?

3.      To what extent has the gender equality policy framework in relation to access to land been implemented?



The research method which will be employed in this study is broadly qualitative and based on document analysis. This research is a non-empirical study and predominantly a literature review based on the document analysis method. This involves accessing and analyzing a variety of pieces of literature sources such as books, journal articles, newspaper reports, and internet information published by specialized institutions and organizations regarding the issue of women empowerment and gender equality policies and their potential implications to the society. This study fits the chosen panel as it focuses on the role of policy in promoting gender equality and women empowerment which is also one of the main objectives of the panel.


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