Connect with us

Data Stories

Follow the Money: Is There a Role for Cash Transfers in Climate Change Adaptation?

While Cash transfers are considered a better way to reach the poor who are in dire need during environmental shocks or as climate change creates ever-harsher conditions funds can still be diverted and embezzled all along the entire cash transfer chain, and the scale and speed of these programmes will intensify the corruption risks involved.

Published

on

Follow the Money: Is There a Role for Cash Transfers in Climate Change Adaptation?
Photo: Flickr/Erict19
Download PDFPrint Article

Climate change is significantly affecting everyone but those who are suffering the most are people already in vulnerable situations. In Turkana County – one of the largest counties in the northern part of Kenya – recurring natural disasters, prolonged droughts and excess floods have lead to loss of lives, livelihood and left many people subject to extreme poverty. These harsh climatic challenges have left Turkana residents, a population of 926,976, to not only rely solemnly on frequent supply of relief food but has also disrupted their rich culture and nomadic way of life.

According to a 2015 Human right’s watch report, “climate change has been one of the many factors that contributes to the lack of access to clean water and food to the residents of Turkana. The county’s minimum and maximum air temperatures have increased by 2°C and 3°C, and the rainfall patterns have also changed”, the report adds.

“During prolonged droughts women and children trek for distances in the hot sunny weather in search of the scarce food and water in the dry riverbeds. Families are unable to provide sufficient food and clean water. Most children are malnourished and hunger stricken. Due to competition on grazing lands and water, there is likelihood of an increase in conflict and insecurity,” the report futher states.

A combination with existing political, environmental and economic development challenges in Turkana has had an impact on the Turkana people’s ability to access food, water, health and security.

A proposed solution: cash transfers

In 2013, the government of Kenya through Vision 2030 on the sector for risk drought management declared ending drought emergencies by 2022 through establishment of a government social protection programme called National Safety Net Programme (NSNP) as part of the government’s initiatives to improve and enhance social protection delivery in the country.

NSNP was established to provide a common operating framework for the government’s four Cash Transfer programmes including, Persons With Severe Disabilities Cash Transfer, Older Persons Cash Transfer, Cash Transfer for Orphans and Vulnerable Children Cash (CT- OVC) and the Hunger Safety Net Cash Transfer. Except for Hunger safety Net Cash transfer, the rest are run under the Ministry of Labour and Social protection.

Hunger Safety Net Programme (HSNP) operates under the Ministry of Devolution and Planning, managed by the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) a state agency, mandated to exercise overall coordination of all matters relating to drought risk management and to establish mechanisms, either on its own or with stakeholders, that will end drought emergencies in Kenya.

During the HSNP launch in 2008, the people of northern Kenya were gald and ready to embrace the programme as they believed it has the potential to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in Northern Kenya.

The program funding

The government of Kenya, with the aid of international donors such as UKAid from the DFID (Department for International Development) partnered with FSD Kenya (Financial Sector Deepening), to cash transfer payments to the people of Wajir, Turkana, Marsabit and Mandera.

FSD Kenya was a specialist development programme originally established by the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID) to provide a continuing mechanism through which donor agencies in Kenya could pool their efforts to support the development of inclusive financial markets. In addition to DFID, it was funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), World Bank, Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) and the Gates Foundation. Because of its local expertise and experience in financial service development, FSD Kenya was tasked by DFID to take responsibility for developing a solution to the payments element of HSNP. FSD undertook a long process of market preparation before issuing an open call for tenders to provide payments services. In April 2008, Equity Bank of Kenya was selected by FSD bid panel to provide the payments.

How money transfers are trying to reduce poverty.

How money transfers are trying to reduce poverty.

The programme has been implemented in two phases. Phase 1, starting with a pilot from 2008-2012, funded by DFID & Australian Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). Phase two (HSNP2) of the programme started in 2013 – 2018, funded by the Governments of Kenya and the United Kingdom with a two-year extension in readiness for the third phase in 2020.

The cash transfer programme operates in two groups. Group one are households that regularly receive cash transfers and group two are households that receive emergency cash transfers from HSNP during drought.

Turkana is one of the counties that benefit from the programme. A total of 137,534 households have been registered out of this, 39,918 are households targeted to receive routine HSNP payments.

How it works

“On a particular payroll that contains the name of the beneficiary, identity card, Equity Bank of Kenya account number and the amount, there are instances where funds are co-funded by the Government of Kenya or DFID or both,” opines Peter Thirikwa, the Management Information Systems Specialist under the Hunger Safety Net Programme.

“For the DFID Funds, the money would flow through FSD where NDMA will then direct FSD the amount of money for the particular payroll. FSD would then credit the Equity bank of Kenya which is the service provider that opened the accounts for the beneficiries and then Equity bank would move the funds from the holding account to the individual accounts through the Equity Agents (Dukas),” he further notes.

Every financial year, “NDMA sets a budget for HSNP through the ministry of Devolution and Planning, and the funds will flow from the treasury into an NDMA account sitting at the NIC bank. As an authority, NDMA is regulated to open a bank account where money flows from treasury to the operations account as per the mandate of the authority,” he notes further.

“Then NDMA instructs NIC bank to transfer the money to an Equity account through the central bank. Equity is then instructed by NDMA to pay the beneficiaries according to the payroll, which is done through agents in the communities. Equity Bank of Kenya pays the payroll according to the instructions given by NDMA, credits all the households as per the payroll, totalling to the same value that was transferred to the central bank,” Peter concludes.

Delays and distribution issues

The HSNP originally provided Ksh 2,150 to each beneficiary household (or individual in the case of the social pension) every two months then later to Ksh 2,700 every month. Beneficiaries are given a Smartcard and to access the funds they have to use their biometric information, fingerprints in order to collect cash at any time from a range of pay points mainly small shops called Dukas across the four counties.

As of 23rd July 2014, the first year the government was in charge of the program, out of 100,000 target households for group 1 (the routine payments) 90 percent of accounts were opened, 78 percent were active and 77 percent were being paid. An annual report from 2020 said “over the 12 years, HSNP reached nearly 100,000 households (600,000 people, 60 percent of whom were women). Accordingly, group 1 households received regular payments, increasing from Ksh 1,050 every two months under Phase 1 to KES 5,400 under Phase 2.”

However, a team of journalists working with the Elephant visited several villages in Turkana County in November last year and found that though many people said they had been given cards some have never received cash and they didn’t know when to expect them.

The 2018 Auditors general report states that NDMA could not provide bank statements relating to funds transferred to the beneficiaries under HSNP. As a result, the auditor’s could not confirm the balance of Ksh. 2,119,239,700 and Ksh. 2,744,213,700 reflected in the financial statements relating to the government of Kenya and donor funding respectively.

How cash transfer works under HSNP with Kenya

How cash transfer works under HSNP with Kenya

Further, HSNP’s Government of Kenya and Donor programme expenditure of Ksh. 5,049,328,332 that comprised payments to various beneficiaries did not have a document to support the basis of how the various beneficiaries were identified, and the basis of the rates used for paying the beneficiaries was not supported either.

The then Auditor General Edward Ouko told the Elephant that he could only conclude that the funds were unaccounted for as he was only provided with the documentation he referenced in the audit report.

Is it enough?

Even if the money were paid on time in every case, that doesn’t mean it’s always adequate for people living in the regions affected by severe droughts, floods, or locusts. According to a 2017 Report on the cost of diet analysis in Turkana county, the current cash transfer of Ksh 2,700 for very poor and poor households is not enough.

“Current cash income and available livestock products are not sufficient for a family to access a nutritious diet. Avenues should be explored to allow households to increase their means to access nutritious foods, such as food for work or vouchers,” the report says.

The report suggests that increasing the cash transfer for these groups to Ksh 10,000 a month would increase affordability, but would not be sufficient in closing the affordability gap. Poor infrastructure in Turkana is a barrier to gaining physical access to the foods, that there is sufficient diversity of foods in the region.

However, the frequency with which these foods are available to households and the quantity with which these can be found in the markets is likely to be an obstacle to achieving a nutritious diet. The report adds that better roads will also allow for more efficient transportation of fresh produce and, possibly, decrease the extent of food degradation and nutrient depletion due to heat and travel conditions.

The cash transfer program is intended to continue running for at least another four years. But while these transfer payments can help those in dire need during environmental shocks or as climate change creates ever harsher conditions, experts and reports argue this is just one small part of a larger need for an effective long-term solution.

This article was developed with support from the Money Trail Project

Support The Elephant.

The Elephant is helping to build a truly public platform, while producing consistent, quality investigations, opinions and analysis. The Elephant cannot survive and grow without your participation. Now, more than ever, it is vital for The Elephant to reach as many people as possible.

Your support helps protect The Elephant's independence and it means we can continue keeping the democratic space free, open and robust. Every contribution, however big or small, is so valuable for our collective future.

By

Juliet Atellah is a data journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya

Data Stories

Tech Disruption in the Agricultural Sector

The future of farming in Kenya counties, whether in knowledge sharing, collaborations, funding, or market access primarily lies in the farmer’s abilities to harness the respective strengths of the available and emerging Disruptive Agricultural Technologies. As the tech-platforms become cheaper, more available and affordable farmers yield and fortunes will likely inch upwards.

Published

on

Tech Disruption in the Agricultural Sector
Photo: Tyler Mullins on Unsplash
Download PDFPrint Article

Disruptive technologies in agriculture (DATs) have been in Kenya since the early 1900s and can simply be defined as the digital and technical innovations that enable farmers and agri-firms to increase their productivity, efficiency, and competitive edge.

These platforms essentially help local farmers make more precise decisions about resource use through accurate, timely, and location-specific price, weather predictions. The agronomic data and information that they provide in Kenya is becoming increasingly important in the context of climate change. Besides, leveling the playing field, it can make small-scale or local marginalized farmers in Kenya to be more competitive.

Sophisticated off-line digital agri-tech can provide opportunities even in poorly-connected rural contexts, or with marginalized groups who have lower access to information and markets. In short, Disruptive Agricultural Technologies (DATs) are overturning the sector status quo.

Tech Disruption in the Agricultural Sector

Some of the key disruptive technologies in agriculture (DAT’s) include Waterwatch Cooperative in Kenya (Real-time alert system), Tulaa and Farmshine (Digital platform for finding buyers and linking buyers and sellers).

There is also Agri-wallet (platform for input credit/e-wallets/insurance products), dutch-based Agrocares operating in Kenya and Ujuzi Kilimo (portable soil testers, satellite images, remote sensing) as well as SunCulture (solar-powered irrigation pumps)

These platforms have helped to facilitate access to local markets in counties such as Makueni and West Pokot, improve nutritional outcomes, and enhance resilience to climate change. Disruptive agricultural technologies are designed to help stakeholders by reducing the costs of linking various actors of the agri-food system both within and across countries through faster provision, processing, and analyzing of large amounts of data.

The Disruptive Agricultural Technologies Landscape 

Over 75% of Disruptive Agricultural Technologies are digital. The remaining 25% of non-digital are either focused on energy (solar), or producers/suppliers of bio-products for agriculture.

Approximately 32% of the Disruptive Agricultural Technologies aim to enhance agricultural productivity, 26% are working to improve market linkages, 23% are engaged in data analytics, and another 15% are working on financial inclusion.

According to a 2019 World Bank report, Kenya has become a leading agri-tech hub with nearly 60 scalable Disruptive Agricultural Technologies (DATs) operational in the country, followed by South Africa and Nigeria. Kenya is said to have the third largest technology incubation and acceleration hub in the region. Examples of those technologies in Kenya include: Data-connected devices which use ICT to collect, store, and analyze data. This includes GPS, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. The Africa’s Regional Data Cube hosted in Nairobi,Kenya is a tool that helps various countries address issues related to agriculture, water, and sanitation. 

The use of robotics and automation in farming in Kenya has gained widespread acceptance. For instance, drones are used to monitor and improve the efficiency of agricultural operations and its usage is governed by the Civil Aviation Act.

Majority of farmers in Kenya are smallholder farmers and having access to Disruptive agricultural technologies helps even the competition with medium and large scale farmers as tools are created for both low and high connectivity areas.

Over 83 percent of Disruptive agricultural technologies are e-marketplaces that do not require high connectivity. Example is Twiga Foods whose digital platform connects retailers and food manufacturers, delivering a streamlined and efficient supply chain.

Kenya’s financial sector is characterized by a robust mobile money ecosystem (MPESA) with over 70 percent of the population using mobile money regularly which increases its potential for farming for smallholder farmers.

Despite that one of the biggest challenges facing the agriculture sector in Kenya is access to finance. This is largely due to the high risk of loaning to small holder farmers. FinTech apps use alternative data and machine learning to improve the credit scoring of smallholder farmers.

These apps help minimize the gap between the demand for credit and the supply of financing for smallholder farmers. Kenya is a hotspot for agricultural apps. There are numerous organizations working on developing digital solutions that combine precision farming with remote sensing data.

Connectivity and Adoption of DATSs

A significant number of the existing digital tools and technologies can be utilized in areas with low network to improve the productivity of the agriculture sector. Despite the increasing number of mobile phone users in Kenya, the penetration rate among smallholder farmers remains relatively low.

It may be difficult for many of these smallholder farmers to adopt Disruptive agricultural technologies (DATs) due to the high costs, complexity and capabilities required. Meanwhile for large scale farmers, the DATs highly boost their productivity, especially if they have already developed the capabilities in-house to accelerate adoption of these tech platforms. Therefore, from the onset, we need to understand who uses the technology and the implications of this.

Kenya has a well-established start-up ecosystem, made up of mostly young, adaptive and brilliant innovators who are leveraging low-cost digital platforms. This is coupled with funding from international donors and incubation activities address agricultural value-chain issues. There is a mix of actors for Disruptive agricultural technologies depending on the categorization of the technology.

This ranges from DATS that support creation, facilitate adoption and oversee diffusion of innovation.

These actors need strong and cohesive ties, both between, the regulatory bodies, farmers, county leaders, financiers, state agencies, and fellow developers. The nature of the collaborations could be cohesive and cooperative, where all the local actors have shared goals, to fragmented, where not all actors are on board, causing resistance and slowing down the process.

Despite a myriad challenges these radical and innovative (DATs) are revolutionizing and changing the farming landscape in the counties and working with the Ministry of Agriculture using technologies to deliver agricultural services more efficiently and accountable.

The future of farming in Kenya counties whether in knowledge sharing, collaborations, funding, or market access primarily lies in the farmer’s abilities to harness the respective strengths of the available and emerging Disruptive Agricultural Technologies. As the tech-platforms become cheaper, more available and affordable farmers yield and fortunes will likely inch upwards.

This article is part of The Elephant Food Edition Series done in collaboration with Route to Food Initiative (RTFI). Views expressed in the article are not necessarily those of the RTFI.

Continue Reading

Data Stories

Revealed: Majority of US Voters Support Patent Waiver on COVID-19 Vaccines

Shock poll reveals majority support for Joe Biden to suspend TRIPS and support global vaccination.

Published

on

Photo: Hakan Nural on Unsplash
Download PDFPrint Article

A new poll finds that 60% of US voters want President Joe Biden to endorse the motion by more than 100 lower- and middle-income countries to temporarily waive patent protections on Covid-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization. Only 28% disagreed.

The survey, carried out by Data for Progress and the Progressive International, shows a super majority of 72% registered Democrats want Biden to temporarily waive patent barriers to speed vaccine roll out and reduce costs for developing nations. Even registered Republicans support the action by margin of 50% in favor to 36% opposed.

The new polling shows that “there is a popular mandate from the US American people to put human life and economic recovery ahead of corporate profits and a broken intellectual property system,” said David Adler, the general coordinator of the Progressive International. Burcu Kilic, research director of the access to medicines program at Public Citizen and member of Progressive International’s Council, called on Biden to “listen to Americans who put him in power” and “do the right thing.”

Revealed: Majority of US Voters Support Patent Waiver on COVID-19 VaccinesDue to WTO intellectual property rules, countries are barred from producing the current leading approved vaccines, including US-produced Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. In October of 2020, South Africa and India presented the WTO with a proposal to temporarily waive these rules for the duration of the pandemic so that vaccines can be manufactured across different countries, increasing their availability, reducing their cost and ensuring that they are delivered to everyone on earth as quickly as possible.

In the absence of the waiver, the current manufacturing and distribution rates are unlikely to stem the pandemic’s momentum, especially as new variants, which are more infectious and seem to evade the acquired immunity from prior infection or from the current vaccines, continue to emerge. The US under President Trump joined other richer nations to block them.

The shock poll reveals a level of public support for intellectual property waivers that will likely add to growing congressional pressure on Biden to join those pushing to save lives through a global vaccination drive. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky is working on a letter to the president to which Schakowsky says more than 60 lawmakers have added their signature, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Senator Bernie Sanders, Chair of the Senate Budget Committee, responded to the poll saying the US should be “leading the global effort to end the coronavirus pandemic.” According to Sanders, “a temporary WTO waiver, which would enable the transfer of vaccine technologies to poorer countries, is a good way to do that.”

Responding to the new poll, Representative Ilhan Omar called on Biden to “support a waiver to boost the production of vaccines, treatment and tests worldwide,” arguing that it was “not just an issue of basic morality, but of public health.”

Adler argues, “US Americans know rigged rules to prop up big pharma’s profits are not in their interest. The longer the virus has to spread, the more it can mutate and become vaccine-resistant. Covid-19 anywhere is a threat to public health and economic wellbeing everywhere. If intellectual property restrictions are not lifted, the pandemic will go on for longer, killing more people and damaging more livelihoods.”

The threat to the Global South from vaccine apartheid is a “death sentence for millions around the world—and it is because giant pharmaceutical corporations would rather maximize profit than provide vaccines to people who need it,” according to Omar.

Sanders agrees, saying “the bottom line is, the faster we help vaccinate the global population, the safer we will all be. That should be our number one priority, not maximizing the profits of pharmaceutical companies and their shareholders.”

Continue Reading

Data Stories

Erosion of Civil and Political Rights in Africa: Ibrahim Index (IIAG) 2020 Report

The IIAG report concludes that 2020 was a terrible year for democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa where political freedoms have deteriorated over the last decade, with citizens having less freedom to assemble in 2019 than they did in 2010.

Published

on

Erosion of Civil and Political Rights in Africa: Ibrahim Index (IIAG) 2020 Report
Download PDFPrint Article

Is there a link between democratic liberties and human rights on one hand, and good governance and economic progress on the other? Ever since the fall of the Berlin wall, a thirty-year orthodoxy has argued that the former are indispensable to the latter. However, a report by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation raises questions about this.

2020 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG)According to the 2020 Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG), political freedoms across the African continent have continued to deteriorate over the last decade, with citizens having less freedom to assemble in 2019 than they did in 2010, and the trend has accelerated since 2015. On the other hand, countries’ scores in the Human Development and Foundations for Economic Opportunity categories have improved, with the biggest strides being made in infrastructure and health.

And although African countries made progress in overall governance during the last decade, the rate of improvement has slowed down over the last five years which explains the below average score in 2019.

Does this mean that the Chinese model of development—which views human and political rights as a barrier to economic progress—is supplanting the Western model, which proposes that they should go hand-in-hand on the continent?

Andrea Ngombet, a human rights activist and former presidential candidate in the Republic of Congo, says that there is more to it than that.

“To be completely honest, the combination of Chinese money, Western companies’ corruption and African autocrats’ lust for power are the causes of the retreat of democracy. All of them have no interest in a democratic Africa with tax to pay, protected workers and protected environment,” he said.

When asked why democracy is in retreat in African countries, Ngombet explained, “China [reinforces] African autocrats with cheap loans which they use for clientelism and populist projects. As the loans are without any democratic conditions, it allows the autocrats to resist the civil society pressure for democracy and accountability.”

Ngombet also explains that, “When looking at the quality of economic growth, it comes with bad loans over authoritarian regimes and those loans finance unprogressive infrastructure.”

The IIAG report shows that Gambia—the most improved of the 54 African countries—experienced the most changes after 2016 when Yahya Jammeh’s repressive 22-year-reign ended, although the current regime still faces challenges in enforcing environmental policies and in the areas of quality of education, law enforcement and compliance with international health regulations.

Source: 2020 Ibrahim’s Index

Source: 2020 Ibrahim’s Index

 

 

The study, whose goal was to help further the conversation on governance in the continent and assess current and emerging trends, analysed 237 variables from 40 different sources. It revealed that African countries are performing the worst in the Participation, Rights & Inclusion category (with an overall average score of 46.2 in 2019). This decline is caused by a deteriorating security situation and an increasingly “precarious environment for human rights and civic participation”.

Source: 2020 Ibrahim’s Index

Source: 2020 Ibrahim’s Index

Nearly half the countries on the continent had less freedom to associate and assemble and a shrinking space for political pluralism and civil society at the close of the 2010s than they had at the beginning of the decade. This was the continuation of a diminution of civil liberties in the second half of the 2000s following improvements in the first half of that decade.

In particular, compared to the country’s scores in 2010, Kenya’s scores for freedom of association and assembly as well as media freedom fell by over 20 per cent from 2015 while the indicators for transparency and accountability, as well as anti-corruption mechanisms also fell during the same period.

However, the Ibrahim report does indicate that the indicators for digital access, energy access, infrastructure and human resources in the education sector have shown a marked improvement under the current Kenyan regime. This is despite a huge debt burden and numerous unresolved corruption cases.

Increased restrictions have been placed on the establishment and operations of civil society and non-governmental organisations which have also experienced higher cases of repression and persecution in most African countries. Political parties have experienced reduced access to state-owned media and public financing for their campaigns which has curtailed their operations.

Democratic elections, the only indicator that had shown a steady improvement since 2010, took a downward spiral in 2015. Election results in countries such as Uganda, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire, Central Africa Republic, Gabon and the Democratic Republic of Congo have been consistently disputed as the integrity of the electoral process and the independent functioning of election-monitoring bodies have been compromised.

“You can not have democratic elections in the absence of strong institutions such as Independent judiciary, a parliament that is not completely corrupted, independent press, civil societies to monitor and people to engage citizens ahead of elections and inform them by helping them understand democracy rest on their shoulders, governance rests on their shoulder, and not the person that they’ll vote in for,” Tutu Alicante, executive director at EG Justice in  Equatorial Guinea explains.

“It is us that [create] democracy. It is us that [create] governance and all the security, rule of law and human development and not the person [who] as soon as elected will focus on their pockets and family.”

Countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Chad, DRC, Rwanda and Cameroon that have scored dismally in the participation, rights and inclusion category, have all been under the rule of African leaders who have clung on to power.

These findings resonate with those of the 2020 Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index which placed Chad, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo at the bottom of the rankings in democracy in Africa, measured by electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, political culture and civil liberties.

It may be encouraging for citizens of Djibouti, Somalia and Eswatini that although their countries are among those with the least scores in terms of participation, they have registered improvements over the decade.

“Full democratic participation is essential for the development in our society. In Africa if we are thinking about Ubuntu as a basic principle of our society, then clearly democracy is needed in a way in which we all participate in order for us as a society to rise up,” Tutu adds.

Egypt has performed exceedingly well in the score for infrastructure (80/100), and health development indicators (all above 60/100) yet, surprisingly, the country is the third least performing country in Africa, after Burundi and Eritrea—with a score of 7.9/100—when it comes to participation as a principal of good governance.

Egypt has been under dictatorship since the Arab Spring overthrew Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The government has authorised the blocking of close to 500 websites belonging to news outlets, blogs and human rights organisations, and in 2017 blocked the use of internet tools such as VPNs.

Other countries that have experienced drastic internet shutdowns, legal digital restrictions and surveillance include Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Benin, Rwanda, Morocco, DRC and Uganda. This often happens during electioneering periods or citizen protests despite “freedom of expression being a fundamental human right enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the cornerstone of democracy”, according to UNESCO, an organisation to which most of these countries belong.

Countries that have managed to transition from dictatorships or civil wars, such as Sierra Leone, Gambia, Togo, Angola and Sudan manifest increasing improvement in their citizens’ access to the fundamental civil rights.

African governments are slowly becoming more inclusive and equal in the provision of public services and the creation of socioeconomic opportunities.

Kenya and Somalia have seen the most improvements under the Gender indicator. Although Kenya has faced difficulties in passing the two-thirds gender rule (leading former Chief Justice Maraga to direct that the president dissolve parliament), it has made impressive strides in providing social-economic opportunities for women and in the representation of women in the executive even though gender equality in civil rights has declined substantially.

In contrast, women in South Africa, Ghana and Equatorial Guinea are enjoying less protection against gender violence.

Is it a question of striking a delicate balance between good overall governance and maintaining the economic growth and security of a country? Or might too much freedom lead to coups and mutiny?

The EUI Democracy report ranked Mali and Burkina Faso—both of which do not have full control over their territories and experience rampant insecurity precipitated by jihadist insurgents—as the worst performing countries in West Africa in terms of democracy. They were downgraded from “hybrid regime” to “authoritarian regime”. The report concludes that overall it was a terrible year for democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 31 countries were downgraded, eight stagnated and only five improved their scores.

It is an interesting phenomenon that, despite low scores in civil and political rights, the best scores are to be found in the Foundations for Economic Opportunity and Human Development categories with 20 countries having improved their governance score in these two areas, albeit at a slowed rate in the last five years. The biggest strides have been made in the Infrastructure and Health indicators, complemented by improvements in Environmental Sustainability.

More often than not, infrastructure and health projects are marred by allegations of corruption and lack of transparency. Yet, a correlation model run by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation shows that there is a strong and positive correlation between the overall governance score and specific indicators such as rule of law and justice, inclusion and equality, anti-corruption, transparency and accountability and business environment. Even though statisticians agree that “correlation does not imply causation”, this model indicates that countries with higher scores in those indicators also have higher overall governance scores.

Yuen Ang argues that “the idea that economic growth needs good governance and good governance needs economic growth takes us to a perennial chicken-and-egg debate” whereas Meles Zenawi has claimed “There is no direct relationship between economic growth and democracy historically or theoretically. Democracy is a good thing in and of itself irrespective of its impact on economic growth and my view is that in Africa most of our countries are extremely diverse that maybe the only option of keeping relationships within nations sane. Democracy may be the only viable option of keeping these diverse nations together, we need to democratise but not in order to grow, we need to democratise in order to survive as a united same nation.”

The 2020 IIAG report paints a picture of a continent that had long embarked on the road to decline in rights, civil society space and participation before it was hit by COVID-19. Even though Africa accounts for 3.5 per cent of the global reported COVID-19 deaths, the pandemic is now threatening hard-won gains in areas such as foundations for economic opportunity and human development.

Continue Reading

Trending